Racial tensions are brewing in a South Florida neighborhood in the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black high school student who was killed by a white neighborhood watch captain last month.
Trayvon was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on February 26 while he was walking home from a local 7 Eleven.
According to the Sanford Police Department, Zimmerman called 911 before the shooting, identifying Martin as a “suspicious person.”
He was then told not to engage the teen, but Zimmerman followed Martin anyway; a physical confrontation followed and moments later, the young teen was fatally shot.
Now a community is asking why, as the Sanford Police once again face another incident involving black victims and white perpetrators.
Local college students rallied in Trayvon's memory and ministers from a number of black churches in the area have voiced their anger over the shooting death.
In 2005, two white security guards shot and killed Travares McGill, one of them was the son of a Sanford Police officer. The shooting drove city race relations to a modern low, according to some black residents.
Security guards Patrick Swofford and Bryan Ansley saw Travares dropping off friends in the parking lot of the apartment complex they were hired to guard, according to published reports.
The two claimed Travares tried to run them down and both fired their weapons at him, they later would claim self-defense.
Travares was pronounced dead at the scene. Swofford was a police department volunteer and Ansley is the son of a former veteran of the force.
The pair were arrested and charged, Swofford with manslaughter and Ansley with firing into an occupied vehicle. But a judge later cited lack of evidence and dismissed both cases.
According to autopsy reports, Travares suffered fatal gunshot wounds to the back, and it was unclear if the pair was in danger.
What has the community angry with the Trayvon case is the slow moving pace by the police while conducting the investigation.
Police Chief Bill Lee told reporters and spectators at a press conference on Monday:
"We want to build a partnership, and since I have been in office for 10 months we were making good strides and this is certainly a huge stumbling block.
And so it is a tragedy for the community and for the city of Sanford, too, because I believe we can truly have a great partnership and get through all the ugly thoughts and all the disagreements and ill will and hard feelings and truly come together as a community."
The community feels differently. Turner Clayton, president of the local NAACP, has been following Trayvon’s case and said:
"People are outraged because they never recovered from the last shooting, or recovered from the beating a year or so ago with the policeman’s son.
All of these things are escalating and simmering, and it’s going to reach a point where it’s going to explode."
Hopefully things in Sanford, FL stay non-violent and peaceful. The last thing we want is a police force with itchy trigger fingers.