At least six months ahead of George Zimmerman's murder trial, the Miami-Dade County Youth Commission is preparing to promote nonviolence, mainly through schools, churches and police departments.
"Some schools have held demonstrations and walkouts and that's great, that's the path we want to continue on instead of fights breaking out, that's hopefully want we don't want to happen,” Miami-Dade County Youth Commissioner Natalia Gonzalez said.
The highly sensitive case prompted the county's community relations board to create a plan to calm tensions before, during and after the trial of Zimmerman, 29, which is scheduled for June. He shot and killed Trayvon Martin, 17, of Miami Gardens in Sanford in February. Zimmerman claims the shooting was in self-defense and has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
The community relations board’s chair, Dr. Walter T. Richardson, presented its nonviolence campaign to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners early Tuesday.
Richardson said there will be people who will be disappointed however the trial turns out, and there are people who support Zimmerman.
”And then there are people, a large majority of people, from what I'm hearing, that will be affected if the trial goes the other way and he's found not guilty. And so either way we need to make sure our citizens are informed,” Richardson said.
Youth leaders will rely heavily on social media to post updates on the trial and plan to host a student summit next month.
"We're not here because we believe there's going to be violence. We believe there's not going to be violence,” said Edward Shohat, a member of the community relations board. “We are here to foster nonviolence in response to whatever happens in the Trayvon Martin case."
Martin’s uncle was encouraged by the county's mission.
"I like the idea of us taking a proactive approach and instead of a reactive approach,” Ronald Fulton said.