Tag Archives: george zimmerman

George Zimmerman arrested for domestic violence — again

George Zimmerman, whose acquittal of murdering an unarmed black teen in 2013 made him a hero on the political right and a symbol of what’s wrong with so-called “stand your ground” laws on the left, was arrested on Jan. 9 for allegedly throwing a wine bottle at his most recent girlfriend.

The incident is the latest in a series of domestic violence charges that Zimmerman has faced.

The Associated Press reported that Zimmerman, 31, was arrested for aggravated assault at his home in Florida’s Seminole County about 10 p.m. on Friday. He was released on a $5,000 bond Saturday afternoon.

At a court appearance earlier today, he was ordered to avoid contact with the woman, who was not identified. Judge John Galluzzo also ordered Zimmerman to stay out of Volusia County, where the woman lives, and to pack up any personal belongings his girlfriend might have left at his home and give them to his lawyer.

Zimmerman, who wore blue scrubs and handcuffs, appeared calm during the brief hearing. At one point, he laughed and joked with an officer as he signed paperwork.

Although the incident didn’t involve a firearm, the judge ordered Zimmerman to surrender any weapons in his possession. Zimmerman is scheduled to appear back in court on Feb. 17.

Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 of a second-degree murder charge for shooting an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has had several brushes with the law, including:

• He was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief after his then-girlfriend said he pointed a gun at her face during an argument, smashed her coffee table and pushed her out of the house they shared. Samantha Scheibe decided not to cooperate with detectives and prosecutors didn’t pursue the case.

• Zimmerman was accused by his estranged wife of smashing an iPad during an argument at the home they had shared. Shellie Zimmerman initially told a dispatcher her husband had a gun, though she later said he was unarmed. No charges were ever filed because of a lack of evidence. The dispute occurred days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers.

• Zimmerman has also been pulled over three times for traffic violations since his acquittal.

Nativity features Trayvon Martin instead of Jesus

A Southern California church nativity scene is featuring a bloody Trayvon Martin in place of the infant Jesus in an effort to stir a community conversation about gun violence.

The nativity scene on the lawn of the Claremont United Methodist Church — which shows Martin in a hoodie, slumped over and bleeding — was created by 57-year-old congregant and artist John Zachary.

Zachary, who in the past has created installations addressing homelessness and poverty, said he wanted to make the Nativity relevant to modern times and generate a community conversation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Zachary said he chose to focus on the Florida teenager whose shooting death captured the nation to draw a parallel to the dark times in which Jesus was born.

But some faithful have shuddered at the depiction and called it sacrilege.

Retiree Viola Saunders, who stopped and took some pictures of the scene with her phone, said she thought the Nativity was too sacred to modify. “It’s pretty bad,” she told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “It takes away from the original.”

Lead pastor Rev. Sharon Rhodes-Wickett said the church 35 miles east of Los Angeles is a progressive community where many congregants seek to challenge their minds, and hearts, but she can understand if some find the depiction “too edgy.”

“It’s hard to look at a young man who’s shot and bleeding to death. But even though I’m uncomfortable with it, that’s the point,” she told the Daily Bulletin. “We have to take a look at the violence.”

The scene will remain in place at the church through Jan. 5.

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George Zimmerman arrested today for felony assault

George Zimmerman was arrested today and charged with assault after deputies were called to the home where he lived with his girlfriend, who claimed he pointed a shotgun at her during an argument.

Zimmerman pushed the woman out of the house and barricaded the door with furniture, Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma said at a news conference, as reported by The Associated Press. Samantha Scheibe gave deputies a key to the home, and they were able to push open the barricaded door.

Zimmerman was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, battery and criminal mischief.

“Just when you thought you heard the last of George Zimmerman,” said neighbor Catherine Cantrell. She said the woman who lived in the home was very sweet and quiet.

Zimmerman, 30, was acquitted in July of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. Zimmerman claimed he shot the 17-year-old to defend himself during a fight in February 2012 inside a gated community in Sanford, just outside Orlando.

He wasn’t charged until 44 days after the shooting, leading to protests nationwide from people who believed he should have been immediately arrested. The case sparked accusations that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin, and demonstrations broke out again after his acquittal. Federal authorities are now reviewing the case the see if Martin’s civil rights were violated.

Zimmerman has had other brushes with the law since his acquittal.

