Thousands of protesters chanting “No justice, no peace” gathered in New York City on Sunday to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, which prompted rallies across the country.
“I feel if we don’t step it up, we’re in trouble,” said Prince Akeem, 20, of the Bronx. “It’s young blacks being targeted and we have to stand up, stand up to the cops.”
About 1,000 to 2,000 of the demonstrators abandoned the protest site at Union Square to march in the streets toward Times Square, slowing or stopping traffic.
Police attempted to funnel the crowd into controlled lanes but were unable to. Police halted the march about eight blocks short of Times Square, which was already packed with tourists, as is typical on a summer evening.
A Reuters photographer witnessed police detain at least one protester. A police spokesman said he had no reports of arrests as of 7:45 p.m. (2345 GMT).
Saturday’s not-guilty verdict in Zimmerman’s Florida trial was decried by civil rights leaders and protests were organized in several cities, including Boston, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento.
In Boston, about 500 racially mixed protesters left their demonstration site in the Roxbury neighborhood and started marching in the streets.
U.S. President Barack Obama called for a peaceful response to the case that has polarized the U.S. public over the past 16 months, raising issues of racial profiling and gun control.