Sharpton says civil disobedience will escalate if Zimmerman remains free

Friday , March 30, 2012 - 2:32 PM

Arelis R. Hernandez

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If George Zimmerman is not arrested in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin soon, the Rev. Al Sharpton says he will call for an escalation in peaceful civil disobedience and economic sanctions.

Sharpton would not say the efforts would be taken against the city of Sanford, Fla., specifically, but he has been critical of the police department's handling of the case.

Saturday's scheduled march from Crooms Academy of Information Technology to the Sanford Police Department headquarters was organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Coordinators said people will be bused in from other states to participate.

The civil rights activist and syndicated television show host said he will elaborate on this plan Saturday.

"I will speak about how the National Action Network will move to the next level if Zimmerman isn't arrested," Sharpton said, who founded the organization. He added that it was the Martin family and lawyers who first asked him to get involved and nationalize this story.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is also expected to participate in the event.

The case has ignited ire and debate across the nation, galvanizing thousands of Trayvon supporters to the streets and social media, donning hoodies and toting Skittles.

Sanford police this week released a video of a handcuffed George Zimmerman apparently showing no visible signs of physical injury after he claimed that he shot the 17-year-old teenager in self-defense.

Zimmerman's family members have come to his defense on national news networks, releasing details about his version of what happened the night of Feb. 26 when police found the teen face down in wet grass.

Sharpton said the recent revelations only underscore the need for an immediate arrest and trial.

"Whether he (Zimmerman) had a swollen or broken nose, neither one means he had to take a 9 mm and kill someone," he said. "It's not about saying Zimmerman is innocent or guilty, this is about whether there was probable cause to arrest him."

He criticized the way authorities have released information about the case and said they are setting a harmful precedent, he said.

Sanford city officials announced several road closures in anticipation of the march.

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(c)2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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