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Some Central Florida Leaders Advise Against Protesting Zimmerman Verdict

July 25, 2013 | WMFE - George Zimmerman's acquittal of murder in the shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin sent thousands into the streets in protest across the U.S. In the debate about race and justice that followed, even President Obama weighed in. But in Central Florida protests have been generally small in scale, and some civic leaders have advised citizens not to demonstrate.

State Sen. Geraldine Thompson says the governor's office told her before the verdict not to worry, that law enforcement was prepared for any unrest.

But she says arresting protesters doesn't deal with the underlying issue.

"So I'm telling people we aren't going to give anybody the satisfaction of arresting and incarcerating individuals in Central Florida."

Instead the Central Florida democrat is telling constituents to call state lawmakers, who are the only ones able to change Florida's "stand your ground" law. 

The controversial law was thrust into the spotlight after George Zimmerman said he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense. After his acquittal, opponents are again calling for the repeal of "stand your ground."

Thompson is not the only one telling people to find other ways to protest the verdict.

Turner Clayton is president of the Seminole County branch of the NAACP. He says his organization was unhappy about a judge's order restricting where protesters could gather outside the courthouse.  

"So in light of that the NAACP issued its mandate that no one go to the courthouse to demonstrate. No judge is going to tell us when where and how to demonstrate."

Clayton says he and other community leaders are organizing regular town hall meetings and other forums where people can voice their views. 

And he says the NAACP is calling for a review board to handle complaints leveled at Sanford police, the agency that first investigated Martin's shooting.


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