Zimmerman and his estranged wife were involved in a domestic dispute in September, just days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers. Zimmerman has also been pulled over three times for traffic stops since his acquittal.

In 2005, Zimmerman had to take anger management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Zimmerman’s friend.

Later that year, Zimmerman’s former fiancée filed for a restraining order against him, alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman responded by requesting a restraining order against her. Both requests were granted, and no criminal charges were filed.

Florida woman who fired at estranged husband gets new trial, cannot invoke Stand Your Ground defense

A Florida woman serving 20 years in prison for firing a shot at her estranged husband during an argument will get a new trial, though she will not be able to invoke a “stand your ground” defense, an appeals court ruled this week.

The case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville mother of three, has been used by critics of Florida’s “stand your ground” law and mandatory minimum sentences to argue that the state’s justice system is skewed against defendants who are black.

The 1st District Court of Appeal this week ruled that Alexander deserves a new trial because the trial judge handling her case did not properly instruct the jury regarding what is needed to prove self-defense.

The ruling, written by Judge Robert Benton, said the instructions constituted a “fundamental error” and required Alexander to prove self-defense “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But the court also made it clear in its ruling that the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state’s “stand your ground” law as a way to defend her actions. That law generally removes people’s duty to retreat in the face of possible danger and allows them to use of deadly force if they believe their lives are in danger.

Faith Gay, one of the attorneys representing the 33-year-old Alexander, said she was grateful for the “thorough consideration” provided by the appeals court.

“We are looking forward to taking the case back to trial,” Gay said.

Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. Nobody was hurt, but the judge in the case said he was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison after she was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Alexander has maintained that the shot fired was a warning shot.

The sentencing sparked criticism from the local NAACP chapter and the district’s congresswoman, who said blacks more often are incarcerated for long periods because of overzealous prosecutors and judges bound by mandatory minimum sentences.

State Attorney Angela Corey, who oversaw the prosecution of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, has stood by the handling of Alexander’s case. Corey said she believes that Alexander aimed the gun at the man and his two sons, and that the bullet she fired could have ricocheted and hit any of them.

Jackelyn Barnard, a spokeswoman for Corey, said that the conviction was reversed on a legal technicality and that the office was gratified that the “stand your ground” ruling was upheld.

Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, called the ruling a “welcome development in a case that represents the double standards in our justice system.”

“From the streets to the courthouse, race continues to influence the judicial process, and it certainly seemed to have played a role here,” Jealous said in a statement issued by the civil rights organization.

The state’s “10-20-life” law was implemented in 1999 and credited with helping to lower the violent crime rate. Anyone who shows a gun in the commission of certain felonies gets an automatic 10 years in prison. Fire the gun, and it’s an automatic 20 years. Shoot and wound someone, and it’s 25 years to life.

On Aug. 1, 2010, Alexander was working for a payroll software company. She was estranged from her husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him, even though they’d had a baby together just nine days earlier. Thinking he was gone, she went to their former home to retrieve the rest of her clothes, family members said.

An argument ensued, and Alexander said she feared for her life when she went out to her vehicle to get the gun she legally owned. She came back inside and ended up firing a shot into the wall, which ricocheted into the ceiling.

Gray testified that he saw Alexander point the gun at him and looked away before she fired the shot. He claimed that she was the aggressor, and that he had begged her to put away the weapon.

The judge threw out Alexander’s “stand your ground” self-defense claim, noting that she could have run out of the house to escape her husband but instead got the gun and went back inside. Alexander rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a three-year prison sentence and chose to go to trial. A jury deliberated 12 minutes before convicting her.

Alexander was also charged with domestic battery four months after the shooting in another assault on Gray. She pleaded no contest and was sentenced to time served.

Supporters of Alexander have asked Gov. Rick Scott to pardon Alexander, but her case has not yet been taken by the state’s clemency board.

Police detain Zimmerman after alleged domestic incident

Authorities in Lake Mary, Fla., were investigating an alleged domestic violence incident involving George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted earlier this year of all charges in connection with the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Zimmerman had been detained after a complaint filed by Zimmerman’s estranged wife in Lake Mary mid-afternoon on Sept. 9.

Police in the quiet community were investigating a possible domestic battery, according to the report. Zimmerman’s wife, who has filed for divorce, allegedly called police to report that Zimmerman threatened the family “with his hand on his gun.”

