The national outcry continues to grow as people seek justice in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
A petition hosted at Change.org calls for federal and state officials to investigate Martin’s shooting and charge George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who shot the teen after calling 911 to say he seemed suspicious. Trayvon was unarmed and was on his way back from a convenience store where he had purchased some Skittles and an iced tea.
ABC News reports the petition, which was created by Martin’s parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, is now the fastest growing petition in the history of Change.org. It has already gathered more than 930,000 signatures, and is likely to surpass the largest petition the site has ever had, which generated 1.3 million signatures supporting passage of Caylee’s law, legislation spurred by the Casey Anthony trial that would require parents to notify police of a missing child within 24 hours.
Frances Martel, a columnist at Mediaite, noted another connection between the Casey Anthony case and that of Trayvon Martin’s slaying: the fact that it took nearly a month for Martin’s story to catch fire in the media. Martin was killed on February 26th and it was only this week that national coverage of the case exploded and a federal investigation was opened. Martel explained, “When Caylee Anthony disappeared, Nancy Grace almost single-handedly decided for us that this was America’s Problem. For a good year, this was America’s Problem. This was America’s Problem despite the fact that, by the time Caylee’s mother was arrested and acquitted, there really wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. Black media leaders had to cover Casey Anthony’s trial, too. And Joran Van Der Sloot’s. And Amanda Knoxs. The lack of reciprocity, particularly in cases with black victims, is stark and needs to be addressed.”
In Sanford, Florida, where people believe local officials could and should have done much more to investigate George Zimmerman’s motive in the shooting, there are now calls for the Sanford police chief to step down. Reuters reports that civil rights leaders like Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, and lawmakers including Congresswoman Corinne Brown (D-Fla.) have asked that Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. be fired for mishandling the case. It looks like that may happen. In a meeting tonight, three out of five Sanford city commissioners gave Lee, who just took over the Sanford police department last June, a vote of “no confidence.”
Meanwhile, many are calling for Florida Governor Rick Scott to immediately change or repeal the law that led to Zimmerman’s lack of charges in the first place. Known as the Stand Your Ground law, it allows citizens to respond with “deadly force” in cases of self-defense.
UPDATE: As of noon on Thursday, 3/29, the petition has almost 990,000 signatures.
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