US & Canada

Zimmerman acquittal: Your views

George Zimmerman at trial (left) and family photo of Trayvon Martin (right)
Image caption George Zimmerman (left) and Trayvon Martin (right)

George Zimmerman has been acquitted of the murder and manslaughter of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida last year.

America has been divided in its view of the verdict.

Here, BBC News website readers in the States share their reaction to the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

Anjali Bhatia, Boston

I am surprised by the verdict, and not surprised at the same time.

I didn't have much faith in the legal system in Florida to begin with but I had still hoped that the verdict would be different from the one we have.

There were only six jurors and they came to their conclusion in a relatively short amount of time - too short.

If the roles had been reversed and a white man had been shot by a black man, the black man would not have walked free for six weeks before being arrested.

The Trayvon Martin case bookends the election of the first black president of the United States. On the one hand we seemed to be making inroads into finally creating a racially undivided country by electing Obama. On the other hand, we have the failure in Florida to protect an unarmed, young black teenager from being profiled, shot and killed by a white, adult man.

The fact that it took Florida law enforcement six weeks after the shooting to arrest the by then well-known assailant, and the fact that he was acquitted yesterday, leads us believe that we are still too far removed from accomplishing racial unity. It may still be a dream.

I never imagined race would be such a big issue before I came here 13 years ago, but it is. I am always having to tick a box to state what race I am. Even when applying to put my child in kindergarten we had to state what race she was, and what race we as parents were. Up until a few years ago there wasn't even a box for mixed-race.

Culture is difficult to change. It takes time to change. But we need to cross this hurdle and transcend the issue.

Kristin Guttormsen, Longview, Washington

It's horrid what has happened, no-one can be happy about it. The verdict doesn't bring Trayvon back and nothing good can come of it.

While any unnecessary death is a tragedy, given the specifics of the case and our justice system it was probably the only valid decision under the law. Even manslaughter would likely have been a compromise of culture, and not truly a finding of law.

Given the justice system, I think it was the only plausible evidential outcome that could be achieved. There was only one side who could speak up for himself. There was no other counter-story, so you hope the jury will infer the best outcome from that.

I would say that there are probably three or four sides being discussed at the moment. Any minority will have a different view on the verdict.

There is the red or blue argument, with blue being a Democratic voting state and red a Republican voting state. Florida has a large Republican following and I think the racial aspects of the case are being discussed more than the cultural aspects.

Then there's the self defence or 'Law' crowd, even though the layman doesn't understand the procedural aspects of the law, they'll still have an opinion.

And there's the fact that Republicans are seen as anti-minority, anti-poor or anti-women and that will influence how they see the case. Red states and blue states hate each other and blame is put with the politicians or the leaders of each party.

It is being talked about everywhere.

Randal Lea, Nashville, Tennessee

This is a clear pronouncement that racism - with underlying ugliness of fear and persecution - still thrives in America.

It is not confined to the South, where I live, and where as a middle-aged, white male I feel the constant embarrassment for the hatred and fear among my demographic kindred. While Mr Zimmerman may have learned a lesson at a high cost of life, others will take this in 2013 that whites can act with impunity in the stalking and persecution of blacks.

This was racism because Zimmerman got a complete acquittal - not even a minor charge. Taking someone's life is a serious matter and warranted a serious punishment.

I believe in a fair trial and Zimmerman was clearly afforded one. But it is also very clear that Trayvon had a right to be where he was. Unfortunately this cost him his life.

Racism is still highly prevalent in the United States, as is the class divide. The two often combine and poor black people are disparaged in society.

It appears to be very difficult for black Americans to seek justice in the legal system.

Brendan Stallard, Lilburn, Georgia

While I might criticise some elements of the way Mr Zimmerman went about his actions, I can't object to the verdict. The law was served, and a jury agreed after a full examination of the facts.

People are blathering about it being a racial judgement, but I just don't see it. It has nothing to do with race, but the law. It has precious little to do with private citizens being armed, in truth.

What it seems is that the majority of the public do not understand how and when a citizen is permitted to use lethal force to protect himself or others.

I am an armed citizen, legally certified by the state. However, I would not approach an individual under such circumstances unless I was a fully-warranted, uniformed police officer. As an armed person, contact is what you want to avoid like the plague.

If the circumstances are true, that Martin had punched Zimmerman to the ground, and had the ability to carry on the assault, lethal force is allowed.

Kervin Ramos, New Jersey

As a father, I believe Zimmerman crossed the line and should pay a price. However heavy or light, Zimmerman should be punished for his defiant actions.

If Mr Zimmerman had listened to the police representative who he called that night to report a suspicious person and who instructed him to not engage the young suspicious man, the young man Trayvon Martin would still be alive today and none of this would have never happened.

Zimmerman took matters into his own hands and the outcome was tragic. I wonder how Mr Zimmerman would react had he lost a child in the same manner to the hands of someone who acted as he did.

Ceris Feakes, Jacksonville, Florida

Whilst I am very sorry for the family of Trayvon Martin, the verdict is the right one.

Both Zimmerman and Martin made huge judgement errors. This isn't a case of taking sides though - both sides have lost in their own way.

The evidence overwhelmingly supported Zimmerman's statement of self-defence. The police released him after ascertaining that his actions were taken in the belief that his life was in danger.

It was up to the prosecution to prove that Zimmerman was guilty, and they couldn't do that.

If this was a black-on-black crime, or a white-on-white crime, the media wouldn't have been so interested.

Stereotyping and racial profiling does go on in the South. It would be nice if everyone could be colour blind, but they aren't and that is the reality.