By Wesley Martin
“We want justice and we’re not getting it,” said Jeanne Boyd, president of Movement For Change, a local civil rights organization. “We don’t even know what type of person he would have been,” she continued as she spoke on the Feb. 26 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
On Monday evening, local residents convened downtown at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza for a rally and prayer vigil, sponsored by Movement For Change, for Martin.
Martin, a Miami native visiting family in Sanford, was walking to his father’s fiance’s residence when Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, called police to report a suspicious person.
Though local authorities advised Zimmerman not to follow Martin, he did. Shortly thereafter an altercation ensued between the two parties and Martin lost his life.
According to reports, Martin had a can of Iced Tea and a bag of Skittles in his possession. “Part of the demonstration was to send a message to the state of Florida and to the state’s legislative bodies to review the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law,” said John Jerralds, Pensacola city councilman. “Because,” he continued “they are the ones who can readdress that law and talk about whether it’s having an adverse affect on our community,”
During initial questioning Zimmerman informed police he fired his weapon in self-defense. According to Florida statutes, the “Stand Your Ground” law allows for deadly force in defense of one’s life. Additionally, the law does not require an individual to attempt to escape before deadly force is initiated.
Currently the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have opened separate investigations into the case.
“What makes me upset is that we have to fight just to get justice for Trayvon,” said Joan Gulley, a local resident who attended Monday’s event. “If Zimmerman gets away, I feel like it would send a message to ‘certain’ people that they can do the same thing.