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July 14, 2013 at 7:58 PM

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Local church members react to George Zimmerman verdict


ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Young members of the Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church, including Nate Bonner, 14, center in blue scarf and Michael McKnight, 17, white shirt, talk after services in Skyway Sunday, July 14, 2013. During the services, church members and pastor Lawrence R. Willis discussed a range of community issues—from the mayoral race to joblessness to the George Zimmerman verdict. The youth, who were upset by the verdict, believe racial profiling was an important issue surrounding the Zimmerman case. They also said racial profiling is an issue that extends across America, well into Seattle. "We should just be respected as human beings," Bonner said.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Eric Britt, 11, hugs his mother Paulette Britt, after an altar prayer at Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in Skyway Sunday, July 14, 2013. During the altar prayer, pastor Lawrence R. Willis, addressed a range of community issues—from the mayoral race to joblessness to the George Zimmerman verdict. Paulette Britt, who was discouraged by the verdict, said she had been watching the trial and discussing possible outcomes with her teenagers. "We as a community feel disenfranchised when it comes to how the judicial system and the public views the African-American community," she said. "We don't feel like our voice is heard. Other communities speak and are heard and their issues are addressed."

During Sunday morning services, members of the Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in Seattle's Skyway neighborhood discussed their feeling about the verdict in George Zimmerman's Florida trial over the death of Trayvon Martin.



Pastor Lawrence R. Willis said the trial was closely watched by his congregation and by the African-American community in King County.



"When that verdict came out, it saddened my heart," he said. "It made me feel like we went backwards." Willis, originally from California, said the decision reminded him of the Rodney King verdict -- in a trial of Los Angeles police officers in a 1991 case -- and he immediately was concerned about riots and backlash. "As a community leader, pastor and dad, I felt a sense of responsibility knowing I have to do something," he said. "I'm praying on what it is and how I go about it."



The Greater Mt. Baker Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting two prayer vigils/rallies on Wednesday, July 17, at noon and 6:30 p.m. at 4425 S. Jackson St. in Seattle. Pastor Kenneth J. Ransfer Sr. said it is important to show support for Martin's family, and to have a place where the Seattle community can find comfort and solace.



"This verdict sets a precedent -- if you are black, young, dressed as a certain way that's not acceptable to someone -- you can be stopped, questioned and then killed with impunity," said Ransfer. "This is a travesty of justice, but African-Americans have seen it so many times before. I'm disappointed, but not discouraged. We will overcome."



ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Pastor Lawrence R. Willis speaks to his congregation at the Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in Skyway Sunday, July 14, 2013. Willis discussed a range of community issues—from the mayoral race to joblessness to the George Zimmerman verdict. "When that verdict came out it saddened my heart," he said. "It made me feel like we went backwards." Willis, originally from California, said the decision also reminded him of the Rodney King verdict and was concerned about possible riots and backlash. "As a community leader, pastor and dad, I felt a sense of responsibility knowing I have to do something," he said. "I'm praying on what it is and how I go about it."

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Thomas Vincent, with hand raised, worships during an altar prayer at Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in Skyway Sunday, July 14, 2013. During the altar prayer, pastor Lawrence R. Willis, addressed a range of community issues—from the mayoral race to joblessness to the George Zimmerman verdict. Vincent said he was angry and upset and believes a jury should have found Zimmerman guilty.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A fan featuring the likeness of President Obama sits on a soundboard during services at Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in Skyway Sunday, July 14, 2013. The congregation discussed a wide range of community issues—from the mayoral race to joblessness to the George Zimmerman verdict.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Michelle King, 12, speaks about the George Zimmerman verdict to her congregation at Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in Skyway Sunday, July 14, 2013. King, who had never addressed her church on her own, said she felt impassioned to talk about the recent jury decision in Florida. DeQuenna King, her mother, said she understood her daughter's frustrations, but also believes Seattle has it's own set of issues. "Why are black people are so upset about what is going on in Florida, when black people are killing black people everyday in our own neighborhoods," she said.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Betty Jimerson, from left, Eric Britt, 11, and his mother Paulette Britt, hold hands during an altar prayer at Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church in Skyway Sunday, July 14, 2013. During the prayer, pastor Lawrence R. Willis, addressed a range of community issues—from the mayoral race to joblessness to the George Zimmerman verdict. Paulette Brit, who was discouraged with the verdict, said she had been watching the trial and discussing possible outcomes with her teenagers. "We as a community feel disenfranchised when it comes to how the judicial system and the public views the African-American community," she said. "We don't feel like our voice is heard. Other communities speak and are heard and their issues are addressed."

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