Groups Gather to Await Verdict... Tempers Begin to Flare...



(LA TIMES) -- SANFORD, Fla. -- The white-haired old man waded into the crowd that was shouting “Justice for Trayvon!” in the shade of the courthouse here Saturday, smiling as he murmured, “George Zimmerman is an innocent man.”

Terrie Ann Campbell, 38, who works for the school district in Orlando, looked on from a lawn chair on the courthouse lawn where she had propped up her “Justice 4 Trayvon” sign in the damp grass on what had already become a hot and humid day.

About 50 people gathered in the morning to protest as jurors deliberated the fate of Zimmerman, 29, a neighborhood watch volunteer who identifies himself as Latino and who is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the Feb. 26, 2012, fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman maintains he shot Martin in self-defense after Martin suddenly attacked him in a confrontation on that rainy night in Sanford.

“It was peaceful in the beginning, but it seems like there are certain people out here trying to provoke a reaction,” said Campbell, who is black and was hoping for a guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial that has transfixed the nation.

As the six-woman jury continued their second day of deliberations Saturday, local authorities staffed the emergency operations center and sheriff’s deputies lingered at the edge of the courthouse lawn, where metal barricades had been erected.

“Shouting at each other -- it’s not going to do anything,” Campbell said.

As the white-haired man made his way through the crowd, a chorus of angry voices trailed him.

“Zimmerman’s a killer!”

“He’s a murderer!”

“You’re a racist!”

Eventually, half a dozen protesters surrounded the man with signs, chanting. One of the young women wore a T-shirt that said, “What if it were your son?” They talked about the O.J. Simpson case, one holding a sign that said, “The glove don’t fit.”

They tried to convince the white-haired man that he was wrong, but the man just shook his head.

“He has a right to self-defense,” he said of Zimmerman.

Tempers flared. Voices rose. But no one came to blows.

In the end, the old man walked away to talk to more Martin supporters, including a young black man wearing a T-shirt with Zimmerman’s face in the cross-hairs.

Across the barricade, a few Zimmerman supporters held signs that said “Not guilty” and “Free George.” They did not tangle much with the other group.

The white-haired man, Casey Kole, who is white, wanted to talk to the other side. Continue reading via the LA Times...


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