On Thurs., March 22, Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr. held a news conference (and called for more frequent ones to regularly address the public) regarding the ongoing case involving the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee “temporarily” stepped down (VIEW VIDEO), citing his involvement as an apparent distraction and calling for the investigation process to “move forward swiftly and appropriately”: “I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks,” Lee said.
Following the brief news conference, reporters begged for more details surrounding Lee’s use of the word “temporarily”; however, none were provided. Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin, said Lee stepping down “is nothing. We want an arrest. We want a conviction, and we want him [Zimmerman] sentenced for the murder of our son.”
On Thursday evening, Angela Corey was appointed the new prosecutor by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi following Norm Wolfinger’s step down, who said he did so “with the intent of toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of this investigation.” Additionally, Gov. Scott created a task force to “thoroughly review Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law”, which has been at the forefront of the debate surrounding George Zimmerman’s self-defense claim. As previously mentioned, the bill’s sponsor says Zimmerman is not covered under the law.
Pat Whitaker, chief of operations at the State Attorney’s Office in Sanford, said Thursday night that key evidence in the case has not yet been made public: “There’s just so much more to it that has not been disclosed. What you have is not the crucial evidence.” Perhaps the “crucial evidence” will come to light as the grand jury convenes April 10.
Also on Thursday, thousands joined Al Sharpton at a Sanford, Fla., rally in support of justice. Speaking to the crowd hours after learning of his mother’s passing, Sharpton called for Zimmerman’s arrest saying “this is where she would want me to be”:
Twenty-six days ago this young man, Trayvon Martin, did nothing criminal, did nothing unethical. He went to the store for his brother. He came back and lost his life. Trayvon could have been any one of our sons, he could have been any one of us. Trayvon represents a reckless disregard for our lives that we’ve seen for too long.
We cannot allow a precedent when a man can just kill one of us and then walk out with the murder weapon. We don’t want good enough. We want George Zimmerman in court with handcuffs behind his back.
Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, also addressed the crowd—Tracy pledging he would not let their son die in vain and Sybrina thanking everyone for their support:
“I stand before you today not knowing how I’m walking right now because my heart hurts for my son,” she said. “Trayvon is my son. Trayvon is your son. Thanks so much for your support.”
Sharpton then called for donations to help support their cause, offering a $2,500 check and asking, “Who’s next?” Judge Greg Mathis and radio personality Michael Baisden both donated $10,000 with former New York Gov. David Paterson adding $2,000. A WePay site has been created in support of Justice for Trayvon Martin, which is said to be used to cover legal fees and the future creation of a foundation in Trayvon’s honor. Attorney Ben Crump tweeted that a statement regarding the fund is forthcoming. View photos from the Sanford rally below.