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Police chief, Bill Lee fired over Trayvon Martin case

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 4/16/2013, 4:34 p.m.
Reports indicate that Sanford, Fla., Police Chief Bill Lee has been fired over his handling...
Floridians divided over state's stand your ground laws

Reports indicate that Sanford, Fla., Police Chief Bill Lee has been fired over his handling of the Trayvon Martin case. City officials cite that the town is unable to have faith and trust in the chief.

"After much thoughtful discussion and deep consideration for the issues facing the city of Sanford, I have determined the police chief needs to have the trust and respect of the elected officials and the confidence of the entire community," Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte said in a statement. "We need to move forward with a police chief whom all the citizens of Sanford can support. I have come to this decision in light of the escalating divisiveness that has taken hold of the city."

Lee was on duty the night George Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in February. Zimmerman thought Martin looked suspicious and approached him, which then started a scuffle. Zimmerman then shot Martin in the chest, killing him. After being taken in for questioning, Zimmerman was released because of Florida's "stand your ground" law.

The incident created international headlines and made the Sanford Police Department a target for criticism over letting Zimmerman go free. Critics said that race played a factor in both Zimmerman's lack of arrest and Martin's death.

Zimmerman was released on bond then arrested again and put back in jail for lying to a judge about his finances. He remains in jail awaiting a hearing.

Upon hearing about Lee's firing, Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, said that while they respect the city's decision, they plan to keep up the fight for their son. The two spoke last week at the 37th annual National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ) Convention and Career Fair in New Orleans about the case.

"It's just good to know that there are good people and there are people who support us, and we want to just say thank you," Fulton said.

While at the NABJ Convention, the parents also discussed the media's coverage of their son's death. Fulton became emotional when she was asked about reports that said her slain son was a "mixed martial artist" and "member of fight clubs."

"Trayvon never as much as took a karate class. Something is wrong with America when we get to the point that as African Americans, we can't be loving parents even though we're divorced," Tracy Martin said. "We wanted to raise our kids to be good, upstanding kids. Where does it say that because we're divorced, I can't love my son? We love our kids just as much as you."