April 12th, 2012
04:45 PM ET

After Zimmerman’s arrest, Martin’s advocates laud public pressure

After neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder in the February shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the teen’s mother said she finally got what she asked for.

“Thank God. We simply wanted an arrest," Sybrina Fulton told reporters shortly after the charge was announced. "We wanted nothing more and nothing less, and we got it."

Fulton’s comments were among a wide range of reactions from people across the country who advocated for the arrest of Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who claimed self-defense in Martin’s shooting and wasn’t charged until a special prosecutor’s review of the case.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who advocated for Martin’s arrest, said Wednesday that "there should be no high-fiving" over Zimmerman's charge. But he lauded the public pressure that he said caused Florida’s governor to order a prosecutor to review the case.

"If we did not get this far, we would condemn them," Sharpton said. "We must say that despite the fact that we are of ... different political persuasions ... we came together and said only the facts should matter."

Authorities have said Zimmerman was not immediately charged because there were no grounds, at the outset, to disprove his account that he'd acted to protect himself. But rallies – first in Sanford, Florida, where the shooting happened, and then around the country – called for Zimmerman's arrest and criticized the police department's handling of the case.

Martin's death has triggered a nationwide debate about race in America – Zimmerman is Hispanic and Martin was black - and Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury.

Like Sharpton, a college student who organized a rally in Texas last month expressed relief over the arrest, saying that public pressure got the justice system to move in the way she believes it should.

“This is perfect. This is awesome. I'm glad they're jumping on it," Jylise Smith, president of the NAACP chapter at Texas Southern University, told CNN affiliate KPRC. "I'm glad that, as America, we're doing something about this.”

Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Martin’s parents, said Wednesday that “we can take a short breath, because we are just now getting to first base."

"This is only first base,” Crump said. “Trayvon's legacy cannot be tarnished based on people doing sick things and acting (on) ignorance or using violence."

Martin’s father, Tracy Martin also said that “this is just the beginning.”

"The first time we marched (to call attention to the case), I looked to the sky and said, 'I will walk by faith,'” Martin recalled. "We will continue to walk by faith. We will continue to hold hands on this journey - white, black, Latino. … We will march and march and march until the right thing is done."

Ruben Navarrette Jr., a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group, wrote that the “case cries out for clarity and resolution, and the only place to get either is in court.”

But he wrote that too many people have their opinions of the case set in stone, and that everyone should take a step back and let the court process work.

“Whatever the verdict turns out to be, let's hope that both camps are mature enough to accept it. I'm not hopeful. Too many people have already made up their minds,” Navarrette wrote for CNN.com.

Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., told CNN’s Piers Morgan on Wednesday night that he believes the evidence will show that George was attacked and did act in self-defense, and that he will be exonerated.

Robert Zimmerman was asked what he would say to Martin’s family if he had the chance.

“When the wheels of justice turn, and when all of the system exonerates my brother – we are confident that will happen, that the truth will come out, and that George has been telling the truth the whole time – please, for peace’s sake, for the whole world, and for people who are observing our legal system, please accept that answer,” he told Morgan. “Please, in the name of peace, let’s accept that answer. Let’s let the system do its job.”

Others looked beyond the charges and focused on what they feel are wider issues that the shooting exposed.

Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, said he hopes the federal government will investigate what he believes was an inadequate initial investigation by the Sanford Police Department. He also said he believes Martin “was profiled because of his race,” and that the nation needs “to address the issues of racial profiling and the valuation of black men’s lives by law enforcement.”

“In the months ahead, the NAACP and our allies in the civil rights community will continue to take these issues on, as well as the urgent need to repeal stand-your-ground laws,” Jealous said.

Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program, said that Zimmerman shouldn’t be the victim of a rush to judgment after being charged. But he also said that regardless of the outcome of the case, “we would be doing a disservice to Trayvon Martin, to communities of color throughout the United States and to the nation as a whole if we failed to address the major issues of discrimination and fairness which this incident and many others have brought to light."

"The questions of whether the legal system truly provides due process to everyone regardless of race or ethnicity and whether everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy the benefits of our society still must be addressed and resolved," Parker said.

Shayan Elahi, attorney for the Florida Civil Rights Association, told the Orlando Sentinel that unrest in the Sanford area should lessen because of Zimmerman’s arrest.

"The arrest is partial closure for Trayvon’s family and the community at large," Elahi said. "It also means that Zimmerman will have his right to due process in court and not in the court of public opinion."

Gary Rufner, of Centreville, Virginia, told CNN affiliate WJLA that he thinks comment about the case is inappropriate until all the evidence is released.

"I don't believe we have heard all the facts. I don't think all of the facts in this case have been released as of yet,” Rufner said. “And from that perspective I can't give you an opinion."

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Filed under: Florida • Trayvon Martin
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. banasy ©

    Well, I'm sure they do...

    April 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. M. E. Collins

    I can understand the need to fully investigate this horrible tragedy, but with all the media attention how will any trial be unbiased.And we would all do well to remember that arrest does not mean conviction;that can only be done in a court of law with an unbiased jury.I would not want to serve on said jury because you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.The problem that really needs to be addressed is that dorky law of "stand your ground".The average citizen is not trained to react correctly even if they have a concealed carry permit.Neighborhood watch would be better served if they used cameras and cell phones and if you simply must have more; a taser.You can recover from a shock but dead is really hard to recover from

    April 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • common sense

      Well said mate

      April 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ♚Mmmmm♛

      collins you been duped by the new world order...tasers are violent and inhumane...they should be banned from the face of the earth...it is used to torture and electrocute the innocent...it causes it's victim to lose control of bodily functions...there have a lot of deaths attributed to its use...its use is indiscrimminately and can be employed against any and all citizens...tasers are a violent weapon...any precints or police department employing this weapon view its all citizens as enemies rather than those to protect and serve...somebody's sick notion of a cattle prod being applied to human beings...just sick...really sick

      April 13, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Jury duty? On this case? A couple pre requisites..10 cases of Perier, chocolate covered raisins, original beef jerky, and a sh!t load of double-cheese burgers.

    This man will go down..............only!

    April 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. sonnyofthemeek

    How about a little PUBLIC PRESSURE on this-
    Now that Mr. Zimmerman has turned himself in so the legal trying of this, as all cases should be can begin and true answers will emerge I have to say-

    To all who have rushed to comment, trying Zimmerman and Trayvon in the media (Edited tapes and all), street and congress, as well as our president (who has been as silent as all on the BOUNTY placed on a citizen of the US dead or alive by the new Black Panthers- DOJ never prosecuted their last crime), shame on you all. Where is the national outcry? We teach our children to be patient, honest and respectful and to not jump to conclusions before knowing all there is about someone or something. Tweeting innocent people's address who are not involved and now having to hide in fear away from their AMERICAN HOME ( What if it was the real Zimmerman;s mom and dad and harm befell them? Why is this not a crime in its self?). So called newscasters ( readers of script today) spewing their biased views in place of fact checked news. Millions being made off the death of another dead AMERICAN ( Trayvon) is getting out of hand. Supposed outraged students not in school but robbing Walgreens and missing out on their education. To turn up the heat you refer to his race (Zimmerman’s) as WHITE HISPANIC! When on air has this been said before of any race? Our President comes from two races, when has the news referred to him as white, or black African American as with Zimmerman? Oprah has commented to prove my point! Agree or disagree let me know please. Race has never been a true aspect of this case, let the facts, not those needing a soap box to spew hatred and unrest, decide this and all cases. Can we sue DOJ for allowing the New Black Panthers to announce on TV and on their radio ( remarks broadcast on news stating for them to Boot up and strap up for war ?) Will they ( the New Black Panthers) put a bounty on me, or you next with impunity? Write our President, or Attorney General and ask for his input, if you dare.

    April 12, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Charles manson

    It`s always has and always will be about race, do you people not know what country you live in and who started all this race hate. In other words dont dish out racism if you cant take racism

    April 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. ♚Mmmmm♛

    walgreens??? the dea are scrutinizing 6 stores in florida for their business practice of pain killer oxycodone...much less along chunky cheese and walmart, you'll be lucky if you get outta there without violence bitin' on the butt...

    April 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Bubba


    April 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom

      That's so all his peeps can understand hum.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rick

    Trying to come up with an evaluation of the quality of coverage by cnn and the rest of the media. I think the lyrics of Chicago's "razzle dazzle em" covers it

    April 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    well.. i tink dat serves him right, he got wat he barg 4!

    April 12, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Rick Ross

    This is an open and shut case unless Zimmerman can somehow prove through a hospital record that he was treated for a broken nose, lacerations to the head and was checked for brain damage. Zimmerman admits shooting Treyvon and there is no evidence to this point that proves there was any scuffle between the two. Ladies and gentleman, we have second degree murder. Unless Zimmerman can show that he and Treyvon were fighting for the gun and it went off during that fight, he's going to be found guilty. Of-course this also depends on how the jury is made up. If it is a majority White or Hispanic jury, Zimmerman will get off or will be found guilty of a lesser charge. If the jury is a majority Black, Zimmerman will be doing life in prison.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Rick Ross

    Also would someone please inform these idiot defense attorneys CNN keeps interviewing that second degree murder doesn't require the killer to show intent, just that he meant to do some kind of bodily harm. Zimmerman has already said he shot Treyvon, so the physical element has been satisfied. Unless it can be shown that the gun went off during a fight between the two men, the elements of second degree murder have been satisfied. The prosecutor does not have to show that Zimmerman had an intent to kill. Also the burden is on the defense to prove that the elements of either self-defense or the "stand your ground law" have been satisfied, not the prosecution. Please find people who went to a real law school the next time to interview someone concerning this issue.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Greg

    Would someone please inform these idiot defense attorneys CNN keeps interviewing that second degree murder doesn't require the killer to show intent, just that he meant to do some kind of bodily harm. Zimmerman has already said he shot Treyvon, so the physical element has been satisfied. Unless it can be shown that the gun went off during a fight between the two men, the elements of second degree murder have been satisfied. The prosecutor does not have to show that Zimmerman had an intent to kill. Also the burden is on the defense to prove that the elements of either self-defense or the "stand your ground law" have been satisfied, not the prosecution. Please find people who went to a real law school the next time to interview someone concerning this issue.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. ♚Mmmmm♛

    this world is evil and heartless and hateful...the saddest part in this story is the see the countenance of trayvon's parents especially his mother...she has the face of mary, the mother of jesus...i see the sword that pierce her heart and soul...no woman should undergo this type of anguish...it shows how unrepented this world can be even after 2000 yrs...

    April 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. NamDebra

    Mob rule/mob law/mob justice... You got to love it!! Omg, how far the justice system has fallen?!?

    April 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Kenneth barham

    Are we as people lost in morals? Are we as americans going to allow such to occur to a citizen like e the very many of us? The african american community an the whites that cant afford a mirror to kno they aint black hunted this man as if he was an animal..! Wow is that how we as people treat someone who shot somebody reguardless of having a gun I carry a gun an half the world does,, but when some punk 17 yr old is beating hell out of yolu ....well then you just always carried that gun around its not like the man ran in the house grabbed a pistol an said this cat dyin. Highly ddoubt it an, what man is going to shoot anyone over a drink an candy not in america unheard of but being beating to a point have to use deadly force in self defense then o yes many cases many many . So here we are divided whats wronf

    April 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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