Protests have only grown in the Trayvon Martin case, both online and offline. Change.org now has nearly a million signatures on their petition to prosecute George Zimmerman for murder. Hundreds turned out in New York City yesterday for what they labeled the Million Hoodie March. And another protest will send mass amounts of Skittles to the Sanford, Florida police chief, Bill Lee, who released Zimmerman without charges after questioning in the case. Martin had just purchased Skittles and ice tea from a 7-Eleven and was returning to his home when he was confronted by Zimmerman.
In fact, Lee has become the focus of many of the protests and criticism. The Sanford City Commission, which I gather is like a city council, just passed a no-confidence vote on Lee:
The Sanford City Commission voted 3-2 that it had no confidence in Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. over his handling of the Trayvon Martin shooting Wednesday [...]
Commissioners cannot fire Lee, as he reports to City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. [...]
Bonaparte said he will take the commissioners’ “strong statement” under advisement, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and said he wants to wait for the Department of Justice and the Brevard-Seminole State Attorney’s Office to finish their investigations before he acts.
The city’s mayor cast the deciding vote of no confidence. While the city commissioners cannot fire him, clearly this puts Lee in a difficult position. Critically, Lee is still leading the investigation into Zimmerman, so this is not a trivial or tangential decision.
Lee has maintained that the “stand your ground” law in Florida, which asserts that citizens have the right to “meet force with force, including deadly force,” if they feel threatened, exonerates Zimmerman. However, new information, including a phone call between Martin and a female friend right before the shooting, points to the fact that Martin was not being threatening and in fact felt threatened by Zimmerman himself, complaining of being followed and trying to get away.