SANFORD, Fla. - Law enforcement officials are asking residents of Sanford and surrounding areas to remain peaceful after a verdict is announced in the George Zimmerman trial.
The Sanford police chief and Seminole County sheriff made their appeal Friday shortly after jurors began deliberating in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.
Zimmerman said he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Prosecutors say Zimmerman was a wannabe cop who took the law into his own hands after a rash of break-ins in his Sanford neighborhood.
Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said the city has evolved since thousands protested last year after Martin was killed. Civil rights leaders came to Sanford to demonstrate when Zimmerman wasn't immediately arrested.
Many protesters are hopeful that a second day of deliberation means the jury is leaning in their direction. Most of the people who have come to protest are Martin supporters, but regardless the outcome, there's a call for peace.
"We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict as an excuse to violate the law," said Sheriff Don Eslinger.
As authorities urge peace, protesters -- mostly supporting Martin -- anxiously await another day. Among protesters like the New Black Panthers, were moms who felt compelled to bring their kids.
Darnel Kreuzer brought her teenage daughter and son to the protest area outside the Seminole County courthouse and has had daily family talks about the case since it began. Her family hopes this case appeals to the mothers on the jury of six women.
"I'm hoping that their intuition, their motherhood, will speak to them," said Kreuzer.
"I think they are probably all mothers and probably some of them have a son, so I think that is more favorable for this child," said Cathy Cole as she pointed to a sign supporting the unarmed teen shot by Zimmerman.
"Most of them have kids like myself," said Tonnetta Foster, who hopes the additional time taken by the jury is a sign in her favor. "That's a sign for me, because if he doesn't get second degree, he's going to get manslaughter."
Regardless of the outcome, the moms protesting outside the trial hope the jury's decision is met with peace.
"The real justice will come when he [Zimmerman] meets his maker," said Kreuzer.
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