Thousands of demonstrators from across the country have taken to the streets– chanting, bearing banners and signs– to protest a jury’s decision to set free neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. With rallies over the weekend in San Francisco, Oakland, New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, organizers and activists are aiming to keep up the momentum with events this week and next weekend.
The gatherings were largely peaceful, supporting the slain 17-year-old’s family. But police in Los Angeles said they arrested about six individuals, mostly for failure to disperse, according to the Associated Press. New York police officials cited a dozen arrests on disorderly conduct charges during a rally in Times Square.
The Justice Department is weighing whether there should be criminal civil rights charges filed against Zimmerman now that he has been acquitted in the shooting death that galvanized, and in some ways, divided a nation along racial lines. The department had initially opened an investigation into the incident, but stood down to allow the state to prosecute.
At a march and rally in downtown Chicago with an estimated attendee count of 200, 73-year-old Maya Miller told the Associated Press that the case reminded her of the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who was murdered by a group of white men during a visit to Mississippi. JET magazine ran the photo of Till’s body in the coffin in an iconic image from a 1955 issue. Till’s killing energized the civil rights movement and some predict that Martin’s death will have a parallel effect with regards to repealing stand-your-ground laws and racial profiling policy.