FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) – A Ft. Lauderdale pastor is calling on those who take to the streets to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin to do so peacefully.
Dr. Marcus Davidson, senior pastor of New Mount Olive Baptist Church, will host a community peace rally on Tuesday night at his church located at 400 NW 9th Avenue.
“This rally is not for the sake of bashing George Zimmerman or any vigilante justice. This rally is for the sake of understanding regardless the verdict; we must ensure that peace prevails among our people and our community,” said Davidson. “This is not just a peace rally for Florida; this is a call for peace nationally.”
The activist group Dream Defenders called for a day of ‘direct action’ from their chapters in the state.
“This is a true American tragedy for every child, mother, father, brother and sister in the nation. This is a reminder that our communities still find themselves profiled, targeted and oppressed each day,” according to a statement from the group. “The battle for true justice in an unequal society is never simple. Florida has taken another one of ours. We must hold on to our anger in the face of the injustice and let the feelings of love for our community push us forward in fixing our broken society.”
Peaceful rallies turned violent in California Monday night.
In Oakland, dozens of demonstrators briefly blocked all lanes of Interstate 880 at the tail end of rush hour, stopping traffic in both directions for several minutes before lanes were cleared by authorities. Several protesters laid their bicycles on the ground in front of stopped cars.
“You’ve got to go. You will go to jail,” one police officer shouted at demonstrators who were blocking traffic, the Oakland Tribune reported. However, police decided not to make arrests as the marchers, chanting “Justice for Trayvon Martin,” were directed back to surface streets.
Later, another group tried to march up the onramp to Interstate 580 before being turned away by Oakland police and California Highway Patrol officers.
The freeway protesters broke off from a larger group organized via social media that gathered at Oakland City Hall about an hour earlier.
One person was injured when a protest got out of hand. According to reports, a waiter guarding windows at a restaurant was hit in the face with a hammer.
As protesters threw fireworks at police in riot gear, police used flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowds.
Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said nine people were arrested for crimes including assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism.
In Los Angeles, protesters ran through the streets breaking windows, attacking people on sidewalks and at one point raiding a Wal-Mart store.
Thirteen people were arrested after multiple acts of vandalism and several assaults in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference.
More than 300 officers were called to the scene and were at first slow to directly engage protesters in an attempt to allow a peaceful end to the demonstration, Beck said. But the chief said police would take a much stricter posture in the coming nights.
Several hundred mostly peaceful protesters gathered Monday night at Leimert Park southwest of downtown LA, many of them chanting, praying and singing.
But a smaller group of between 100 and 150 people splintered off and began blocking traffic on nearby Crenshaw Boulevard, some of them jumping on cars and breaking windows at liquor stores and fast food outlets.
Several protesters ran into a Wal-Mart store, where they knocked down displays before store security chased them out, and police began guarding the door.
Tonya Williams was shopping with her daughter when the protesters burst in and security briefly locked down the store.
“We thought we were going to be stuck in there,” Williams said. “We saw the merchandise all thrown around. They had pulled the rack down, and there was merchandise all over the floor.”
TV news helicopters showed some people kicking and punching others along the street, including two people sitting on a bus bench.
Police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly about three hours after it began, and most of the crowd left the street.
Garcetti, who returned early from an East Coast trip because of the demonstrations, praised the “overwhelming majority” who protested peacefully.
“We are a better city than what we have seen tonight in the hands of a few people,” the mayor said.
Over the weekend, demonstrators in Oakland and Los Angeles blocked traffic and clashed with police in protests over the Zimmerman verdict.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter Monday to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder supporting the Justice Department decision to review the case to determine whether Martin’s civil rights were violated.
“I respect the fact that the jury has spoken … but I don’t think this should be the last word,” Boxer wrote in the letter.
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