Tampa Town Hall meeting on Trayvon Martin fills East Tampa church

"46 times he made a call,
46 times he wanted to see a brother fall,
46 times he was predisposed to blow a brother away,
46 times he dreamed that day,
46 times his itchy finger was on the trigger,
46 times evil oozed from his soul,
After 46 times, Zimmerman lost control,
46 times he polished his 9mm gun,
the 47th time, Trayvon Martin was done."


Carolyn Collins with the Hillsborough County branch of the NAACP discussed how cases of justifiable homicide have increased in Florida since the passage of the controversial Stand Your Ground law in 2005. Collins referred to a major rally happening in Sanford this Saturday, but asked that people not contribute anything to that town's local economy, saying they should go in and get out without spending money there.


"It is now time for us to stand our ground!" she demanded.


The list of speakers was diverse. Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen said, "In 2012, it is up to the good people of all races and religions, indeed of the entire nation, to stand together for justice in the tragic case of Trayvon Martin." He also called for a repeal of the Stand Your Ground law.


In the audience were two of Cohen's Council colleagues, Yolie Capin and Lisa Montelione.


The Reverend Charles McKenzie rivaled Otis Anthony in raising the blood pressure of the crowd. He blasted the fact that at a special Congressional hearing held in Washington Tuesday regarding the Martin-Zimmerman case, no Republicans attended.


He also brought the crowd to his feet when he mentioned that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick spent two years in jail for "mishandling some dogs," while Zimmerman remains a free man.


He also addressed the spate of negative news about Trayvon Martin that has hit the Internet in the past couple of days, saying, "It's the same old thing in a new situation: focus the attention on the black victim rather than the perpetrator. We've got news for America tonight. There will be no business as usual," before leading the crowd into a chant of "No justice, no peace."


McKenzie called for more protests, calling it "movement time."


The first speaker of the evening was Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller, who later led the audience in a rendition of "Amazing Grace." Before the meeting, Miller told CL he wasn't surprised at the release of negative information about Trayvon Martin ? such as the reports that he had been suspended from school on three different occasions.


"None of us are perfect, what does that have to do with this young man now being dead and gone?" Miller snapped. "No one knows what happened except for Zimmernan and Trayvon. The police did not do what they were supposed to do. They should have arrested him ....the question is: If Zimmerman had been a black man, and Trayvon had been a white boy ? would it be different? I think it would be ..to go back in this man?s school history and say he was a bad kid...he didn?t have a gun, he had Skittles and iced tea. Am I surprised? Not at all."

Though newly leaked information favoring George Zimmerman regarding his February 26 deadly confrontation with Trayvon Martin has surfaced in recent days, nobody at the jam-packed town hall meeting at the 34th Street Church of God was buying it Tuesday night in Tampa.

Hosted by Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick in a house of worship run by the man Reddick succeeded on the Council last year, the Reverend Thomas Scott, the crowd (estimated to be over 900 people) heard electrifying speeches from the Rainbow Push Coalition's Reverend Charles McKenzie, WMNF radio talk-show host Otis Anthony and Hillsborough County NAACP head Carolyn Collins, among others.

It was Anthony — a performing poet — who first brought the crowd out of their seats, talking about George Zimmerman and the 46 times he called 911 as a neighborhood watchman leading up to last month's fateful encounter with the 17-year-old black teen.

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