HARLEM, New York City — On this hot July day following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Harlem streets, notable as the cultural center for Afro-American identity in this country, were characterized by spills of grief and expressions of fury aimed at a legal system that openly justified the murder of young Trayvon Martin.
The potential is high in the community for direct responsive action. While some people digested the court’s decision as inevitable, given the racial history of this country, others demanded justice. While a man waiting quietly in line at a local Jamaican bakery wasn’t surprised at all by the verdict, posing the question: “What did you expect? With an all white jury? In this country?”, activists hit the streets to voice clearly their sentiments and the next steps in the movement to criticize and adjust the standard operating procedures of the American justice system as it was manifested in Florida. With the glint of sweat on all and tears on some faces, demonstrators situated on the north east corner of the intersection of 125th street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard demanded the mobilization of an effort to avenge the youth’s death, wanting to hold (at least) the Florida legal system accountable for its disregard of the citizenhood and personhood of an American human being whose ancestry is rooted in Africa. The court decision has conveyed to many people here that once again, a black person’s life in the United States (especially that of a black male) is cheap and unworthy of protection and social value. The necessity to reveal the flaws in some pieces of American legislation and in what we consider ‘due process’ has a profound presence on the activist agenda in the coming days. I collected some footage of a small manifestation that took place this afternoon (Sunday, July 14th) :
This open forum lasted for about an hour. The police, who had been surrounding the group of protestors during the event, quickly occupied the perimeter as the forum came to an end. The police presence has been subtle but heavy. They had been situated on 125th street during the whole week leading up to the verdict. Their presence might be more pronounced now that the verdict granted legal freedom to George Zimmerman.
George’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., is currently in New York City serving as a spokesperson for the Zimmerman family. In an interview on National Public Radio, Robert was “asked whether he ever questions his brother’s decision to shoot during the fatal confrontation of Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman said “absolutely not.”” He went on to say that:
“I never have a moment where I think that my brother may have been wrong to shoot,” he told (Rachel) Martin. “And I think it’s not really important what I think, it’s important what the jury thinks and what the jury found.”
The manner in which he speaks publicly on the Trayvon Martin case and its outcome has potential to add fuel to the growing embers within people finding themselves deeply angered and baffled by the judgment of George Zimmerman. However, people also understand the intolerance that the New York Police Department has for ‘disorderly’ conduct. As this day comes to an end, the country and maybe the world awaits further responses to the acquittal of George Zimmerman from the American people.