As the Million Hoodies March in New York City got underway on Wed., city commissioners in Sanford, Fla., voted “no confidence” in Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. (3-2) following a motion made by Commissioner Mark McCarty as a result of the growing media coverage and national outrage of the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin: “I take no pleasure in a public flogging of our police chief, but he really should turn in his resignation,” McCarty said during the meeting.
The responsibility now falls on City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr., Lee’s boss, to ask for his resignation or fire him. While he called the vote “a strong statement”, he added that he wants to wait for the Justice Department and State Attorney’s Office investigations to be completed before he makes a decision. Lee has served as chief for only 10 months after the job was taken from Brian Tooley, who failed to act promptly after a police lieutenant’s son attacked a homeless man and police didn’t arrest him even though it was video recorded and the video was in police possession.
The vote comes following the release of a letter Bonaparte issued to answer some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the Trayvon Martin case (READ THE LETTER). In addition, the commission voted to move Monday’s City Commission meeting to the Sanford Civic Center (401 E. Seminole Blvd. Sanford, FL 32771) to accommodate the massive crowd expected to attend with the meeting being fully devoted to the case. Members of Trayvon Martin’s family are expected to speak, and the Trayvon Martin March for Justice, led by Empower Movement, has been relocated, as well. Marchers are asked to gather at Centennial Park (400 Park Avenue, Sanford, FL 32771) at 4 p.m. to march to the civic center.
Although George Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in “self-defense”, has yet to be charged, the sponsor of the law with which he’s used to avoid prosecution thus far issued an op-ed piece on Wednesday that Zimmerman is not covered under the law he helped create. Florida Rep. Dennis Baxley (R) wrote “to clarify that this law does not seem to be applicable to the tragedy that happened in Sanford”:
There is nothing in the castle doctrine as found in Florida statutes that authenticates or provides for the opportunity to pursue and confront individuals, it simply protects those who would be potential victims by allowing for force to be used in self-defense…However, the castle doctrine does not provide protection to individuals who seek to pursue and confront others, as is allegedly the case in the Trayvon Martin tragedy in Sanford.
U.S. Justice Department officials, including Roy L. Austin Jr., the deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, are expected to meet with Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, on Thursday. Al Sharpton, whose mother died early Thursday morning, will hold a rally in Sanford at the First Shiloh Baptist Church. The National Action Network President tweeted “my mom would have wanted me to”.