ATLANTA - Emotions are running high in the wake of the not guilty verdict in the high-profile murder trial of former Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was cleared Saturday 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.
Sunday night, hundreds of people marched in southwest Atlanta, carrying signs in memory of Martin.
"When you're walking down the street, somebody's going to think you're up to no good because your skin is a certain color," Keiota Jones said. She brought her 11-year-old twin sons with her.
Marcus Kabel brought his own sign from Lilburn, along with the same hat his father wore to civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s.
"I'm 52 and the fact that we still have to be out here trying to raise problems like this is really sad," Kabel said.
A group of current and former students gathered near Atlanta University Center to discuss the case.
"I'm scared to have a son. I'm scared for a daughtr. I'm scared of what's going to happen to them every time they leave the house. Am I going to have to worry about them every time they leave the house to walk in their block?" demonstrator Eriqa Foreman said.
About 30 people attended a rally earlier in the day in Atlanta. Some wore hoodies similar to what Martin was wearing when he was shot. Others wore masks to cover their faces.
"He followed him when he was told not to follow him and ended up shooting him. Whatever the scuffle was, he shouldn't have followed him," marcher Abby Henderson said.
Another marcher said he was disappointed but willing to accept the outcome.
"The fact of the legal process, we have to respect that. The man got off not guilty. Do I feel that was right? No," Aaron Carter said.
Atlanta police said there were no incidents or arrests at any of the events in Atlanta.
On Sunday, the topic was top of mind at several metro Atlanta churches.
“It’s almost a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, and that’s why we come to church,” community activist Derrick Boazman told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman outside Thankful Baptist Church in Decatur.
At Victory for the World Church in Stone Mountain, Senior Pastor Dr. Kenneth Samuel called for peaceful protests.
"Trayvon Martin's death will not be in vain," he said.
There was a large police presence in downtown Atlanta immediately after Saturday’s verdict as dozens marched from Woodruff Park to the King Center. Much of the debate on the case has been racially-charged, as Zimmerman opponents believe he profiled Martin.
Channel 2’s Carl Willis was outside the courthouse in Sanford, Fla., where a crowd was gathered as the verdict came down. Many were shocked and angered.
“This gives everyone else precedent to do whatever they want to do,” one woman told Willis.
Willis said there were no Zimmerman supporters in the area.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed condemned the verdict, saying it reminds him why public safety is his No. 1 priority.
"The genuine tragedy of the Trayvon Martin case is that a mother and father lost their son senselessly. I find it troubling that a 17-year-old cannot walk to a corner store for candy without putting his life in danger. I find it more troubling that a citizen could not see a young African-American youth without immediately concluding that he was up to no good,” Reed said in a statement.
Both the Zimmerman and Martin families took to Twitter to express thanks and disappointment, respectively.
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