The early report also alleged that Zimmerman battered his father-in-law.

The newspaper, in its online report, said authorities said the investigation was in an early stage and it was unclear if there would be an arrest.

Lake Mary is not far from Sanford, where in February 2012, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, who was black. Zimmerman claimed the shooting was in self-defense and he initially was not arrested by Sanford police.

Public outcry and a subsequent investigation by Florida authorities led to Zimmerman’s arrest and trial. His acquittal in July prompted protests throughout Florida and across the country and led to broad discussions about stand-your-ground laws and racial profiling in America.

Editor’s note: This story is developing.

‘Dream’ ceremonies reveal political segregation

They came to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, a tapestry of humanity with all shades of skin and from all walks of life. Yet there was something missing from the Lincoln Memorial this week: Republicans.

Fifty years ago, Democrats and Republicans stood shoulder to shoulder, demanding equal rights for African-Americans. But during the past week of commemorations of this formative American moment, the two parties barely interacted, each organizing its own events and delivering its own interpretations of King’s dream.

Call it political segregation.

“No one even thought you should put a fig leaf over it,” said Mary Frances Berry, a University of Pennsylvania history professor and former chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

“It’s so obvious that it’s partisan,” Berry said. “I’m not sure that’s good politics or the way to get anything done.”

How did this happen? And how will it affect the effort to solve America’s remaining racial challenges?

As the anniversary ceremonies unfolded, both sides said more unity is needed to fully realize King’s dream – yet they showed few signs of wavering from positions that have been forged from decades of political warfare.

Robert J. Brown, who worked with King in the civil rights movement and then served as an aide to President Richard Nixon, said the 1963 March on Washington was “totally open. I was there in the middle of it. You had Democrats, Republicans, whites, blacks.”

Today, “nobody wants to compromise anymore. They feel like their way is the only way,” Brown says. “Well, I got news for you. In the history that thank God I have been somewhat a part of, that I came through, it was about compromise.”

The two biggest commemoration events were a march on Aug. 24, and the ceremony on Aug. 28 where President Barack Obama spoke from the same spot as King did precisely 50 years before.

Both were organized by coalitions closely tied to the Democratic Party, such as The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which is run by some of King’s children; the NAACP; the National Urban League; and Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

The King Center invited both former President Bushes and all the Republican Congressional leaders to speak. The elder Bush is too infirm to travel; his son declined due to a recent heart procedure but sent a statement of support. Other invited Republicans also declined, citing prior engagements.

Congress was in recess last week; it held a bipartisan ceremony in July.

On Monday, the Republican National Committee held a commemorative luncheon that focused on attracting more minority voters to the GOP. Representatives from the NAACP and Urban League attended, but no Democrats were featured as speakers.

Raynard Jackson, a black Republican who helped organize the GOP event, said Democrats were using the occasion to foster high black and Hispanic turnout in the 2014 elections.

“They will instill and incite fear in the black and Hispanic community, use the march as a platform to talk about white folks, racism and Republicans,” he predicted before Wednesday’s event.

Few, if any, of the Aug. 28 speakers mentioned the GOP by name. But the atmosphere was thick with politics, and the word “fight” was uttered just as much as “dream.”

Speaker after speaker urged battle against voter identification laws that disproportionately prevent black people from voting, the recent Supreme Court decision to neuter key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and policies such as “stop and frisk” and “stand your ground.”

Who supports these policies? Republicans.

From the podium, Sharpton said that King fought and defeated Jim Crow segregation, and now “we come as the children of Dr. King to say we are going to face Jim Crow’s children.”

“Jim Crow had a son called James Crow Jr. Esq. He writes voting suppression laws and puts it in language that looks different but the results are the same,” Sharpton said.

He concluded by saying: “We gon’ keep on fighting until the dream is a reality.”

In an interview, Sharpton said Republicans may have been reluctant to be associated with the advocacy leaders, union presidents and Democratic politicians featured in the ceremonies.

“They have become so intimidated by the Tea Party and far right wing, they fear to even be seen with some of us,” he said.

On the other hand, event organizers might have been reluctant include conservative speakers who believe King’s dream is already a reality and his fight has been won, said Charlton McIlwain, a New York University professor and author of “Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns.”

