SANFORD — The shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, which goes to a grand jury on April 10, will be the focus of two rallies later today that mark one month since the teen was killed, without an arrest in the case.
Thousands of people are expected to gather for two rallies today in Sanford to protest the fact that the 17-year-old was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. The first rally begins at 4 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, and will include a protest march from Centennial Park to the Sanford Civic Center. At 5 p.m., protestors plan to rally at a special town hall meeting at the civic center, where the doors open at 4 p.m.
There will also be a march outside Sanford City Hall.
The case continues to attract national attention, and on Friday, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi announced they had appointed Angela B. Corey of Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit as the newly assigned State Attorney in the investigation of Trayvon Martin’s death.
It was a decision that some Orlando protestors credited to a strong push on their part, including through social media sites like Facebook, which they used to apply pressure on the governor’s office to make this appointment.
The governor’s office noted that Scott and Bondi made that decision after having spoken to State Attorney Norman Wolfinger, who decided to step down from this investigation and turn it over to another state attorney.
Scott also formed a task force to look into the killing, which has prompted protests and rallies not only in Central Florida, but across the state and the nation. The task force will convene after Corey completes her investigation.
“As law enforcement investigates the death of Trayvon Martin, Floridians and others around the country have rightly recognized this as a terrible tragedy,” Scott said. “Like all Floridians, I believe we must take steps to ensure tragedies like this are avoided. After listening to many concerned citizens in recent days, I will call for a Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection to investigate how to make sure a tragedy such as this does not occur in the future, while at the same time, protecting the fundamental rights of all of our citizens – especially the right to feel protected and safe in our state.”
The governor has asked Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll to lead the task force, conduct public hearings, take testimony and recommend future actions — including taking a second look at Florida’s increasingly controversial “Stand Your Ground” law involving when the use deadly force when an armed weapon is lawful. The task force, Scott noted, “will thoroughly review Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law and any other laws, rules, regulations or programs that relate to public safety and citizen protection.”
In the meantime, people outraged by the killing continue to speak out — and not just at the ongoing rallies, but also through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which have been used by an increasing number of people to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and his grieving family.
Vikki Hankins, who runs the Orlando chapter of Advocate4Justice, has attended some of the rallies in Sanford. Following one last week, she posted an update on Facebook about her continued frustration with “the seeming lack of concern surrounding the circumstances that ended this young boy’s life. My heart goes out to the horror Trayvon felt as he took his last breath of life. I wore my hoodie to join in with the city of New York and Miami honoring Trayvon Martin. Too, too emotional for people to withstand.”
J. Willie David III of Orlando, state president of the Florida Civil Rights Association, noted that his organization had called on Gov. Scott to appoint a special prosecutor in this case — and the governor responded, a victory for his side.
Writing on Facebook, David noted that social media may have helped influence that decision. He wrote, “Thanks, Facebook friends, for supporting Florida Civil Rights Association call for the governor to appoint a special prosecutor.”
State Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, had also been urging the governor — including through social media sites — to appoint a special prosecutor.
“Facebook family, I thank God for using my wife Victoria to urge me to send Governor Rick Scott a letter to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the Trayvon Martin case to avoid a conflict of interest. Governor Scott agreed and appointed Angela Corey. VICTORY, VICTORY, praise God!” Siplin wrote on Facebook.
Others, like Ted Hollins of Orlando, who runs Ted Hollins Photography, noted the way this tragedy has brought the community together.
“Thanks for the great outpouring of love for Trayvon,” Hollins wrote on Facebook. “Thanks for helping America live out the true meaning of its creed, Martin Luther King, that all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights — and those are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
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