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Activists plan downtown demonstration after Zimmerman verdict

A group of Baltimore activists is planning a demonstration in McKeldin Square after the jury returns a verdict in the trial of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who is accused of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin.

The Baltimore People's Power Assembly is calling on people to meet at the corners of Pratt and Light streets in central Baltimore when a verdict comes back, according to a Facebook page announcing the protest.

"It's important that the powers that be know how people feel and the outrage if he is acquitted or found not guilty," said organizer Steven Ceci.

"It's not just what's going on in Florida," Ceci added. "I think a lot of people in Baltimore particularly in the African American community identify with what Trayvon Martin's family is going through."

The jury of six women began deliberating late Friday at the Seminole County court house in Sanford, Fla., and is set to continue its work Saturday morning. The jury is considering whether to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder or manslaughter or acquit him in the shooting of Martin.

Zimmerman's attorneys argued at the trial that he was acting in self-defense.

Ceci said that popular protest has been important to the case all along. Zimmerman was not initially charged by local authorities until the case attracted widespread attention.

"I believe that Trayvon Martin was in the situation of George Zimmerman he would have been arrested immediately, he would have been charged and convicted," Ceci said, referring to the fact that Martin was an African American, while Zimmerman is white.

81 people had accepted the invitation to join the demonstration Saturday morning.

Baltimore has seen a number of rallies this summer in the wake of a spike in shootings. Ceci welcomed that development, but said people should be focused on creating economic opportunities rather than boosting policing.

"I think the real way to stem the violence is to produce jobs ... instead of more repression," he added.

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