Immediately after the jury's not-guilty verdict was announced in the George Zimmerman trial, people were already wondering what the nation's reaction would be. The saga, which began with the death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012, became a charged national debate covering a multitude of controversial issues, including race, gun control, and self-defense laws. Many were worried that the not-guilty verdict would bring with it not just anger, but also violence. As is expected these days, people were able to get up-to-the-minute news, thanks to social media.
The reaction to the verdict was filled with pieces of original content made for the Internet, as well as photographic evidence from the protests that sprang up around the country. One such piece that made a big splash was an image of Martin Luther King Jr., altered to be wearing a hoodie, which became the lightning-rod clothing item that activists used to show their support for Trayvon Martin. It was created by artist Nikkolas Smith, and was retweeted more than 1,400 times from activist Van Jones's Twitter account alone. Travon Free, a writer for 'The Daily Show," tweeted a photo that he described as "Zimmerman's jury." Tying in another racial controversy, the image depicts seven people, each with the face of Paula Deen.
As for boots on the ground, photos started popping up from cities around the country where protests had arisen. The California Highway Patrol tweeted a surprising picture to warn drivers, showing how protesters had shut down the I-10 freeway. There was also a massive protest in New York City yesterday, as people marched from Union Square to Times Square in Manhattan. Though some protests turned briefly violent, like one in Oakland, the vast majority avoided becoming the "riots" that many had worried about, or even predicted. In fact, in one image from New York, an assistant NYPD chief can be seen negotiating what would happen next with organizers of the protest.
But, as with most events that play out on social media, there were some false reports. Many people shared a video titled "Miami Riot Footage After George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty," which was actually a video from 2011 of the city of Vancouver, in which hockey fans took to the street, upset after a Stanley Cup loss.
Though the Zimmerman verdict situation is extremely charged and anger is palpable, it seems that most of the reaction has been measured.
[Related: Protests Against Zimmerman Verdict]