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Seminole County NAACP President Says Zimmerman Verdict a Setback for Sanford

July 15th, 2013 | WMFE- The president of the Seminole County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People says the not-guilty verdict in George Zimmerman's second degree murder trial is a setback to the city of Sanford. The jury also cleared Zimmerman of a manslaughter charge for fatally shooting teenager Trayvon Martin last year.

[Demonstrators waited outside the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center for the verdict Saturday. Photo by Matthew Peddie, WMFE]

NAACP Seminole County president Turner Clayton says he was surprised and heartbroken by the not guilty verdict.

He says the racial rifts brought to the surface by the case will take longer to heal.

“With the verdict that’s just been rendered, I see a whole lot of problems up ahead for the city of Sanford," says Clayton.

"I don’t see the city coming together as a whole like they wanted to happen. Right now it’s going to be even more split,” he says.

In the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death last year, Sanford’s police chief was removed over complaints about his handling of the investigation.

Clayton says even under a new police chief, restoring the African American community’s trust in the police department will take years.

And he says local civil rights activists will consider holding town hall meetings in the coming days for people express their concern about the case.

Meanwhile city officials and local church leaders are planning a prayer vigil to promote peace and unity in Sanford today at 12 noon.

After the verdict Saturday George Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O'Mara said the case was never about civil rights.

The not guilty verdict marked the end of a trial that drew national and international attention.
The case sparked nationwide protests last year led by civil rights leaders like the Reverend Al Sharpton and joined by thousands of people calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.
But defense attorney Mark O’Mara said the case was about self defense, not civil rights.

“This verdict still has nothing to do with civil rights," O'Mara said. 

"Civil rights needs to be talked about, but not in the context of the George Zimmerman verdict.”
Defense attorney Don West said he was sad that it took this long to get justice for Zimmerman. He said if he had been convicted it would have been “a travesty of justice.”
But Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump said it would be intellectually dishonest to ignore the racial undertones in the case.
“So we have to have very responsible conversations about how we get better as a country and move forward from this tragedy and learn from it.”
Crump said Martin would be remembered as a symbol of the fight for equal justice.

Crump’s law partner Daryl Parks said Martin’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin are “heartbroken” by the not guilty verdict.


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