By JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
WILLIAMSON - Local voices are joining the national outrage over the shooting of a black teenager in Florida.
17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was killed Feb. 26, in Sanford, Fla. He was returning to a gated community in the city after buying candy at a convenience store. He was unarmed and was wearing a hooded sweat shirt, called a hoodie.
The neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, has not been charged in the shooting. Zimmerman has said the teen attacked him and he shot him in self-defense.
Zimmerman told police he was attacked by 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after he had given up chasing the boy and he was returning to his truck. He had a bloody nose and blood on the back of his head, according to police. Martin’s family questions Zimmerman’s story, and believes if their races were reversed, there is no doubt a black shooter would be jailed, even if he claimed self-defense.
“I feel that this was outright murder and the police were in on the cover up, and they got caught,” Johnny Fullen, President of the West Virginia NAACP said. “This guy should go to jail right now. And all of the hate speech that is going on, and has been going on, is making it worse.”
The Florida shooting has ignited a furor against the police department of the Orlando suburb of 53,500 people, prompting rallies and a protest in Gov. Rick Scott’s office on Tuesday. Sanford city commissioners on Wednesday voted 3-2 to express “no confidence” in Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. over the handling of the fatal shooting.
A demonstration was held last week in New York in the teenager’s memory, a sign of growing outrage over the shooting.
Demonstrators chanting “we want arrests” converged on Manhattan’s Union Square for the Million Hoodie March. The demonstrators greeted the teen’s parents with “God bless you!”
Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, told the crowd: “My heart is in pain, but to see the support of all of you really makes a difference.”
The Justice Department and FBI have opened a civil rights investigation, and the local prosecutor has convened a grand jury April 10 to determine whether to charge Zimmerman.
Urging Americans to “do some soul searching,” President Barack Obama injected himself into the emotional debate over the fatal shooting of a teenager in Florida, turning the racially charged case into a personal matter for the nation’s first black president.
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” Obama said Friday.
All the leading Republican candidates for president said an investigation into his death was an appropriate course to take.
However, Fullen said he felt politics should not play a part in the matter.
“The things that has been said with the presidential election coming up just make it worse,” Fullen told the Daily News.
Bitterly criticized Police Chief Bill Lee stepped down temporarily, he said to help quell the rising passions surrounding the case. Hours later, Gov. Rick Scott announced that the county prosecutor also had recused himself from the case and that a state attorney from Jacksonville would take over the investigation.
Gov. Scott announced that the local state attorney, Norman Wolfinger, had recused himself from the case. In a letter to Scott, Wolfinger said that while he thought he could fairly oversee any prosecution that develops in the case, his recusal was aimed at “toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of the investigation.”
Fullen said he felt ensuring the integrity of the legality of the case was crucial.
“This needs to be dealt with, but it needs to be done legally,” he said. “And not just locally, but at the national level.”
“Look at the crowds - they are every color and all walks of life. The people are not going to stand by and let this continue,” he said. “You can see and hear that America is sick and tired of this kind of hatred.”