THE acquittal last weekend of George Zimmerman, who shot a
17-year-old black high-school student last year, has prompted "a
renewed call for racial justice" from the National Council of
Churches (NCC) in the United States.
Mr Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch co-ordinator for a gated
community in Sanford, Florida, shot dead Trayvon Martin in February
last year. Mr Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, and
manslaughter, but was found not guilty on both charges by a jury on
Saturday. Mr Zimmerman's lawyers argued that he acted in
self-defence and with justifiable use of deadly force. The US
Attorney General, Eric Holder, has announced an investigation into
Mr Martin's death.
The NCC said in a statement on Monday that it was joining "other
people of faith and conscience in a renewed call for racial justice
. . . even when the headlines fade, we witness every day in our
neighbourhoods, towns, and cities how our culture of violence preys
upon all of us, with the most deadly impact on the lives of people
The chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, the Rt Revd
Stacy Sauls, said on Monday: "Does this whole sordid affair lay
bare the reality that our society values white lives more than it
values black lives?"
A group of church leaders in Sanford, operating under the name
Sanford Pastors Connecting, has set up weekly prayer meetings since
the verdict was announced. One of the group, the Revd Charlie Holt,
Rector of St Peter's Episcopal Church, Lake Mary, told the
newspaper USA Today on Sunday: "Our call is to pray for
our community for the long-term unity, peace, and strength of
relationships. Our churches welcome any and all to come and offer
prayer to the Lord."
An Episcopalian priest in the diocese of Kansas, the Revd
Benedict Varnum, wrote on his blog on Monday that "we need to
acquire whatever tools of anti-racism we can, and bear them with
us. Because every bit that we can ease race prejudice makes it that
much less likely that power will be used to kill another child in
this way. The law may not be able to fight racism. But we can
define the racism, and bring it to light when we see it, and . . .
try to break down prejudice, piece by piece."