Protest forces Sanford Police Department to close



A group of students protesting the Trayvon Martin shooting on Monday blocked the entrance to the Sanford Police Department by kneeling in front of the doors, forcing the department to close. It has since been reopened.

No arrests were made in the protest, which came a day after the students, who call themselves the Dream Defenders, completed a 40-mile, three-day march from Daytona Beach to Sanford, where Martin, 17, was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in late February.

City officials and members of the U.S. Department of Justice observed the demonstration, which consisted of a handful of students — some wearing hoodies — blocking the entrance, with dozens of others standing nearby.

“The city of Sanford hopes the actions of the students will be as peaceful and orderly as the previous rallies and marches have been,” said city manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr.  “We want to be accommodating to all our visitors proving they act in a manner that is respectful to the people of the city.”

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Special prosecutor Angela Corey, who announced earlier Monday that she will not bring the case before a grand jury, spoke to the students via a conference call.  Corey asked the students for patience and ensured that she is conducting a fair investigation.

After speaking with Corey, Bonaparte and other officials Monday afternoon, the students left the police station.  Sanford officials said the closing had a minimal effect on police and fire responses to emergency calls. Citizens who needed to do routine police business were told to go to Sanford City Hall.

City officials told the group of protesters that it would hold another town hall meeting to further address the shooting on April 19.

The Dream Defenders said they are composed of a diverse array of young leaders from across the country with one common goal — to work in solidarity to incite generational change and make global impact.

On Sunday night, the nearly 50 students made a call for non-violent civil disobedience while speaking at the Allen Chapel AME Church in Sanford.

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