Hundreds of people marched peacefully through Center City Sunday to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Philadelphia Police Lt. Dennis Konczyk of the civil affairs unit estimates that 700 people participated in the peaceful march.
The protesters chanted Martin's name as they walked through the city, from Love Park to the Liberty Bell and back. A 20-block round trip with heavy Philadelphia Police presence.
Abdul Jabar, a 44-year-old protester from West Philadelphia, says that although the protest won't change the verdict, it “makes people aware that we are aware.”
The rally grew through social media with little official organization apart from the frustration of its participants.
“This is what our ancestors fought for…is this what they paid? For us to be just discarded,” said Ashley Cole of West Philadelphia.
“I feel I have to be here physically, standing with the people who live in my city and across this country who are absolutely outraged,” said Kathryn Hinchey of Center City.
Organizers say they are angry about the verdict, which they view as unjust. They say they see the rally as something of a release valve for high emotions.
“People needed to exhale after last night,” said Manuel Glenn. “Last night caught America off guard and America needed to shout and vent but peacefully, so there are vigils like this everywhere and there should be. People have to exhale they have to get this out of their system.”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter issued a statement Sunday morning saying he was “deeply saddened by the verdict.
"I am deeply saddened by and strongly disagree with the verdict of “not guilty” in this case. A young black man is dead without any real explanation...Every day in America, African American males die on our streets in outrageously alarming numbers...we must all commit ourselves to eliminating the conditions in our community that cause too many people to see young African American males as “threats” instead of seeing the promise within each child,” said Nutter.