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Monday, July 15, 2013

Jesse Jackson: ‘I Do Not Accept’ Zimmerman Verdict

Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks during a rally on behalf of the family of shooting victim Trayvon Martin, Thursday, April 26, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks during a rally on behalf of the family of shooting victim Trayvon Martin, Thursday, April 26, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Civil rights leaders say the case against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is not over. Zimmerman was acquitted on Saturday in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, compares the verdict to the court cases of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers.

“Something about it was stacked from the very beginning.”

– Rev. Jesse Jackson

Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955. His killers were acquitted of kidnapping and murder, but later admitted to the crimes in a magazine article.

Evers was an African-American civil rights activist from Mississippi who was assassinated in 1963. Juries made up entirely of white men deadlocked twice on the guilt of the killer, who was eventually convicted 30 years later.

“Trayvon Martin defines this season. It’s the season where young black men are more likely to be jailed, profiled or unemployed or shot,” he told Here & Now.

Jackson says he does not accept the verdict, and is calling on the U.S. Justice Department to file criminal civil rights charges against Zimmerman. He expects a civil suit to be filed as well.

“Not one black lawyer on either side, not one black on the jury, not one male on the jury, and so something about it was stacked from the very beginning,” Jackson said.

Jackson says his message to those who have taken to the streets following the verdict, is to protest with dignity, discipline and non-violence.

“Do nothing that would diminish the moral authority of Trayvon Martin as a martyr in this case. To engage in violence would be to distract from the authentic nature of Trayvon’s witness and would add credence to — and some justification to some — for what George Zimmerman did.”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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