Sheriff: Violence Not Expected in Flagler Reaction to Trayvon Martin Verdict, But Cops Preparing Anyway
FlaglerLive | July 12, 2013
Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday law enforcement across Florida is ready for “whatever happens” after the verdict as the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman gets closer to wrapping up in Sanford.
Friday morning on WNZF, Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre said he doesn’t expect a potentially violent reaction to spread to Flagler County, but that he’s been receiving daily briefings and bulletins on the matter and coordinating a response with Bunnell and Flagler Beach police while keeping tabs on social media and concerns from the local NAACP.
“People have a first amendment right to either for or against, whatever occurs, to broadcast their views,” Manfre said. “However, they don’t have a right to destroy property or put any of the lives at risk, and we will be monitoring any of those kinds of reactions.”
The jury might begin deliberations in the racially charged case as early as Friday. Closing arguments were being presented Friday morning.
“We’re getting daily briefings, sometimes twice a day,” Manfre said. None of the information so far, he said, “indicates any reaction, any violent reaction. But I think everyone is sitting back and waiting to see exactly what the verdict of the jury is. I’m sure—this has been a very passionate prosecution because of the issues that are involved. We expect some reaction, but hopefully people will do it in a safe manner.”
The governor has ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to coordinate local sheriff’s and city police agencies’ responses to the verdict, whichever way it may go.
“Obviously we feel right now that if there’s going to be any reaction, it’s probably going to be within the Seminole County-Sanford community,” Manfre said. “However, Orange County and Volusia County are coordinating with Seminole to provide any resources they may need. We are providing resources if Volusia County needs them. And we are also looking at any issues that we may have in our community. I’ve met with the chiefs this week to talk about this issue, anything that they may need in terms of resources. We’ve contacted the local NAACP to try to elicit any comments they may have or any concerns they may have. So we’re going to be alert to any issues.”
Scott addressed the issue during a morning appearance on WPEC TV in West Palm Beach Thursday.
“We’ve got great sheriffs, police chiefs, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, I’ve been in contact with them, they’re ready for whatever happens,” Scott said. “But hopefully the right thing happens here, and we’ll have a verdict that everybody understands.”
A number of agencies, including the FDLE, have been coordinating potential responses with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and the Sanford Police Department, which have been the lead agencies since the February 2012 shooting by Zimmerman of Trayvon Martin, a Miami Gardens teen who was staying with his father in Sanford.
“We’re assisting if they need us for anything,” said Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ginette Rodriguez.
FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said Sanford-area law enforcement requested the state assistance.
“As always, we will assist local law enforcement if they request any assistance,” Plessinger said.
Still, most agencies, such as the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, are monitoring the case, but don’t expect any local public backlash whichever way the jury rules. A spokeswoman for the Florida National Guard also said no directives have been made to be on alert with the verdict pending.
A spokesman for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said it is not releasing details, other than to repeat that the agency continues to ensure adequate staffing and resources are in place and that there will be support from multiple local, state and federal agencies.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has created a public service announcement intended to convince people to remain calm if Zimmerman is acquitted.
The video, which features two teenagers, a Hispanic female and a black male, and members of the sheriff’s office, tells the public, “Raise your voice, and not your hands! We need to stand together as one, no cuffs, no guns. … I know your patience will be tested, but law enforcement has your back!”
Members of Martin’s family attended a town hall meeting Tuesday at the North Dade Regional Library where the possibility of violence was discussed. A member of the Martin family has also set up a Facebook page to urge people to conduct peaceful protests.
Miami-Dade Police Deputy Director Juan Perez told WFOR TV in Miami that the plans have been discussed to avoid a riot similar to the 1980 race riots in Liberty City that followed the death of Arthur McDuffie, an insurance salesman and former Marine who was beaten to death by a group of white Miami police officers.
One way to reduce the chance for post-verdict violence may be to set up zones for people to protest, Perez said.
“I think now we’ve come a long way as a community and as law enforcement in merging together and bridging together our resources,” Perez told the television station.
–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida