Music superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce have joined
thousands of people taking part in rallies in the US in
protest at the acquittal of George Zimmerman.
The Neighbourhood Watch volunteer was cleared
over the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon
More than 100 demonstrations are scheduled to take
place in cities around America.
The Florida case has become a flashpoint in several
national debates over self-defence laws, guns, and
Rap star Jay-Z and his singer wife Beyonce joined
those attending a gathering in New York. Trayvon’s
mother Sybrina Fulton was also there and addressed
She said: “Trayvon may not have been perfect, but he
was mine. He was mine. We loved him, we supported
him, we cared for him, just like you do your kids.
“The verdict won’t stop here. This is another chapter
on a different movement. We have moved on from the
“Of course we’re hurting, of course we’re shocked
and disappointed. But that just means that we have
to roll up our sleeves and continue to fight.”
The rallies come a day after President Barack Obama
publicly identified with the 17-year-old victim and the
deep frustrations felt among African Americans over
Mr Obama told reporters: “Trayvon Martin could
have been me 35 years ago.”
His comments came a week after a Florida jury
acquitted Zimmerman of the killing.
Praising the “incredible grace and dignity” shown by
Trayvon’s parents throughout the ordeal, Mr Obama
said “some soul-searching” on race was in order and
it was understandable that there will be protests and
But he said a resort to violence would “dishonour”
Zimmerman, 22, said he acted in self-defence when
he fatally shot Trayvon in the chest on the rainy night
of February 26, 2012, during an altercation in a gated
community in Sanford, Florida.
A jury of six women, all but one white, cleared him of
second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Thousands of people have turned out for “Justice for
Trayvon” vigils outside federal courts in Miami, New
York, Chicago and Los Angeles organised by civil
rights activist Al Sharpton.
The youth’s father, Tracy Martin, was scheduled to
speak at the vigil in Miami.
Other civil rights luminaries such as Jesse Jackson
and Martin Luther King III have joined the campaign,
which seeks to maintain public pressure for a federal
civil rights investigation into the killing.
Organisers also are targeting “Stand Your Ground”
laws like Florida’s, which asserts that citizens can
use lethal force – rather than retreat – if they sense
their lives are at risk.
In his appearance on Friday, Mr Obama did not
comment directly on the Florida verdict but he called
for a review of the controversial state self-defence
“I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was
of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on
that sidewalk?” the president asked.
“And do we actually think that he would have been
justified in shooting Mr Zimmerman who had
followed him in a car because he felt threatened?”
The teenager’s parents said they were “deeply
honoured and moved” by Mr Obama’s comments.
“President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and
identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our
boy,” they said in a statement.
Critics of the verdict argue that Zimmerman racially
profiled the youth – who had no criminal record – and
was able to kill him with impunity because of a biased
criminal justice system.
But Zimmerman – who has a white father and a
Peruvian mother – insists that race was not a factor in
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