Following a verdict clearing George Zimmerman of all charges in the shooting death of teen Trayvon Martin, millions across the country voiced their immediate reaction on social media. Among them was New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Cruz took to Twitter Saturday evening after a Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman, expressing his feelings that Zimmerman would be murdered.
“Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn’t last a year before the hood catches up to him,” tweeted Cruz, according to multiple news sources.
The 26-year-old — who campaigned for President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 and appeared in a PSA calling to end gun violence after shootings last December in Newtown, Connecticut — later deleted his comment and apologized, explaining that offering a reaction on the controversial verdict had been a “mistake.”
“I apologize, that’s why I deleted it. I believe conversation not confrontation leads to change and progress. I never have and never advocate violence under any circumstances and I pray that we all encourage and educate each other,” the half-Puerto Rican athlete shared on the social media site.
The apology – published Sunday – came as Martin supporters protested in rallies nationwide. On Monday, protestors in Los Angeles were arrested after local police declared an “unlawful assembly” and on Sunday in New York City, police arrested at least five demonstrators on disorderly conduct charges.
And Cruz – whose new five-year contract with the Giants is worth an estimated $43 million – followed up his apology with the sentiment that Trayvon Martin’s death offers an opportunity to continue dialogue about race relations and justice.
“As a father, I want my daughter to grow up in a country that uses this tragedy to heal and grow and progress,” wrote Cruz on Twitter. “My prayers continue to go out to Trayvon Martin’s family.”
Martin and Zimmerman’s families also took to Twitter following the verdict, sharing their thoughts and reaction.
“Message from Dad: “Our whole family is relieved. Today… I’m proud to be an American. God Bless America! Thank you for your prayers!” Zimmerman’s older brother, Robert, posted on Twitter.
“Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered,” tweeted Martin’s father, Tracy. “I will always love my baby Tray.”
Cruz – who has amassed a nationwide following thanks his now-infamous salsa dancing during touchdowns on the football field – has received backlash from fans following his reaction to the Zimmerman verdict.
“As an aunt to three wonderful black & #latino boys, I’m still deeply disappointed in your tweet. You should know better,” wrote one fan under the Twitter handle D-Queen Bee. Others, like fan Dorothy Friedman, offered their support to the Paterson, New Jersey native, tweeting, “I’ve always been your fan but I have even more respect for you after reading today’s tweets.”