On Sunday morning, black pastors and community activists used church pulpits, as they have in decades past, to express their anger over the justice system and to organize.
George Zimmerman was cleared of all charges in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The 29-year-old has maintained it was an act of self-defense.
At Thankful Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur, activists spoke of creating a mentorship program in Martin’s name, registering people to vote in the upcoming elections and marching Monday from the MLK center to CNN headquarters.
“America said to us, we don’t care if you’re innocent or unarmed,” Derrick Boazman, a former Atlanta city council member, said to an energized congregation. “If you look like a young black man, the rest of America says you’re a thug. When we see Trayvon Martin, we see our own sons.”
Many of the speakers said they weren’t surprised by the verdict.
“It’s sad to see our justice system do exactly what we have seen our system do for centuries now,” said Mawuli Mel Davis, an Atlanta lawyer. “But even though we knew the blow was coming, it still hurts. Let’s turn our pain into promise.”
Dozens of church members then gathered at the alter and circled their children to pray for their safety and future.
Not all voices from Atlanta reflected frustration with the verdict, however.
Republican State Rep. Ed Lindsey said that the jury’s verdict should be respected.
“The system worked — and I would say the same thing if the verdict had gone the other way,” Lindsey said in a statement. “Pray for the young man who died too young and for his family that mourns his loss. Pray for George Zimmerman and his family as they move on.”
He also lofted praise upon the six women of the Sanford, Fla. jury for their civic duty.
“Be thankful in your prayers for those six citizens jurors who heard all of the evidence and thank theym for their service in upholding a conrerstone of our free society,” Lindsey said.
— Staff reporter Marcus K. Garner contributed to this article.
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