CHICAGO (CBS) — The Rev. Michael Pfleger is asking area churches this Sunday to honor the memory of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida boy who was shot and killed by a man who is claiming self-defense.
Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Parish in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, is asking all churches this Sunday to “place a bag of Skittles, can of iced tea, and a hoodie at their altar.” Those were the items Martin was carrying when he was shot and killed on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla.
“We may not all be able to go to Florida to stand with Trayvon Martin’s parents, but we can do this in our church Sunday, standing in solidarity with them and then have a moment of silence to remember him and all those killed on the streets of Chicago,” Pfleger said in a news release.
According to Sanford police, self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, 28, called 911 to report a suspicious person after he saw Martin walking back from the store, CBS Miami reports.
Despite the emergency operator telling him not to confront Martin, Zimmerman allegedly approached the teenager. Witnesses said they two struggled and at one point Zimmerman pulled out a gun and shot Martin in the chest.
No charges were filed against Zimmerman, who admitted to shooting the teen, but said he fired in self-defense.
In his release, Pfleger classified the shooting as murder.
The shooting has also led to widespread criticism of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to defend themselves from danger without the need to first try to get away. CBS Miami reports an analysis of state data shows deaths due to self defense are up over 200 percent since the law took effect.
A similar law is on the books in Illinois, although it only addresses the use of deadly force in the case of defending against unlawful entry. The Illinois Castle Doctrine law permits the use of deadly force, and does not have any requirement for a would-be victim to retreat.