The Reverend Al Sharpton is calling the acquittal of George Zimmerman "an atrocity." The civil rights activist, who led rallies to bring charges against the Florida neighborhood watchman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, said Saturday's not guilty verdict is "a slap in the face to those that believe in justice in this country." The NAACP also said it was "outraged" and "heartbroken."
But even as reaction to the verdict poured in, activists and community leaders called for peace. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons was among those urging people to remain peaceful no matter what the outcome. The Reverend Jesse Jackson also tweeted, "Find a way for self construction not deconstruction in this time of despair."
The death of Trayvon Martin has become a benchmark case for the issue of racial profiling around the country. Even President Obama, the nation's first African-American President, weighed in on the case last year, saying, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder in the death of the unarmed Florida teen. His attorneys say Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense after a confrontation last year.