|'Justice for Trayvon' Rallies Sweep More Than 100 Cities|
|By ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Jul 20, 2013, 12:42 PM|
Outside federal courthouses in more than 100 cities across the country, people are rallying in hopes of provoking the Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman one week after he was found not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Organized by Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, the "Justice for Trayvon" vigils are scheduled to take place at 12 p.m. local time throughout 101 cities nationwide, according to the organization's news release.
Sharpton assembled preachers to hold prayer vigils and rallies outside courthouses to spark the Justice Department "to investigate the civil rights violations made against Trayvon Martin," according to a news release.
"We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again," Sharpton said to supporters who had gathered outside the New York City Police Department headquarters in New York this morning, The Associated Press reported.
Sharpton will be joined by Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, and brother, Jahvaris Fulton, in New York City, the news release said. Meanwhile, Martin's father, Tracy Martin, will stand with supporters in Miami.
Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, 29, said he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, while prosecutors argued that Zimmerman "profiled" Martin and concluded he was a criminal.
The case incited a firestorm of debate around the issues of gun control, stand-your-ground laws and race relations that remain pervasive even after a jury found Zimmerman not guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter one week ago.
While the Justice Department released a statement after the verdict saying its investigation into whether the shooting was motivated by racial pretense is ongoing, a petition by the NAACP calling for a federal prosecution of Zimmerman gained hundreds of thousands of signatures within the first few hours of the jury's decision.
Even President Obama has weighed in on the polarizing court decision. At a news conference in the White House briefing room on Friday, the president said Zimmerman's acquittal was frustrating to the African American community because of a "history that doesn't go away,"
"Travyon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," the president said. "In the African-American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here. I think it's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of different experiences and a history that doesn't go away."
ABC News' Shushannah Walshe contributed to this report.