July 24, 2013 —
About 40 people turned out to the lawn in front of the courthouse in Monticello on July 20 to join the hundreds of groups in cities across the country who were protesting the decision in the Trayvon Martin shooting death.
On July 13, a jury declared that George Zimmerman was not guilty of second-degree murder on manslaughter charges in Martin’s killing. Zimmerman’s lawyers said that he acted in self defense when he shot Martin to death on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman had called police to report Martin’s presence in the neighborhood in Florida, and police instructed him not to follow Martin. Zimmerman ignored the request, and the killing sparked howls of protest when Zimmerman, initially, was not charged with a crime
The verdict has drawn new criticism over so-called Stand Your Ground Laws, which allow for the use of deadly force in situations involving self-defense.
The verdict also drew a reaction from President Barack Obama who said, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
At the demonstration in Monticello, which was organized by the Sullivan County NAACP, Antoinette Williams, said that she wished that Obama had announced the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was definitely going to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman; DOJ is currently considering that option.
Williams also said, “I was glad to see that he made a statement, that he didn’t stay neutral. It’s an issue that people across the entire country have decided that this was a travesty of justice. The fact that there was diversity in the reaction to the verdict shows that this is not just an issue of race. It’s an issue of the Stand Your Ground Law that has to be repealed, a law that should never have come into existence.”
“I think people are reacting because they understand that there’s absolutely no way that George Zimmerman could have been convicted” in light of the law.
She said she hoped the hundreds of demonstrations across the country put pressure on the DOJ to file charges against Zimmerman, and put a spotlight on racial profiling.