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Tracy Martin (L), father of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin, and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, join a protest called "A Million Hoodies March" to demand justice for their son's death in New York's Union Square March 21, 2012.REUTERS/ANDREW BURTON

Announcing a murder charge against George Zimmerman, the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the case insisted she was not swayed by "protest or by petition."

But many believe it was only unrelenting public attention that forced another look at the death of Trayvon Martin.

Now, with the confessed shooter set for his first court appearance, concerns are being raised about whether he can get a fair trial in such a charged environment.

Extremists on both sides have jumped at the chance to emerge from the fringes of the discourse and to fan the flames, many experts say.

Most media outlets have shied away from quoting the more incendiary rhetoric but open calls for violence – from across the racial spectrum – keep emerging.

"It is deeply troubling that haters of all stripes are seeking to capitalize on the publicity," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "To add an element of racism and hate to the pressure-cooker environment surrounding this shooting is deplorable."

The former lawyer for Mr. Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch "captain" in the Florida community of Sanford, says the case has been seized on by race-baiters.

"People start coming to town who frankly have a business model based on driving division in racial communities," Hal Uhrig said earlier this week. "They been making speeches, having rallies, pumping their fists in the air, setting out, uh, you know, bounties for people. 'No justice, no peace' – but as long as justice is defined as 'arrest him right now'."

It's unclear how much of the extremist rhetoric is a form of opportunistic bandwagon-jumping. But at least some of the most virulent comments appear a cynical attempt to take advantage of calls for a national discussion about race.

And it's not one-sided.

The New Black Panther Party and the National Socialist Movement are among the organizations most criticized for raising the temperature. Both have been designated hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The New Black Panthers' slogan is "freedom or death" and it urges black people to decide between "the ballot or the bullet." They have been disavowed by some civil-rights-era Panther leaders – with Bobby Seale calling their rhetoric "racist ... rather than constructive" – and have been criticized for voter intimidation and offering a $10,000 bounty for Mr. Zimmerman.

This week, community activist and party "chief of state" Michelle Williams backtracked from comments suggesting that "long overdue" retribution was due to "these honkies, these crackers, these pigs, these pink people." But the party remains militant and is planning protests for Florida later this month.

At the other end of the spectrum is the National Socialist Movement, one of the most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States. They flaunt the swastika, have a Viking Youth Wing for under-age members and say "history shows" that racial differences have made whites "the most advanced and progress-producing race on earth."

The group doesn't accept that Mr. Zimmerman, who has a Peruvian mother, is white but believes the whites of Sanford need protection. They have mounted armed patrols in the town.

"Whenever there is one of these racially charged events, Al Sharpton goes wherever blacks need him," said Jeff Schoep, the group's self-styled "commander," who officially rejects violence. "We do similar things. We are a white civil rights organization."

The flames of division are being fanned online as well, where both Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Martin have been grossly libelled and the discourse can be vicious.

"If you are white and your blood is not boiling over what is going on, then you are either asleep or part of the problem," argued one person who purports to be from Florida and contributes comments prolifically to a white supremacist website.

The person was commenting a thread about a white woman who shot a pair of visible-minority men who were attacking her. The original poster drew sarcastic parallels with the Martin shooting, pointing out that the attackers had been wearing hoodies, noting – "hint hint" – that the woman fought back and adapting U.S. President Barack Obama's comment about the teen slain in Florida.

"BTW...if I had a daughter, she would look like this woman!," the person concluded admiringly.