More than thirty thousand peopled converged on the American small town of Sanford in the southern state of Florida on Thursday to demand justice over the apparent cold-blooded murder
of a young African-American boy, Trayvon Martins, who was cut town by a self-styled neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman.
The marchers are demanding the immediate arrest and prosecution of Mr. Zimmerman for capitalizing on an edict signed into law by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, after much pressure from the influential National Rifle Association.
The piece of legislation, called the “Stand Your Ground”is now being attacked as a manipulation of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi said Thursday that they had appointed a new prosecutor to investigate the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and would appoint a committee on citizen safety that would examine the state's "Stand Your Ground" law. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was killed by a self-described neighborhood watch guard in February.
In a statement, Scott called for the task force “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 our citizens – especially the right to feel protected and safe in our state.” He said the task force would look at Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows someone who is being threatened to use deadly force.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll will lead the task force, Scott said. The Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., the pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, will be its vice chair.
Additionally, Scott and Bondi appointed Angela B. Corey, a state attorney from another part of Florida, to oversee the investigation. Norman Wolfinger, the state attorney who covers Sanford, where the shooting took place, asked to step down from the investigation.
Trayvon Martin was carrying a pack of Skittles and a can of iced tea when George Zimmerman, 28, spotted Martin, a black teen who was walking home from a convenience store at night in a gated community. Zimmerman told police he shot Martin in self-defense after a confrontation.
Rep. Allen West of Florida, one of two African American Republicans in Congress, issued a statement on Facebook Thursday, criticizing how local police initially handled Martin’s death.
“First of all, if all that has been reported is accurate, the Sanford police chief should be relieved of his duties due to what appears to be a mishandling of this shooting in its early stages,” West said. “The U.S. Navy Seals identified Osama Bin Laden within hours, while this young man laid on a morgue slab for three days.”
He said that he has signed a letter supporting a federal investigation.
“I am not heading to Sanford to shout and scream, because we need responsible entities and agencies to handle this situation from this point without media bias or undue political influences. This is an outrage.”
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee said Thursday that he was stepping down temporarily during the investigation.