Nightly News   |  July 14, 2013

Thousands take to streets following Zimmerman verdict

Thousands of Trayvon Martin supporters from across the country took to the streets after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder for the 17-year-old’s shooting death. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> jury spoke and today it seems everyone else has weighing in on the not guilty verdict in the george zimmerman second-degree murder trial. from the streets to social media , even to the white house . the shooting death of teenager trayvon martin in sanford , florida , almost 17 months ago, opened up emotional questions about racial profiling and about a person's right to defend themselves. it also sparked spirited demands for justice. tonight now that justice has spoken thoz conversations have maybe grown louder as thousands have taken to the streets in cities coast to coast . our team remains in place in sanford and kerry sanders was in the courtroom when the verdict was read, starts us off. kerry?

>> reporter: good evening, lester. residents here in sanford and across the nation gripped by this trial may want to know what swayed the jury to reach their not guilty verdict . tonight none of the six women who sat on the jury has revealed their identity. outside the courthouse the reaction was immediate.

>> how can you murder an innocent child and sleep at night? how can you?

>> the verdict is the verdict and it can't be changed, but i think as a community we have to pull together and try to make sense of everything.

>> reporter: and it's not just sanford . the nation watched this trial closely. in the early morning hours in washington anger over the verdict. and in cities like chicago and new york, the verdict touched a nerve.

>> i have a young daughter and i thought to myself, if it could happen to him it could happen to you.

>> reporter: these gatherings like so many across the country were organized on social media from facebook to twitter, there's also support for george zimmerman . one woman writes, the justice system works. zimmerman should never have been arrested. in this florida church and in the neighborhood where trayvon martin lived, today a call for calm.

>> the verdict is in and be peaceful about what it is. conduct yourself accordingly.

>> reporter: president obama today echoed that sentiment. "the death of trayvon martin was a tragedy not just for his family or any one community but for america. i now ask every american to respect the calm for reflection for two parents who lost their young son." this was not the first time the president has remarked on the case.

>> if i had a son he'd look like trayvon.

>> reporter: the death of the unarmed teenager triggered a wave of protests last year. today similar scenes after last night's verdict.

>> there are people who believe we live in a post-racial society. i get e-mails saying we have a black president , what more do you want? what more do you expect? and i think the case, frankly, provides an answer to those people that race is a factor in our society.

>> reporter: civil rights leaders say they're planning a rally here in sanford later this week. meantime they say they want to not only memorialize trayvon martin but they want to call on state legislators to change florida 's stand your ground law. lester?

>> kerry sanders in sanford . for