After days of tension, all quiet in Sanford on Saturday

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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SANFORD, Fla. — Save for a small impromptu New Black Panther Party rally that popped up after their planned protest outside police headquarters failed to materialize, Sanford — the small central Florida town where Trayvon Martin was killed — was largely quiet on Saturday.

Protesters weren’t roaming the town, and the racially charged killing that has dominated local and national headlines appeared, at least for the moment, to have died down in the town. Even President Barack Obama’s decision Friday morning to weigh in on the racially charged fight didn’t appear to have a lasting effect on locals.

The scene was a stark contrast to the headline-grabbing protests that have appeared elsewhere in the country. Thousands rallied nationwide on Saturday to push for the arrest of self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, the Hispanic man who shot Martin on Feb. 26 but was not charged with any crimes or taken into custody.

Sanford was the site of similar protests earlier this week. On Thursday, MSNBC host and liberal activist Al Sharpton rallied in the town, as did the New Black Panthers and a smattering of other liberal political figures.

On Saturday, outspoken film director Spike Lee continued trying to bring attention to the case and Martin’s shooter. Lee has retweeted Zimmerman’s home address to his 245,000 followers at least twice since Friday. The New Black Panthers, meanwhile, have distributed signs and fliers demanding that Zimmerman be apprehended “dead or alive.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was not in attendance at Sharpton’s Thursday evening rally in Sanford, tweeted on Saturday about an upcoming protest scheduled for Monday in the town. Jackson had told the Los Angeles Times that he thinks Martin’s killing indicated that “blacks are under attack” in America.

“Occupy” movement demonstrators have joined forces with “Justice for Trayvon” activists in New York, Portland, Ore. and elsewhere, and protesters have begun marching with hoodies and packages of Skittles to show their support for Martin. The popular candy,which Martin had in his possession at the time of the shooting, have become one of several symbols of solidarity.

Yet despite the protests and calls for Zimmerman’s arrest, it remains unclear if, in the end, all the facts will support the narrative that Sharpton, Jackson, Lee and others have pushed in the wake of Martin’s killing.

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