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Sanford Rallies Against Gun Violence

February 6th, 2013 | WMFE- On the day Trayvon Martin would have turned 18, Sanford city leaders and residents gathered to remember the teenager, with a pledge to stand against gun violence.

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In front of the Trayvon Martin memorial at the Goldsboro Welcome center Tuesday afternoon, residents and police mingled, ate hotdogs and listened to music and speeches from community leaders.

 Welcome center general manager Frances Oliver says Martin’s parents wanted to focus on his birthday, rather than the anniversary of his death in 3 weeks time.

“We want to commemorate his birthday with a pledge, and we’re banding together against gun violence against children.” 

Sanford’s police department was criticised for the way it handled the investigation into Martin’s shooting. A spate of unrelated shootings also grabbed headlines in the months after the teenager’s death.

City Manager Norton Bonaparte says Sanford is taking steps to tackle gun violence.

“We’ve recently established a police task force- a unit, a neighborhood response unit that is going to be out here working- they started working last weekend- and addressing specifically violent crime.”

Bonaparte says a blue ribbon panel is also helping rebuild community trust in the police department.

But restoring that trust won’t be easy.

Nor will tackling gun violence in the city, says resident Sheneka Robinson, who says she worries about the safety of her three sons.

“It’s getting a little worse here every day. And it could be better. We just need to come together as a community for our children.”

Robinson says Sanford’s incoming police chief has a tough job ahead. The city has offered the position to the deputy chief of the Elgin Illinois police department Cecil Smith- he has until the end of the week to accept.


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