Oxford, rest of nation react to Zimmerman ruling

Posted on Jul 16 2013 - 2:39am by Michael Quirk & Pete Porter

As George Zimmerman was ruled not guilty on Saturday people across Oxford and the nation responded.

Many, including University of Mississipi student Meredith Parker, are outraged by the decision.

“I was pretty upset because I feel like there was a lot of racial profiling that took place and I tried to do research on it because I didn’t want the verdict to be true,” said Parker, a senior biology major from Jackson. “I wanted to be wrong. The more and more research I did, the more unjust the whole situation was.”

After the jury ruled Zimmerman not guilty on Saturday, a candlelight vigil was held by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the James Meredith statue on campus.

This response to the ruling was one of many across the nation on Sunday.

Some advocates want federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, who was acquitted Saturday in Martin’s 2012 shooting death. The Justice Department has said it’s considering whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case. The department opened an investigation into Martin’s death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.

There are mixed emotions as this case has almost divided the country into a debate on the ruling. Many, such as senior Gloria Briggs, have used social media as a way to learn more about the case as well as express their opinion on the subject.

“I didn’t really follow the case much, but I learned about it through Twitter and I was kind of shocked to hear he wasn’t guilty,” said Briggs, an integrated marketing communications major from Minnetonka, Minn.

Others like Crimens Clifford chose to stay away from social media in order to avoid the never-ending amount of opinions on the subject as well as conflict with peers.

“After I heard the verdict, my first thought was to stay off social media so that my views wouldn’t be misconstrued by arguments and comments by my peers,” said Clifford, a senior print journalism major from Samford, NC.

One common claim about the case is that Zimmerman was acquitted because the case was about a black teen, making the case a white vs. black issue. However, student Tobi Olayemi thinks there is more to the story.

“I feel like most black people were like ‘this is a white against black thing’ but technically Zimmerman is Hispanic. It’s not a black or white thing. There are lots of sides to the story,” said Olayemi, a junior biology major from Nigeria.

Among the cities that saw protests were New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Rallies were mainly peaceful nationwide as demonstrators expressed their support for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s family and protested the ruling, though some violence did occur.

President Barack Obama, Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson have urged calm during a time that has already seen violence. In Oakland, Calif., during protests that began late Saturday night, some angry demonstrators broke windows, burned U.S. flags, vandalized a police squad car and spray-painted anti-police graffiti.

But not all demonstrations have been out of anger. At a service in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman was tried, teens wearing shirts with Martin’s picture wiped away tears during a church sermon held in Martin’s honor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.