Chicago natives who have spoken out against the shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida were relieved when George Zimmerman, who killed the teen, was charged Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who was thrown off the House floor last month for wearing a hoodie and sunglasses in protest of Martin's slaying, told NBC Chicago Wednesday that "the shadow of justice has been revealed" in the neighborhood watch volunteer being charged with second-degree murder in connection with Martin's Feb. 26 death.
"I want to congratulate Trayvon [Martin]'s family, because they certainly deserve this," Rush told NBC, before going on to thank "the young people [who] took it upon themselves and got on the social media and really made the nation see the murder and what had happened to Trayvon."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson congratulated Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey for her actions in bringing charges against Zimmerman, the Associated Press reports. He added that he is hopeful that the judicial process in the case will be fair and just.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church, who last month urged in a fiery sermon that America "deal with race," told NBC Chicago that the charges against Zimmerman are "long overdue."
"My hopes are that there be a full investigation now, a fair trial and that justice will finally come for Trayvon Martin," Pfleger told NBC.
(Scroll down to watch Pfleger's comments in full.)
He went on to describe "stand your ground" laws, such as Florida's, as "dangerous" and urged that racial profiling -- which he said "is alive and well in America" -- be addressed.
An audience at a Wednesday evening panel discussion titled "Trayvon Martin and the fight against the new Jim Crow" vigorously applauded the charges filed against Zimmerman, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Anton Ford, the panel's moderator and a University of Chicago professor, noted that the charges represent an important victory for the Martin family and those who have protested his death, according to the Tribune.
Journalist Mary Mitchell discussed the charges against Zimmerman in the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday. Mitchell argued:
It should not have taken national protests to force those who are charged with protecting citizens to conclude it was criminal for a self-styled neighborhood watchman to shoot an unarmed teen.
But without those protests, without the intervention of major civil rights figures and without the public advocacy of Trayvon's mother and father, Trayvon would have been just another young black male shot dead in the street.
Martin's death sparked conversation and protest nationwide in recent weeks, including a number of rallies in Chicago.
In a Palm Sunday rally on the city's West Side, the Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church, marched out of solidarity with Martin and to help raise awareness of local youth victims of gun violence.
"[W]e would be hypocrites to stand hear and cry out for justice for Trayvon Martin when we've got young boys and young girls being gunned down right under our nose," Acree said.
Zimmerman is expected to plead not guilty in Martin's shooting. His attorney Mark O'Mara told the Associated Press he is "hoping that the community will calm down" now that charges have been filed against his client, who has acknowledged shooting Martin but says it was done in self-defense.
WATCH the Rev. Michael Pfleger discuss Zimmerman being charged in Martin's shooting death:
View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.
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