Indianapolis leaders call for calm following Zimmerman verdict

George Zimmerman waits to hear the verdict Saturday night.
Published: .
Updated: .

City leaders in Indianapolis are asking for peace in the wake of George Zimmerman being acquitted in the case of Trayvon Martin's shooting death in Florida.

Indiana Black Expo President and CEO Tanya Bell and Indianapolis City-County Council President Maggie Lewis both issued statements late Saturday after the verdict was announced at around 10:00 pm.

"While citizens of a Democracy must accept the outcome of a judicial system that works more often than not, there is nonetheless a feeling of grave [disappointment] that the circumstances of and evidence presented in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was not compelling enough for this jury to render a guilty verdict," said Bell.

"We pray for peaceful acceptance of the verdict across the nation.  Rather than confrontational responses, those disappointed must instead channel that energy to push for the abolition of laws that justify conditions that provide too large a margin for error for individuals to justify taking another person's life," she added.

"Finally, we pray for ongoing dialogue and heightened sensitivity to matters of race and other divisive elements in a society far stronger when people of all orientations discover common ground and work together, celebrating their diversity while appreciating their own and every other culture," Bell said.

Maggie Lewis issued this statement: 

"Tonight, I along with a lot of you are absolutely shocked and totally disappointed about the verdict of not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin. As a mother of a young son this decision hurts my soul.  My prayers are with Trayvon's family who will have to live with this verdict as a constant reminder of this tragedy."

"I ask the City of Indianapolis to stay peaceful and deter from violence and rioting. We must use words rather than weapons to show the world our disappointment in this decision and make every effort to protect our youth."

Rep. André Carson issued this statement Monday:

Congressman André Carson joined prominent civil rights and community opinion leaders late last night for a national "No Justice No Sleep" conference call regarding the verdict in the State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman and how communities can move forward in the aftermath of the case.

As peaceful protests and rallies commenced throughout the nation, more than two thousand people called in for the discussion to hear from Congressman Carson, in addition to Angela Rye of IMPACT Strategies, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University, Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC and the Grio, author Goldie Taylor, Roland Martin, Attorney Benjamin Crump and members of the faith community.

On the call, Congressman Carson shared his thoughts on the verdict, the need to evaluate Stand Your Ground laws like the one in Florida and how we can better engage young people in political activism and advocacy, especially regarding issues of violence and education.

"Like millions of other Americans, I'm frustrated that a vigilante decided a young boy looked suspicious, even though he was not breaking the law. I'm frustrated that laws exist which embolden people like George Zimmerman to negligently take the law into their own hands. But most of all, I'm disappointed that a young boy – who could have been any one of our sons – was killed because he went out for a soda and some candy," Congressman Carson said.

Carson also discussed the need to bring our young people into the discussions about their own futures, calling for the creation of Youth Leadership Councils throughout the country that would provide a forum for honest debate about issues of community violence, education and the need to "extinguish the remnants of oppression and profiling that still exist in this country."

Congressman Carson went on to say, "Ultimately, we need to be building the next generation of leaders – people who will be Trayvon's voice."

The Department of Justice is now reviewing the case to assess whether federal civil rights charges will be brought against George Zimmerman. Congressman Carson intends to remain active in deliberations and discussions about the aftermath of this case.