The family and supporters of Trayvon Martin expressed relief and gratitude with Florida State Attorney Angela Corey's announcement that she will pursue a second-degree murder charge against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who fatally shot the unarmed teen.
"We just wanted an arrest, and we got it, and I say thank you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus," said Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.
The announcement, and news that Zimmerman was in police custody, came more than six weeks after Trayvon’s death on Feb. 26. Since then, there have been protests across the country and furious debate about race, justice and self-defense.
Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, also thanked supporters, including the thousands of people who took to the streets to draw attention to his son’s case.
"This is just a beginning," he said. "We will continue the walk by faith, we will continue to hold hands on this journey — white, black, Hispanic, Latino. We will continue to walk. We will march and march and march until the right thing is done."
'Charged is not convicted'
The buzz on social media suggested that the decision to charge Zimmerman was a legal milestone, but that the case will remain the focus of intense attention.
Many postings were from supporters of the Martin family. They expressed relief as well as lingering anger about the length of time it took to get to Corey's announcement.
Others said they worried about whether Zimmerman could get a fair trial.
"Zimmerman is now, finally, in custody. Day 44," tweeted Kayla Ciara. "There’s finally justice for #TrayvonMartin#BoutTime."
"First he was not arrested for over 40 days, then he is given a lenient charge, why do I have a bad feeling that this is being set up to cause anger," reader Abiola Jomilogu posted on msnbc.com US News Facebook page.
"Lets remember being charged is not being convicted and sentence don't think the job is done still need justice #TrayvonMartin, wrote Tapmoney.
"Justice has been served on this 11th day of April. RIP #trayvonmartin. Your last cries still haunt us all as a wake up call why we must VOTE!" posted Miss Disilgold.com
"Well done, Florida. You got there in the end #trayvonmartin," Nick Hall posted.
From Bart Orr was this comment: "2nd degree murder? I'm tryna figure what happened to the 1st degree!! #TrayvonMartin."
But there were others who expressed apprehension about whether Zimmerman would be treated fairly in the courts, given the amount of publicity and emotion the case has generated.
"If #GeorgeZimmerman is acquitted will the race hustlers using #trayvonmartin be satisfied? Obviously not," wrote RadicalCenter.
"Another media circus trial coming to the Central Florida area soon... #TrayvonMartin#GeorgeZimmerman," lamented Marty Robinson @martygreer15s.
"Seems like a witch hunt...if they have a law regarding what happend then why are they trying to put this guy on trial....because the same public that voted for that law now wants to convict a guy that it applies to ???" wrote Gene Towner.
Zimmerman initially told police that he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense because Martin attacked him. Police questioned him at the police station but no charges were filed.
Trayvon’s parents believe the 911 calls and other evidence disprove Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.
Their calls for justice have sparked protests, furious debates about race and self-defense, petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures calling for Zimmerman’s arrest, and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The police chief in Sanford, where Martin was killed, stepped aside amid accusations that the department bungled in its handling of the case. The special prosecutor was brought in to investigate weeks after the shooting.
A lot of information 'premature and inappropriate'
"This matter is now in the hands of the judicial system and I am confident justice will prevail. As the process continues, it is critical that we be patient and allow the proceedings to move forward in a fair and transparent manner," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a statement issued after Corey’s announcement. "I thank State Attorney Angela Corey for her diligence in conducting a thorough investigation. We will all continue to look for answers to the Trayvon Martin tragedy."
Zimmerman turned himself in to police on Wednesday, according to his newly hired attorney Mark O’Mara, who told the press that his client will plead not guilty in Martin's death.
At a news conference outside his office, O'Mara told reporters that Zimmerman voluntarily surrendered to Florida authorities, and that authorities were moving him to custody in Seminole County.
"He's concerned about getting a fair trial and a fair presentation," O'Mara said. "There's obviously been a lot of information flowing. I think a lot of it has been premature and inappropriate."
"The worst thing that can happen in this case is that it doesn't get tried properly," O'Mara said. "Give us our chance to do it the way it's supposed to be done."
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