WASHINGTON — From New York to California, outrage over the acquittal in George Zimmerman's murder trial poured from street demonstrations and church pulpits Sunday as protesters called for justice for the unarmed youth he killed and demanded federal civil rights charges against him.
Protests were planned later Sunday in Boston, Detroit, Baltimore, San Francisco and other cities over the Florida case, which unleashed a national debate over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice. One protest in California hours after the verdict late Saturday ended with vandalism while police dispersed another crowd by firing beanbag rounds.
In Washington, the Justice Department said it is looking into the case to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case.
In a statement Sunday, the Justice Department said the criminal section of its civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida are evaluating evidence.
President Barack Obama called the death of Trayvon Martin a tragedy for the country and urged calm reflection, a message shared by religious and civil rights leaders hoping to ensure peaceful demonstrations in the wake of a case that became an emotional flash point.
In Manhattan, congregants at Middle Collegiate Church were encouraged to wear hooded sweatshirts in the memory of Martin, the black teenager who was wearing a hoodie the night he was shot to death in February 2012.
The Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, wearing a pink hoodie, urged peace and told her congregation that Martin Luther King Jr. "would have wanted us to conduct ourselves on the highest plane of dignity."
But, she added, "we're going to raise our voices against the root causes of this kind of tragedy."
Congregant Jessica Nacinovich, wearing a hoodie, said she could only feel disappointment and sadness over the verdict.