NEW YORK—New York City politicians and other leaders across the country are condemning the jury’s ‘not guilty’ verdict in the George Zimmerman case. A wave of protests, that started over the weekend after the verdict was read late Friday, continued through Monday.
“Trayvon Martin was followed only because he was a black teenager,” said Bill Thompson, a candidate for New York City mayor, from the predominately African-American community of Bedford-Stuyvesant on Monday afternoon.
Thompson, who also said that we need “a new era of community policing” was flanked by other political leaders from the African-American community: New York State Assembly Members Walter Mosley, Annette Robinson, Nick Perry, and New York City Council Member Albert Vann.
“The one thing that all of us share is a concern about gun violence within our communities, and the need to push that gun violence down,” said Thompson. He added that it will take a series of measures to improve the situation, including increasing the number of police officers who patrol communities on foot and “bring in a new era of community policing.”
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By Monday, disappointment over the Zimmerman verdict had turned to taking a closer look at gun violence and racial profiling, including New York City’s controversial stop and frisk practice.
“There is a big problem in our community, as so many of our youngsters have access to, can get, and use guns to perpetrate unwarranted violence on a lot of innocent victims in the community,” said Assemblyman Perry.
The U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) stated on July 15 that case remains open and they will work to decide whether to prosecute for civil rights violations.
The sentiments of Thompson and his supporters, who were also endorsing his candidacy for mayor, were joined by New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Earlier on Monday, federal politicians including Congressmen Charles Rangel, Gregory Meeks, and Hakeem Jeffries gathered in front of the Manhattan Federal District Court to urge the DOJ to move forward with a civil rights case against Zimmerman.
Jeffries pointed out that there are several precedents for a civil case against Zimmerman, including when four white police officers brutally beat Rodney King in Los Angeles. The officers were acquitted in a state court, but were later convicted in a federal court on civil rights violation charges.
“A part of being a good American, a part of what you’re entitled to, is to be able to walk the streets of this great country and not have someone predetermine your propensity to commit a crime and to shoot and to kill you and to think that ends the story,” said Rangel. “No, my friends, this is the beginning of the story.”