Join Date: Feb 2007
Local Time: 03:45 AM
Justice for Travoyn!
Zimmerman protesters raid LA store, stop freeway
Zimmerman's Parents in Hiding from 'Enormous Amount of Death Threats': ABC News Exclusive - Yahoo!
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Protesters ran through Los Angeles streets Monday night, breaking windows, attacking people on sidewalks and raiding a Wal-Mart store, while others blocked a major freeway in the San Francisco Bay area in the third night of demonstrations in California over George Zimmerman's Florida acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Fourteen people were arrested after multiple acts of vandalism and several assaults in Los Angeles' Crenshaw District. One man was seen in the street with a head injury and a TV crew received minor injuries in an assault.
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, police Chief Charlie Beck told a press conference. But the chief said police would take a much stricter posture in the coming nights.
"This will not be allowed to continue," Beck said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the trouble was caused by a small group exploiting the situation.
"The trial that we saw in Florida has ignited passions but we have to make sure that it will not ignite the city," Garcetti said.
Several hundred mostly peaceful protesters had gathered at Leimert Park southwest of downtown, many of them chanting, praying and singing.
But a smaller group of between 100 and 150 people splintered off, blocked traffic on nearby Crenshaw Boulevard, jumped on cars and broke windows at liquor stores and fast food outlets.
Several protesters ran into a Wal-Mart store and knocked down displays before store security chased them out. 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 an unlawful assembly about three hours after it began, and most of the crowd left the street.
Among those assaulted were a reporter and photographer for Los Angeles TV stations KCBS and KCAL. Reporter Dave Bryan and the photographer were interviewing a man in Crenshaw when a man tackled them and ran off. KCBS-KCAL reported (CBS2/KCAL9 Reporter, Photographer Attacked During Crenshaw Protests � CBS Los Angeles ) the crew was treated for minor injuries.
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.
"The Martin family didn't ask anybody to break car windows," he added. "They didn't ask anybody to take little kids' scooters. They didn't ask anybody to attack businesses and they certainly didn't say to take over traffic in the streets."
In Oakland, dozens of demonstrators briefly blocked Interstate 880 at the end of rush hour 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.
Police made nine arrests for crimes including assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism, police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said.
A waiter guarding windows at a restaurant was hit in the face with a hammer, and protesters threw fireworks at police in riot gear, newspapers reported. Police deployed flash-bang grenades.
The waiter's co-workers helped him ice his head as they waited for an ambulance, the Oakland Tribune reported (Oakland: At least two people injured during hours-long protest; freeway briefly shut down - Inside Bay Area ).
Witnesses told the newspaper that a protester was also injured after being struck by a police projectile. Police did not immediately respond to a request to confirm that report.
Demonstrations began in California Saturday night after the Florida jury returned its verdict.
George Zimmerman immediately went back into hiding after being acquitted of murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, his parents told Barbara Walters in an exclusive interview with ABC News, adding that they haven't seen him since he left the courthouse.
The Zimmermans said that because of "an enormous amount of death threats," they, too, have remained in hiding and still don't feel safe enough to return to their home in Orlando, Fla.
Two days after a Florida jury found their 29-year-old son not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Martin, 17, Zimmerman's parents, Robert Zimmerman Sr. and Gladys Zimmerman, sat down for their first television interview. They opened up about how their son's murder trial has affected their family and how he and they are struggling to cope with the aftermath.
"Under the circumstances, we have not been able to talk to him," Gladys Zimmerman told Walters. "To tell you the truth, we don't trust anything, not even the phones."
"We have had an enormous amount of death threats. George's legal counsel has had death threats, the police chief of Sanford, many people have had death threats," Robert Zimmerman said."'Everyone with Georgie's DNA should be killed' -- just every kind of horrible thing you can imagine."
George Zimmerman was accused of second-degree murder for shooting Martin on Feb. 26, 2012 inside a gated community in Sanford, Fla. While he admitted to shooting the unarmed teenager, Zimmerman maintained that Martin attacked him and he acted in self defense.
A jury made up of six women found Zimmerman not guilty of both second-degree murder and manslaughter charges Saturday after deliberating for more than 16 hours over two days.
But the family's celebration of George Zimmerman's new freedom has been short-lived. His parents said that their son has no job and no health insurance. Gladys Zimmerman said her son has been living off small monthly stipends from his legal defense fund.
"Even for us, we have not been living a normal life for the past months, it is hard," she said. "We have lost everything, everything -- the whole family, not only George. The whole family. We have lost everything."
When asked if her son could ever live a normal life again, Gladys Zimmerman said, "Only time will tell."
In the wake of Martin's death, the case quickly developed racial overtones when Sanford law enforcement declined to arrest Zimmerman, who is a white Hispanic -- his father is white and his mother is originally from Peru. Trayvon Martin is black.
George Zimmerman was arrested nearly two months after the incident when the state appointed Angela Corey as a special prosecutor and she brought second-degree murder charges against him.
Outrage and protests have reignited across the country since the not-guilty verdict was announced, something George Zimmerman's mother said was "hurtful."
"This is America, and we went through all of this with the judicial system," Gladys Zimmerman said. "They wanted an arrest for my son. They got an arrest. Now lets, you know, find a verdict ... now they have a verdict. ... He went through the whole process they were pushing for, and now they are not happy with the verdict, and I pray. I pray for them, for God to touch their heart."
In talking about Zimmerman's character, his parents painted a portrait of a young, outgoing, philanthropic man who looked out for his neighbors, who would buy fast food gift certificates for homeless people, who took care of family members, and as someone who mentored two young black siblings on some weekends.
George Zimmerman is "absolutely not" a racist, they said.
"He's never been taught to be a racist," Robert Zimmerman said. "Color is the last thing to come to his mind."
"When George first saw Trayvon Martin he had no idea what color he was," he added. "He knew he was inside a gated community. He didn't recognize him as living there. It was raining. He was just casually walking very slowly. But George did not initial know what race a person was."
Robert Zimmerman said the case brought against his son had "nothing to do with the facts" and that law enforcement didn't want to pursue a case against George Zimmerman until a special prosecutor was appointed and it became "a political decision."
"I never thought that we would see so much hatred, and the hatred is not brought on by any racial incident," Robert Zimmerman said. "It was brought on by attorneys being totally untruthful, other people being involved, having a certain narrative, having a certain agenda, and making this situation race-based and a political issue."
When asked what they would say to Trayvon Martin's family now, Gladys Zimmerman said, "We are deeply sorry for this tragedy.
"We pray for Trayvon Martin to be in a better place," she said. "He is always in our prayers."