(Photo: REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana)
The National Black Church Initiative, which comprises 15 denominations, 34,000 churches and 15.7 million African-American churchgoers, said that it is "outraged" by the verdict in the George Zimmerman case, arguing that it gives white males "a license to kill young black boys."
"Not only are white males killing black boys but Latinos (George Zimmerman) feel free to kill our black boys as well. The verdict leaves this nation at a moral crossroads. We have to decide as a society if we are going to allow black boys to be counted as children of God who are worthy of human dignity," NBCI said in a released statement.
George Zimmerman was found not guilty last weekend on the charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter, after jury members came to the conclusion that he truly feared for his life when he shot dead African-American teenager Trayvon Martin during a confrontation on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla.
Mass protests have since broken out in America against the verdict, with Martin's parents and supporters insisting that justice has not been served now that Zimmerman is allowed to walk free. Others, such as Zimmerman's brother, have insisted that the incident had nothing to do with racism, and that the jury was right to find the neighborhood watchman not guilty.
"The church wants to make it very clear that we will not tolerate any violence at the end of this trial from any community – justified or not. Our purpose is to lead people to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not to seek revenge," said the Rev. Anthony Evans, president of NBCI.
"This is why we urge everyone to pray for justice in this case and to pray for the soul of our nation – if this young black boy is found guilty of being a young black boy in America. Our young black boys must not believe that someone (white) will kill them for being a young black boy. There cannot be any justice until you secure the peace. In this case there was no justice so there will be no peace."
Robert Zimmerman Jr., the defendant's brother, has come out in interviews saying that George Zimmerman is not a racist and is a good person.
"It's a reality that some people don't respect this verdict and think they want to take justice into their own hands," Robert Zimmerman told CNN's Piers Morgan.
He also shared of numerous attacks he has received on social media.
"They're on my Twitter feed. I get hate emails saying 'I wish someone would blow up your family with grenades' [and] 'I will find you on the streets,'" he said. "That's just [at me] ... there's no way, really, to direct those threats at George, I guess because he doesn't have right now a social media presence."
Robert Zimmerman also reminded viewers that there have been notable attempts by the media to brand his brother as a racist, such as NBC editing a police recording by George Zimmerman of the night of the incident to make it sound like he says, "This guy looks like he's up to no good … he looks black" – though the full recording shows that Zimmerman was asked to describe Martin's skin color.