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Mon March 26, 2012

Protesters Demand Charges In Trayvon Martin Case

Originally published on Mon March 26, 2012 4:35 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Today marks one month since Trayvon Martin, an African-America teenager was killed in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was a neighborhood watch volunteer. People in Sanford and in cities across the country are taking part in rallies today, calling on authorities to arrest the shooter.

NPR's Greg Allen reports that while emotions run high, the facts of Martin's death remain murky.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Several hundred people, most of them African-Americans, packed into Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, a town near Sanford today. They were there, along with civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, to show support for Trayvon Martin's parents.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton sat between Jackson and Sharpton while a panel of attorneys and political leaders went over the events that culminated in Trayvon Martin's death on February 26th. Sharpton told the crowd he was starting a legal defense fund to help Martin's parents.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON: Nobody plans for their son to go to the store and get Skittles and he gets killed. There's no budget for that, which is why we're fighting, we're marching today, we rallied last week, they're rallying all over the country. We're coming back here again. We're going to occupy this town.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ALLEN: Also today, special prosecutor Angela Corey spoke out for the first time since being appointed last week by Florida Governor Rick Scott. Corey takes the place of State Attorney Norm Wolfinger who agreed to step aside. In an interview with ABC, Corey conceded that because of Florida's Stand Your Ground law, Trayvon Martin's shooting will be more difficult to prosecute than a typical murder case. But in an interview with ABC's Jacksonville affiliate, Corey said she was confident justice would be done.

ANGELA COREY: That young man deserves justice. His parents deserve answers. And we're going to make sure that they both get that.

ALLEN: Since the shooting, nothing has been heard directly from George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Martin. He's been heard only in a 911 call phoned in on February 26th talking to police about Martin whom he said looked suspicious.

Zimmerman appears to have gone into hiding, perhaps for good reason. Over the weekend, a group calling itself the New Black Panthers said it was offering a $10,000 reward for his capture. At the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville today, speakers condemned the bounty.

George Zimmerman's attorney says his client acted in self-defense, and in recent days, other details had begun to emerge backing that story. The Orlando Sentinel reports that police say in interviews, Zimmerman claimed he was on his way back to his car when Martin appeared, punched him in the face and began beating him pounding his head on the ground. Zimmerman says that's when he acted in self-defense. According to the report, other witnesses corroborated Zimmerman's story.

At a church in Eatonville today, the lawyer for the Martin Family, Benjamin Crump, worked to counter that version of the events.

BENJAMIN CRUMP: We have to maintain over and over and over again that Zimmerman is the aggressor. We cannot let them try to turn this around. Zimmerman is the aggressor.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

ALLEN: Also today, Martin's family revealed the 17-year-old was suspended from school after authorities found traces of marijuana in his book bag.

Sanford's city manager called a news conference today where he announced he was appointing Darren Scott acting police chief. Scott is a 23-year veteran of the Sanford police force and an African-American who will fill the role temporarily. He was immediately peppered with questions about the investigation and about Zimmerman's interview with the police, none of which, Scott said, he could answer.

DARREN SCOTT: The investigation is ongoing. It is in the hands of trained professionals. And I would like the integrity of the investigation to remain intact. Again, until we get additional information to confirm anything, I reserve comment on that.

ALLEN: Several thousand people are expected at a rally and community meeting being held in Sanford this evening at the town's civic center. The large, overflow crowd is being accommodated in a nearby park. Greg Allen, NPR News, Sanford, Florida. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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