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Thousands protest Trayvon Martin verdict

US citizens took to the streets to vent their anger after Trayvon Martin’s killer was acquitted.

People gather at a rally in support of Trayvon Martin in Times Square while blocking traffic after marching from a rally for Martin in Union Square in Manhattan on 14 July, 2013 in New York City. George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting of Martin and many protesters questioned the verdict.Picture:AFP

NEW YORK/MIAMI - Demonstrators took to the streets in dozens of US cities on Saturday to vent their anger over the acquittal in Florida of the man who shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin to death and to call for federal charges in the racially tinged case.

Hundreds marched in the summer heat to rally at federal courthouses in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities, demanding "justice for Trayvon" and an end to racial profiling that they said was at the heart of the case.

The rallies came one week after a Seminole County, Florida, jury returned verdicts finding 29-year-old George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the February 2012 death of Martin.

Critics contend Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, wrongly suspected Martin, 17, of being a criminal because he was black.

The neighbourhood watch volunteer called police to report Martin, then left his car with a loaded handgun concealed in his waistband.

A fight ensued in which Zimmerman suffered a bloody nose and head injuries before he shot Martin once in the heart.

In New York, scene of one of the largest rallies, roughly 2,000 protesters, some carrying "Boycott Florida" signs or wearing T-shirts with Martin's picture, were led by an emotional Sybrina Fulton, the slain teenager's mother.

"Trayvon was a child," she said. "I think sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle because as I sat in the courtroom, it made me think they were talking about another man. And it wasn't. It was a child."

Fulton burst into tears as members of the crowd shouted: "We love you!"

She was joined at the event by hip-hop mogul Jay Z and his wife, pop star Beyonce, along with New York City mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

Elsewhere, about 2,000 people endured a downpour in Atlanta to hear speakers talk of the need for justice for Trayvon Martin and other black youths.

At a rally in Miami, Martin's father, Tracy, told supporters that after the acquittal he has "come to realize George Zimmerman wasn't on trial - Trayvon was on trial."

In Los Angeles, about 500 people converged on the federal courthouse in Los Angeles under gray skies, toting signs saying "Open Season on the Black Man" and "This Should Not Be OK in 2013 America."

In Chicago, some 500 people rallied across from the Everett McKinley Dirksen federal courthouse.

In Oakland, a crowd of up to 150 people demonstrated peacefully in the city's downtown, occasionally singing "We Shall Overcome" before dispersing in the late afternoon.

And across the bay in San Francisco, about 100 people gathered in front of the Federal Building.

At the White House on Friday, President Barack Obama sided with those who say the shooting need not have happened, expressing sympathy to the Martin family.