You didn’t have to live in Florida to be drawn to the George Zimmerman trial.
People from right here in central Iowa watched as the verdict was read, but few as closely as civil rights activist, State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad.
Abdul-Samad was saddened and disappointed with the verdict but immediately turned his attention to helping others deal with their own emotions.
“When we found out it was a not guilty verdict, the night turned very hectic. Phone calls were coming,” said Abdul-Samad.
Many of those callers were looking for guidance as to what can be done next to keep the Martin family in prayers.
Abdul-Samad says he expects rallies and prayer vigils this week but says a real impact can be made when people encourage legislators to stand up to violence.
“Let’s fight for a cause. It’s time to do that. We need to do that in masses, and we need to do it together,” Abdul-Samad told Channel 13 News.
Others say they share the sadness felt by Abdul-Samad and Martin’s family.
“That’s sad. That’s sad and disheartening,” said Des Moines resident, Anna Koen.
Not everyone was surprised by the verdict.
Hailey Amick and Kristin Wilkins followed the trial on TV and social media and based on what they heard, figured Zimmerman would end up a free man.
“Based on the facts they were given and the evidence they had and with the way Florida law is, they made the only decision they could,” said Amick.
“The jurors probably did what they had to do because I think there was reasonable doubt. You can’t convict unless you’re sure of it,” Wilkins told Channel 13 News.
That doesn’t make this any easier.
Both say a young man’s life was taken too soon.
“To lose a son that just went to get Skittles and a Coke. That’s horrible,” said Wilkins.