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Community urged to keep calm for Trayvon

Leaders discussed trial and peace after verdict

Miami Times staff report | 8/8/2013, 10:52 a.m.
Community members were engaged during the meeting. Photos by Kat Peacock

On July 9, nearly 300 people came together to listen to faith-based leaders, attorneys and the police’s call for peace in response to the approaching George Zimmerman trial verdict. Attorneys also gave community members more insight on the trial through their explanation of legal issues and procedures.

The meeting was held at North Dade Regional Library in Trayvon Martin’s hometown of Miami Gardens, which was described as an event “to inform, empower and protect our community” in preparation of the Zimmerman trial verdict.

“Somebody’s going to be disappointed with the outcome of this trial,” said Walter Richardson, chair of the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board, which hosted the meeting.

“It’s alright to be vocal. It’s wrong to be violent. We already lost one soul,” Richardson continued.

In the meeting, leaders discussed how the county is in a “far more mature place since than it was in the 1970s and 1980s when several court decisions led to violent reactions,” such as the acquittal of four Miami-Dade Police officers in the death of Authur McDuffie.

While encouraging the community to voice their concerns and emotions in a safe environment, Miami-Dade have police identified “First Amendments zones” throughout the county for protest, if needed.

Local churches also will open their doors for community forums to take place.

Police said they are also prepared for violent flare ups.

Those in attendance at the meeting were also urged to share the message with others, specifically through social media.

“We want everyone to promote the message of non-violence,” Jude Bruno, the chair of the Miami-Dade Youth Commission, said.

Bruno encouraged attendees to use the hashtag #KeepCalmforTrayvon when they are tweeting, instagramming or using any other social networks to discuss the trial.

Trayvon Martin’s cousin started a Facebook page where she continues to urge others to remain peaceful in their protests.

“If the case doesn’t go how we want it to go, have a peace rally, have a prayer,” Tina Owens, Martin’s cousin, said. “But a riot? That’s not what my family is about.”