Los Angeles officials have appealed for calm after protests turned violent over the acquittal of a neighbourhood watchman who killed a black teenager. Thirteen people were arrested amid vandalism and assaults in the Californian city’s Crenshaw district. The city’s police chief said his officers would adopt a tougher approach to any further disturbances.George Zimmerman, 29, was cleared on Saturday of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida last year. Federal officials are now investigating potential civil rights charges against Mr Zimmerman.
Los Angeles police said about 150 people splintered off from a peaceful vigil on Monday, some of them jumping on cars and breaking windows at fast-food outlets. Several protesters vandalised a Walmart in the neighbourhood. Aerial broadcast news footage showed some of the troublemakers kicking and punching people on the street.
Police, who brought 300 officers to the scene, declared an unlawful assembly about three hours later, and most people left soon after.In a late-night news conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the “overwhelming majority” who demonstrated peacefully. “We are a better city than what we have seen tonight in the hands of a few people,” the mayor said, characterising those who took part in the vandalism and assaults as opportunists. Meanwhile, in Oakland, California, protesters briefly shut down a highway during rush hour on Monday. Police made several arrests after disturbances broke out in the centre of the city that evening. Rocks and bottles were thrown at Oakland police officers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. It was the third night of protests over the Trayvon Martin case in the state of California. Peaceful demonstrations and vigils have been held in cities across the US, with more protests planned for next weekend.
Jury ‘was split’
One of the jurors of the sequestered, all-female panel of six told CNN in an interview aired on Monday evening that the jury had initially been split. The juror, known as B37, said that she and two others believed that Mr Zimmerman was not guilty, while the other three thought he was guilty. She said that after much deliberation, they ultimately agreed that not guilty was the only verdict they could reach based on the law in the case. B37 said she believes Mr Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place” and that the only thing he was guilty of was a lack of “good judgement” in confronting the teenager. She added that while “both [George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin] were responsible for the situation”, she had “no doubt George feared for his life”. B37 initially said she would write a book on the trial but has since changed her mind. Mr Zimmerman’s parents, meanwhile, told broadcaster ABC that they had been targeted by an “enormous amount” of death threats. “‘Everyone with Georgie’s DNA should be killed’ – just every kind of horrible thing you can imagine,” Robert Zimmerman, the father, told ABC about the threats.