Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade board urges peace no matter verdict in Zimmerman trial

Anticipating a verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin, a committee of Miami-Dade’s Community Relations Board will promote community peace by flooding social media, opening church doors and trying to get Miami Heat players to lead a unity walk through the inner city.

The 50-year-old board, created during the civil unrest of the 1960s to promote racial harmony, met at County Hall Tuesday to lay out plans for how it will deal with potential flare ups, whether Zimmerman is acquitted or convicted of the charge of murdering Trayvon last year near his father’s home in the Central Florida town of Sanford.

“Our goal is to make sure we have a response no matter how it comes out,” said the Rev. Walter T. Richardson, chairman of the board’s executive committee.

Board members hoping for the best from local residents nonetheless showed concern Tuesday.

“There is unrest in the south. I think it’s a powder keg,” said the Rev. Al Jackson, a pastor in Richmond Heights. “People are looking for outlets.”

For more than two hours Tuesday board members listened to the chairman of the CRB’s Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Committee talk about a timeline for the trial, discussed nuances of the case and asked a Miami-Dade police department representative to let the board know of sites the department plans to allow as protest areas.

Near the end of the meeting, board member Edward Harris said he was tired of talking and asked what the board planned to do.

Two of the group’s youngest members, the Rev. Eddy Gervais and County Youth Commission Chairman Jude Bruno, were chosen to promote a calm reaction to a verdict through Facebook and Instagram, and by creating a hashtag on Twitter — possibly #keepcalmfortrayvon.

Ed Shohat, chairman of the board’s Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Committee, said he will lead an effort to get Miami Heat players to lead a walk through the community, and religious leaders from around the county agreed to keep their doors open after the verdict so people could pray and talk. The board will also take part in a community conversation and forum at the North Dade Regional Library on Tuesday.

Also attending Tuesday’s meeting was Robert Fulton, brother of Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother.