Vigils planned for 100 cities over shooting verdict

Vigils and rallies will be held in 100 US cities this weekend to press for federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman over the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

The prominent civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton announced the plan outside the Justice Department in Washington.

He did not say which cities would be involved, but did say the rallies and vigils will be staged on Saturday at federal buildings.

Zimmerman’s acquittal last weekend sparked protests across the US. The Justice Department is investigating whether he violated the black teenager’s civil rights when he shot the 17-year-old during a confrontation in Sanford, Florida, in Feb 2012.

The neighbourhood watch volunteer, 29, said he fired his gun in self-defence, and a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.

Meanwhile, soul music legend Stevie Wonder has said he will not perform in Florida or any other states with a “stand your ground” firearm self-defence law.

In a video posted on YouTube, the 63-year-old said at a concert in Quebec City, Canada, on Sunday “that until the ‘stand your ground’ law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again”.

He added: “Wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world.”

The “stand your ground” law allows people to use deadly force if they believe their life is in danger.

Mr Sharpton spoke after violence erupted on the West Coast during protests over the acquittal. Los Angeles police said about 150 people broke off from a larger, peaceful protest and began walking through the streets, committing multiple acts of vandalism and several assaults.

More than 300 officers were called to the scene but they held back from directly engaging with the crowd in a bid to allow a peaceful end to the protest. Thirteen people were arrested and officers warned they would adopt a much stricter stance if the protests continued.

At least one person was injured and police made nine arrests when another protest turned violent in Oakland.


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