Florida authorities are sitting back and observing the George Zimmerman trial like millions of other people. As the defense rested its case yesterday, and Zimmerman declined to take the stand, how the next days and weeks play out will be interesting. Of course no one knows how the trial will end, but the worst case scenario involves Zimmerman walking out of the court-house a free man.
What happens after that could be devastating.
The Sheriff’s Office released a statement explaining that it was “working closely with the Sanford Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies” to coordinate “a response plan in anticipation of the verdict.”
In preparation for the verdict, authorities have released a public service announcement on YouTube, encouraging residents to “raise your voice, not your hands.”
The video, titled “Raise Your Voice, Not Your Hands,” focuses on attempting to channel reaction into non-violent response. It depicts two youngsters, one black teenage boy, one Hispanic teenage girl. “Raise your voice!” says the girl. “And not your hands!” says the boy. “We need to stand together as one, no cuffs, no guns,” says the girl. “Let’s give violence a rest, because we can easily end up arrested,” says the boy. “I know your patience will be tested,” says the girl, and then both conclude, “but law enforcement has your back!”
“Let’s back up and choose not to act up, and deputies are with us, so no need to act up,” says the boy. “Let it roll off your shoulders,” says the girl, “it’s water off your back, don’t lack composure, because in one instant it could be over.” Both conclude: “So let’s make the choice to raise your voice and not your hands.” Sheriff Scott Israel says, “I’m Sheriff Scott Israel, and law enforcement does have your back.”
“Freedom of expression is a constitutional right,” the Sheriff’s Department states. “While raising your voice is encouraged, using your hands is not. BSO has created a public service announcement with the help of kids from the Jason Taylor Foundation, H.A.N.D.Y. (Helping Abused, Neglected, Disadvantaged Youth) and basketball star James Jones of the championship Miami Heat team urging young people not to let their emotions get the best of them.”
Sheriff Scott Israel said, “We don’t have information about a specific event that might take place at the conclusion of the trial, but we encourage everyone to keep any protests peaceful.”