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Zimmerman Verdict Leaves Goldsboro Residents with Anger, Disappointment

July 14th, 2013 | WMFE - George Zimmerman's acquittal of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges has left many of Sanford's black residents with a sense of anger and disappointment.

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The historic black neighborhood of Goldsboro is just a few miles from the courthouse where Zimmerman stood trial. It's where community leaders began last year's out-cry for his arrest after he shot and killed unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin.

In the Allen Chapel A-M-E Church just off Goldsboro Boulevard, Pastor Valarie Houston dedicated the Sunday service to Trayvon Martin.

"We are somebody who must stand up and pray and tell America we've come too far to turn back now."

Worshippers sang, shouted, clapped and prayed, expressing joy, sadness, anger, resignation and defiance. A University of Central Florida student delivered a speech about the 17-year-old. Another young parishioner performed a dance in Martin's honor.

Houston delivered a sermon in which she evoked Martin Luther King Junior in calling for peace. She lamented black oppression and called on parishioners to rise up by voting and seeking an education and political office.

Historic Goldsboro Boulevard was quiet as parishioners filed out. Andrea Sibley, was selling caribbean food across the street as a fund-raiser for a local non-profit.

She said people in Goldsboro are feeling anger. 

"Just disappointment. Just more building of distrust in a criminal justice system and a Sanford Police Department that has not sought justice for the people of this community."

Up the street a recently installed memorial for Martin drew on-lookers on their way home from church. Some looked down on the memorial with their children at their side. Others snapped pictures for their Facebook pages, their way of affirming their support.

Assistant Pastor Venitta Robinson of Allen Chapel A-M-E Church stopped by the memorial on her way home. A Neighborhood Watch volunteer herself, Robinson felt the verdict was unjust.

"This is just the beginning. Even though the verdict is here you still have to keep going forward. You still have to believe, and you still have to keep going. You still have to keep pushing and believing."

Local civil rights leaders worked with authorities to promote a message of peace. Turner Clayton Junior, president of the local branch of the NAACP, was in Orlando Sunday at the organization's annual conference. He says the verdict left him saddened.

"We're looking at having several town hall meetings for them to come out to express their feelings, to release some of that anger that they have inside. That way they get a chance to get some response to that in order to help people calm their nerves. Because right now people are upset."

Back on Historic Goldsboro Boulevard, Moe Williams described the verdict as "pathetic." He was born and raised in Goldsboro said the verdict is reminder for black families that they must teach their children to be conscientious about their decisions.

"But not be angry, but take it out in a different way. You know, a different concept about life. Like I say, keep your name straight. Get you some education. Be able to vote. Go to the polls. You understand what I'm saying? And just try to live a good life but a decent life."

With church over, Historic Goldsboro Boulevard grew silent, but demonstrators in Sanford say they're not done with their protests.


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