(MIAMI) — Hundreds attending a Miami rally Sunday demanded justice in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and again called for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch captain who told police he shot the unarmed youth in self defense.
The speakers at Bayfront Park included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and the Rev. Jamal Bryant, founder of the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore. Martin’s parents were also on hand to address the crowd.
There have been similar rallies across the country during the past few weeks after news of the Feb. 26 incident turned viral on social media sites. Just about everyone has weighed in on the case including President Obama, Republican White House hopefuls, TV and radio commentators and celebrities.
Much of the outrage has come from the nation’s African-American community, alleging that Martin’s death was simply another example of how racial profiling is used to target innocent black males.
Zimmerman, who is of Hispanic origin, told investigators that he saw someone suspicious lurking around a gated community where a string of robberies occurred. He claimed after confronting Martin, he was attacked from behind and used his firearm as a last resort.
Many believe Zimmerman should have been charged instantly, but investigators said there wasn’t enough evidence. Now, a grand jury that will get underway next week will determine if Zimmerman can be charged with manslaughter.
At the rally, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he promised Martin’s parents that the demonstrations would go on as long as necessary until Zimmerman is arrested and formally charged.
Meanwhile, more questions have been raised about Florida’s “stand your ground” law that allows the use of deadly force when a potential victim feels his life is threatened even away from home. Critics say it can be too loosely interpreted and would result in similar cases such as the one involving Zimmerman and Martin.
In other developments Sunday, Martin’s parents have asked the Justice Department to launch a separate probe to investigate possible interference in their son’s case by the state’s attorney’s office and a Sanford police detective.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire