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Prayer vigil for Trayvon Martin to be held in Columbia

A prayer vigil for Trayvon Martin will be held Monday in Columbia, where a county group and a local church are hoping to stand in symbolic solidarity following the shooting death of the Florida 17-year-old.

"The kids in the community are very concerned about this, that this could happen to them, and parents are concerned," said Sherman Howell of the African American Coalition of Howard County, which organized the vigil.

The vigil will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the St. John Baptist Church, 9055 Tamar Drive.

Those attending are encouraged to wear hoodies, which Martin was wearing when he drew the suspicion of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla.

Zimmerman has said he followed Martin because he did not recognize the teen and because of recent burglaries in the area. The 28-year-old man told police he shot Martin in self-defense after being attacked, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Martin and his father were visiting his father's girlfriend, who lived in that neighborhood.

Howell said racial profiling still occurs in Howard County.

"I'm hoping that we see it not just as an issue affecting blacks and minorities," he said. "We contacted a lot of white churches, and we're hoping that the white community understands that there's a need for soul searching, and we're hoping that they join us.

"That's the key thing, if we can get the understanding through the community that this kind of act is not warranted, and that black people should not expect this."

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