SANFORD, Fla. -- Tuesday marks one year since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford and Martin’s family is asking people across the country to wear hooded sweatshirts as part of what they call a “million-hoodie vigil.”
Zimmerman maintains his innocence in last year’s killing, saying he shot Martin in self-defense.
Community leaders and residents will gather at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford Tuesday night to mark the day.
Organizers are asking residents to gather at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the park.
A nationwide lighting of candles is expected at 7:15 p.m.
Participants will be joined by Sanford's incoming police chief, Cecil Smith, who was hired to make changes to the city and to help residents resolve issues with the department.
“I am on my own time, and the idea is to get a good opportunity to sit down and talk to people about their own issues and concerns,” said Smith.
The sit-downs include command staff at the police department and a blue ribbon panel working on community relations for the city and religious and other community leaders, no matter the outcome of Zimmerman’s trial.
“Just to show the community that I am serious about coming in and working with them to resolve issues,” Smith said.
Smith will take office on April 1, and will be in place for the likely tension that will surround the Zimmerman’s trial. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the case.
Martin's parents will not be at the vigil Tuesday. In a studio interview, his mother said they have other plans to mark the anniversary of the death.
“We want to attend a candlelight ceremony here in New York. We've already done something in Miami. We've done a peace walk to let teenagers know that they have the right to walk in peace,” said Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.
Francis Oliver, curator of the Goldsboro Historical Museum in Sanford, placed mementos Tuesday on the new Martin memorial, telling people Martin’s death has inspired a fight against guns and violence against children.
“Whatever the courts decide, we'll have to live with, but what we don't have to live with is what's going on now and that is violence against children,” said Oliver.
The Rev. Lowman Oliver will be among those attending Zimmerman’s court hearings. Oliver said he’s still emotional about the teenager's death, but he said it was not in vein.
“There is a viable, good, open dialogues that is existing now that has never existed in the 65 years I've been here in Sanford,” he said.
But Smith wouldn't say whether he'd automatically make an arrest the next time someone asserts a stand your ground defense.
“Well, I'm leaning toward what's the law, what the law dictates,” said Smith.