Would Zimmerman Acquittal Spark Riots? LA Author Says ‘No’
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As the nation awaits the jury’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, one Southland author and commentator said Friday he believes local reaction to the case is unlikely to result in violence.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was killed on February 26, 2012, while walking to the home of his father’s fiancee after purchasing items from a 7-Eleven store in Sanford, Florida.
Jurors received the case Friday after being told they will also be allowed to consider a manslaughter charge, which, under Florida law, could end up carrying a penalty as heavy as the one for second-degree murder: life in prison.
But regardless of what verdict jurors return to the judge, author and commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the case is anything but black and white.
“I don’t hear anyone saying, ‘We think this is a slam-dunk case,’ that there will be a conviction of George Zimmerman,” Hutchinson said. “I hear a lot of almost defeatism and almost resignation that the decision that will come forth will not be favorable to the Trayvon Martin family.”
Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith has reportedly gone door-to-door to urge residents in the town of less than 54,000 people to accept any verdict without resorting to violence.
“I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that everything is peachy-keen in the city of Sanford, I’m not gonna do that,” Smith said while meeting Friday with reporters. “But what I will tell you is this: our community is working together to be a better community.”
With the verdict drawing near, police and city leaders in Sanford and other parts of Florida said they have taken precautions for the possibility of mass protests or even civil unrest if Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, is acquitted.
But Hutchinson said those efforts may be a bit excessive.
“People, I think, are mature enough, they’re accepting enough,” he said. “To think that someone is just gonna run out into the streets in an orgy of violence and lawlessness, I think you’re really not giving the community enough credit, in terms of their rationality, their common sense, and their ability to accept something that’s even adverse and they don’t agree with.”
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