MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – Trayvon Martin’s family and neighbors from his hometown of Miami Gardens gathered Sunday morning to pray and speak about the acquittal of George Zimmerman.
At the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church those in attendance were heartbroken over the not guilty verdict.
“We’re very concerned, very hurt, and very disappointed. We know at the end God will prevail,” said Martin’s cousin, Roberta Felton.
“I want to cry because I feel like he should have been convicted but they didn’t convict him,” said family friend Rita Crawford. “I leave it in God’s hands because ultimately whether he was guilty or not, he’ll have to pay the price when Judgment Day comes. God will handle everything.”
Those in attendance turned to God to pray for peace and make sense of the acquittal that they felt was unjust.
“I think the justice system is messed up,” said church member Fletcher Johnson.
“Justice would have been if they held Zimmerman responsible in some shape, form or fashion,” said another church member, Eddrick Treumpler.
“I think he should have been found guilty of something. This kid was walking down street minding his business,” said Felitia Guobadia. “Had he not followed him, he would be alive today.”
Church pastor Arthur Jackson, who has stood by the Martin family through their grief, said the community respects the verdict, but they don’t understand it.
“I’ve received phone calls from a number of our young people, our youth, young men they’re concerned, they’re confused, they’re literally devastated,” said Jackson.
He asked that the people trust in God just as Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, has.
“I was so incredibly proud of her in the midst of her hurt, her confusion, in the midst of feeling like her world is being torn apart and turned upside down. She still believes that god is in control,” said Jackson.
“This has been a tragedy. But coming from a tragedy there has been a movement,” said Martin’s cousin, Iesha Felton. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else, there’s no reason this should happen to any other families.”
“We ought to have greater expectations. It was Zimmerman’s expectations of what Trayvon was that caused him to follow him, that caused him to call the police, caused him to pursue him and ultimately cause him to kill him,” said Miami Gardens Mayor, Oliver Gilbert. “It’s the same low expectations that people have in this community.”
At Trayvon Martin’s old barbershop, Flat Tops and Fades, the television sets were still tuned to the news.
“We’re usually a sports shop, but once the trial came on, sports was out the door,” barber Bruce Cowpert said. “Once I heard the verdict, I was really sick to my stomach, like numb. Like a whole 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe it.”
Steve Bass was Trayvon’s barber. He said he gave the boy his first haircut.
Bass held up a photo on his phone of a toddler Trayvon sitting at his barber chair.
He said, as a father, he is grieving right along with Trayvon Martin’s parents.
“Last night was a real shocker,” Bass told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana. He said the verdict “felt like him being shot again.”
“When I heard the verdict, I was pissed,” barber Peter Pender said. “To be honest with you, I was pissed.”
Despite their anger and frustration, they hope Trayvon’s death was not in vain.
“It don’t have to be a black or white thing,” Bass said. “Just learn something.”