Criticism of Sanford police department escalates as protesters continue call for killer's arrest amid mounting evidence
Residents protest against the Sanford police department's failure to arrest the man accused of killing 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. Police say Martin was unarmed when he was shot by George Zimmerman. Photograph: Brian Blanco/EPA
The Florida police chief investigating the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager fatally shot by a self-appointed neighbourhood watch volunteer, is facing calls by civil rights leaders for his resignation.
Police chief Bill Lee, of Sanford police, has insisted he carried out a "fair and thorough" investigation of the killing and that he cannot arrest George Zimmerman because he has told police he shot the teenager in self-defence and there was no evidence to contradict his account.
Criticism of the police investigation is focused on the failure to arrest Zimmerman, but also on the failure to test him for drugs or alcohol, a common practice in homicide investigations, in particular because they tested the teenager after his death.
Police are also facing questions over their failure to reach Martin's girlfriend in Miami, who was talking to him on his cellphone as he was being followed by Zimmerman in the minutes before his death. She said his last words were "What are you following me for?"
George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Photograph: Orlando Sentinel
Martin's family say the girlfriend's testimony of the call undermines Zimmerman's self-defence claims. There have also been reports that police "corrected" witnesses who say they heard the boy screaming for help.
This week, police admitted to ABC News they may have missed a potential racial slur on the tape of Zimmerman's 911 call to report Martin's "suspicious behaviour".
Ben Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People told Miami television channel NBC6 that federal authorities should take over Lee's department because of a "pattern and practice of discrimination" which include cases that precede Martin.
At a highly-charged town hall meeting at Allen Chapel AME Church in Sanford on Tuesday night, Jealous told the 350-strong crowd: "Any chief who would so allow his officers to so mishandle a situation like this has to go. We will ensure that there is a new chief here in Sanford."
Hundreds more gathered outside, chanting "I am Trayvon Martin."
The calls for Lee's resignation came as Florida governor Rick Scott, who attended a meeting with black lawyers and civil rights activists on Tuesday night, said it was time to revisit the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law. This allows people to use deadly force if they feel endangered, without requiring them to retreat from the threat.
"If there's something wrong with the law that's in place, I think it's important we address it. I'm going to look at it. If what's happening is it's being abused, that's not right. We all want to live in a safe place," Scott told the Palm Beach Post News.
In New York, a "one million hoodie" march is planned for Wednesday evening, with Martin's parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin due to attend, according to NBC New York.
"A black person in a hoodie isn't automatically 'suspicious'," says the event's Facebook page, which calls on people to "show the world we are all Trayvon" by uploading a photograph of themselves on social media sites wearing hoodies with the hashtag #millionhoodies.
Almost 800,000 people have signed a petition on the Change.org website calling for Zimmerman to be prosecuted.
Set up by Martin's parents, it describes him as "our hero". They said: "At the age of nine, Trayvon pulled his father from a burning kitchen, saving his life. He loved sports and horseback riding. At only 17 he had a bright future ahead of him with dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic. Now that's all gone."
Local pastors and members of the Florida Civil Rights Association planned a rally outside the Florida Division of Licensing in Orlando to demand that Zimmerman's concealed weapons permit be revoked, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The group leader J Willie David earlier claimed the 28-year-old man is a "clear threat to public safety".
The case is now the subject of three investigations, including the Sanford police department. The US justice department, along with the FBI, launched an inquiry this week, after the case garnered national attention. On Tuesday the Florida state attorney for Seminole and Brevard counties announced that a grand jury would hear evidence.
George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Photograph: Orlando Sentinel
It's Racism! It's Racism.. the sky is falling, the sky is falling.. getting tired of it yet?
In New York city the Blacks are going to march in protest of the shooting of Trayvon Martin saying it was racist.
Yet when 3 racist Blacks on Staten Island beats up a 51 year old Hispanic it's o.k. No protests there?
Blacks trying to play off the Race card every time one of theirs gets killed, shot, beaten or jailed, yet are just as responsible for the same hate and racism towards Hispanics, Asian and Whites.
Bill Cosby said it best, get an education, get a job (society and government owes you nothing), slavery ended more than 100 years
Getting tired of hearing about the "Black Experience" and their history of slavery. How many generations ago, was this? We don't owe you ****!!