George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of a black teenager had New York City mayoral candidates buzzing Saturday night, with the majority of them slamming the Florida jury decision.
Former comptroller Bill Thompson, the only African American in the race, gave the first shot across the bow, releasing a one-line statement shortly after the verdict was announced at about 10:30 p.m.
“Trayvon Martin was killed because he was black,” Thompson declared about the case, which touched on civil rights and racial tensions. “There was no justice done today in Florida.”
City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) was one of several elected officials who slammed Thompson’s assertion.
I am “extremely disappointed with the amount of race-baiting and political pandering” about the verdict, he wrote, adding that he would have “expect[ed] this type of remark from [Al] Sharpton, not from you.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called the decision “a slap in the face to justice.” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said it was “a shocking insult to his family and everyone seeking justice for Trayvon.”
City Comptroller John Liu said that the verdict “is shocking and highlights the sad reality that the day of equal justice for Trayvon and millions of other young men of color has yet to arrive.”
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner delayed his response until shortly before midnight, then released the most tepid statement of the Democratic pack, denouncing the decision but defending the jury system.
“Keep Trayvon’s family in our prayers. Deeply unsatisfying verdict. Trial by jury is our only choice in a democracy,” he posted. “Let’s make the legacy of Trayvon a commitment to ending racial profiling.”
Republican candidate Joseph Lhota did not react publicly, but John Catsimatidis wrote that “When you have safe streets, tragedies like this don’t happen.”
City councilmen also made their positions known on the case closely followed by the nation.
David Greenfield, a Brooklyn Democrat, called Martin’s death “tragic,” but noted that the prosecution did not make their case of Zimmerman’s guilt. “That doesn’t make him innocent, just not guilty,” he noted.
“RIP Trayvon,” Ydanis Rodriguez posted. “America has failed you. It is clear for all to see that racism is still alive and well across the country.”
Charles Barron, known for his bombastic statements, contrasted the verdict to a sports figure’s two-year sentence for running a dog-fighting ring.
“No Justice For Blacks In America, Again!” he wrote. “If you kill dogs you go to jail (Michael Vick); kill a Black man and you walk free (Zimmerman). Rise Up Black people, protect yourself by any means necessary and Join a movement fighting for Liberation. America needs a radical change.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not offer a direct comment on the verdict but said that gun laws like those in Florida can “inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly.”