In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s shooting, the president of the NAACP told NBC 6 first Tuesday night that his organization is calling for the Sanford police chief to resign and for federal authorities to come in and take over the police department because of “a pattern and practice of discrimination.”
Ben Jealous, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that pattern includes not just the Martin shooting and the Sanford Police Department’s handling of it, but other cases that preceded it.
Jealous told NBC 6 about his organization’s demand that Police Chief Bill Lee resign just before a large town hall meeting at Allen Chapel AME Church in Sanford.
"And any chief who would so allow his officers to so mishandle a situation like this has to go," Jealous told about 350 people inside the church. He received standing ovations. "We will ensure that there is a new chief here in Sanford."
There were even more people outside, where those who could not fit in the church rallied and chanted “I am Trayvon Martin.” The anger was palpable.
“I’m here to tell you, tonight, that we have a drawn a line in the sand: We are going to Stand Our Ground. Peacefully. And we will prevail,” Seminole County NAACP President Turner Clayton said.
Lee said last week that his department did “a thorough and fair investigation” into the death of Martin, 17, who was shot by George Zimmerman on the night of Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford. Zimmerman told police he did so in self-defense, though he followed Martin, according to phone calls released by police and a Martin family attorney.
“We just want the community to know that the Sanford Police Department will do a complete and fair investigation in any case so we can reach a fair and just decision,” Lee said March 12.
Since then, as calls have grown for police to charge Zimmerman, various state and federal agencies have weighed in on the case.
NAACP leaders also said Tuesday that they want Florida's "stand your ground" law overturned.
"That law, as far as we can tell, has not made people safe. If anything, it seems to have made people less safe," Jealous said. "And it seems to give this mindset where people feel like they’ve been deputized."