A vigil Sunday evening at the Torch of Friendship in downtown Miami near Bayfront Park drew more than 100 people. They marched to the steps of the Freedom Tower, some wearing hoodies like the one Trayvon wore the night he was killed.
Others held protest signs — “I am Trayvon Martin” — lighters and candles, chanting even as rain began to fall.
Earlier in Miami Gardens, Jackson, the church pastor, was asked by reporters if he thought violence might erupt in response to the verdict.
“They asked me, ‘Will the people in the community arm themselves?’ I said, ‘Yes. We’re armed with power of the Lord.’”
“We just keep our faith,” said I’esha Felton, one of Trayvon’s cousins. “We don’t want this to happen again.”
At Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City, the Rev. Gaston Smith delivered a joyful sermon to his parishioners because, he said afterward, “They came to church sad today.”
He told the dozens of people assembled that judgment and vengeance belong to God.
“Give us healing, not hatred,” he said. “Make us better, not bitter.”
Smith said he stayed up all night praying and reading the Bible, “trying to make sense” of the verdict. “There’s a feeling in our community that a 17-year-old black kid has no value,” he told the Miami Herald.
Sunday afternoon, a diverse group of about a dozen people organized by the interdenominational group Mission Miami gathered in front of North Miami City Hall to pray for peace, unity and the Martin and Zimmerman families. After holding hands and praying for 20 minutes, they departed with hugs and a song.
“We are a wonderful people that work hard and love our families and want what everyone wants, the opportunity to live our lives free from molestation, persecution, and in the pursuit of our greatest happiness,” Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III said in a written statement advising his constituents to defy expectations of violence.
“We will mourn Trayvon and grieve with his family.”
In the Central Florida town of Sanford, where the shooting took place, some residents sought solace in family, community and familiar places.
Richard Taylor, who lives in the city’s historically black Goldsboro neighborhood, walked with his 5-year-old daughter, Ty Juaiun Burke, to a landscaped stone-and-wood memorial for Trayvon and 10 others who may have been unjustly killed near Sanford.
“How am I supposed to explain to my kids that a kid like them was walking home when someone else jumped out and shot him — and that person isn’t in jail, where bad people are supposed to go,” he said.
Ty Juaiun pulled at her dad’s T-shirt and asked about the memorial: “are those people in there?”
“No, baby,” he said. “They’re in heaven.”
Miami Herald staff writer Evan S. Benn contributed to this report from Sanford. Staff writers Elinor J. Brecher, Audra D.S. Burch, Anthony Cave, Lance Dixon, Nadege Green and Christina Veiga contributed from Miami.