Trayvon Martin, 17 years of age was shot in the chest and killed by a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. He’d just purchased a bag of skittles and an Arizona iced tea and was headed home, walking through a gated community with his hoodie pulled over his head when George Zimmerman, an overly zealous 28 year old community watch volunteer, pursued him ignoring the warning of the police dispatcher to stop and desist. Zimmerman approached Trayvon who was unarmed and claims that he shot Trayvon in the chest in self defense. He has yet to be arrested. Craig Sonner, Zimmerman’s attorney, declined to detail what transpired between Zimmerman and the 17-year-old Martin, but he said he believes the case falls under Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which dictates that a person has the right to stand his or her ground and “meet force with force” if attacked. Zimmerman has not returned to work since the incident.
The new Black Panther Party has offered a bounty of $10,000 Saturday for the “capture” of Zimmerman. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” leader Mikhail Muhammad said after announcing the reward for George Zimmerman at a protest in Sanford, Fla. Muhammad called on 5,000 black men to mobilize and capture the neighborhood watch volunteer. “If the government won’t do the job, we’ll do it,” Muhammad said, leading chants that included “freedom or death” and “justice for Trayvon.” (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/black-panther-rage-10g-capture-trayvon-killer-article-1.1050370?localLinksEnabled=false)
In Manassas, where Zimmerman lived in the 1980s and 1990s with his parents (father white, mother Latina) and two siblings, neighbors tended to define the family based on their spiritual profile. “Very Catholic . . . very religious,” their neighbor Jim Rudzenski recalled Thursday. George became an altar server and evening receptionist at All Saints Catholic Church. The Zimmermans “were known and respected in the community for their dedication and service,” said Robert Cilinski, pastor of All Saints Catholic Church. The father, Robert Zimmerman Sr., is retired military and was strict. George and his siblings “didn’t play with the neighborhood kids,” Rudzenski said. “They had to stay home and play.” It was always “Yes, ma’am,” “No, ma’am,” said Hall, the Zimmerman’s neighbor of 20 years. In 2005, according to police records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations, Zimmerman was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence. He had a concealed-weapon permit and had a black Kel-Tec semiautomatic handgun and a holster the night he shot Martin.
Trayvon spent his 17th birthday, which would be his last, with his family. He ate a home-cooked meal followed by cake, opened presents that included Levis jeans, Adidas sneakers and a bottle of Issey Miyake cologne. He would be 17 for 21 days. “He had been so looking forward to going to his junior prom, and he had already started talking about all the senior activities in high school,’’ his mother, Sybrina Fulton, 46, said in a voice hollowed and somber. “He will never do any of those things.’’
Trayvon Wearing the Infamous Hoodie
Nicknamed Slimm, Trayvon was 6-foot-3, 140 pounds, a former Optimist League football player with a narrow frame and a voracious appetite. He wanted to fly or fix planes, struggled in chemistry, loved sports video games and went to New York for the first time two summers ago. He hoped to attend the University of Miami or Florida A&M University, enamored by both schools’ bright orange and green hues. He was talking with his girlfriend on his cell when he was pursued and fatally shot by Zimmerman.
Read more here: (http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/22/v-fullstory/2708960_trayvon-martin-a-typical-teen.html#storylink=cpy)
Police Chief Bill Lee has temporarily resigned having been highly critized for not detaining or arresting Zimmerman the night of the shooting. Lee said he hoped his temporary removal would restore “some semblance of calm to the city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks.” Martin’s mother, Sabrina Fulton, was not satisfied with Lee’s stepping aside. “Since the chief has stepped down, it’s a temporary relief. What we want is permanent relief,” she said. Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte said after Lee spoke that another officer will assume temporary leadership of the department while the city looks for an interim police chief. Neither Bonaparte nor Lee indicated how long Lee would remain off the job. With a 3-2 vote, the town council issued a No Confidence vote to Lee on Wednesday night.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has appointed Duval County State Attorney, Angela Corey, as special prosecutor to take over the investigation of the slaying. Originally the case was in the hands of Brevard/Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, who had convened a grand jury for April 10. But the growing national and now international attention given the shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old spurred Gov. Rick Scott and Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi to turn the case over to the special prosecutor. Corey has a controversial record of, among other things, trying far more juveniles in adult court than her predecessors in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. One of those, 12-year-old Cristian Fernández, is the youngest person ever to be slated for trial for homicide in Jacksonville’s history.
President Obama has taken hits of criticism for his comment that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. However, the President voiced the sentiment of the nation when he stated that the boy’s parents are right to expect that all of us, as Americans, take this with the seriousness it deserves. (Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/conservatives-blast-president-obama-remarks-trayvon-martin-race-baiting-article-1.1050298#ixzz1q5sotcus)
Back in the day, racism was synonomous with Sanford. Branch Rickey, Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager, had miscalculated the degree to which Jim Crow was entrenched in Sanford. But he quickly learned when he took his team, which included the legendary Jackie Robinson, to Sanford for training in the spring of 1947. The city violently refused the black champion and the Robinsons were threatened and run out of Sanford. Sadly, back in the day is not as far back as we might suppose.
Click on the link below for an update on the revelations that came forth as a number of witnesses who claimed to have seen or heard parts of Zimmerman’s fatal confrontation with Martin, apparently changed or expanded their testimony in the weeks after the shooting. (Read More: Orlando Sentinel)