Over the weekend, members of the New Black Panther Party showed just how tense the situation in the Trayvon Martin shooting has gotten: They offered a $10,000 bounty for the capture of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the unarmed teenager.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Mikhail Muhammad announced the reward during a protest on Saturday, and when a Sentinel reporter asked if he was inciting violence, Muhammad said, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
Nationally the shooting death has brought up questions about whether Zimmerman, who was on a Neighborhood Watch patrol, profiled Martin and whether Sanford police’s failure to arrest Zimmerman had to do with racism.
The New Black Panther’s bounty just heightens that narrative.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the New Black Panther Party has been rejected by the Black Panther Party of the ’60s and ’70s. The SPLC says the group is “a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers…”
The Sentinel also reported that the group “called for the mobilization of 10,000 black men to capture Zimmerman.”
The paper adds:
“Sanford city officials issued a statement late Saturday, condemning the group’s appeal and asking citizens to leave all arrests to the police. The statement was sanctioned by Sanford Police Captain Robert O’Connor — one of two Captains now leading the department in the wake of Police Chief Bill Lee’s temporary suspension.
“‘The City is requesting calm heads and no vigilante justice,’ the statement said. ‘Attempts by civilians to take any person into custody may result in criminal charges or unnecessary violence.'”