WEST PALM BEACH — Last month's fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer outside Orlando was a tragedy, those worshiping this morning at local black churches said.
That the suspect, George Zimmerman, was neither arrested or charged in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was a travesty, they agree.
"For them not to arrest him, that's my problem," West Palm Beach resident Alberta Hollis said before morning services at Redemptive Life Fellowship on North Australian Avenue.
"I've been listening to the case all week. They're not arresting him because they said they weren't supposed to. I'm really grieved by this."
"It's outrageous," added a woman who also worships at Redemptive Life who asked not to be named. "I'm just shocked that this man should still be at large.
"There's no explanation. Not even racism will explain it."
The case has sparked a nationwide furor since it unfolded Feb. 26.
According to police, Martin, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, was returning to his father's home in a gated community in Sanford, 20 miles northeast of Orlando, after buying candy and a drink from a local convenience store.
Zimmerman, who was patrolling the neighborhood, saw Martin and called 911 because he thought the teenager looked suspicious.
He then followed Martin despite being advised against it by dispatchers. An encounter ensued, and Martin was discovered a short time later shot to death.
Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense in the shooting, has not been charged with a crime.
That fact saddens the Rev. Kevin Jones, a youth minister with Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach who works on issues of justice and crime prevention.
"It's just disappointing to hear that they're not really going through with the due process," Jones said.
"To not arrest this man is just distasteful, just dishonorable. It really hurts my heart. We're about encouraging and raising up our young men to be godly men. To see this happen is definitely disheartening."
Tabernacle Missionary will hold a Justice Rally at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the church at 801 8th Street. Representatives of 26 congregations are expected to attend. The rally is open to the public.