Political, Social, Civil Rights Leaders Speak Out on Zimmerman Verdict


Reaction to George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict has been everywhere. Social media, radio and television have been flooded by athletes, celebrities and various talking heads voicing levels of displeasure that range from disappointed to apoplectic.

Almost immediately after a Sanford, Fla., jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in his second-degree murder trial for the death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin it began.

Leaders in politics, civil rights and community organizations have expressed their feelings on the verdict and on possible future action on behalf of Martin and his family. Below is a collection of quotes from leaders in Georgia and around the country in response to the case’s outcome.

Kasim Reed:

The death of Trayvon Martin shows that we must all work harder to shed the dangerous stereotypes that can have devastating consequences for individuals, families and our society.”
– Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

John Eaves:

I am now more committed than ever to bring reform to the criminal justice system. Too many Black men are caught up in the criminal justice system. We must look at new bold solutions to ensure that more Black men live productive lives.
– John Eaves, Chairman Fulton County Commission

Vincent Fort:

It is time for elected officials and activists to redouble our efforts to create a just and fair society in Georgia and around the country. We must revisit racial profiling and Stand Your Ground laws and we must fight for common sense gun safety laws.”
-Ga. Sen. Vincent Fort, Whip for the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus.

John Lewis:

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I think it demonstrates the distance this nation still must go to fulfill the vision of equal justice Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life to defend. I hope this verdict will serve to open some kind of meaningful dialogue on the issues of race and justice in America.
– John Lewis, Congressman 5th District of Georgia

Janice Mathis

Lesson from this trial. If someone is following you and you feel threatened, call the police and keep your phone on. Parents, warn your children. Racial profiling is real.
– Janice L. Mathis, Vice President SE Regional Rainbow/PUSH Coalition

Derrick Boazman:

In a real sense the verdict was like the pulling of the scab of the wound of racism that was the result of the loss of Emmitt Till, Corey Ward, Oscar Grant….As a Black man what do we tell or sons. If you commit no crime, if you walk to the store, you too can end up dead for no reason? Is this really America where the victim in the case, Travyon Martin was put on trial and found guilty of his own murder? We must do better
– Former Atlanta City Councilman and Community Activist Derrick Boazman

Charles Steele:

This verdict tells every American that the justice system has a long way to go in order to bring about a trust factor within our African American community which is very imperative at this time,” says Steele, an SCLC President Emeritus and the Chief Executive Officer. “We as African Americans know the history of this country,and we know the history of the terrorist attacks of the KKK and other right wing organizations.
– SCLC CEO Charles Steele

Cloves Campbell:

George Zimmerman ended Trayvon’s life, but he will not and cannot terminate our unceasing quest to be respected as human beings. We join with the NAACP and other civil rights groups in requesting the United States Department of Justice to continue its investigation into whether Zimmerman violated Trayvon’s civil rights when he spewed profanity, followed Trayvon after being told by a police dispatcher not to do so, and fired the fatal shot that killed Trayvon’s dreams and those of his family.
– Cloves Campbell, chairman National Newspaper Publishers Association

Carolyn House Stewart:

On behalf of our 265,000 members worldwide, we offer sympathy and comfort to Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin on the devastating loss of their son. We know that the trial’s outcome only magnified their grief. Hopefully, the national outcry and the attendant words of sympathy will uplift them through this tragedy.

While we accept the verdict and respect the judicial system and the process, this decision also supports the urgent need to continue the dialogue regarding race, racial profiling and the senseless killings of young black teenagers. We also need to focus on finding solutions to violence in our society as a whole.
– Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s International President Carolyn House Stewart

Marian Wright Edelman:

Let us refuse to be silent. If Trayvon Martin’s parents had been silent and other voices had not joined with them, George Zimmerman never would have been arrested and never would have been brought to trial. Let us continue to refuse to be silent until all the George Zimmermans of this world are deterred and held accountable for vigilante justice against Black males. Let us refuse to be silent until the killing of Black mothers’ sons is as important as the killing of White mothers’ sons. Only then will we have a post-racial America.
-Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund

Anthony Romero:

This case reminds us that it is imperative that the Department of Justice thoroughly examine whether the Martin shooting was a federal civil rights violation or hate crime. We call on Attorney General Eric Holder to release strengthened guidance on the use of race in federal law enforcement. We also urge Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. These specific actions would go a long way to ameliorate the widespread problem of racial profiling. We need solutions not only in Trayvon Martin’s case, but also systemic reform.”
– Anthony D. Romero, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director

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