Suncoast reacts to Zimmerman acquittal

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SARASOTA--"We the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty."

Those words ended a sixteen-month long legal battle and freed accused killer George Zimmerman. But those words now spark a new debate: was the outcome of this trial what it should have been?

"Yeah, it surprised the "h" out of me," said Sarasota resident Engrid Gipson, "yes it surprised me, it surprised a lot of people."

"I was very surprised, I thought for sure he would have been found guilty because it was an all woman jury," said Tampa resident Rita Hlister, "but I also think he was defending himself."

Local community leaders were taken aback by the verdict, saying that justice was not served.

"My heart was just saddened, and I was very disappointed in the verdict," said local NAACP President Trevor Harvey. He says Zimmerman's acquittal highlights deep-rooted problems in the legal system.

"Still in the year 2013 we continue to have injustices in our community, around this nation and around this world because we often times have seen these kinds of things continue to play out the way that the Trayvon Martin case has played out," said Harvey, " and I thought that we were beyond that but obviously we were not and we still have a criminal justice system, a legal system that is broken."

And while the verdict no doubt brings comfort to the Zimmerman family and those who stand by them, others say Saturday's decision is anything but reassuring.

"Yes I'm very nervous actually," said Sarasota resident Charles Lester, "I think now I have to be cautious walking down the road, being approached by somebody and starting the same incident with me, you gotta be alert of that."