Protesters gather as Zimmerman jury deliberates

5:48 PM, Jul 13, 2013   |    comments
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SANFORD, Fla. - Crowds gathered outside the courthouse Saturday as jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial reconvened for deliberations.

Jurors reconvened Saturday morning, deliberated for three hours and then broke for lunch. They resumed their discussions about 1 p.m. ET.

About five hours later, jurors asked the judge for clarification about the manslaughter charge.

Outside supporters on both sides of the case mingled with the media and even clashed at one point.

As a reporter interviewed Casey David Kole Sr., an Orlando retiree and Zimmerman supporter, a man nearby interrupted the interview.

"I believe in George and what he stands for," Kole said. "The fact that he was the neighborhood watch (commander) on a voluntary basis - it proves to me that he's an upright citizen."

That statement drew a rebuke from a nearby shirtless, young man who said he legally changed his name to Malcolm X. He held a sign that said "How Long Will 'They' Keep Cannibalizing The Black Male."

"That's all it takes - the neighborhood watch - to be an upright citizen? If it was that simple," Malcolm X exclaimed, interrupting the interview.

Kole continued his interview, bringing up Trayvon Martin's school suspension. Malcolm X interrupted again, retorting that that does not mean Martin was a criminal.

"Justice for George Zimmerman," Kole began chanting, strolling around the grassy plaza.

Abby Cardona videotaped the two men.

The 52-year-old Winter Springs woman said she wants to have a record of events for her 11-month-old granddaughter, Skylar. She plans to discuss the trial, and its impact on her community and country, when Skylar grows up.

"You never know how history distorts facts," Cardona said. "There's a lot of passion ... I only hope that they exercise their First Amendment rights, but don't resort to violence. That's not going to solve anything."

Two sign-waving demonstrators stood in the grassy plaza in front of the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center - ringed by 16 media cameramen and reporters.

One of those demonstrators was Ed Wilson, a Lake Mary retiree displaying a colorful "We Love You George" sign with a peace symbol drawn on the back side.

"Let the jury decide. I think they can do a fine job," he said. "I think he was a nice guy that just caught up in things. Unfortunate. Very unfortunate."

The other demonstrator, a Sanford DJ who performs at downtown bars, identified himself only as Chris F. His sign read "We Are Americans: Not Color!" He said he hopes his city remains peaceful after the verdict is announced.

"Equality. We're not colored. We're all Americans. There's no black, white, no Hispanic, anything. We're all Americans," he said.

"I hope that no riots break out, and people realize that it's just a case - just like any other case - and the law does what it does," he added.

Chris and Mindy Drone of Sanford came out to see what they called the "three-ring circus." Their 9-year-old child stayed home after becoming scared of seeing images of demonstrators on TV.

The actual number of demonstrators they saw live was lower than they expected. The Drones took photos, including snapshots of media trucks and tents nearby, which they plan to share via social media with family members.

"I just wish they would come to a verdict so we can move on to something else," Mindy Drone said.

"It's something you don't see every day," Chris Drone said. He believes George Zimmerman acted within his rights -- but he disagrees with the way the law is written.

Charlotte friends Jasmine Tompkins, 18, an Air National Guardsman, and Khadejah Jackson, who turns 19 Monday and is a pre-law student at Regent University, dropped by the courthouse during their Orlando vacation. Tompkins said she relates to Trayvon Martin, and she does not think Zimmerman should walk away a free man.

"Justice should be served, just because of the simple fact that someone my age died. He didn't get to live life. He didn't get to go to college. He didn't get to take trips - just like we're doing now - and go to Florida or someplace else and vacation," Tompkins said.

Jackson agreed, but she voiced fears about the public's reaction to a verdict.

"I personally think he should do some jail time. But if he doesn't, I just pray and hope for his safety," Jackson said. "I hope that no one tries to take justice into their own hands and do anything to him."

"He is a person. He made a mistake. And I'm all about the peace right now," she added.

Ansley DeRousha, 20, is a Sanford retail worker who lives about two miles away.

"My belief is that two wrongs don't make a right," she said. "I really think that Trayvon and Zimmerman, they were both in the wrong. Trayvon shouldn't have come after him, and Zimmerman shouldn't have been following."

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