Zimmerman protest plans have some River Oaks residents concerned

Demonstrations by people on both sides of the issue are planned for Sunday

HOUSTON - Plans for a protest by demonstrators on both sides of the George Zimmerman acquittal controversy has some River Oaks residents concerned.

A church pastor in River Oaks sent out an email to members Thursday detailing the extensive security that will be in place Sunday afternoon, including security officers stationed on church property.

"I'm certainly not against them protesting and support it. I'm concerned about the other group and the clash that is potentially made possible that they're meeting at the same time," said Rev. Laurence A Hall with St. John the Divine Church.

The River Oaks patrol will be out and in force. And some residents are bringing in private security guards as well.

Protest organizer Quanell X says it will be a peaceful protest.

"I would say to the pastor of that church, you have nothing to worry about at the house of God. The protestors and even I will respect and honor the house of God," he said.

On a Facebook page earlier this week, some Zimmerman supporters suggested bringing guns to their counter protest.

On Friday, one of the organizers downplayed that. Going by the name "John Smith," he told us he's not coming armed and isn't encouraging anyone else to. But he says he expects as many as 1,000 demonstrators from across the state.

"People are afraid they're going to get retaliation for even speaking an opinion. And we all feel that's wrong. You ought to be able to state your opinion without any violence coming back to you," he said.

Rev. Hall says he expects the protest to be peaceful, too. He just wants to be prepared. And says anyone who comes Sunday is welcome in the church.

"Absolutely we'd love to have any of those who come into River Oaks for whatever purpose, are welcome," said Rev. Hall.

Pro-Zimmerman protestors are planning to gather across the street from the church at Lamar High School at 3pm Sunday. They have not disclosed if they will march through the neighborhood.

Quanell X says his group will be bused in to the River Oaks Shopping Center a little later Sunday. From there they plan to march down Inwood Drive to Kirby Drive, turn south to Del Monte Dr, then east to South Shepherd Dr, and north back to West Gray Street.

On Friday night, a worker put up a Customer Parking Only signs at a shopping center along West Gray.

We'll stay on top of the safety concerns in these local protests and demonstrations throughout the weekend and we'll have live coverage on Local 2 News.

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