A group of protesters will gather today, to call for the suspension of the gun permit help by George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, in an act Zimmerman claims was self-defense.
Martin, who was carrying a bag of candy and an ice tea after a routine trip to a corner store, has become a symbol of poor race relations in the south. The inactivity of Sanford police regarding the investigation of Trayvon’s killing is perceived as racially motivated, and has sparked a national controversy. Sanford police failed to test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, which is a routine practice. In addition, lawyers for Martin’s family are now claiming that a racial slur may have been redacted from the tapes of the emergency and non-emergency calls that were released to Martin’s family and press after mounting public pressure.
The public response to the calls nation wide, even in their allegedly altered form, has been outrage. The audio of that fateful night, on which an innocent youth lost his life, reveal a disturbing scenario in which Zimmerman, a self-appointed “neighborhood watch captain” with no affiliation to the organization, pursued and then killed the unarmed black teen with a concealed weapon.
Today, hundreds of protestors are expected to gather at the State Licensing Office in Orlando to demand that Zimmerman’s permit to carry a concealed weapon be rescinded, as he is seen by many as a menace to society. Authorities have responded that, legally, their hands are tied because Zimmerman has not been charged with a crime, giving them no recourse to intervene.
This demonstration will follow a town hall meeting that took place last night at a Sanford area church, at which NAACP president Ben Jealous joined 1,000 residents in demanding that Zimmerman be arrested — and that the Department of Justice take over the Sanford police department. Sanford citizens also demanded that an independent investigation be launched, outside of the one now under way through the Florida State Attorney’s Office, which is working with the FBI.