Protest in Sanford triggers verbal spat

About 50 protesters gathered outside the Seminole County Courthouse on Friday as jurors began their deliberations in the George Zimmerman murder trial.

A dozen or so remained there in the early-evening humidity after jurors retired for the night. While most wore hoodies and held signs showing their support of Trayvon Martin, 17, who Zimmerman fatally shot in February 2012, a few were on Zimmerman’s side of the fence — literally, a metal barricade divided the two groups.

Although the protests remained peaceful and police reported no arrests, tensions were evident in several exchanges between the protesters. At one point, a white man holding a sign that read “Creepy Ass Cracker IS RACIST,” a reference to something Trayvon called Zimmerman while on the phone with a friend the night of the shooting, got into a verbal spat with a black woman standing a few feet away.

“Zimmerman is a liar, and you know what I’m talking about,” the woman said. “Zimmerman ... ran out behind him and pulled out his gun and killed an African-American.”

“All white people are guilty,” the man countered sarcastically.

The exchange seemed to fly in the face of Seminole Sheriff Don Eslinger’s assertion Friday that “there’s no tension in Seminole County.”

“While this case has brought a great deal of emotion ... there’s no party involved in this case who wants to see any violence,” Eslinger said.

Elsewhere throughout Florida, including Miami-Dade and Broward counties, police departments have said they are prepared for any public response to a verdict but are hopeful that there will be no violent outbreaks. This week, Gov. Rick Scott said the state and its law enforcement departments are “ready for whatever happens.”

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