After three weeks of highly sensationalized television coverage and two days of deliberation by a jury with only one person of color, the trial of George Zimmerman, charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin came to a close on Saturday night. The verdict: not guilty.
Less than two hours after the verdict was announced, a small group marched in protest in downtown Chicago, eventually growing to around 75 people. The next day, Sunday, more than 200 people took to downtown streets, decrying the verdict and the racial motives they saw behind it.
But underlying the anger and concern brought out by the trial is an issue that was in many ways already there: a lack of trust in the criminal justice system. The people interviewed at Sunday’s protest, of different ages and races and from various parts of the city, were all upset by the verdict. What many didn’t feel was surprise.
“I was just so upset I couldn’t sleep.”
“I was headed somewhere and I just happened to come upon the protest. … It’s a travesty. Simple as that. It’s letting you know where the justice system is right now. It’s terrible. … You want to be able to trust in your justice system but, unfortunately, you never know.”
– Jay J. Peters
“I am here because I have a son.”
“Trayvon was in fear of his own life. He didn’t receive justice, his family didn’t receive justice, and I feel that is something that needs to be addressed.”
– Tanya Walton-Williams
It’s horrendous that this guy very clearly killed someone and yet he was acquitted of every single charge.”
“I think it’s crazy that we tell ourselves we have come so far, and yet we are having a case that is mirroring so closely the case of Emmett Till, who was actually from Chicago. That happened over 50 years ago. I didn’t have much faith in [the criminal justice system] before. If we are a diverse nation, you’d think our prison system would reflect that. But it’s majority black and brown.”
“I feel like the justice system is flawed and this basically just proves it.”
“I’m here in support of Trayvon Martin. I was hoping that they would find [Zimmerman] guilty, but I’m honestly not surprised. I never did, probably never will [trust the criminal justice system.] Growing up in Chicago Public Schools, they taught us about black history, so I’ve never been blind to the injustice that black people have been subject to. I’ve never been a stranger to this.”
– Justin Mallett
“I’m not going to say that I hadn’t thought this verdict would come down the way it did.”
The verdict “hit me in a way that other things haven’t. …The stand-your-ground law is not something we necessarily have to worry about in Illinois, but guns in general are such a huge issue. And now there is concealed carry in Illinois. What does that mean for communities where gun violence is already really high?”
– Brandon Lee
“We are protesting on behalf of the justice system.”
They are failing the people of the world, and it’s time now for us to take a stand on behalf of our kids, on behalf of the nation. There is failure in the justice system. Everybody can see it. It’s live, it’s not hidden from anyone’s eyes.”
– Alberta Chalmers
“This little boy didn’t need to die.”
“All it is is racism. They discriminate. My daughter is mixed, and I don’t play with this s**t. If something happen to her, I go crazy. There is too much violence. We need it all to quit. End of story, point blank.”
– Lois Franks