With the George Zimmerman murder trial churning toward conclusion, cities in Florida such as Miami and Sanford, where Trayvon Martin's murder occurred, are nervously making plans to prevent any riots or explosions of violence if Zimmerman is acquitted.
Miami has had a previous experience. The city became a tinderbox 33 years ago, after an all-white jury acquitted a Miami cop in the death of Arthur McDuffie. Three miles of the city exploded in a riot that resulted in 18 deaths and $100 million in damage.
Local police and community leaders in Miami are meeting to plan a way to control the reaction, even turning to social media and Miami Heat stars for help.
The Miami-Dade Community Relations Board met with police and a Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Committee to discuss the trial.
"We want people to respond in a positive way. If they have frustrations they want to vent, we want them to do that in an orderly and organized way. So the message is: Peace for Trayvon," board member Dr. Walter T. Richardson told CBS Miami.
The Miami Herald reports that board members are reaching out to Miami Heat basketball players, asking them to lead a "unity walk" through Miami's inner city after the verdict is announced.
In Sanford, when CNN asked city manager Norton Bonaparte, who is African-American, whether he was fearful of a violent reaction in the city of 50,000, he said, "That's a scenario, that's certainly a possibility."
How do you prepare for that?
"Through law enforcement. It's a good question. But it's not one I'm going to go into detail on," he said.
CNN aired footage of Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith, who is also African- American and has only been on the job since April, going door-to-door in the black community with a police officer, appealing for calm.
"We have plans in place to work with our other departments, with the sheriff's department," Smith said. "As far as the particulars of the plan, we're not releasing."
Sanford minister Valarie Houston, pastor of the 600-member Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, is one of a coterie of ministers who have been attending the trial, hoping to glean enough information about the proceedings to let their congregations know that justice was served.
Source: Atlanta Black Star | Nick Chiles