“Perspectives on race and dealing with race are so intimately intertwined with the political parties, much more than they were 50 years ago,” McIlwain said. “It comes down to a fundamentally different view of what race means and how we solve problems that involve race.”

It was not always so.

From the post-Civil War Reconstruction period until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, most black people who were allowed to vote went Republican – the party of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator. Racist Democrats ruled the South.

A shift began during the 1960 presidential election, when Democrat John F. Kennedy faced Richard Nixon.

In 1964, the Republican candidate was Barry Goldwater, who opposed civil rights legislation. He lost to Democrat Lyndon Johnson, who then harnessed a coalition of northern Democrats and liberal Republicans to pass the historic laws meant to fulfill King’s dream.

In subsequent years, Republicans sought to build a majority by appealing to Southern whites – the “Southern Strategy” first advanced by the Nixon administration – and as a result, pushed more black people to the Democratic side. Black voters became key to the elections of presidents Carter and Clinton – and Obama, who won 93 percent of the black vote in 2012.

The ascension of the first black president has magnified the racial polarization of Republicans and Democrats, said Michael Tesler, a Brown University political science professor.

Tesler observed that after the O.J. Simpson verdict in 1995, polls showed no difference in how white Democrats and white Republicans viewed the decision. But after George Zimmerman was acquitted this year in the killing of Trayvon Martin, there was a 40-point difference among how white Republicans and white Democrats viewed the verdict.

“Now Democrats are synonymous with racial liberalness and Republicans synonymous with racial conservatism,” Tesler said.

Over the past week, as the nation remembered what King and thousands of marchers accomplished 50 years ago, a common refrain was heard: We have come so far, but there is still far to go.

But how can America’s politicians agree on how to get there?

Former President Bill Clinton recalled that the victories of the past were earned after King urged black people to reach across the racial divide, because “their destiny is tied up in our destiny.”

The same could be said today about Democrats and Republicans – even though they show few signs of recognizing it.

“Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear his political heirs complain about political gridlock,” Clinton said.

But then the former president turned on the Supreme Court decision to strike down parts of the Voting Rights Act, a case that was pursued by Republicans. “A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.”

A roar rose from the crowd that had come to remember the dream.

‘Die-in’ staged at ALEC conference to protest Stand Your Ground laws

More than 70 protesters, many of them wearing hoodies, staged a “die-in” outside the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago’s Loop to protest the “stand your ground” laws promoted by the American Legislative Council, better known as ALEC.

ALEC is holding its 40th anniversary conference this week at the hotel. The organization is behind a number of campaigns to enact right-wing legislation at the state level, including in Wisconsin. ALEC has provided model legislation against immigration, abortion rights and voting rights and gun control.

ALEC’s model Stand Your Ground bill is based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which was cited as a factor in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman was acquitted of charges in connection with Martin’s death. Police, early in the investigation, said they didn’t arrest Zimmerman because Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law allowed him to claim self defense, even though Zimmerman confronted and pursued the unarmed teen. 

The hoodies worn by demonstrators at the Aug. 8 action referenced the shooting – Martin was wearing a hoodie the night he died. Some of the hoodies worn by demonstrators had targets on them. And in a mass wave, the demonstrators “died” on the sidewalk outside the hotel.

“As a Latina, Stand Your Ground is detrimental to my safety and that of all people of color,” said protester Angelica Sanchez of the Illinois Hunger Coalition. “I have to worry that if someone doesn’t like my skin color or the way I talk, they’ll decide I’m a threat.”

Shani Smith with Stand Up! Chicago said she is the mother of a black teenager. “These laws encourage people to act on irrational fears fed by biases and prejudice. I know that where I see my son — a caring, creative, vulnerable young man – others may see a dangerous stranger. We’ve lost enough young black men in this country to fear and prejudice.”

At the end of the protest, demonstrators stood and shouted, “Stand Up to ALEC.”

More demonstrations were expected later Aug. 8 and on Aug. 9.

Despite outcry, stand-ground law repeals unlikely

Despite an outcry from civil rights groups, a call for close examination by President Barack Obama and even a 1960s-style sit-in at the Florida governor’s office, a jury’s verdict that a former neighborhood watch volunteer was justified in shooting an unarmed black teenager is unlikely to spur change to any of the “stand your ground” self-defense laws in various states.

