Amid the outcry that has erupted in large protests around the country following the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, several New Jersey lawmakers called the decision an injustice.
On Saturday, Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, was found not guilty by a jury in the fatal shooting last year of Martin, an unarmed, African-American teen in a housing complex in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman’s lawyers made the case he did act in self-defense and cited the state’s Stand Your Ground Law.
New Jersey pols who have expressed outrage at the decision include Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Sen. Barbara Buono and U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Frank Pallone.
Here is a sample:
Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18) of Metuchen, Democratic gubernatorial candiate
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Martin family during this unimaginably difficult time. Last night’s verdict was an outrageous injustice. No unarmed child should have to worry about being followed, confronted and killed while out buying candy. We cannot accept laws that encourage vigilantism and gun violence in the name of self defense. The time for change is now.”
Rep. Frank Pallone, U.S. Senate candidate
“The not guilty verdict handed down in the murder trial of George Zimmerman marks a heartbreaking chapter in our nation’s criminal justice system. Nothing can take away the profound sadness of Trayvon’s family for having lost their loved one, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.
“The death of Trayvon Martin and the resulting not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman underscores the troubling reality in our society that gun violence continues to threaten our families and communities. Far too many lives have been destroyed by gun violence and Trayvon’s death is yet another example of the fact that we need a change in the way our culture deals with both guns and race.
“The simple facts are that there are too many guns on our streets and too many people are too quick to use them. It is long past time for Congress to take action on gun violence. We need to adopt common sense measures that would reduce the proliferation of guns in communities throughout the nation.
“This incident also raises questions about another disturbing reality in American culture—racial profiling. The presence of a gun in a confrontation that began with the racial profiling of Trayvon Martin created a recipe for disaster that fateful night. Trayvon’s death and the ensuing trial have made it clear that we need to have a national conversation on race and civility. In fact, we need to do more than talk about race, we need to work to promote greater sensitivity, and respect for all Americans of all backgrounds.”
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15) of Ewing:
“The verdict is difficult to comprehend since minimally, had George Zimmerman followed the principles of a neighborhood watch, stayed in his car and sought law enforcement assistance, no murder trial would have been necessary and Trayvon Martin would still be alive.
“It’s sad and scary to me that someone’s appearance and dress alone are reasons to assume the negative about another human being.
“This verdict is confounding. It’s impossible to forget that Zimmerman got out of his car and had a weapon on him. Are we saying it’s OK to follow and then shoot an innocent person on the street? That should never be acceptable in America.
“Society only functions in a healthy manner if everyone participates lawfully and fully with respect for others, but this verdict is a stunning failure of justice.”