SANFORD (CBSMiami) – Due to the large number of student protesters outside the Sanford Police Department calling for justice in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the department was forced to temporarily close its doors on Monday.
“We have successfully shut down the Sanford Police Department for today,” said Ciara Taylor.
“The city of Sanford hopes the actions of the students will be as peaceful and orderly as the previous rallies and marches have been. We want to be accommodating to all our visitors proving they act in a manner that is respectful to the people of the city,” said City Manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr.
The students occupied the space in front of the police department blocking the main entrance.
“When I heard what happened to Trayvon, I felt it,” said Gabriel Pendas.
Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman on Feb. 26th as he walked through a gated community in Sanford. Zimmerman reportedly told police that Martin attacked him and he fired his gun in self-defense. The Sanford Police did not charge Zimmerman citing the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground” law which allows for the use of deadly force if you feel your life is threatened.
Pendas, who lives in Miami, joined a group of about 40 Florida college students and alumni who undertook a three-day march from Daytona Beach to Sanford. The students called themselves the Dream Defenders. They walked by day and slept in churches by night hoping to draw attention to the case. When they arrived Sunday evening at a Sanford church triumphant, they recognized their quest for an arrest in the Martin case is far from over.
“So we’re here to hold them accountable, to hold the police accountable, because we’re tired, I’m tired, of this kind of behavior in our communities,” said Pendas.
In talking with Bonaparte, the students were able to convince him to hold a meeting with the community next week.
“We want to use this, as tragic as it is, to make out community a better community,” said Bonaparte.
Also on Monday it was announced that Florida State Attorney Angela Corey would not be using a Grand Jury to decide if Zimmerman would be charged.
“The decision should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case,” said Corey in a statement.
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Also on Tuesday, George Zimmerman turned to the web for support. He created the website, http://www.therealgeorgezimmerman.com asking for donations for living expenses since he is in hiding.