Local authorities, including pastors and police have appealed for calm after the George Zimmerman verdict of not guilty.
According to reports, law enforcement officials and authorities have contingency plans in place in case riots break out.
Don Eslinger, Seminole County Sheriff had said before the verdict was reached that destruction and violence would “not be tolerated.”
George Zimmerman has been found not guilty on both counts of murder in the second degree and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin. This is a case that has bitterly divided America.
The jury deliberated for about 14 hours before reaching the verdict. The verdict means that Trayvon Martin’s parents will not get the justice they were seeking. According to reports, both the parents had made it clear early in the trial that they wanted no “ugly protests” no matter the finding.
Sources say in some ways this was a tough case for the prosecution because there were no eyewitnesses to the entire confrontation that happened on the night of February 26, 2012 between Zimmerman and Trayvon. What eyewitnesses there were offered conflicting reports.
Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, said he had proven his client’s “pure, unadulterated innocence” in the case. He said Trayvon punched Zimmerman, slammed his head into the pavement and reached for Zimmerman’s gun.
On the contrary, prosecutors claimed Zimmerman has lied. John Guy, the prosecutor, said that Zimmerman had told a series of lies in statements.
“To the dead, we owe the truth. What do we owe Trayvon Martin?” he asked.
The case has engrossed the nation’s attention since the shooting. At first, police did not charge Zimmerman with a crime, citing Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law. This law allows people who feel they are in imminent danger to take whatever steps are needed to protect themselves.
Protests followed in several cities by supporters of Trayvon’s family. Many protesters said that Trayvon was targeted and killed for racial reasons. Trayvon was black and Zimmerman is Hispanic.
“You have a little black boy who was killed,” Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the parents of Trayvon said at the time. “It’s going to be reported in history books and 50 years from now, our children will talk about Trayvon Martin’s case like we talk about Emmett Till.”
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black youth who was accused of flirting with a white woman and tortured and murdered in Mississippi.
George Zimmerman’s verdict means that the jury of five white women and one minority woman reasoned that according to Florida’s definition of self-defense, Zimmerman justifiably used deadly force and also believed that such force was “”necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” to himself.
Sources said this case will be imprinted in the history books and will be talked about for years to come.
Jose Baez, a Florida criminal defense attorney said that Zimmerman will not be able to live a normal life, despite being a free man. According to Baez, Zimmerman will go into hiding for some time.
“The end is not near for George Zimmerman,” he said.
By Perviz Walji