"We are the world. We are the children. What happened to the power of love?"
That was the refrain Thursday night among Michael Jackson fans as they held a candlelight vigil outside his Neverland ranch to wish him luck in Friday's court appearance, at which he is expected to be arraigned on child molestation charges and enter a plea of "not guilty."
Police in Santa Maria are braced for a mob scene when the pop star returns to the courthouse where last January he showed up late, was scolded by the judge, and entertained fans by dancing on top of his SUV.
Fans are again being brought in on chartered buses, but some legal observers predict that Jackson himself may be a bit more subdued - on the advice of his lawyers: lead attorney, his law partner Susan Yu, and longtime Jackson legal eagles Steve Cochran and Robert Sanger.
Mesereau and Yu have been on the job for only a few days, having been brought in to replace
Geragos does have another high profile case at the moment: the murder trial of.
Mesereau - in the headlines earlier this year as he briefly representedbefore quitting in a dispute with the actor - is known for strong ties to the black community and a history of saving minority defendants from the death penalty.
The indictment handed up by a grand jury last week is sealed, and the details of the charges will be revealed at Friday's hearing.
The indictment could expand on the original charges Jackson faced in January: lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14 and giving an intoxicant, reportedly wine, to a youth under 14.
Nearly a hundred police officers and sheriff's deputies will be on duty outside the courthouse, and barricades have been put everywhere, to try to keep loyal fans and a horde of reporters and other onlookers from disrupting the proceedings.
Jackson usually has a retinue of bodyguards, but he's made some changes there, too. Earlier this year, the Nation of Islam handled guard duty for Jackson. A private security team was then hired. Thursday, they told police they had been fired.
"They called us," said Santa Maria Police Chief Danny Macagni, "and said 'We're out. We don't know who's in, but we won't be there.'"
Jackson was nowhere in sight Thursday, but CBS News Correspondent Drew Levinson reports there was a lot of activity at Neverland, where trucks carrying food, party rental supplies and portable toilets were seen driving in and out of the ranch.
The supplies could be for Jackson's fans, who gathered at the ranch last January for a party following his court appearance.
Supporters wearing "Free Michael!" T-shirts have come from all over the world to make their statement.
"Michael Jackson has everything to lose," said Krissie Petrovay, a fan who stood by Wednesday as Jackson announced the quick switch in his legal team. "We need to give the highest level of scrutiny to the people who have something to gain: the DA's (District Attorney) office and the accuser's family. And I just really want to stand by that principle of Michael Jackson as innocent until proven guilty."
"I didn't come here to gawk at him. I just want to support him," said Paul Thomas, 25, a design and technology student who flew in from London and plans to be at the courthouse Friday. "I think he is a good role model. He has a lot of morals. You can see he's a nice person, always giving to charity."
"I think it's an injustice the way the media is portraying him," Thomas continued. "They're being so negative about it."
Thomas said he told his college he was sick for the week and estimated that he spent about $700 on the trip.
Pedro Rivero, 22, flew to Los Angeles from Madrid, acting on a feeling that he should be at the arraignment.
"Everything that's happening is so unfair," said Rivero, who said he had been inside Neverland in the past and met Jackson "too many times to count."
"We are big fans of Michael and we support him. He's innocent of the charges," Rivero told reporters. "He's just so genuine, so pure... I think he's the best."
Rivero and other overseas fans said they stayed in touch about Jackson's whereabouts and such gatherings through cell phone text messages, online postings and e-mails.
Others are more reserved in their reaction to the charges Jackson faces.
"I think if he's guilty, he should be in prison for the rest of his life," said Ricky Rock, a neighbor in Los Olivos, the town closest to the Jackson ranch. "If he's not, all this stuff should just go away and a lot of people owe him an apology."