Update, 10:28 p.m.: George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second degree murder for killing Trayvon Martin, the six person jury ruled late Saturday night. The jury also acquitted Zimmerman of manslaughter, a lesser charge they were considering. It seemed that was the direction they were heading earlier in the evening, but the late night surprise sparked an intense reaction online. The New York Times has more details:
The jury, which has been sequestered since June 24, deliberated 16 hours and 20 minutes over two days. When the verdict was read, Mr. Zimmerman, 29, smiled slightly. His wife, Shellie, was in tears, and his whole family hugged.
While the supporters of Martin who gathered outside of the courthouse were devastated by the news of the not guilty verdict, Zimmerman's lawyers were quick to gloat in a press conference. "Obviously we are ecstatic with the result. Obviously George Zimmerman was never guilty," defense attorney Mark O'Mara told reporters. "I think the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful," said Don West, another member of the Zimmerman defense team. And then there's this:
Oh wow, Mark O'Mara: If "George Zimmerman was black, he never would've been charged with a crime."— Brett LoGiurato (@BrettLoGiurato) July 14, 2013
It's going to be a long night in America.
Original: On Saturday, there were at least two altercations between the groups gathered outside the Florida courthouse who are waiting for the well-informed, careful jury to finish deliberating whether or not George Zimmerman is guilty of second degree murder for shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. But first, the jury had a question to ask.
Inside the Seminole county courthouse, the six women on the jury started deliberating around 9 a.m. local time Saturday morning and did not stop except to take a break for lunch until Saturday evening, when the lawyers and judge reassembled in the courtroom because the six women on the jury had a question to ask. "May we please have clarification on the instructions regarding manslaughter?" a note from the jury read. They promptly reassembled after the meeting. Those six women have now spent over 12 hours deliberating since Friday afternoon, going over every drop of evidence and every court argument presented to them in the Zimmerman case.
This could signal they have decided that Zimmerman is guilty of something and they are just trying to determine whether second degree murder or manslaughter is the more appropriate charge. "That should make defense nervous," said Dan Abrams, Good Morning America's legal expert.
Outside the courthouse, between 50 and 100 people of all sizes, shapes and color have gathered on the front lawn waiting to hear the jury's decision. There are blacks and whites on the courthouse lawn, some separated by the metal barricades put up by country sheriff officers, and some championing justice for the slain black teenager together. They're peacefully chanting things like "murder not manslaughter" under the rain that would have dispersed less dedicated crowds. They're all out there looking for one thing: an answer. It's not here yet and it seems it's going to take time, and that's causing tensions to flare up among the passionate crowds.
"It was peaceful in the beginning, but it seems like there are certain people out here trying to provoke a reaction," one witness told the L.A. Times. A white-haired man nearly caused things to boil over when he waded through the crowd of Martin supporters whispering, "George Zimmerman is an innocent man. This did not go over well:
As the white-haired man made his way through the crowd, a chorus of angry voices trailed him.
“Zimmerman’s a killer!”
“He’s a murderer!”
“You’re a racist!”
Eventually, half a dozen protesters surrounded the man with signs, chanting. One of the young women wore a T-shirt that said, “What if it were your son?” They talked about the O.J. Simpson case, one holding a sign that said, “The glove don’t fit.”
The other incident was much more volatile, much more of a racially motivated attack, and required deputies to step in and separate the participants before things got ugly. The Orlando Sentinel reports a man made his way through the pro-Trayvon Martin crowd on Sunday and started yelling "go get your welfare checks" and "go get your crack" among the assembled protestors. Unsurprisingly, some protestors started shouting back at him. "There was a verbal disagreement between two individuals in the assembly zone and deputies simply pulled them aside individually to ask them to be respectful of one another," Seminole County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Heather Smith told the Sentinel.
But besides those bad apples, the crowds outside of the courthouse are something to behold. One Florida local, Ben Montgomery, took it upon himself to document the crowd gathered outside the Florida courthouse on Saturday awaiting a verdict.
More unskilled photography of the people gathered outside the courthouse in Sanford. pic.twitter.com/RFnm6ttE6Y— Ben Montgomery (@gangrey) July 13, 2013
The only thing the crowds can do now is wait. If anything changes this evening, we'll update this post as soon as we can.