Nightly News   |  July 20, 2013

Across US, people rally post-verdict

It has been a week since a jury in Florida found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin. Since then, Americans have been grappling with the meaning of that verdict. NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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>>> good evening. it is a week since a jury in florida found george zimmerman not guilty in the death of trayvon martin . since then, americans have been grappling with the meaning of that verdict. race has been an inescapable part of that conversation. yesterday, a pensive president obama spoke for 19 minutes about the case. he said trayvon martin , quote, could have been me 35 years ago. across the country today, there were numerous vigils and rallies. nbc's michelle franzen is in lower manhattan with the latest. michelle, good evening.

>> good evening, harry. the verdict in florida has become a flashpoint over the laws here, self-defense laws, and also about race. crowds gathered in protest and in prayer, and called for outrage to be turned into action. some echoing the president's own words. a day after president obama weighed in on the trayvon martin verdict --

>> trayvon martin could have been me 35 years ago.

>> reporter: -thousands turned out in a show of solidarity at justice for trayvon vigils coast to coast .

>> your job right now is to spread the word.

>> reporter: the reverend al sharpton 's national action network organized rallies in 101 cities. turnout was sparse in some areas but in major cities like miami, a chorus for change.

>> we are trayvon!

>> i am!

>> i am!

>> reporter: in manhattan reverend sharpton rallied the crowd, including a show of support by stars beyonce and jay-z, calling again for the justice department to file federal civil rights charges against george zimmerman . by his side, members of trayvon martin 's family, including his mother.

>> not only do i vow to you to do what i can for trayvon martin martin , i promise you i'm going to work hard for your children, as well. because it's that important.

>> reporter: in miami, trayvon martin 's father says it's time to turn the anger and anguish into action.

>> one of our biggest missions is to make sure that we advocate against senseless violence. we just have to come together.

>> reporter: an echo of the president's call for calm.

>> if i see any violence, then i will remind folks that dishonors what happened to va von martin .

>> reporter: those words resonated at the vigils today.

>> for the longest time, racism in this country has been swept under the rug. when he stands up and says, i, i was trayvon martin 35 years ago, it resonates. that you can't sweep under the rug.

>> reporter: organizers are also calling for a review or a repeal of the stand your ground laws like the one in florida , at the heart of george zimmerman 's defense. harry?

>> michelle franzen , thank you.