- (Photo: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Former president Jimmy Carter said in a recent interview that he believes the six woman jury in Sanford, Fla. made the "right decision" when they acquitted George Zimmerman of second degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin on Saturday.
While speaking with a local Atlanta, Ga. news station, the 39th president argued that the jurors were not commissioned to make a moral decision, but rather a legal one based on evidence.
"I think the jury made the right decision based in the evidence presented because the prosecution inadvertently set the standard so high that the jury had to be convinced that it was a deliberate act by Zimmerman and that he was not defending himself and so forth," Carter told Atlanta's WXIA news station.
"It's not a moral question, it's a legal question and the American law requires that the jury listens to the evidence presented," Carter added.
When asked if the Zimmerman verdict says anything about race in America, Carter responded: "I can't allege the six jurors […] are not just as sensitive about the race issue as I am or you are," he said. "I would presume they listened to the evidence."
Following Zimmerman's acquittal on Saturday, President Barack Obama, who previously said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin, released a statement encouraging Americans to respect the decision of the jury.
"[…] we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son," Obama said in the statement.
Although the majority of protests regarding the verdict have been peaceful across the nation, there have been some instances of violence, including minor vandalism in Oakland, Calif., as well protests in Los Angeles, Calif. which resulted in the arrest of 13 after violence and vandalism broke out on Monday.
The death of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman have sparked a nationwide debate on race relations and gun laws since Martin was shot in February 2012.
In February, Zimmerman, a 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., shot Trayvon Martin, 17, after they got into an altercation as the teen was walking home from a convenience store close to his father's house.
Zimmerman was later charged with second degree murder and manslaughter, and during a tense court trial that began in late June, Zimmerman argued that he acted in self-defense, claiming that Martin attacked him.
The prosecution argued that Zimmerman "tracked" Martin through the gated community and provoked him into a physical confrontation that eventually ended in him taking the young teen's life.
Many Americans have argued that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, and protests objecting to the verdict are slated for 100 U.S. cities in the upcoming days.
The Rev. Al Sharpton announced Wednesday that he will be leading these national "Justice for Trayvon" peaceful rallies this Saturday in an attempt to encourage the Justice Department to investigate civil rights violations in the case.
"Saturday, the verdict lost the battle, but we have not lost the war," Sharpton, known as Baptist minister and civil rights activist, said on Wednesday, as reported by USA Today.
"People all across the country will gather to show that we are not having a two- or three-day anger fit. This is a social movement for justice," Sharpton added, stressing that the events will be non-violent.