Nearing the final outcome in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, local leaders addressed the threat of street riots.
Representatives of South Florida law enforcement, faith, and legal communities joined more than a hundred attendees in a packed house at the North Dade Regional Library on Tuesday for a public briefing on the trial.
Miriam Martin, wearing a large pin with her nephew Trayvon's face over her chest, rose to speak to the crowd during the public comment section of the meeting. "I just want to reiterate on behalf of the Martin family," she said, "please, no violence."
Attorney Edward Shohat facilitated the law portion of the program. He said he expected the case would be "going to the jury on Friday."
Miami-Dade Police Department plans in the event of unrest include possibly establishing First Amendment free-speech zones for people to gather in peaceful protest protected by officers. Religious leaders announced churches as meeting places for prayer.
A panel of legal experts explained the courtroom proceedings, jury selection, the admissibility of evidence, and the "stand your ground" law Zimmerman is invoking in his defense.
Whatever the verdict, there will be an immediate and emotional response.
The nation has obsessed over the case of the neighborhood volunteer watchman and the shooting of the African-American teenager for the last year. Twenty-two percent of American adults admitted to following the news of it very closely, according to results from a Gallup poll released in April 2012. Opinions on whether Zimmerman is guilty of a crime were found to be sharply divided along racial lines.
The Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board and the Miami-Dade County Youth Commission organized the event. Their stated purpose: "To inform, empower, and protect our community."
Jude Bruno represented young people on behalf of the County Youth Commission, which advises the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners and the mayor on youth-related issues.
His organization, along with the Community Relations Board, created the hashtag #KeepCalmForTrayvon, which Bruno promoted at the event. "Keep calm for Trayvon," he said. "That is our driving message, kind of our symbol for the nonviolence campaign."
They sent a letter to the owners of the Miami Heat asking for support. "Role models in the community," Bruno said. "If we can get them to just send a message of nonviolence, that's going to go a long way."
A unity walk in Miami is also in the works for the day the jury goes into deliberation.
The George Zimmerman murder trial resumed at 9 a.m. today.