Trayvon Martin protests have popped up in many major cities in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal, and with just a few exceptions the protests are marked by a deep anger over the verdict but a desire to remain non-violent.
The peaceful protests seemed to alleviate growing fears that cities could see rioting akin to those in the wake of the Rodney King verdict. But for the most part, demonstrators remained civil as they protested the not guilty verdict.
Many of them focused on the issue of race, saying that Zimmerman would not have targeted the 17-year-old Travyon Martin if the youth was white.
In Denver, city leaders and clergy members led several hundred people in a peaceful protest that touched on race.
“We will not erase the conversation of race,” said Jeff Fard, founder of Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center in the Five Points neighborhood. “Don’t be afraid to say if Trayvon Martin was a white man he would be alive today.”
Like in other Trayvon Martin protests, those gathered in Denver said the verdict failed to render justice.
“We are here to pray and we are hear to stand for justice,” said state Rep. Angela Williams, a Democrat from Denver.
There were other peaceful protests across many major cities in California as well as New York.
There some exceptions, however. Travyon Martin protests in Oakland turned violent late Saturday and early Sunday, with a group of more than 100 demonstrators taking out their anger on cars and windows. The group smashed out the windows of a Wells Fargo bank, burned American flags, and spray-painted “Kill Zimmerman” and “F*ck the Police.”
After a few hours the demonstration ended, with no injuries reported and no arrests. For Oakland residents, the violent Trayvon Martin protests seem to be part of a running theme of anger in the city.
“You can’t go six months without something getting smashed,” longtime Oakland resident Max Allstadt told The Huffington Post after attending the protest. “The people doing it have various ideological justifications, but outside the Twitter echo chamber they’ve created for themselves, there’s not a lot of support.”
More Trayvon Martin protests were planned for Sunday and into the week as groups hope to put pressure on the US Justice Department to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.