Killing Of Fla. Teen Trayvon Martin Becomes National Story About Race

Now that 911 recordings show how a white Florida man continued to follow a 17-year-old black boy even after police advised him not to — and captured the sound of the man killing the unarmed youth with a shot to the chest in what the gunman says was an act of self defense during a Neighborhood Watch patrol — Trayvon Martin’s family wants the FBI to take over the investigation into his killing.

“I just want answers from the police department about what happened with my son,” Trayvon’s mother, Sabrina Fulton, said during a tearful news conference on Friday. And as NPR’s Joel Rose reported on Morning Edition, the family “has lost faith in the Sanford [Fla.] police department.”

There’s a rally planned today in Sanford, Fla., to bring more attention to what has now become a national debate about what may have been a case of racial profiling that turned deadly.

If you’re just catching up on this story, Joel’s Morning Edition report wraps up the news so far and includes portions of those 911 recordings (note: the content could be disturbing to some).

And our colleagues at WMFE sum up how the story began this way:

“Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin of Miami, was walking from a convenience store to the home of a family friend in a gated community in Sanford on Feb. 26th. He was confronted by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious person but before police arrived, the two struggled and Zimmerman shot and killed the teenager. Community members are demanding Zimmerman’s arrest but Sanford Police say they don’t have sufficient evidence to dispute his claims of self defense.”

At the Orlando Sentinel, which has extensive coverage, there’s a story that notes how — beyond the issue of profiling — “if George Zimmerman didn’t break every rule in the book when it comes to Neighborhood Watch programs, he came close. … Zimmerman was armed. He was alone. And while waiting for police, he somehow got into a fight with the person he thought suspicious. All three of those actions are strongly discouraged by the National Sheriffs’ Association, which oversees about 20,000 Neighborhood Watch programs.”

Zimmerman has not been charged with a crime. According to The Associated Press, “in the months leading up to the shooting, [he] had called police numerous times to report incidents.”

Trayvon’s parents have put an online petition on Change.org, looking for support in their call for Zimmerman to be charged.

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