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. Kenneth barham

    Stand up america againsit thys black government we out number by the millions.... Its time stop giving into to thys communist country free zimmerman hes basically innocent in these oarts we would do the same who wouldnt have ran a hid if a lynch mob was after me especially monkeys with guns they dont know how to act.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big El 42

      What are you blabbing about? Please write coherent statements.

      April 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSensed

      First, go back to school and learn grammar, then perhaps you can come back and make fun comments that make no sense.

      April 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bubba

    Ooh- Ra! Should have brought the chinese here as slaves instead. At least they work.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • NamDebra

      Almost every race/ethnicity has been subjected to some form of slavery, through foreign bodies, or even through their own people.. How many of them do you hear still trying to use their past as a way to guilt trip others,(who had no responsibility in the use of that slavery) using it, long after it ended as a reason to separate themselves from the ppl that they claim to want to be treated the same as? You can't have it both ways.. Either you want the special rules/laws, or you want to truely be on even ground with the rest.. It is insanity to scream from the rooftops, 'I want to be treated the same!', while embracing/benefiting from rules/laws, so on, that make that impossible. No more using race/ethnicity as a reason/excuse to draw attention to what u have/havent done, or what has/hasnt happened to you. It is a shameful double standard. I let my accomplishments speak for me, not the color of my skin! I am ashamed to be party to the same race as sharpton & his cronies... Sharpton, do us all a favor, and crawl back under your rock, quit benefiting from others tragedies for another 15 minutes of fame!

      April 13, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      Then....we have plain stupid....with nothing to say DAMN!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big El 42

      @NamDebra – I understand the point you are making...however I think you take for granted what "American Slavery" was and how it really crippled Black communities to present day. While Im not naive to ever believe everyone is using gov't sponsored programs as they were intended, I am also not naive to see there purpose, goals and see people using them in the right manner.

      You may criticize Al Sharptons motives. However Al Sharpton is speaking out on issues that do exists. Issues that should be addressed so you can go to work and home or out for a night on the town in peace without being profile for being black.

      You should never let racism ruin you drive for success no matter your race. However, People who think not reporting on racial incidents will make racism go away are just delusional (this is not the 50 and 60s anymore)

      April 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reynolds

      You are an idiot. You won't use my Corps' battlecry to justify a rascist statement.

      April 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. N Tyler

    What maked make you thank black American dont work you wouldnt be where you at because of salvery we are sick of being labed and treated like we are nobody when we work and pay taxes money dont have no color.Here in Seattle more fake white people is on ssi and havent work at all get your facts staight.Let Zimmerman go to Mexico and watch there they need help.Wake up white people black people is not your ememies its who you leting in our country who hate use the Jewish love use but we look over them.wake up

    April 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      You need to go to school, go back to school.....or something! .......Another TRYING to say something

      April 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. N Tyler

    You never crawl from under your rock take a chance then you can see peace There are some people stand up for what they thank is right how come we cant.Its bad in every race.We is not fixing to act no fool we will let the lord handle that.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      What in the world are you trying to say? fixing to act no fool???

      April 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lisa thorpe

    We peelep need to come together the world need us to do that went that come the world will be better god love all peele good r bad but he dont want us to take one else life my heart goes to the familys god love the world he gave his son so we can be on world earth p.s love the thorpe family lisa , james, and nathaniel

    April 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SAVIOR at WGFN (who gives a fork news)

    Either my meds kicked in or I m stupid but I don't seem to be able to understand what. Some of you are trying to say. Damn my head hurts now.but looky here ..no matter what the race we are all Americans (unless you are here illegally) and we do need to stand as one against our true enemy ..our government it's them that divided us into groups if we unite we can stand and fight them in order to form a better union. The USA is no longer an American country it's owned and operated by outside countries its time we take to the streets and demand our government to take our land back or we will. Then we can give it back to the Indians

    April 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Four hundred years of free slave labor helping to build this country from the ground up and decades of segregation, lynchings and oppression under Jim Crow! Now, how many other racial and ethnic groups in America went throug the same experience? I can help you with that! None! As I said before, the freedom of African-Americans in this country came the old fashion way! We earned it!

    Furthermore, the Trayvon Martin murder has nothing to do with race whatsoever and all to do with the outrageous crime itself! Perhaps you rightwing bigots haven't been paying attention to the news but if you did, you would have discovered that Whites, Hispanics, Asians and Black Americans and all racial and ethnic groups in America have protested this crime and demanded justice simply because an unarmed and innocent child was murdered and the authorities failed to do an investigation! I don't care if the victim was Hispanic, Asian, White or of some other ethnicity, the reality is anytime an innocent person in murdered in America, we all should demand justice! A year ago four young white men ran over a black man with their truck in Mississippi and killed him but there was no uproar by blacks anywhere simply because the authorities in Mississippi did their job and arrested the assailants as was the case with the recent hate crimes in Oklahoma! So please, let's stop bashing the black community for demanding justice when half of the country is also demanding justice!

    April 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. charley witt

    Liston folks I feel we all need to boycott Florida.After Casey Anthony and now this with Zimmerman and Martin.Are the jurors still in hiding with the Anthony debacle? Disney World for example much to hot and humid with tons of bugs.Go to Disneyland and enjoy the weather and not worry about crime and injustice in Florida.Miami is called Dodge City and the rest of the State isn't much better. Stop vacationing in Florida and show them we don't support their laws or lawlessness. Not only will you feel much better about boycotting Florida but you won't put yourself or your family in harms way.To all my brothers and sisters out there of all race and religion be smart,be safe,and stay out of Florida.

    April 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. james

    This situation is playing right into obamas hands, he wants racial problems and the more the better since his polling numbers are so low, he can call a state of emergency, if it gets too far out of hand he can suspend the elections because he cannot win on his record, thats for sure.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CommonSensed

    And if Zimmerman is found not guilty will this go away. No...the black community will cry foul and the monotonous tune of "I'm a victim of the system" will continue.

    April 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TheTransceiver

    The blacks will riot and kill in retaliation for the not guilty verdict that will be coming. Brace yourselves America.

    April 18, 2012 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. TheTransceiver

    Rodney King verdict will pale in comparison to how many innocent white people are going to be killed by blacks when Zimmerman is not found guilty of second degree murder. Brace yourselves America. 90% of blacks will show their true colors , pun intended.

    April 18, 2012 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joe

    She's too dark for an Aura commercial.

    April 20, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
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