After ‘Justice for Trayvon’ Rallies, Protesters Defend Zimmerman
HOUSTON — Dueling marches here Sunday in support of and in opposition to the verdict in the George Zimmerman case led to a massive police deployment, heated face-offs but no violence, police said.
For many, the protests showed that although the controversial court case may be over, the debates it sparked concerning racial profiling and “stand your ground” self-defense laws have only grown, leading to demonstrations this weekend in more than 100 cities in support of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman, 29, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was acquitted this month by a Florida jury in the fatal shooting of Martin on Feb. 26, 2012. A Justice Department inquiry into the case is still underway.
Unlike in other cities, Sunday’s protest here drew several hundred Zimmerman supporters who, though far outnumbered, were outspoken and determined to be seen.
They organized after Houston-based New Black Panther activist Quanell X announced plans to march through the wealthy River Oaks neighborhood to protest the verdict in the Zimmerman case. Their opposition group formed first on Facebook, G. Zimmerman River Oaks Stand Your Ground, then gathered at a small park near the site of the demonstration, the River Oaks gateway.
“Everyone here, their belief is this is an issue of the right to keep and bear arms and the right to self-defense,” said Carl Haggard, 65, a Houston lawyer who helped organize the group.