SANFORD FLA. – “Make room for the elite and the V.I.P!” is what one woman screamed in outrage after not being allowed inside the “ticket-only” town hall meeting Monday in Sanford, Fla.
Civil rights leaders the Reverends Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jamal Bryant and memebers of Congress Rep. Corrine Brown and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee delivered the “Prosecute the killer of our son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin” petition to arrest George Zimmerman to Mayor Jeff Triplett.
Marchers were greeted with an intense surge of energy as press and citizens scrambled to find a spot to hear the messages of the evening: “demand justice for Trayvon” and “arrest George Zimmerman.”
The meeting opened with prayer and was followed with a motion by Sanford Commissioner Velma H. Williams to add Bryant, Jackson, Sharpton, Brown and Lee to the family delegation.
Sharpton, at the lectern, said, “City commissioners, we come tonight to bring with the family two million signatures of people petitioning you to arrest Zimmerman. We do not need a trial and a jury to make an arrest, an arrest is made off of probable cause.”
Sharpton also mentioned the attempts to smear Martin’s image.
“We can go through all of the distractions if you want, whether or not Trayvon had been suspended for this or that, whatever they’re going to make up. None of that was known to Mr. Zimmerman.”
People cheered as Sharpton finished his statement, chanting, “Do the right thing.”
Sharpton pleaded to the city commission to imagine if Martin was their child and what would they want someone to do?
Sabrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, said, “I’m going to say this without tears because I really have something to say to you all. My heart is broken first and foremost. That was my baby. To you all, if you have kids and if something happens to your children, you want to know what happened, you want some answers to your questions.”
Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, said, “George Zimmerman took my son away from me. Not only was he my son, he was my best friend.”
He also noted the recent defamation of Trayvon’s reputation.
“Even in death, they are still disrespecting my son.”
Commissioner Velma H. Williams said, “There is no good ending to this story, but what has to happen is we have to learn from this so we can make things better for all other children, so that this young man does not die in vain.”
Florida A&M students also exercised their First Amendment rights Monday by gathering on the Set and marching to the Capitol shouting, “I am Trayvon, you are too,” and “no justice, no peace.”
As they walked to the Capitol, vehicles passed honking their horns showing support for the Trayvon Martin movement. “This is what democracy looks like,” chanted students as they marched downhill to the Capitol.
After reaching the Capitol, they were applauded and welcomed by a number of Florida State and Tallahassee Community College students.
“The movement is a good start, but I don’t think we can pat ourselves on the back after this and say, ‘Okay, we did a good job’,” said Cody Gusto, an English student at Florida State. “I think we need to keep it going and keep it pumping.”
FSU students marched from their campus after being informed about the rally via Facebook.
Gusto said the way to bring justice is to continue to voice concerns.
“This is an awesome movement and it talks about not just racism, but fairness. It’s not fair that Trayvon was killed because he looked suspicious wearing a black hoodie,” said Kristina Acrum, a physical therapy student at TCC.
Ciara Taylor, a senior political science student, said, that the issue is not about race. “It’s interesting talking to people on campus today where you see a lot of white people believing this is a race issue, but a lot of black people don’t feel that way.”
Delmarshae Walker contributed to this article.