White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday sidestepped a question about whether the Obama administration was preparing for the possible public reaction to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.
“To suggest our views on — or anyone’s views here, whether it’s the president’s or anyone else’s views here — on an ongoing trial that’s about to go to jury, I think would be a mistake,” Carney said. “And potential outcomes and what might happen in an outcome, this is, you know, a jury in Florida in the United States that’s fulfilling its function — I mean, a trial and a jury —and we’ll obviously you know, be made aware of the results of that when they happen.”
Law enforcement officials in Florida have urged restraint ahead of the verdict, with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office releasing two public service announcements urging trial-watchers to “raise their voice, not their hands” if they are displeased with the verdict.
Members of the family of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed during a confrontation with Zimmerman, have also pleaded for peace.
“Please, no violence. We don’t want any violence. None,” Miriam Martin, one of Martin’s aunts, told The Associated Press.
Martin’s supporters have portrayed the shooting, and the Sanford, Fla., police department’s initial decision not to arrest Zimmerman, as racially motivated, noting that the 17-year-old was African-American. Black leaders in Florida and New York led large but peaceful protests in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Zimmerman has claimed self-defense and said the confrontation was not racially motivated.
Jury deliberations in the second-degree murder case began Friday afternoon.
During the initial police investigation, President Obama noted that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” and encouraged “soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen.
“And that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened as well as the specifics of the incident,” Obama said.
On Thursday, Carney said that the president’s comments “are what they were, but we’re not going to say anything from here in the midst of a trial.”