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Sanford, Fla. residents divided over Zimmerman case

(CBS News) In his final words to the jury in the George Zimmerman trial, a prosecutor said the case is "not about race," it's "about right and wrong." But for many of the folks in Sanford, Florida, it has always been about both.

The protests which first brought the Trayvon Martin case to the nation's attention were organized in part by the Allen Chapel Church in Sanford, Florida.

George Zimmerman trial: Jury recesses for the day without a verdict after launching deliberations

"We marched, we prayed, we rallied for a trial. We received a trial," said Valarie Houston, pastor of the 400-member congregation. She has been in the courtroom from the beginning.

If the verdict comes back 'not guilty,' what then? "It's in the hands of the jury," said Houston. "Because that's the system that we have. Will we be happy about it? No."

Watch CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann's report on the jury receiving the case:

And will justice have been served? "Through the system, yes," said Houston. "But through what happened to an innocent 17-year -old young man, no."

A difference of opinion on that question -- whether Zimmerman should be found guilty or not guilty -- divides many in this community.

Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger had a message Friday: "We will not tolerate anyone who uses this verdict as an excuse to violate the law."

Sanford's newly-appointed police chief, Cecil Smith, sent officers door-to-door to gauge the public's temperature. He plans a show of force once the trial ends.

"My directive to the officers has been this," he said. "'Once that we get into a position where we know a verdict is coming down, you will be here working somewhere on the street providing service in the community.'"

With the case now in the hands of the jury, the police chief said those calls for calm go out to members on both sides of this issue. Police have no knowledge of planned protests once the verdict comes down.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.