Florida Governor Calls For Calm In Wake of Zimmerman Verdict

By Curtis Houck | July 19, 2013 | 5:47 PM EDT

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (AP)

(CNSNews.com) - Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.) issued a proclamation calling for a "Statewide Day of Prayer for Unity In Florida" on Sunday after the George Zimmerman trial sparked widespread reactions across the country.

"While emotions run high, it is even more important that we join together to strengthen and support one another," Scott said in a statement released Thursday night after meeting with a group of protesters who came to the state capitol in Tallahassee to protest the "not guilty" verdict in the death of Trayvon Martin handed down by a Florida jury on July 13.

Scott said he heard their concerns about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law and they urged him to call a special session of the state legislature to repeal it. However, after the meeting, Scott said, "I told them that I agree with the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, which concurred with the law."

In the proclamation, Scott called Floridians "a people of great humility, kindness, and compassion" who live in a state that has faced many challenges previously, including natural disasters, with "a spirit of unity and perseverance."

"Tragic events compel us to a time of deep reflection and prayer to find strength and peace in uncertainty," he said.

He also called the death of 17-year-old Travyon Martin a tragedy and said that the Martin and Zimmerman families, along with anyone affected by Martin's death, should "remain in our thoughts and prayers."

"Emotions are running high as we continue to grieve the loss of Trayvon and the toll that the tragic events surrounding his death have taken on the community of Sanford, Florida, and other communities across our state," said Scott.

The proclamation was issued on the same day President Barack Obama gave his latest opinion on the situation in a surprise visit to the daily White House Press Briefing.

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," Obama said.

"There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often."

The president made a point to wonder whether Trayvon Martin would have been justified shooting Zimmerman under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law if he had had a gun during the altercation.