Thursday, May 24, 2018
Public safety

At Sunday church services, solidarity for Trayvon Martin

As the national outrage over her son's killing continues, the mother of Trayvon Martin on Sunday quietly attended services at her Miami Gardens church, where a movement is building in memory of the teen.

Sybrina Fulton attended 7 a.m. services at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church where G.V. Lewis, the associate pastor, said Trayvon and his family have regularly attended services at the predominately black church.

Now the teen's death is turning some parishioners into activists.

A new "social justice" ministry, headed by Lewis, promises to serve the memory of Trayvon, who was shot and killed Feb. 26 as he walked inside the gated community where he was visiting in Sanford with his father. He was returning from a trip to a convenience store with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea in his pockets.

The teen's killer, neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman, who is a white Hispanic, has not been charged with a crime because police say he acted in self-defense.

On Sunday across the country in such cities as New York and Atlanta, parishioners attended services sporting hoodie sweaters — like the one Trayvon was wearing when he appeared suspicious to Zimmerman.

On Monday, buses will leave with parishioners from the Miami Gardens church to rallies in Sanford. Others will gather at Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Miami to rally for the creation of programs to provide support for students serving out-of-school suspensions. Organized by a coalition of 34 churches and universities called People Acting for Community Together, or PACT, the rally occurs every year.

But this year's event is especially important, said organizer Matthew Pigatt, because Trayvon was waiting out a suspension from Dr. Michael Krop High School when he was killed.

Long-term plans for a "global prayer chain" are also in the works through PACT and Antioch Missionary.

From now on, the third Sunday of the month, church members will wear hoodies. The church will also take up a special offering for Trayvon's family.

After every 11 a.m. services, parishioners will file out of the church in their symbolic garb and link arms in prayer.

A series of seminars for parents and children are also in the works. As a black parent, Lewis said he wants young people to hear the same tips he shares with his son — simple things, such as turning on your car light and putting your hands in clear view if you get pulled over by the police.

"These are strategic techniques that, unfortunately, we have to train," he said.

Sanford town hall meeting set tonight

A town hall meeting about Trayvon Martin's death is scheduled for 5 p.m. today at the Sanford Civic Center at 401 E Seminole Blvd.

The teenager's family is set to speak, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton are expected.

The city of Sanford was calling for civility during the meeting and said access to the center will be allowed no sooner than 4 p.m. on a first-come basis.

Overflow seating will be available in Fort Mellon Park, where the meeting will be shown on a large screen.

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