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Florida town remembers Trayvon Martin a year after killing

Jaquez Forest, 12, of Sanford, Florida, photographs a memorial for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in this March 29, 2012 file photo. A year after the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager in this central Florida town, there is a small memorial, a new police chief and the stirrings of understanding.

Jaquez Forest, 12, of Sanford, Florida, photographs a memorial for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in this March 29, 2012 file photo. A year after the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager in this central Florida town, there is a small memorial, a new police chief and the stirrings of understanding.

SANFORD, Fla. — A year after the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in this central Florida town, there is a small memorial, a new police chief and an effort to improve race relations.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was gunned down on February 26, 2012, as he walked to his father's fiancee's home in one of Sanford's gated communities. The man accused of his killing, George Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic on neighborhood watch, is set to be tried on June 10.

A judge could grant immunity to Zimmerman at a pre-trial hearing on April 29 under Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law, which allows people to use lethal force in self defense if they are in fear of serious bodily harm.

Martin's death drew top-tier civil rights leaders, such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who brought a national spotlight to this town just north of Orlando and not far from Disney World.

That spotlight forced the town of 53,000 to confront police work that seemed to be a throwback to the days of separate and resolutely unequal racial sensibilities.

"This situation, with all eyes on Sanford is making them (city leaders) do something about it now," said Cindy Philemon, 49, who helps run the local black heritage museum and welcome center.

A year later Martin's family says it does not want the case considered in racial terms. "We don't want people to see this as a black kid. I want people to see this as a teenager ... who was walking, minding his own business," Martin's mother, Sabrina Fulton, told the NPR radio show "Tell Me More" on Monday night.

Despite the pain of losing her son, Fulton said she was glad that a debate had opened up about Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

The family is backing an amendment to the law seeking to restrict its application. "You can't follow, pursue and chase anyone, be the aggressor, have a confrontation with him, shoot and kill him, and then go home to your bed and nothing happens," she said.

During the weekend, volunteers in the black community hastily worked to complete a modest memorial of stuffed animals, cards and crosses in time to remember the first anniversary of Martin's shooting. It has also become a way for Sanford to remember the many other black victims of violence whose stories largely went untold.

City Manager Norton Bonaparte, who is black, said Sanford had begun to tackle deep-seated problems between police and the black community that were exposed in public forums after Martin's death.

"In honoring Trayvon's life, we have to make ourselves a better community," Bonaparte said.

The police chief at the time of Martin's shooting lost his job over criticism that his department and prosecutors chose not to charge or arrest Zimmerman.

The new chief starts his job in April.

"Now, it's like the police are getting more involved in being with the community," Philemon said. "They are starting to do their part in interacting with us. They say there is not as many shootings as there once was."

Another resident, Thelma Holmes, 62, agreed saying, "It is better than what it was before, because we had a lot of killings of young men ... The people and the police, they're both trying."

Trayvon's death will not be forgotten.

"It started people to come forward. So his death is not going to be in vain," Philemon said. "And he will always be remembered."

Martin's parents and lawyers will be in New York City, not Sanford, to hold a candlelight vigil on Tuesday night.

Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, was granted bond and ordered to surrender his passport, agree to be electronically monitored, reside in Seminole County, and observe a nighttime curfew.

Comments

erock 1 year, 10 months ago

Sounds to me like this news article already has determined that Zimmerman is guilty. I'll be pulling for the underdog in this case. The well must have run dry for Jackson and Sharpton. I ain't heard them them blowing smoke about this lately. One of two things have happened a) there's no money in it or b) there's no chance in hell of them winning this case.

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B4it 1 year, 10 months ago

The following was copied from another source: "*In reality "little Trayvon" at the time of his death stood almost 6'2" tall and weighed 175 muscular pounds. He had numerous run ins with authorities (both at school and local police), had been stopped and almost arrested two days before his death for smacking a bus driver in the face, because the driver refused to let him ride for free. He was released because the driver was told not to press charges by the bus company and to continue on his route.

