Dozens of news vans surrounded Arthur Jackson III's church on Sunday, but the TV crews didn't stick around long when the pastor announced that Trayvon Martin's mother wasn't coming. Sybrina Fulton didn't show up at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church's services because she was still processing George Zimmerman's acquittal.
The church was filled to capacity and its main stage undulated under a filter of waving, cardboard fans. Jackson III lectured in his Kobe Bryant tee, comparing himself to Job, Christianity's patron saint of unanswered questions. "To be honest, Church, I don't have an answer," he said. "We can't trust lawyers, but we can still trust the Lord."
A short video segment played during the service called "Antioch News Network" did not mention George Zimmerman's acquittal, which would lead to large protests in New York and Los Angeles later that day.
And outside the building's front doors, Steven Roundtree was just trying to reassure the young kids he mentors. He was recently released from prison after serving a year for cocaine-related charges and now assists with the church's altar boy program.
As six youths in white polo shirts horsed around outside, arm wrestling or giggling, Roundtree didn't know what to tell them. Some said they had no opinion on the trial. "He'll get what he has coming," he told the wide-eyed kids who were waiting for some Honey Buns, their morning snack, to make it through the policemen with walk-talkies and the lingering reporters dictating notes over cell phones.
After the treats made it to the the kids, Roundtree relaxed. He admitted he worried about violence after the Martin ruling: "You let pressure build up in the bottle, and it's going to explode."
Terrel Gay, an eight-year-old, unwrapped his snack while telling the Riptide that he remembers hearing the verdict on the radio with his mom, and that all she said was, "He shouldn't have shot that boy."
Later on Sunday, a few hundred people gathered around 6 p.m. to protest the verdict at Bayfront Park, including several children around Terrel's age holding signs. Zeevah Verond inspired a feeding frenzy of reporters as she barely held onto a sign that was bigger than her. Later, a nine-year-old named Clarissa stole the show, giving an impassioned speech in a fedora.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"A trained doctor said he only needed bandaids," she said of Zimmerman. "How did he get away with it because he's white? It's just not fair."
A woman behind her screamed: "That's coming from the youth, and adults can't see that." Later, parents picked up their sign-holding children and marched them north on Biscayne toward the Freedom Tower. Just before 7:30 it started to rain and the protest scattered.
Click through for photos from the church service and the Bayfront protest.