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George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin verdict sparks protests across NYC

Demonstrators attend a protest march in Times Square

Demonstrators attend a protest march in Times Square in response to the not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, on trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin. (July 14, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

From outrage in Harlem to a sit-in amid tourists in Times Square, New Yorkers voiced their frustration Sunday at the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin last year in a racially charged case.

One of a handful of protests in the city, a peaceful but loud group marched in Union Square before walking to tourist-laden Times Square. It capped a day of protests in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx that continued into the early morning Monday with a rally outside the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Earlier in the night, several hundred protesters were in the heart of Manhattan's tourist district -- packed with sightseers on a warm, muggy night -- at about 9 p.m., frustrated and bitter over Saturday night's acquittal of Zimmerman.

The protesters, with police following, marched to the TKTS booth in Times Square and staged a large sit-in. An NYPD spokesman Monday morning acknowledged arrests had occurred, but characterized them only as being "fewer than 20."

The Times Square sit-in was the most recent venting of anger as New Yorkers reacted to the jury's decision.

Martin, who was black, was unarmed when shot to death by Zimmerman after a confrontation. Prosecutors told the all-woman jury that Zimmerman, who has white and Hispanic parents, profiled Martin as a criminal, and civil rights groups alleged the shooting was racially motivated.

Earlier in Union Square, more than 1,000 protested, some with signs reading, "We are all Trayvon," and "Trayvon was every black woman's son."

Marchers chanted "No justice, no peace" as police surrounded the city square. Street artist Mark Panzarino, 41, created a murder scene-style chalk outline of Martin.

About 150 people joined in a Harlem rally outside the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building.

Demonstrators in Harlem held signs that read: "Trayvon Martin. Emmett Till. Medgar Evers. Victims of racist lynchers."

Events were planned for Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Sunday did not condemn the verdict but went after the "stand your ground" law that critics say provided Zimmerman legal cover to shoot Martin in self-defense.

"Sadly, all the facts in this tragic case will probably never be known," he said in a statement. "But one fact has long been crystal clear: 'Shoot first' laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism."

The top Democratic mayoral candidates were more pointed in their criticism Saturday and Sunday. Christine Quinn on Twitter called the acquittal a "shocking insult" to Martin's family. Anthony Weiner on Twitter asked that Martin's legacy be "a commitment to ending racial profiling."

Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson tweeted that Martin was killed because he was black and "no justice" was done in Florida. Bill de Blasio, at the Union Square rally, called the verdict "a slap in the face to justice."

Among top Republican mayoral candidates, Joe Lhota on Twitter said there were "no winners in Zimmerman verdict" and the verdict should be respected. John Catsimatidis tweeted that the law must be supported: "When you have safe streets, tragedies like this don't happen."

With Maria Alvarez, Tim Herrera, Ivan Pereira and Dan Rivoli

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