2013-07-15 / State

Hundreds in Philly protest Zimmerman verdict

By KEITH COLLINS Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Hundreds of people marched peacefully through downtown Philadelphia on Sunday to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Philadelphia Police Lt. Dennis Konczyk of the civil affairs unit estimated that 700 people participated in the march, and said the event was calm and orderly.

One of the protest’s organizers, Johnathan Cooper, said he and others began amassing participants through social media and email after the verdict was announced late Saturday night.

“We hope this will begin a movement to end discrimination against young black men,” Cooper said. “And also to empower black people and get them involved in the system.”

As the protesters walked through the city, from Love Park to the Liberty Bell and back, they alternated between chanting Trayvon Martin’s name and “No justice, no peace.” At times, they chanted “Retrial.”

Joel Cody, chairman of the International Pan African Society, echoed the sentiment during the march.

“We want a retrial,” Cody said. “That was not fair. It’s not right. A bullet went through his heart.”

One 44-year-old protester from West Philadelphia, Abdul Jabar, said that although the protest wouldn’t change the verdict, it gave the community a chance to express its dissatisfaction with the verdict.

“It makes people aware that we are aware,” Jabar said.

Wes Weaver, 25, helped hold up a makeshift banner that read “Justice for Trayvon,” as the march ended.

“I came because the verdict wasn’t a shocker, and that’s a problem,” Weaver said. “I think it just needs to be said, and people need to know that other people feel the same way.”

Weaver said planning for Sunday’s protest began at a candlelight vigil held near City Hall after a jury cleared Zimmerman of all charges on Saturday night.

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