July 15, 2013

Fla. town somberly absorbs Zimmerman verdict

The Associated Press

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In this Saturday, July 13, 2013 file photo, a mother holds and sits with her children after hearing the verdict of not guilty in the trial of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman at the Seminole County Courthouse, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman was cleared of all charges Saturday in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, whose killing unleashed furious debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice. Some view Zimmerman's acquittal as a blow to race relations. (AP Photo/Mike Brown, File)

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Abdul Kebbeh, 6, holds a sign at Westlake Park on Sunday, July 14, 2013 in downtown Seattle. Hundreds of people gathered at Westlake and marched to the United States Court House to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man that shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

The Associated Press

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Police officers arrived within minutes, looked at the video and spoke to witnesses who said the attack was unprovoked, but they let Collison go after he called his father.

After the video became public and spurred protests, Collison was charged almost two months later with battery and disorderly conduct. He struck a plea bargain and was sentenced to probation, anger management and substance abuse counseling — but no jail time.

In February 2010, Dennis Williams was shot on the front steps of his home while he held his 9-month-old son. Police have never been able to identify a suspect.

That same month, a Sanford police investigator shot and killed Nicholas Eugene Scott in his car as officers tried to arrest him in a supermarket parking lot. Prosecutors ruled the shooting justified.

Cecil Smith, who became police chief earlier this year after Bill Lee Jr. lost his job in the fallout over the Martin case, promised at a prayer service on Monday to try to ease the mistrust in the community.

"Everyone is watching the people of Sanford," he said. "We may not have liked the outcome of this trial, but we are united enough to say we are starting to move forward."

In downtown Sanford, business owners hope tourism will rebound from the hit it has taken from the furor.

Howard Marks, a civil rights attorney and owner of an art gallery in Sanford's historic district, said the city has been unfairly cast as a racist and dangerous place.

"Sanford's got issues like any other town," said Marks, who is white, "but this town is as good a town with as good a people as any town in the state of Florida."

He added: "The case is never going to be over in some people's mind. But I think as far as Sanford, the worst of that is over."

 

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In this Saturday, July 13, 2013 file photo, Darrsie Jackson, center, reacts after hearing the verdict of not guilty in the trial of George Zimmerman, with her children Linzey Stafford, left, 10, and Shauntina Stafford, 11, at the Seminole County Courthouse, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman had been charged with the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Nearly 70 years after Jackie Robinson was run out of town by the KKK, Sanford is absorbing what some see as another blow to race relations: Zimmerman's acquittal. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

  


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