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Hundreds in Miami demand justice, arrest in Trayvon Martin case

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:42 AM EDT, Mon April 2, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Indianapolis police say a protest was "peaceful and orderly," despite 13 detained
  • Trayvon Martin's mother says she wants people to know her son was a "regular" teen
  • Hundreds attend a rally in downtown Miami, not far from where the teenager lived
  • The teen's shooting, and the fact his killer wasn't arrest, has stirred a fervent debate

(CNN) -- The movement calling for justice in the Trayvon Martin case hit Miami on Sunday, with civil rights leaders and the slain teenager's parents among those repeating their call to have the teenager's killer arrested.

Hundreds turned out for a rally Sunday at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, including its organizer, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, and keynote speaker the Rev. Jamal Bryant, founder of the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, who has been central in many of the recent demonstrations.

It was the latest in a series of demonstrations in the wake of Martin's killing, which has triggered a nationwide debate about race in America, the performance of law enforcement in the case and the merits of "stand your ground" laws that allow the use of force to defend oneself.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who also has been at the forefront of the effort, told the crowd in Miami on Sunday that he promised Martin's parents that such rallies would continue as long as the man who admitted shooting and killing their son remains free.

"I promised them that we would be here until (George) Zimmerman was arrested," Sharpton said.

The Miami rally and concert began around 4 p.m. and wrapped up about three hours later. Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said one of the goals of this and similar events is not only to demand justice in the case, but also to let more people to hear what her son was really like.

"We just want the public to know that he was a regular teenager," Fulton told reporters at the Miami event. "That he was respectable and that he was loved by his family and his friends."

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The 17-year-old Martin himself lived in southern Florida, not far from Miami, but was visiting his father in Sanford on February 26. That night, while walking in a gated community after stopping in at a convenience store, he was fatally shot by Zimmerman.

The 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer had called 911 to report someone he believed was "suspicious."

Zimmerman says he killed Martin in self-defense after the teen punched him and slammed his head on the sidewalk, according to an Orlando Sentinel report that was later confirmed by Sanford police. And authorities have said Zimmerman was not immediately charged after the shooting because there were no grounds, at the outset, to disprove his account that he'd acted to protect himself.

Martin's family and backers say Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, racially profiled the teen, who was black, and ignored a police dispatcher's directive not to follow him. Wearing a hooded sweatshirt, the youth was carrying a bag of Skittles candy and iced tea at the time of his death.

The Sanford police department has come under intense scrutiny for its actions following the shooting, and protesters have repeatedly called for the firing of police Chief Bill Lee, who stepped down temporarily last month amid criticism.

The local prosecutor also has stepped aside. Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed a special investigator to decide if Zimmerman should be charged, cleared or if the case should be sent to the grand jury.

Sunday's event -- which also featured several musical performances, including from singer Chaka Khan -- was one of several this weekend, in Florida and beyond, aimed largely at keeping up the public pressure on authorities and demanding Zimmerman's arrest.

Many of the forums have also drawn attention to the issue of racial profiling, with speakers saying that they doubt Martin would have been deemed suspicious if he hadn't been black and wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, on Sunday, Pastor David Hampton of Light of the World Christian church led demonstrators in a noontime march aimed at bringing attention to the Martin case.

After Hampton urged protesters to "lock arms" in the middle of a street amid chants of "stand your ground," police peaceably arrested and escorted off several people, as seen on video from CNN Indianapolis affiliate WISH.

The church, on its Facebook page, reported that 13 people overall were arrested, including Hampton. Police said that the number of those involved in the protest originally was much higher -- around 50 to 75 people -- but most heeded officers' calls to disperse.

"Pastor David Hampton walks the walk and talks the talk. He was just arrested for civil disobedience," the church said in a Facebook post.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that 13 people had been taken into custody, all on charges of obstruction of justice. Eight of them chose to receive a summons to appear in court, in lieu of an official arrest, while five chose to be arrested and were taken to be processed.

Noting there were no incidents, the department's Chief Paul Ciesielski said police have a "great relationship" with the church and offered thanks to Hampton, in particular, "for meeting and working with us to make sure the demonstration was peaceful and orderly."

"Our officers did a great job today and were very respectful to those arrested," Ciesielski said in a statement.

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