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Protests over death of Trayvon Martin continue today with sit-in at the Capitol

Protests over death of Trayvon Martin continue today with sit-in at the Capitol

11:46 PM, Mar. 19, 2012  | By Jordan Culver Democrat staff writer

Tallahassee college students and attorneys plan to continue their calls for action after the death of a Sanford teen with a sit-in today at the Capitol.

Students and attorneys gathered on the Florida A&M University campus Monday, calling for Gov. Rick Scott’s intervention in the case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed Feb. 26. About 100 students protested Scott’s absence from the case and demanded that he ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help in the investigation.

Gov. Rick Scott directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement  to “provide any assistance necessary” for Sanford police and State Attorney Jack Wolfinger late Monday in their investigation into the fatal shooting of Martin, the teenager shot to death by a neighborhood watch sentinel late last month in a gated community.

Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the case, and White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday during a briefing that officials there were aware of what happened.

Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer who said he shot Martin in self-defense as the teen was walking through the community. So far, no charges have been filed.

Changes to Florida’s self-defense laws, enacted in 2005, say a person has the right “to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force,” if he or she feels threatened.

Tallahassee attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jasmine Rand are part of a three-person team representing the Martin family. The third attorney is Natalie Jackson from Orlando.

All three attorneys were in central Florida Monday assisting Martin’s family, Crump’s assistant Justin Campbell, said. He said although the case is taking longer than they’d like it to, progress is being made. He said the goal is to get Zimmerman charged and raise awareness for acts of violence against blacks.

Zimmerman, who is white, said in a 911 call that Martin looked “suspicious.” The teen had walked to a nearby store to purchase snacks and was returning to the home of a family member.

“I think everything is going smoothly at this point,” Campbell said. “The media have also brought attention to it, which has helped. Things are going according to plan.”

“The circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin have caused significant concern with the Sanford community and the state,” Scott wrote to FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “I understand an investigation was initiated by the Sanford Police Department and referred to the 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office.”

Scott added, “I believe it is appropriate that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement provide any assistance necessary to fully investigate this matter.” Therefore, the governor said, FDLE should offer “appropriate resources” to Wolfinger’s office.

Monday’s rally was the first of several events planned by the same group of activists to draw local attention to the case. Today, there is a sit-in planned for 1:45 p.m. at Scott’s office at the Capitol.

Tallahassee attorney Chuck Hobbs said he was proud of the students for coming out in support of Martin.

“If you look through history, any consistent change has always been brought on by the youth,” he said. “You have all this talk about this generation being post-racial. But then you find a 17-year-old who gets killed, and you can’t eliminate the element of race.”

Candy Churchill, a FAMU student and one of the organizers of the rally, said she wants to continue to strengthen the support for the Martin case as the week goes on.

“The administration needs to know the students here are concerned,” she said. “We want to be a part of this. We want to make sure we seek justice for Trayvon, and the administration doesn’t understand how concerned we are.”

—Florida capital bureau reporter Bill Cotterell contributed to this report

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