Protesters gather as police urge peace after Zimmerman verdict



SANFORD, Fla. - On the second day of jury deliberations in the George Zimmerman trial, protesters gathered outside the Seminole County courthouse, holding signs that read: "Justice for Trayvon" and "Not Guilty."

One protester laid on the ground next to a bag of Skittles, holding a drink can and wearing a hoodie.

Protesters were also outside on Friday after jurors began deliberating Zimmerman's fate in his second-degree murder trial.

Law enforcement officials are asking  residents of Sanford and surrounding areas to remain peaceful after a verdict is announced.

The Sanford police chief and Seminole County Sheriff made their appeal Friday shortly after jurors began deliberating in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.

Zimmerman said he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Prosecutors claim Zimmerman was a wannabe cop who took the law into his own hands after a rash of break-ins in his Sanford neighborhood.

Shortly after closing arguments wrapped up on Friday, more than a dozen protesters showed up in support of Martin.  Two people showed their support for Zimmerman from the other side of a police barricade that was set up for peaceful protests.

Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said the city has evolved since tens of thousands protested last year after Martin was killed. Civil rights leaders came to Sanford to demonstrate when Zimmerman wasn't immediately arrested.

Channel 9's Karla Ray spoke with some local pastors who are pushing to keep the peace, once the verdict is reached.

The pastors met with Department of Justice officials in Sanford Friday.

Leaders in the black community in Sanford expect emotions to run high, but federal agents told the group that no violent threats have been made.

"Our sense is from local law enforcement that they don't have anything on their radar screen for any negative reaction," said Charlie Holt of St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

Church leaders in Sanford have worked together for 17 months to talk to their parishioners about peace, following a verdict.

But Pastor Valerie Houston of the Allen Chapel AME Church in historic Goldosboro, which was the site of many protests and rallies last year, demanding an arrest, said anything is possible.

"You can't predict how people will react there will be a lot of people disappointed and sad if we get an unfavorable verdict," said Houston.