As the George Zimmerman trial nears a verdict, the NAACP held a town hall forum in North Miami-Dade Wednesday night and frustrations were aired about the prosecutor's handling of the case and Florida's Stand Your Ground law.
The forum, attended by dozens at the New Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, is one of several that are planned by various community organizations around South Florida to address concerns about the Zimmerman trial and the public’s reaction to the verdict, when it comes down in the days.
"One of the things that's shocking about this trial is not just the trial itself, but many of the other issues the trial has brought to
light," said Miami-Dade NAACP South area director Kevin Chambliss.
Race was a key issue addressed at Wednesday night's meeting.
When it comes to Florida's Stand Your Ground law — which Sanford police initially cited as the reason for not arresting Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Miami Gardens’ teen Trayvon Martin — panelist of state representatives, clergy members and attorneys agreed the law is unevenly applied along racial lines and needs to change.
"The law is so loose, it's so flexible, but for the grace of God that could have been any of us, any of our children," stare Rep. Cynthia Stafford said.
Also a topic of discussion was the prosecution's handling of the trial.
“One of the things I was appalled by... is to watch the prosecution drop the ball," said University of Miami law professor Donald Jones, who said it appears "their heart wasn't in it." Jones said he finds it so disturbing, he has stopped watching the trial.
John Anthony Jr, a Miami resident, said he was worried that meetings like the one sponsored by the NAACP are not targeting the individuals who need to hear the messages of non-violence once the verdict is revealed.
"If we want the people to do what we need them to do," said Anthony, "we’ve got to take it to the community because the community doesn't come here."