Editor’s Note: This is the fourth piece in a series of on-the-ground reports on reactions to the not guilty verdict reached by the jury in the George Zimmerman trial.
In Detroit, there were no incidents of civil unrest, but residents and civil rights leaders reacted with stunned shock and many wondered what they would tell their children – particularly their sons.
“This verdict killed that child all over again,” Candice Pearson, a Detroit resident and graduate student at Michigan State University, said. “I’m disgusted and literally sick to my stomach. I don’t have children yet, but a piece of me prays that they aren’t boys.”
Others directed their anger toward the prosecution team. “Of course [Zimmerman] got off,” said Robert Jackson of Detroit. “No witnesses and circumstantial evidence. Am I happy with the verdict? No. But I knew the outcome before it was announced. Can’t prove guilt without proof.”
Quinne Lowe of Detroit felt that while the prosecution’s case was weak, the verdict showed an inconsistency with similar cases.
“The problem isn’t this case, it’s the thousands before it that disregarded the law and reasonable doubt and came back with a questionable verdict,” Lowe said. “When you look at the case the prosecution presented, it was weak and within it the defense presented doubt which is all they had to do. I will say this though, it’s time to make sure that cases going forward get the same equality because it would be shameful to see it go back to the status quo.”
“It seemed like the jury had their mind made up after a certain point so it didn’t matter how compelling prosecution’s argument was,” Qiana Davis of Troy, MI said. “Ignorance doesn’t listen to reasoning and although the reasoning prosecution had was that Trayvon was pursued and engaged unnecessarily by Zimmerman, the jury bought into the idea of neighborhood watch Zimmerman protecting his neighborhood from the ‘scum’ that doesn’t belong. Bottom line, the verdict is horrible and to me was virtually rigged from the start.”
Others such as Damon Warren of Detroit, felt that the prosecution “threw the case” and it was set up to fail from the beginning.
“Trayvon never had a chance at fair treatment by the US justice system, dead or alive,” Warren said. “The prosecutor threw the case intentionally. They had to put on some kind of show to appease the masses but they gave every bit of reasonable doubt to the jury before the defense called a single witness. Welcome to America’s reverse kangaroo court.”
By Sunday morning, local civic leader and civil rights activists started chiming in.
“Clearly, Trayvon Martin’s civil rights were violated,” said Ron Scott, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. “He had the most basic human right, the right to life, and that was taken away.”
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan, hoped that the Department of Justice would bring a federal case against Zimmerman.
“I hope that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder take a serious look at this,” Walid said. “They have a responsibility to the nation to see that America stays the course, and continues to evolve to a more just union.”
Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm: “I feel terribly sad about the Trayvon verdict, and I must admit, tired. Tired of the vitriolic comments on the blogs. Tired, knowing that we have such a long journey ahead of us to achieve a world where African-American boys are not viewed as disposable.”
The Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the National Action Network Michigan, and pastor at Detroit’s Historic King Solomon Baptist Church held a prayer service for Martin’s family on Sunday.
“We’re going to continue our calls for justice for Trayvon Martin,” Williams said in a statement. “In the South, it’s still hard for an African-American to get justice. Mr. Zimmerman deserved at least manslaughter and the jury wouldn’t even do that. There is no faith in the jurors or in the diversity of the process.”
Jay Scott Smith is a contributor to TheGrio. You can follow him on Twitter @JayScottSmith.