A six-person jury in Sanford, Florida found George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watchman, not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black teen, on Saturday. The jury, composed of six women, all but one of whom were white, acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder as well as a lesser charge of manslaughter.
On February 26 of last year, Zimmerman saw Martin walking home in the rain in his father’s gated community and thinking Martin a dangerous threat, approached him and soon after shot and killed the unarmed black teen. The jury deliberated for 16 hours after a nearly three-week trial during which Zimmerman’s defense argued that he’d been shaken by home break-ins and was attacked by Martin, killing him out of fear for his own life. The prosecution argued that Zimmerman, who ignored a dispatcher warning not to approach Martin, was driven by malice toward Martin. With their verdict, the jury decided that Zimmerman could have been justified in killing Martin that rainy night.
Courtroom proceedings during the trial studiously sidestepped race—Judge Debra Nelson barred attorneys from using the word “racial profiling” during the trial in a murder case that was driven entirely by racial profiling.
Observers of the trial reacted to the verdict with outrage on social media. Below are a few of the responses from folks in the racial justice world.