L.A. Community Groups Rally in Support of Trayvon Martin
PHOTO: Trayvon Martin (Facebook / April 9, 2012)
The rally, which took place at the West Los Angeles Church of God, was primarily in support of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The teen was shot and killed by neighborhood watch commander George Zimmerman in February while walking home form a convenience store in Sanford, Florida.
"I believe in God," Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton said at the rally. "I believe that justice will be served."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and comedian Paul Rodriguez were also in attendance.
"What kind of nation are we living in if we can put a black man in the White House but we can't walk a black teenager through gated community in Sanford, Florida?" Jackson asked.
Jackson also told the crowd that there are similar cases all across the country.
The case has drawn intense media attention, with Sanford residents and many civil rights leaders criticizing the way police handled the case.
Zimmerman, who has said he killed Martin in self-defense, was not arrested after being questioned by police the night of the shooting.
He was arrested weeks later and charged with second-degree murder after a special prosecutor was assigned to the case.
Zimmerman was released from jail on bond early Monday. Hours later, he entered a not guilty plea.
Although details of the shooting remain murky, it is known that Martin ventured out from the Sanford home of his father's fiancee and went to a nearby convenience store.
On his way back, he had a confrontation with Zimmerman, who shot him.
Zimmerman had called 911 to complain about a suspicious person in the neighborhood, according to authorities.
In the call, Zimmerman said he was following Martin after the teen started to run, prompting the dispatcher to tell him, "We don't need you to do that."
Zimmerman pursued Martin anyway but then said he lost sight of him.
According to an Orlando Sentinel story later confirmed by Sanford police, Zimmerman told authorities that after he briefly lost track of Martin, the teen approached him.
After the two exchanged words, Zimmerman said, he reached for his cell phone, and then Martin punched him in the nose.
Zimmerman said Martin pinned him to the ground and began slamming his head onto the sidewalk, leading to the shooting.
Police have said Zimmerman was not immediately charged because there was no evidence to disprove his account that he'd acted in self-defense.
A police report indicated he was bleeding from the nose and the back of his head.