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  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Kaylyn Harris, 8, of Sacramento holds a sign Sunday protesting the not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin last year in Florida.

  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    A marcher makes a sign Sunday at the U.S. courthouse, for a protest of the Zimmerman verdict.

Sacramento marchers protest Florida acquittal of George Zimmerman

Published: Monday, Jul. 15, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2013 - 2:09 am

Two words, "Zimmerman Guilty," on a sign carried by Rita Cobb summed up her feelings about the Trayvon Martin case.

"That could have been my nephew, my son, my cousin," said Cobb, 52, of Sacramento, who added that she was in an interracial relationship.

"It's a sad day in America when a vigilante can kill somebody in cold blood and walk away."

Cobb was among about 60 protesters in front of the federal courthouse on I Street in downtown Sacramento on Sunday afternoon. The protest, and a similar one the previous night in front of City Hall, followed a Florida jury's acquittal Saturday evening of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old.

On the night of Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman – who told police he thought Martin looked suspicious – pursued the teenager, who was walking home after a snack run. An altercation ensued, and Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. Zimmerman contended that the shooting was self defense, and that Martin had knocked him to the ground and attacked him.

The case ignited a nationwide discussion of civil rights and the racial profiling of young black men. In the end, the Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The verdict sparked protests across the country Saturday night. Those held in Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles were mostly peaceful, although there were small street fires and broken windows in Oakland.

Sunday, the crowd in Sacramento marched from the federal courthouse to the California attorney general's office building at 14th and I streets, chanting "No justice, no peace," "Zimmerman is guilty, lock him up," and "The racist system, shut it down."

The rally was organized by a number of groups that are part of the ANSWER Coalition – ANSWER stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

One police officer on foot, one police officer on a bicycle and one in a car accompanied the marchers along their route.

While the post-verdict protests have been mostly peaceful, some of those who marched in Sacramento Sunday used fighting words.

Vanessa Cullars, 48, of Sacramento was one of the more vocal protesters.

"If it would have been my child, if George Zimmerman had walked out of that courtroom, I would have killed him," shouted the retired veteran.

"We go to jail for fighting dogs (referring to NFL star Michael Vick's 2007 dogfight troubles) but if we get shot like a dog, no one goes to jail. C'mon."

Monica Jones, 53, a federal parole agent, offered a different solution.

"Everyone should get out and vote," she said, holding a sign that read in part, "Stand your ground through your vote."

"It's the only way to claim your power. This is great to have a rally, but after the rally, you have to grow a positive movement. You need to get people into office who don't have a lot of say."

The march made a brief stop in front of the state Capitol building for photos.

"This is to show that the people of California stand up for justice," said Kevin Carter, 52, a member of Occupy Sacramento, who asked everyone in the photo to hold up a fist.

At the state Department of Justice building, the protesters joined hands to form a circle and prayed, while one participant burned sage to "purify" the gathering.

Yoshanna Scott made a point to bring her three children – 12-year-old Zachary and 8-year-old twins Anabelle and Isabell – to the event.

"I don't want to shelter the world from them," said Scott, 37, of Sacramento, who carried a sign that read: "No Justice, No Peace."

"They are people of color, and it's a struggle every day. I want them to know what it is like to fight for justice."

Call The Bee's Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Tillie Fong



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