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'Justice for Trayvon' marches take place across America

Meanwhile, President Obama has urged calm.

A demonstrator chants during a march in New York yesterday.
A demonstrator chants during a march in New York yesterday.
Image: John Minchillo/AP/Press Association Images

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has described Trayvon Martin’s death as a tragedy for his family, his community and America as a whole.

In a statement issued following the acquittal of George Zimmerman – the neighbourhood watch volunteer accused of pursuing the 17-year-old and shooting him dead at a gated community in Florida – Obama acknowledged that the case “elicited strong passions” across the nation.

However, he called for calm in the wake of the verdict, stating the nation of laws and a jury had spoken.

“I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our communities.

We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this county on  a daily basis.

“We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies lie this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.”

Jediah Jones, 3, holds a sign as her mother Keiota Jones, stands behind her during a protest the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin

An all-female jury returned a verdict of ‘ not guilty’ in the case on Saturday. Zimmerman, 29, had argued self-defence as the reason he shot Martin, who was unarmed. According to Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, people who fear for their lives can use deadly force to defend themselves without having to flee a confrontation.

The shooting and subsequent trial heightened racial tensions across the nation.

Crowds took to the streets to protest the verdict yesterday in cities including Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In New York, several thousand rallied in Times Square waving signs with portraits of Martin, while others wore “hoodie” sweatshirts, despite the searing heat, as the teen did the night he was killed.

“The man was armed, the kid was not, and the man with the gun got away,” said 21-year-old  protester Carli VanVoorhis. “If we say it was not a racial issue, we would be lying.”

Additional reporting by AFP

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