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Sanford Rallies To Demand Justice In Martin Shooting

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A pair of rallies are scheduled for Thursday in Sanford to demand justice for the family of Trayvon Martin.

The New Black Panther Party plans to hold a rally in front of the Sanford Police Department at 1 p.m.

The Rev. Al Sharpton will lead another rally at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford at 7 p.m. After the rally, Sharpton will fly to Dothan, Alabama to make funeral arrangements for his mother who passed away early Thursday morning. Ada Sharpton, 87, died following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Martin, 17, was shot and killed on February 26th while walking from a store in Sanford where he had just purchased a bag of Skittles and an iced tea for his younger brother. The teen was unarmed and wearing a hooded sweat shirt.

According to Sanford police, self-appointed neighborhood watch captain 28-year old George Zimmerman called 911 to report a suspicious person after he saw Martin walking back from the store.

Despite the emergency operator telling him not to confront Martin, Zimmerman allegedly approached the teenager. Witnesses said they two struggled and at one point Zimmerman pulled out a gun and shot Martin in the chest. No charges were filed against Zimmerman who admitted to shooting the teen, but said he fired in self-defense.

A makeshift memorial has grown outside the gated community where Martin died.

"My heart, black, white, color doesn't matter," said Carol Herald, "My heart aches for this family."

On Thursday, Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte released a letter detailing a conversation he had with police chief Bill Lee.

One of the questions posed to Lee was why Zimmerman was not arrest the night of the shooting.  According to the letter, Lee said Zimmerman said he acted in self defense which at the time was supported by the physical evidence and testimony.

Bonaparte also asked Lee about Zimmerman being told not to follow Martin and would that be part of his investigation.  Lee reportedly said that the 911 operators suggestion was not a lawful order which Zimmerman would have been required to follow.

On Wednesday, Martin's parents took part in a rally in New York. Dubbed the Million Hoodie March, demonstrators chanted "we want arrests" as they converged on Manhattan's Union Square.

"My son did not deserve to die," Tracy Martin said Wednesday after thanking the hundreds of people who participated in a march.

"My heart is in pain, but to see the support of all of you really makes a difference," said Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton.

Wednesday evening a group of roughly 100 people gathered at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park, at the corner of NW 62nd Street and NW 12th Avenue, to demand that Zimmerman be charged in Martin's death. Parents brought their children to the protest in Liberty City Wednesday hoping they would learn a big lesson.

"Something like this has happened and it's affected everyone," said one parent. "I could barely sleep last night. What's going on? What's happened?"

Former Miami Commissioner Richard Dunn was part of the crowd and wore a hoodie in support of Martin.

"Well, I wanted to show the sadness, the sickness, the insanity the fact that an African-American male cannot wear a hoodie," Dunn said. "It's never been a crime to wear a hoodie and be black. But I guess in Sanford, Florida it is."

A University of Miami student is organizing a bus trip to Sanford to take part in a rally on Monday, March 26th. The bus holds 55 passengers. Seats are $25 each. Deposits can be made via Pay Pal, no later than March 23rd. The bus will depart on Monday, March 26th at 8AM. For more info contact or

A central Florida grand jury is set to convene April 10th to investigate the shooting which is now the focus of a federal civil rights probe.

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