(CBS) — The parents of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin were joined Monday by civil rights leaders, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, who called for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed Martin one month ago.
Jackson joined Martin’s parents, as they addressed the government of Sanford, Florida, to demand Zimmerman’s arrest.
Sybrina Fulton fought back tears as she addressed the city commissioners of Sanford, seeking justice for her son, Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed one month ago.
“I know I cannot bring my baby back, but I’m sure going to make changes so that this does not happen to another family,” she said.
Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s continued freedom have morphed from a criminal case to a national cause. Martin was reportedly shot and killed by Zimmerman on February 26th as Martin was walking back from a store where he had bought iced tea and a bag of Skittles candy.
Zimmerman claimed self-defense, but a 911 operator told Zimmerman to back off Martin when Zimmerman called 911 about seeing Martin in his complex in Sanford.
Martin was unarmed, but according to a newspaper report on Monday, information provided by the Sanford Police department paints a much more sympathetic view of claims that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense.
The report, released online Monday afternoon, claims Zimmerman told them Martin attacked him as he headed back to his SUV, was knocked to the ground with a single blow, and then had his head smashed into the ground by Martin, who was on top of him. Bloodied and battered, he claims he shot the teen in self-defense.
Monday night, Sanford’s government heard from a who’s who of American civil rights leaders, who compared the town to Birmingham and Selma, Alabama – ignition points of racial protests in the 1960s.
“If a black vigilante had shot a 17-year-old white child, near his father’s house, he would be in jail today,” Jackson said.
A special prosecutor will now oversee the case.
Zimmerman had charges that were dropped from his record, charges that beg the question of whether he should have had a gun.
Meantime, the martin family attorney confirmed Trayvon Martin had been suspended from his school at the time of the shooting. He was accused of having traces of marijuana in a bag, but his family said that had nothing to do with his death.
Chicagoan Ronald Holt has been watching the Martin case. He has a sign in his window that says “Justice For Trayvon.”
Holt said Martin’s death took him back to the day his own son, Blair Holt, was killed in 2007, when he was shot and killed while protecting a classmate when a gunman opened fire on a CTA bus on the Far South Side.
Blair Holt and Trayvon Martin were about the same age when they were killed. Both came from good families and both were victims of gun violence.
But Blair Holt was killed by a gang member who was trying to kill someone else.
“The fact of the matter is these young people are gone, never to return to their families, to their homes, to this life. … And the common thread is a gun and it was used unlawfully and illegally,” Ronald Holt said. “What I would like to see happen is coming up with a solution or plan that can keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.”
Ronald Holt, a 19-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, is now director of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, the city’s community policing program. He’s been an outspoken advocate for gun control since his son’s death.