SANFORD, Fla — Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin was suspended from school because he was caught with an empty plastic bag with traces of marijuana in it, the boy’s family attorney has confirmed.
Trayvon was killed while serving out the suspension in Sanford Florida, where his father’s girlfriend lives. A community watch volunteer who thought he looked drugged out and suspicious called police and later wound up in a fight with him.
The two scuffled and volunteer George Zimmerman shot Trayvon, killing him. He has not been charged.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to converge on Sanford on Monday for an afternoon rally to protest the killing, which occurred one month ago today.
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The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, the Rev. Al Sharpton and comedian Sinbad are expected to speak at a 5 p.m. special City Commission meeting.
Several busloads of protesters left Miami early Monday to participate.
The city closed off several city blocks to allow participants a pathway to walk from a local park to the city’s civic center.
The rally comes a day after an attorney in the case, Craig Sonner, took to the television networks to argue George Zimmerman’s side of the story. Joe Oliver, a former CNN anchor and a friend of Zimmerman’s appeared on television Sunday to give his friend’s side and speak of the now notorious 911 tapes.
“That sounded like someone in dire need of help,” Oliver said. “That sounded like George.”
Family spokesman Ryan Julison said the family has always maintained that Trayvon’s suspension had nothing to do with anything violent.
“The fact of the matter is that an empty baggie does not change what occurred,” he said. “The reason he was suspended does not change the fact that if George Zimmerman had stayed in his car, none of this would have happened.”
On Sunday, Trayvon’s mother said she hoped the momentum in the case leads to changes in the law.
“I think people are really sick and tired of the same situation. I also think they can relate to our situation because they have young men in their households and it breaks their heart just like it breaks our heart,” Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told The Herald. “It’s just good to know that we have that type of support, and that we have a community, we have a movement of people that want to see justice for Trayvon Martin.”
She is expected to testify Tuesday before Congress in a quest to have Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law examined. She also hopes to address certification for neighborhood watch volunteers, attorney Benjamin Crump said.
“I didn’t expect this. But seeing that the nation is supporting us is very, very warmful, cheerful,” said Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin. “It’s a real good feeling to know that people still care. This movement and watching the people of this movement keeps me going.”
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