Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 9.57.12 AM

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 9.57.12 AM

<strong>Derek Wilson</strong>

Derek Wilson

"I came out last night as soon as I heard the verdict and I've been up all night, just riding around on Citi Bikes, trying to make sense of things."

<strong>Emily De La Cruz</strong>

Emily De La Cruz

"America is made this way. It will never change. You yell, you scream, and then... what? This could happen to you. I'm here because I don't want to kill anyone, I couldn't kill anyone. All I can do is give voice to my anger."

<strong>Busayo Olupona</strong>

Busayo Olupona

"Strange Fruit is from the Billie Holiday song evoking lynchings, though she sang only about 'Southern trees.' I have a brother in his late 20s. He's a very large black man. He'd never hurt anybody, but how is supposed to act? What are young black boys supposed to do?"

<strong>Yahshua Perez (left), with niece and son</strong>

Yahshua Perez (left), with niece and son

"I'm here because what happened is wrong, and because I want to show respect for Trayvon."

<strong>John Pasmore and Grayden</strong>

John Pasmore and Grayden

"The verdict clearly was wrong, and I'm trying to explain to my six-year-old why it was wrong. It's time to start having that uncomfortable conversation, about why a person who committed such a terrible crime can walk free."

<strong>Regina Ripley</strong>

Regina Ripley

"I'm not a professional protestor, I'm just a mom from New Jersey. But I was so shocked and disgusted by the verdict I just had to come out."

<strong>Laura Heywood</strong>

Laura Heywood

"Yeah it's hot in this hoodie, but it's not a bad idea today to remind yourself what a little discomfort feels like."

<strong>June Grey (left)</strong>

June Grey (left)

"It's scary being the father of young black male. Anything can happen, because young black men are seen as disposable to in this society. America just throws them away with no consequences. This is how it is. The system isn't broken, it's doing what it's supposed to do."

<strong>Kim Montague and Scarlet</strong>

Kim Montague and Scarlet

"We came down today because I feel for Trayvon's parents."

<strong>Kelly King</strong>

Kelly King

"Florida is not behaving as part of our democracy, so maybe it should be treated like South Africa during Apartheid. Don't go there on vacation. Don't buy OJ or any other Florida products. They need to be more conscious of their actions, and this is a way to contribute to the discussion."

<strong>Daniel Damascas Kimery</strong>

Daniel Damascas Kimery

"If we can't get justice in the court we'll get justice in the streets!"

<strong>Ashley Johnson (right)</strong>

Ashley Johnson (right)

"All of these people were unarmed, and killed, and there was no justice. And when the NYPD isn't brought to justice for killing an unarmed black person, it send a signal to everyone else that they can get away with it, too. Remember: Zimmerman was a wannabe cop."

Yesterday, thousands of New Yorkers poured into Union Square to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

We spoke to some of those who showed up in the afternoon, and you can find out what brought them there by clicking through the slideshow above. For many, the chants of “No justice, no peace!” and “The system is guilty, it freed George Zimmerman!” continued into the night and then into the wee hours during a march from the East Village to the Bronx.

About 12 to 20 people were arrested in Manhattan during the course of the evening, the police said.

During a 6pm rally, the crowd was perhaps 1,500 to 2,000 strong. Among those whose stories of injustice were amplified by a bullhorn and by the “people’s mic” was an elderly black woman who said that Trayvon Martin reminded her of her own son. Her voice faltering, she said she’d “lost him to the NYPD.”

Justice For Trayvon Martin, Union Square: Crowd listening to Kevin Powell

The crowd listens to speaker Kevin Powell. (Photos: Scott Lynch)

After a while the crowd was frothed and overflowing the park; traffic on 14th Street was at a standstill. Another protester at the bullhorn called for a march. The idea caught on and the crowd poured down Broadway, a chain of people with arms linked keeping the growing number of police cars and paddy wagons at bay. After winding through the East Village, the demonstrators — chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” — turned north at First Avenue and continued uptown.

The crowd seemed to go stronger as it cut westward across Gramercy and the Flatiron District while cars honked to show support. A young woman waved a sign that read “EMMETT TILL 1955 TRAYVON MARTIN 2013,” and another woman passed out Skittles, the candy Trayvon Martin was carrying home from the convenience store when he was shot. A half-dozen American flags hung from a building on 33rd Street, waving comically in the wind, as the crowd moved toward 8th Avenue.

About now is when the decision was made to march on Times Square. The rally — which must have been several thousand larger than when it began, and felt larger still — moved on Times Square, chanting, “Outta the stores, into the streets!” It was a chant directed primarily at the legions of tourists going about their touristy time in New York City. Several tour buses were stopped in the road, their upper decks jammed with people taking pictures.

Justice For Trayvon Martin, Union Square: Crowd

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

The crowd packed into Times Square and the people’s mic was used again to determine the next move. There was some fear that the group would be surrounded by the NYPD (dozens of police cars and scores of officers on foot, with bundles of plastic cuffs strapped to their belts, encircled the area), and so the protesters organized a sit-in, to the merciful relief of some. It had been three hours and thirty blocks.

There were more speeches about racial injustice, the broken criminal justice system, white privilege, and ones simply lamenting the fact that a boy was dead. One girl, in a sort of peroration of the entire evening, shouted, “We took Times Square!” which elicited vociferous cheers.

By 10 p.m. most of that fervor had dissipated as a few hundred protesters continued north, for Harlem and the Bronx, where the protests lasted into the morning. Those who’d been there from the beginning had marched at least six hours and 130 city blocks.

Officers in riot gear started making arrests on the Upper East Side; the first two were at 79th Street and Second Avenue. This morning, a police spokesperson said the exact number of those facing charges “consistent with disorderly conduct” had yet to be determined.