MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Family, friends and classmates of Trayvon Martin took part in a ‘peace march’ in Liberty City on Wednesday to demand that his killer be brought to justice.
The group of roughly 100 people gathered at 5 p.m. at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park, at the corner of NW 62nd Street and NW 12th Avenue.
The Miami Gardens teen was shot and killed on February 26th while walking from a store in Sanford where he had just purchased a bag of Skittles and an iced tea for his younger brother. According to Sanford police, self-appointed neighborhood watch captain 28-year old George Zimmerman called 911 to report a suspicious person after he saw Martin walking back from the store.
Despite the emergency operator telling him not to confront Martin, Zimmerman allegedly approached the teenager. Witnesses said they two struggled and at one point Zimmerman pulled out a gun and shot Martin in the chest.
No charges were filed against Zimmerman who admitted to shooting the teen, but said he fired in self-defense.
Parents brought their children to the protest in Liberty City Wednesday hoping they would learn a big lesson.
“Something like this has happened and it’s affected everyone,” said one parent. “I could barely sleep last night. What’s going on? What’s happened?”
Former Miami Commissioner Richard Dunn was part of the crowd and wore a hoodie in support of Martin.
“Well, I wanted to show the sadness, the sickness, the insanity the fact that an African-American male cannot wear a hooddie,” Dunn said. “It’s never been a crime to wear a hoodie and be black. But I guess in Sanford, Florida it is.”
Martin’s close friends and former classmates at Michael Krop Senior High were stunned when they heard what had happened.
“That was one of my best friends, somebody I talked to every day, he was very nice. It was shocking,” said Ashley Burch. “You lose people but you wouldn’t think you would lose somebody that close.”
Burch said she talked with Martin on the phone the morning of his death. Another friend, Aiyanna Fleming said she and Martin were supposed to go ice skating on March 3rd.
“We ended up burying our friend instead of seeing him at the skating rink,” said Fleming.
On Thursday there will be two more rallies in Sanford. The New Black Panther Party plans to hold a rally in front of the Sanford Police Department at 1 p.m. The Rev. Al Sharpton will lead another rally at the First Shiloh Baptist Church in Sanford at 7 p.m.
A University of Miami student is organizing a bus trip to Sanford to take part in a rally on Monday, March 26th. The bus holds 55 passengers. Seats are $25 each. Deposits can be made via Pay Pal, no later than March 23rd. The bus will depart on Monday, March 26th at 8AM. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Sanford Police Department has come under fire for a number of possible missteps in their investigation into the shooting. In addition to withholding a number of 911 calls, including one where Zimmerman may have made a racist remark, the department is also faulted for sending a narcotics detective to the scene the night of the shooting instead of a homicide detective, for failing to get in touch with Martin’s girlfriend who he was talking to on the phone when he was confronted by Zimmerman and for failing to administer a drug and alcohol test to Zimmerman, according to ABC News.
The department has stood by their investigation.
A central Florida grand jury is set to convene April 10th to investigate the shooting which is now the focus of a federal probe.
Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger urged the public to be patient as the grand jury investigation begins.