People in some 70 cities in the US came out in protest Sunday–following this weekend’s not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial over the killing of Trayvon Martin. Several rallies grew into marches, taking over streets and even freeways in major cities. Despite a nearly heat wave across several states, more rallies are planned in various cities for Monday, as people continue to grapple with the verdict.
New York’s Union Square saw the biggest gathering Sunday; the original rally location was saturated with protestors, who spilled onto the streets and began moving towards Times Square. As some 10,000 people marched, they also cried call-and-response chants, especially “Don’t shoot me! Don’t hurt me! Just Skittles and ice tea!” referring to the candy and beverage 17-year-old Martin was carrying when he was shot and killed by Zimmerman last year. Traffic largely shut down as protestors made their way through the streets of Manhattan.
And it was sometimes tiny voices that came together to inspire people to keep marching. Shanelle Curtis, a 29-year-old who hails from Brownsville, walked with a large group of people from the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, along with her two daughters, aged six and nine.
The oldest, Briana Jackson, seen in the photo above carrying a sign almost as big as herself, encouraged marchers to keep going, even after hours. Curtis explained that her daughters had been following the trial, and that despite their ages, were outraged with the verdict on Saturday night. She explained that her daughters began picking up chants at the protest, and spontaneously organized with their young friends to begin leading them. The family marched for hours, before Curtis had to leave in order to get to work at a discount store to begin her nine-hour shift at midnight. Clearly tired she explained that it was all worth it. “I’m here for all the Trayvon Martins who are still unheard of,” she explained. “But I’m here for my brother and for my kids, as well.”
The march moved and finally settled in to Times Square, where thousands of people sat down in protest. After about an hour, demonstrators were once again on the move, this time, headed to Park Avenue, where heavy-handed New York Police Department officers punched and pepper-sprayed marchers–despite no clear provocation.
Police officers were out in full force in Los Angeles, beginning with a citywide tactical alert on Saturday evening, following a demonstration in Leimert Park. By Sunday, hundreds of protestors there had taken over a major freeway, shutting traffic completely down for about half an hour. Los Angeles Police Department officers aimed and shot rubber bullets that eventually dispersed the demonstrators –who continued their protest on the streets.
And although Trayvon Martin never really lived in Sanford, Florida, the city came to represent the teenager since he was killed there. As the verdict came down on Saturday, demonstrators headed to the courthouse there–but were prevented from doing so by Seminole County Sheriff’s deputies. They were instead made to go to a local park, where they expressed their disappointment.