SPLC President Reacts to Trayvon Martin Shooting

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By Morgan Hightower

The death of an unarmed Florida teen has gained national attention and now, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center is speaking out.

SPLC is holding a candlelight vigil Sunday night in memory of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Martin was gunned down last month in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain.

Zimmerman says he felt threatened by the teen and is claiming self defense.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has stepped down amidst the controversy but many are demanding an arrest and justice for Martin.

SPLC President Richard Cohen says police operated under a presumption of criminality in the initial investigation and says that mind set needs to change.

“This death cannot go un-investigated. We can't take the killer's word for what happened. We have to do something about this. So I think the public indignation has really changed the way the law enforcement community is looking at this death. What’s equally important is that that public indignation turn towards long-term systemic reforms. That’s what we hope the vigil this weekend will remind people about,” said Cohen.

The candlelight vigil will begin a 6 PM Sunday, March 25 at the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery.

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