An Unsettled Mood in Sanford, Fla.

      SANFORD, Fla. (CN) – As more details of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin emerge, emotions run high in Sanford, where some residents say the mood of the city has changed. Downtown streets and businesses seemed bare on a rainy Saturday last weekend. Some said it was the weather, but waitress Lynn Schultz said business slows down on days there are rallies for Martin.



     “If there’s a rally or it’s all over the news we see a decline,” said Schultz, who works in a café on First Street, the main street downtown. “But you just go with the flow.”
     Other than the occasional slow day, Schultz, who is white, said she hasn’t seen much difference in the city.
     But Chuck Martin, 48, said racial tensions have risen.
     “It seems kind of tense to me,” said Martin, who is African-American. “You get stares at restaurants like, ‘What are you doing here?'”
     Martin, who has lived in Sanford for 30 years, said, “There’s those certain few that have made rude comments like, ‘It’s good that happened to him [Trayvon].’ So I guess it hasn’t changed much yet.”
     Chuck Martin, a warehouseman for the Seminole County School Board, said he did not know Trayvon but they are from the same Miami Gardens neighborhood.
     The Retreat at Twin Lakes, the gated community where Trayvon was killed, was quiet on Saturday. Reporters are not allowed past the gates.
     An occasional passerby or resident walked to a makeshift shrine to Trayvon Martin’s memory. They left bags of Skittles, Arizona Iced Tea, cards, teddy bears, candles and footballs.
     Trayvon was carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea when he was shot to death.
     A Twin Lakes resident, who identified himself only as Frank, and said he lives down the street from where the shooting happened. He said residents have been calm, with no disturbances, only sympathy. He said he did not know Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman.
     “People are just looking for justice,” said Frank, who is Latino. “I know you gotta defend yourself but if I’m a grown man fighting against a 17-year-old kid, you don’t have to shoot him. That’s a big smack in the face for the African-American community.”
     Former law enforcement officer Jackie Douglas said the fact that Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged has made people angry and hungry for justice.
     “I’m mad,” said Douglas, who is African-American. “Zimmerman has been getting away with violence. Trayvon was crying on that tape. I don’t care what nobody say. Trayvon was fighting for his life. If anybody pulls a gun on you, you’ll fight.”
     Sanford city officials did not return calls. An assistant in the mayor’s office said city officials work only part time. Sanford police have issued a number of public statementssince the shooting, but none indicate an arrest is imminent.
     The Killing
     Zimmerman shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to death on Feb. 26 as Martin walked home from a convenience store, carrying only a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.
     Zimmerman, 28, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, called police to report Martin as suspicious. There had been break-ins in the area.
     Zimmerman, the son of retired magistrate judge Robert Zimmerman, has said that after police dispatcher told him not to follow Martin, he walked to the next street to get an address for the dispatcher. As he walked back to his car, Zimmerman said, Martin attacked him.
     According to a police report, Sanford police Officer Timothy Smith said he responded to the call at The Retreat at Twin Lakes and saw that Zimmerman’s back appeared to be wet and covered with grass. He saw Zimmerman bleeding from the nose and the back of his head, according to Smith’s report.
     Martin was lying face down with his hands underneath his body, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Zimmerman was taken to the police station and questioned, then allowed to return home.
     He was not arrested or charged due to Florida’s now-controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows use of deadly force outside the home if a person reasonably feels threatened.
     Robert Zimmerman has said his son told him that Martin beat him and told him, “You’re going to die tonight.”
     Trayvon’s sympathizers say the law should not apply to Zimmerman – as he continued to follow Martin after the police dispatcher told him not to – but it should apply to Martin, as Zimmerman was pursuing him.
     Martin was visiting his father, Tracy Martin, while the teen was suspended from school. He had bought snacks for him and his little step-brother to eat while watching the NBA All-Star game. He lived in Miami with his mother, Sybrina Fulton.
     The Sanford Police Department has been criticized for its handling of the shooting. Police Chief Bill Lee temporarily stepped down in March, and received a no-confidence vote from city commissioners.
     Martin’s parents sued the chief in early March for refusing to release the 911 calls from the night their son was killed. The tapes have been released.
     Several neighbors told police they heard Martin screaming for help. Zimmerman said it was he who screamed for help, according to the police report. The report, from the first two police officers who responded, lists six adult witnesses, all of whose names are blacked out, and a seventh witness, totally blacked out.
     Zimmerman claims Martin punched him in the nose and slammed his head on the ground.
     The parents’ attorney, Benjamin Crump, has said he has telephone records of Martin talking to his girlfriend at the time, which show he was not pursuing Zimmerman.
     The 911 calls reveal Zimmerman muttering a racial slur, “fucking coons,” which could categorize the incident as a hate crime if he is charged and tried.
     Lead homicide investigator Chris Serino told ABC News he did not believe Zimmerman’s self-defense claim that night and wanted to arrest him and charge him with manslaughter, but the state attorney’s office instructed him not to press charges because there was not enough evidence.
     Surveillance video released by the Sanford Police Department shows Zimmerman hours after the shooting, handcuffed as he got out of the police car and walked into the station.
     Crump said Zimmerman does not appear to be hurt, or as if he had been in a fight.
     Zimmerman’s supporters say the video is too grainy to show much, and that he was cleaned up before going to the police station.
     Witnesses have said Zimmerman did not appear hurt, just worried, and asked them to call the police.
     Martin’s funeral director said he saw no signs of struggle on the teen’s body.
     The U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and Florida State Attorney Angela Corey are now handling the investigation. A grand jury will meet on April 10 to decide whether to charge Zimmerman.
     The Response
     Since details of the shooting emerged, rallies and marches have been held across the nation, and calls for Zimmerman to be arrested have increased.
     Civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have come to Sanford to address civil rights rallies.
     “Million Hoodie” marches were held across the country, as Trayvon was wearing a hoodie when he was shot, and Illinois state Rep. Bobby Rush was kicked out of the state House for wearing a hoodie while calling for a fuller investigation of the killing.
     The Miami Heat basketball team sported hoodies and tweeted their picture in memory of Trayvon.
     Martin’s parents and their attorney Crump attended a forum in Washington D.C. last week to voice their concerns about racial profiling and hate crimes.
     On Saturday, an “Angers to Answers” rally was held in Sanford, where Sharpton, Jackson, NAACP President Ben Jealous and others marched from Crooms Academy of Information and Technology to the Sanford Police Station, calling Zimmerman to be arrested.
     “No justice, no peace,” the crowd shouted as they gathered and marched. “Fired up and ready to go.”
     “It’s just a disgusting example of how far young black men can be discriminated against,” said Hillary Heidelberg of Stuart, Fla., who is white.
     City Commissioner Velma Williams said she, Mayor Jeff Triplett and other commissioners have taken steps to see that justice is served. Williams is the only African-American on the City Commission.
     Protesters held signs and wore shirts with a photo of Trayvon wearing a hoodie. Some held Skittles and iced tea. Many had signs calling for Police Chief Lee to be fired permanently. Some held signs denouncing racism, or stating: “I am Trayvon.”
     “They placed the burden of proof on a dead young man that couldn’t speak for himself,” NAACP Chairwoman Rosalyn Brock said at the rally.
     Sharpton said: “No police have the power to be the judge, the jury and the Legislature. We are not going back to the times when we were killed and nobody did nothing about it. There will be justice for Trayvon Martin.”

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