Miami church communities, protesters react to Zimmerman verdict
MIAMI (WSVN) -- South Florida residents disheartened by the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial found solace and solidarity at local churches that opened their doors to remember Trayvon Martin and resume the dialogue surrounding his untimely death. They also took to the streets to voice their opinions.
"It's going to be hard, but we have no choice but to move forward," said Tina Owens, Martin's cousin, outside a Miami church Sunday morning.
Saturday, at around 10 p.m., a jury of six women acquitted Zimmerman of murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of the unarmed Miami Gardens teen while he was in Sanford, Florida. "The women, I guess, they didn't have the feeling or care for someone else's son that was slain without a cause," said Pastor Douglas Cook of Jordan Grove Baptist Church.
Dozens filled the Liberty City house of worship Sunday morning. "We're gonna keep praying, looking up, talking to God," Cook said.
The clergyman's message to parishioners: keep calm, keep strong. "I was surprised and a little saddened [by the verdict]," said churchgoer Maya Johnson Randle. "God is able, has the last say."
At Impact Miami Church in North Miami, more Trayvon supporters gathered and listened to peaceful prayers and messages from Pastor Jack Hakimian. "He pursued Trayvon, got out of his car, approached him and began to get his butt whipped by a young man who he underestimated that's been raised in the rough, tough neighborhood of Miami Gardens," he said. "That's what really happened."
In Northwest Miami-Dade, dozens more, mainly children and teens, stood on the street and held signs like "No justice no peace" and "Rest in peace Trayvon Martin."
"We were taught, as a child, if someone's following you, you're supposed to fight for your life," said protester Shawnese Eberhart. "That's what Trayvon was doing."
Protester James Wilson said the Sanford, Fla. neighborhood watchman should have at least been convicted of manslaughter. "I'm very disappointed with the verdict," he said. "Mr. Zimmerman, at the very minimum, is guilty of manslaughter because he did take the life of an innocent child."
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