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Angry civil rights groups on Sunday were pressing for new criminal charges following George Zimmerman's acquittal on second-degree murder and manslaughter in a Florida courtroom.

The NAACP website featured an online petition asking the Justice Department to bring federal charges against Zimmerman in the February 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

"The most fundamental of civil rights - the right to life - was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," the petition says. "We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation."

Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued a statement Sunday asking for federal civil rights charges and blasting the verdict as a "tragic miscarriage of justice." She also urged Trayvon's family to pursue a civil lawsuit.

"No matter how you look at this situation, if it were not for the actions of Mr. Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin would still be alive with his family today," Arnwine said.

She said she hoped the verdict would spark a national conversation about racial profiling and the "broken criminal justice system."

After the verdict was announced Saturday night, a clearly shaken NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said, "This is a heartbreaking moment. This will confirm for many that the only problem with the New South is it occupies the same time and space as the old South."

He referenced another killing of a black youth that many have compared to the Trayvon Martin slaying, the 1955 killing of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was killed in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman. "Trayvon Martin's case has focused a generation the same way that the Emmett Till case focused a generation 60 years ago. I had hoped that this time we would get a verdict that fit the gravity of the case."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who led thousands of protesters in Sanford seeking a prosecution of Trayvon's killer, called the verdict "a sad day in the country" and "a slap in the face to those that believe in justice in this country."

"I think this is an atrocity," Sharpton said. "It is probably one of the worst situations that I have seen."

Jesse Jackson called the verdict "Old South justice."

"I'm disappointed and I'm saddened for the family," Jackson said.

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