PICTURES, VIDEO

Hundreds protest in New York over Zimmerman acquittal

People hold hands in a circle at a rally honoring Trayvon Martin at Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day aft
People hold hands in a circle at a rally honoring Trayvon Martin at Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin ended in Florida. -- PHOTO: AFP
A police officer stands by a chalk outline honoring Trayvon Martin at a rally for Martin in Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman Geo
A police officer stands by a chalk outline honoring Trayvon Martin at a rally for Martin in Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin ended in Florida. -- PHOTO: AFP
Arny Soejoedi, 19, of Atlanta, center with arm up, chants during a protest the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Atlanta. Hundreds protested in New Yo
Arny Soejoedi, 19, of Atlanta, center with arm up, chants during a protest the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Atlanta. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin ended in Florida. -- PHOTO: AP
A New York Police Department officer watches over a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for
A New York Police Department officer watches over a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin ended in Florida. -- PHOTO: AFP
A woman holds signs during a demonstration in New York on July 14, 2013. Protests were held one day after a US jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in a racially charged trial tha
A woman holds signs during a demonstration in New York on July 14, 2013. Protests were held one day after a US jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in a racially charged trial that transfixed the country. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin ended in Florida. -- PHOTO: AFP
A man speaks during a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. Protests were held one day after a US jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in a racially charged
A man speaks during a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. Protests were held one day after a US jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in a racially charged trial that transfixed the country. -- PHOTO: AFP
People gather at a rally honoring Trayvon Martin at Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City. George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Martin July 13 and many protesters questioned the verdict. -- PHOT
People gather at a rally honoring Trayvon Martin at Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City. George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Martin July 13 and many protesters questioned the verdict. -- PHOTO: AFP
People gather at a rally honoring Trayvon Martin at Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City. George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Martin July 13 and many protesters questioned the verdict. -- PHOT
People gather at a rally honoring Trayvon Martin at Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City. George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Martin July 13 and many protesters questioned the verdict. -- PHOTO: AFP
People march during a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. Protests were held one day after a US jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in a racially charged
People march during a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. Protests were held one day after a US jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in a racially charged trial that transfixed the country. -- PHOTO: AFP
Averri Liggins, 22, of Atlanta, chants while holding a picture of Trayvon Martin during a protest the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of Martin, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Atlanta. From New York to California
Averri Liggins, 22, of Atlanta, chants while holding a picture of Trayvon Martin during a protest the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of Martin, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Atlanta. From New York to California, outrage over the acquittal of George Zimmerman poured from street demonstrations and church pulpits Sunday. -- PHOTO: AP
Marchers pass a New York Police Department officer (R) during a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Marchers pass a New York Police Department officer (R) during a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Demonstrators converge on Union Square in New York Sunday, July 14, 2013 during a protest against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Hundreds protested in New York
Demonstrators converge on Union Square in New York Sunday, July 14, 2013 during a protest against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin ended in Florida. -- PHOTO: AP

NEW YORK CITY (AFP) - Hundreds protested in New York on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin ended in Florida.

Many who gathered in Union Square brandished signs bearing a portrait of Martin and some, despite the sweltering July heat, wore "hoodie" sweatshirts, as the 17-year-old did the night he was killed in February 2012.

"I am appalled," said Carli VanVoorhis, a 21-year-old hairdresser.

"The man was armed, the kid was not, and the man with the gun got away," she said. "If we say it was not a racial issue, we would be lying." The crowd - chanting "no justice, no peace" - was largely made up of black citizens, but there were whites and hispanics present as well.

One sign demanded to "Jail racist killers, not black youth," while many others declared "We are all Trayvon. The whole damn system is guilty."

"We have a big problem with race, and another problem is guns," said one speaker, Rodney Rodriguez.

"If Zimmerman didn't have a gun, he couldn't have killed Trayvon Martin." Another protester, Derreck Wilson, 46, said the group had come "to say in a peaceful way why we are angry. We are angry, scared and anxious."

"It's cathartic," he said.

"We all have the same desires. I want to be able to have my son to come home," added Wilson, who came to the protest from the traditionally African-American neighborhood of Harlem.

Rhada Blank also came from Harlem with friends.

When the verdict was announced, she said she thought about leaving the United States permanently.

"I was sick to my stomach when I heard the verdict, I felt ashamed," she said. "I don't feel good about being American today. I think we have a lot of work to do."

"As far as people think we've gone, with the decision of electing (President Barack) Obama, this verdict shows we haven't moved beyond race," said the former teacher who now writes for the theatre.

"People have not moved beyond their fears," she lamented. "That decision echoed what many people are feeling in that country. There is a fear of the black male."

The case has, since the beginning pitted those who think the 29-year-old neighbourhood watchman - son of a white father and a Peruvian mother - killed Martin in self-defence, and those who think it was a murder sparked by racist assumptions.

The killing has also resonated with those who call for stricter gun laws, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who issued a statement on Sunday against what he called "shoot-first laws."

"Sadly, all the facts in this tragic case will probably never be known. But one fact has long been crystal clear: 'shoot first' laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns," Mr Bloomberg said, reiterating his calls for eliminating them.

"The tragic death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed child attempting to walk home from the store, will continue to drive our efforts," Mr Bloomberg added.