Trayvon Martin Peace March in Liberty City Wednesday

Residents to gather for march for slain teen as calls for arrest continue

Liberty City residents gathered Wednesday evening for a "peace march" in support of the family of Trayvon Martin, as civil rights leaders push for an arrest in his shooting.

Dozens of people marched peacefully at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park at Northwest 62nd Street and 12th Avenue.

"Not every black male does wrong things. You know, we have black males who are educated and who want things out of life," Queenaisha Huntington said. "And not every black male wants to do wrong. And I feel that he was just stereotyped because of his color and just because of how he looked, which was not right."

Suga Esson said that in Brooklyn, where he is originally from, people go through the same suffering.

"Somebody killed our child. We don’t get no reparation. We get no justice," Esson said. "This is sad. And it’s continuing.”

At a rally in Orlando earlier Wednesday, protesters called on the state to revoke the gun permit for George Zimmerman, the man who told police he shot Martin in self-defense.

"As far as we know, he's still in possession of the 9-millimeter he used to shoot this young man," said Pastor Wesley Leonard, with the Florida Civil Rights Association. "We see no reason why this gentleman would be free in our society carrying a concealed firearm legally in the state of Florida."

Meanwhile, lawmakers asked Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to the case to take charge of the investigation into the teen's death, The News Service of Florida reported.

Hundreds showed up for a town hall meeting at a Sanford church Tuesday night, where NAACP President Ben Jealous called for Sanford's police chief to resign and for federal authorities to take over the city's police department in the wake of the shooting.

"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. "We will ensure that there is a new chief here in Sanford."

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. has come under fire in the wake of the Feb. 26 shooting. Martin, 17, was shot by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, during a confrontation in a gated community in Sanford.

Martin, a student at Miami's Krop Senior High School, was with his father at his father's girlfriend's home in the community and had gone to buy a bag of Skittles at a nearby convenience store and was walking back when the shooting happened.

The Martin family attorney, Benjamin Crump, said Tuesday that the teen was on the phone with his girlfriend just before he was shot and told her a man had been following him. He said Martin had been running and had put his hoodie on to shield his head from rain.

Zimmerman told police the shooting was in self-defense. No charges have been filed against him.

Zimmerman's neighbor and fellow neighborhood watch captain Frank Taaffe came to Zimmerman's defense Tuesday, saying there had been several burglaries in the area in recent months.

Crump said the phone call disputes Zimmerman's self-defense claim.

Martin's parents, appearing on NBC's "Today Show" Wednesday, said the call proves the teen wasn't doing anything wrong in the neighborhood.

"To me it proves that he wasn't walking around the neighborhood doing anything suspicious, he was on his way home," father Tracy Martin said. "He had every right to have on his hoodie, it was raining."

Lee said last week that his department did “a thorough and fair investigation” into the death of Martin.

"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.

Click here for the Sanford Police report on the shooting.

The Florida state attorney for Seminole and Brevard counties announced Tuesday that a grand jury would be investigating the case. The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI announced on Monday that they had also begun an investigation into the shooting.

However, two Justice Department said it would be difficult to prosecute the case under federal law, The Washington Post reported. While civil rights law gives protection against hate crimes or actions by police officers, the Martin shooting may not fall into either category, the officials said.

George Washington University Law School Professor Stephen Saltzburg said Zimmerman "may be somebody who is racially biased, but from the 911 calls, it looks as though, however misguided this guy was, he thought that Trayvon was involved in some kind of suspicious activity."

“Race may play a role, but I just think it will be hard to bring this as a federal hate crime, given the limited reach of federal hate crimes law," Saltzburg told the Post.

Attorney General Pam Bondi promised "that a complete and thorough review of the facts will be conducted" by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"FDLE has skilled investigators of the highest caliber, and no stone will be left unturned," she said Tuesday.

A march for the teen is also planned for Wednesday night in New York's Union Square, which his parents are expected to attend.

Activist Al Sharpton will be holding a rally in Sanford Thursday night.

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