The city of Sanford, Fla. is bracing for reaction to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, including preparing for riots the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Rodney King verdict was announced in 1992.
The city has spent months preparing for what may develop after the jury verdict is announced, and pastors and members of the clergy are even lending a hand to keep tensions from escalating out of control.
According to a report from CNN’s David Mattingly, local pastors have been sitting in the courtroom observing the trial, and the Sanford Police Department has sent officers door to door in an attempt to stay in “front of a possible disaster.”
From Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett to the Chief of Police Cecil Smith, the city is very concerned about people coming in from out of town and “stirring up violence,” the CNN report said.
Triplett said the city was a “tinderbox” with all the demonstrations after Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in February 2012, and his fear is that it may happen again if Zimmerman is ultimately acquitted.
A “Rodney King-type of riot” is a “scenario that’s certainly a possibility,” Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte told Mattingly.
However, neither Bonaparte nor Smith would discuss with CNN what specific security measures, like SWAT or other “personnel,” were in place.
“Months of preparation, intense community relations and a secret law enforcement plan” are in place not just for a Zimmerman acquittal, but in case celebrations over a possible guilty verdict turn violent, Mattingly reported.
No doubt, the city has been watching the escalating tension the trial has caused on social media.
There have been serious, violent and graphic calls on Twitter and Facebook for riots, looting and violence in cities across the country if Zimmerman is acquitted.
The trial is expected to last a few more weeks.
Watch the report from CNN here: