Police, clergy meet over George Zimmerman trial

2 sides hatch out plan to avoid violence following verdict

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - South Florida law enforcement leaders met with black clergy members on Friday to discuss ways to keep the peace following a verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.

"We're asking you -- we need to enter into a partnership with you guys," said Capt. Eddie Grant with Broward Sheriff's Office-Homeland Security.

"What we want to try and do is really do the best job we can do through you in communicating to the people in the community [that] we want to deal with this peacefully," said Jim Chambliss with the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Students at 15 schools walked out after Trayvon Martin was shot to death in Sanford. Their protests were peaceful, but law enforcement and clergy worry about what could happen if Zimmerman is acquitted of second-degree murder.

SPECIAL SECTION: George Zimmerman trial

"We understand that people may get upset if it doesn't go the way they like but the way to handle that is to discuss it, to talk about it, to vent somewhat -- but not to throw rocks, not to cause violence, not to want to hurt someone else," said Pastor Rasheed Baaith.

Trayvon's parents have called for calm and said the judicial system has been fair thus far. But authorities fear an explosion if his peers think it hasn't been.

"If Zimmerman is found not guilty, of course there are more serious -- much more chatter about that, but there's nothing organized about a riot," said Miami-Dade Police Det. Maritza Aschenbrenner.

Authorities plan on monitoring social media as way to be proactive.

"From County Line Road all the way to south, we had schools last year that participated in the walkout and all of it started from just one tweet," said Miami-Dade Police Det. Robert Garland.

Police plan to post their own tweets and Facebook messages if they see misinformation.

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