The city of Sanford, Florida will forever go down in history as the place where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. But the city is also haunted by racist memories of the past, dating back to the early days of Baseball Hall of Famer, Jackie Robinson. After Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was sent to train with their minor league team, the Montreal Royals, in Sanford, Florida. Upon arrival, Robinson was met by an angry white mob and members of the Ku Klux Klan. They refused to let Robinson practice on the field. It was reported that Robinson had to pry himself through a hole in the fence of the baseball field to join the Royals. It was unknown as to whether or not he actually took the field. Later that night, Robinson was forced out of town to avoid serious injury by racist haters.
Sanford, Florida’s nightmare of racial injustice went on for years after the Robinson incident. The story of black civil rights activists Harry and Harriette Moore plagued the community for years. Harry Moore founded the first branch of the NAACP in Sanford, Florida. The teacher was a known advocate for voter registration and the salary disputes of black teachers. Moore’s involvement led to an approximate 31 percent increase of black registered voters in the mid to late 1940’s.
Unfortunately, hatred stirred in the local KKK, which had widespread presence in the city. On December 25, 1951, the home of Harry and Harriette Moore was firebombed. It was the couples’ wedding anniversary. They died a few days apart.
Even now, decades after Jackie Robinson encountered one of the worst bouts of racism in baseball history and the death of the Moore family, accusations of racist police brutality and wrongful death continue to lie in the courtrooms of Sanford, Florida. The city, which is approximately 30 percent black, continues the investigation of the recent murders of three black men.
With the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, the entire country has rallied around the victim’s family demanding justice. On April 10, 2012, the Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin took place in Seminole, County Florida. But with the stride toward justice by the black community comes the opposer; The National Socialist Movement have posted Jeff Schoep, a.k.a. the “Hollywood Nazi” in the city of Sanford, to protect the white citizens from what is being considered impending violence.
A few days prior to the case of George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Florida police warned the community to brace for the verdict, which had not yet reached the national headlines. Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger issued a statement saying that “Destruction and violence after a verdict will not be tolerated.”
Now, with a “not guilty of second-degree murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter” verdict for the shooter of unarmed 17- year old Trayvon Martin, protestors have taken their place in the front of the courthouse where Martin’s shooter has been freed. The ruling has been called a “failure of the justice system” by political and religious officials, and African American citizens nationwide.
The NAACP has called for the Department of Justice to open a federal civil rights probe to examine the racial undertones of the shooting to substantiate a hate crime charge.