Trayvon Martin

Authorities Fret Over Potential Reaction to Zimmerman Verdict

People are a bit worked up

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SANFORD, Fla. — Remembering the passions that inflamed the country with debates over race, profiling and gun laws, cities across Florida are bracing for protests and possible riots as the trial of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman winds down.

Shortly after the case went to the jury Friday afternoon, Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith and Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger held a press conference to urge calm when the verdict is rendered.

"This is a trying time for all of us," Smith said. But he said the residents of Sanford should use the case to discuss, debate and exchange ideas peacefully, no matter the outcome of the trial.