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Law and Order

Racism, Not Riots, Is The Trayvon Issue, NAACP Hears

The NAACP brokered a discussion of the Trayvon Martin shooting at a black community church in Miami last night. For many who attended, the issue is not whether the wrong verdict in the George Zimmerman trial will start riots in the city. It's the exposure of the vein of racism they believe still exists not far below the surface of modern American life.

Just a few hours after the end of testimony in the George Zimmerman trial, several dozen black and a few white residents huddled with black lawyers, ministers and politicians to figure out what to do after the verdict. The answer they got from Adora Nweze - Miami-Dade's NAACP president - is use your power."Do you realize that the chief of police who was the chief when Trayvon was killed is no longer the chief because the people of Sanford said he's got to go to their elected officials", Nweze asked. "He's gone, y'all."

And politicians who shared the panel with Nweze at New Harvest Missionary Baptist Church last night, pretty much agreed: the wrong people are in office and they have set the wrong tone. According to University of Miami law professor Donald Jones, when a black teen is profiled, stalked and shot, and his hooded sweatshirt somehow becomes a token of black guilt, then racism is still a factor in American justice.

"What this case shows is that the same stereotype which haunted the case in Emmett Till; still haunt us now", Jones said.

Emmitt Till was a black teenager lynched in Mississippi almost 60 years ago for whistling at a white woman. But the black community has changed since then, said psychologist Larry Kapp, and that's why an acquittal of Zimmerman is more likely to lead to retribution at the polls than riots in the street.

"I think the media and some other folks are exaggerating that I think our community has grown in terms of sophistication in how we deal with these things", said Kapp.

Closing arguments in the trial could begin as early as today.