George Zimmerman, a 29-year-old former neighborhood watch volunteer, was acquitted this month of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman told police he shot Martin only after the African-American teenager physically attacked him. But Martin’s family and supporters say Zimmerman, who identifies as Hispanic, racially profiled Martin as a potential criminal and wrongly pursued him.

Zimmerman’s lawyers decided not to pursue a pretrial immunity hearing allowed by Florida’s stand-your-ground law. But jurors were told in final instructions by Circuit Judge Debra Nelson that they should acquit Zimmerman if they found “he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary.”

Before Florida’s “stand your ground” law was passed in 2005, the instruction would have read that Zimmerman “cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force.”

Since the law was enacted, justifiable homicides in Florida have risen from an annual average of 13.2 between 2001 and 2005 to an average of 42 between 2006 and 2012, including a record 66 in 2012, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

FBI data have shown similar increases in some states that enacted similar laws, such as Texas, while others haven’t seen an uptick.

At least 22 states have laws similar to Florida’s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many are conservative and lean toward laws that defend gun owners’ rights. So far, there does not appear to be an appetite in Florida and other states to repeal or change the laws, which generally eliminate a person’s duty to retreat in the face of a serious physical threat. In fact, some states are moving in the opposite direction.

Since the Florida jury’s verdict, the Republican governors of Florida, Arizona and Georgia have all reiterated their support of “stand your ground” laws.

“The debate about ‘stand your ground’ laws largely reproduces existing divisions in American politics, particularly between blacks and whites and between Democrats and Republicans,” said John Sides, associate professor of political science at George Washington University.

Beyond Florida, the states that have some form of a “stand your ground” law include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Speaking recently to a convention of the NAACP in Orlando, Fla., U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Martin shooting demonstrates a need to re-examine the laws. The laws “senselessly expand the concept of self-defense” and increase the possibility of deadly confrontations, he said.

Obama said the nation needed to do some “soul-searching.” He questioned whether a law could really promote peace and security if it sent the message that someone who is armed “has the right to use those firearms even if there is a way for them to exit from a situation.”

“By standing his ground, George Zimmerman was able to get away with murdering a 17-year-old black man,” said Chelsea Jones, a student who spoke at a Dallas rally. “I can only imagine what the black community can achieve by standing their ground.”

Even entertainer Stevie Wonder has joined the outcry, vowing not to perform in Florida and other states with “stand your ground” laws on the books. The Rev. Al Sharpton suggested that the law’s opponents might boycott Florida orange juice, and other groups want to boycott the state’s tourist destinations. Both are multibillion-dollar industries.

Florida state Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, said the Zimmerman verdict was a “wake-up call” that should at least open fresh debate on “stand your ground” laws.

He noted that in the wake of the 2011 acquittal of Casey Anthony in the killing of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, Florida lawmakers passed legislation making it a felony for a parent or guardian to fail to report a missing child within 36 hours. Caylee’s disappearance was not reported for 31 days.

“We are calling for the same type of action,” Smith said.

But The Associated Press has found scant support for repeal of the laws in Florida and elsewhere. Scott told reporters he agreed with the findings of a task force he appointed on the subject after Martin’s shooting, which recommended no changes to the state’s “stand your ground” law. Of the protesters in his Capitol office, Scott said, “I think it is great that people are exercising their voices.”

After Holder’s speech, the National Rifle Association, which strongly backs the laws and holds enormous sway in many state legislatures, issued a statement claiming that Obama’s administration was aiming more at the broader political goal of restricting gun rights.

“The attorney general fails to understand that self-defense is not a concept, it’s a fundamental human right,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “To send a message that legitimate self-defense is to blame is unconscionable.”

In fact, in states with “stand your ground” laws similar to Florida’s, the trend has been toward greater gun rights. In Wisconsin, for example, Gov. Scott Walker in 2011 signed a castle doctrine law, which provides criminal immunity and protection from civil suits for homeowners and business owners who use deadly force self-defense. 

Wisconsin and other states also have passed open carry measures that allow people with concealed carry permits to display their handguns openly in a holster. 

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, appeared on NBC television’s “Meet the Press” and called the laws “one of the things that has incited and ignited, I believe, this movement across the nation, which I think is the beginning of a new civil rights movement.”

Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said during the show that the question now is whether it’s proper for the federal government to tell states with stand-your-ground laws how to change or remake them. His answer: “No. I mean, this is something that’s going to have to be worked out state by state.”

Occupation of Florida Capitol continues over ‘stand your ground’ law

Protesters asking for a special legislative session to examine the state’s “stand your ground” law after the acquittal of George Zimmerman continue to occupy the Florida Capitol.

The demonstrations have taken place since July 15 – or three days after a jury cleared Zimmerman of charges in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The group wants Scott to call a special session so legislators can change the state’s contentious “stand your ground” law but Scott has steadfastly refused.

On July 26, singer and entertainer Harry Belafonte, who had never been to Tallahassee previously, joined the protest on Friday afternoon. The 86-year-old celebrity said the sight of the protesters “makes my autumn heart dance like it was spring.”

Belafonte said Republican Gov. Rick Scott still has a chance to act before the protests intensify and the situation becomes “ungovernable.”

“At the moment all of this is governable, all of this is in a place where it can be debated and analyzed and discussed in a very peaceful, calm, productive way,” said Belafonte, who first rose to fame during the 1950s.

Belafonte, who has had a history of civic activism for several decades, said he was not predicting violence but said the amount of protests of the state could mount and make the state come to a “grinding halt.”

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was acquitted earlier this month of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death last year of Martin, an unarmed black teenager.

Zimmerman’s attorneys maintained he shot Martin in self-defense, but the delay in arresting him sparked an outcry among civil rights groups and others.

The main group leading the Capitol protests – the Dream Defenders – have maintained a constant presence for 11 straight days. While protesters come and go during the workday, a small band of them has spent every night sleeping in the hallways since the protest began.

So far police have allowed them to remain. In the last few days the number of those camped out at the Capitol has begun to grow reported law-enforcement authorities. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said 86 people spent Thursday night inside the building.

FDLE has spent nearly $51,000 on overtime costs since the protest began. The state has spent more than $140,000 on overall security costs over the 11-day period but that includes normal security expenses.

The protest was sparked by the Zimmerman verdict but the protesters want state officials to look at racial profiling, school district “zero tolerance” policies for students as well the “stand your ground” law that allows someone to use deadly force if they believe their life was threatened.

Scott met with several protesters last week where he told them he would not call a special session.

The protesters are now trying to utilize a clause in state law that allows for individual legislators to ask for a special session.

Under the law, the Secretary of State can poll all 160 members about a special session if 32 legislators ask for a special session in writing. It would then take a three-fifths vote for a session to be authorized.

Ciara Taylor said the Dream Defenders have gotten 28 legislators to back the idea.

But she said that she and others are prepared to remain at the Capitol for weeks in order to get what they want.

I’m prepared to spend a whole month, a whole season,” said Taylor. “I’m prepared to be here till next legislative session if that’s necessary.”

This summer has seen protesters demonstrate on a range of issues at their state Capitols, include massive demonstrations in Texas and North Carolina  and also actions in Wisconsin. In North Carolina and Wisconsin, authorities are arresting people.

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Gun group raises $12,000 for Zimmerman to buy guns, security system

An Ohio firearms group has raised more than $12,000 for George Zimmerman to buy guns or a security system, according to The Associated Press. Zimmerman was acquitted earlier this month in the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida.

The money could also be used to pay for Zimmerman’s legal defense.

The $12,150.37 the group has sent to Zimmerman was raised after the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would review the evidence in the Florida case. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the 2012 shooting of Martin in a gated community in Sanford.

Zimmerman, 29, told police he shot Martin, 17, after the black teenager physically attacked him. Martin’s family and supporters say Zimmerman racially profiled Martin as a potential criminal and wrongly followed him.

Since the verdict, Zimmerman’s attorneys have said the former neighborhood watch volunteer receives threats and is concerned about his safety. His brother said, on television, that Zimmerman fears “vigilantes.”

So the Buckeye Firearms Foundation raised money for Zimmerman to buy guns, ammunition or a security system, according to member Ken Hanson, who noted that the Justice Department, in taking the evidence in the case, has Zimmerman’s gun.

A spokesman for Zimmerman has said that more than $315,000 in donations have been sent to cover legal fees. The spokesman also told the AP that Zimmerman had been offered free guns but he hadn’t accepted any.