When "little Trayvon" was suspended at school it was not only because he tried to bring a little marijuana in with him, he was in possession of wedding rings and other jewelry, watches, etc. that he said he "found" along with a large screwdriver while on the way to school that day. The jewelry was turned over to the Police by the school."*

Now if this info is true, do the Trayvon supporters and protestors still feel like he may be the innocent 12 year old as the media makes him out to be?

Hopefully the truth will come out at the trial. Unitl then, since none of us were there to see what happened, we cannot say for sure that Zimmerman is either innocent or guilty. So how can Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton be so sure that he is guilty unless there is a prejudiced pre-judgment? THINK about it.

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Somebody 1 year, 10 months ago

But Trayvon was such a sweet innocent little angel, he never hurt no one. He was just walking home from the store minding his own business when Zimmerman shot him for no reason. He is a victim of cold blooded murder.

or at least that is what his uninformed supporters will lead you to believe.

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Jacob 1 year, 10 months ago

"He was just walking home from the store minding his own business"

Actually, that part is about all that anyone can really agree upon. The rest is yet to be determined.

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VSU 1 year, 10 months ago

I think most agree that if Zimmerman would have minded his own business, this thing could have been avoided. I am not saying Zimmerman was wrong in watching over the neighborhood, just that he went about it the wrong way. Instead of calling the police, it appeared he tried to play the role as a policeman. It's one thing to report a crime being committed, but if he was indeed just walking through the neighborhood, I don't think that is a crime.

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Broken_to_bits 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree, I think he needs to have a company name a hoodie after him. The Trayvon Hoodie sounds like something all little angels should wear. Maybe it should have extra large pockets to stash "found" items.

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VSU 1 year, 10 months ago

Brotha Jesse is too busy being embarrassed by his sons actions, probably ashamed to be seen in public. Besides if there is no money involved, you wouldn't see brotha Jesse or brotha Al anyway. They probably didn't make any money the first time, so they be thinking the Martin's on they on.

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ObjectiveEyes 1 year, 10 months ago

VSU, in order to be embarrassed, you must first possess a little shame. Jesse does not...

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AuntieDee 1 year, 10 months ago

Irregardless of Treyvon's past, he did not deserved to be killed. None of you blogging here have any of the facts in this case. So who are you to judge? Lets have the court case before we determine who is guilty.

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VSU 1 year, 10 months ago

Are you going to be upset and irate if by some small chance Zimmerman is ruled innocent?

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Jacob 1 year, 10 months ago

"Irregardless of Treyvon's past, he did not deserved to be killed. None of you blogging here have any of the facts in this case. So who are you to judge? Lets have the court case before we determine who is guilty. "

Wait Auntie. You say that he did not deserve to be killed, and in the next breath, you say let's have the court case before we determine who is guilty. Which is it? Sounds like you have already made up your mind in advance. If that's the case, the court outcome won't really matter to you, will it?

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VietVet1 1 year, 10 months ago

"a white Hispanic?" So there's 'black Hispanic', 'Red Hispanic'

Give me a break! Always playing a race card!

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Barny_Gumble 1 year, 10 months ago

Yeah, that was the first time I read that statement.. "White Hispanic" lolz

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VSU 1 year, 10 months ago

You ain't never heard of a white chicano, or black Latino?

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 10 months ago

Martin's family says it does not want the case considered in racial terms. "We don't want people to see this as a black kid. I want people to see this as a teenager ... who was walking, minding his own business," Yep so why is K always called White? We all know Tray was just being a concerned citizen on the lookout for "Found" things. Glad it is not about being a Black thug portrayed as a misunderstood underage Angel. And so glad Sanford has raised the bar so high "In honoring Trayvon's life, will make them a better community," Well that just sounds like what Albany needs. Honoring the drug dealers and petty thieves…..O wait we already do that in Albany.

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