The leader of the New Black Panther Party called for a $10,000 bounty for the man who shot and killed black Florida teen Trayvon Martin, a case that continues spark explosive emotions and strain the country’s racial tensions.
“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” New Black Panther leader Mikhail Muhammad said Saturday when he announced the reward at a protest in Sanford, the Orlando suburb where the killing took place.
Members of the New Black Panther party called for the mobilization of 10,000 black men to capture George Zimmerman, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Zimmerman has gone into hiding due to death threats and the offer of the $10,000 reward, his legal advisor Craig Sonner said, according to Reuters.
“He should be fearful for his life,” Muhammad said. “You can’t keep killing black children.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the New Black Panther Party as a “virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers.”
The city of Sanford hopes to dissuade private attempts to punish Zimmerman.
“The City is requesting calm heads and no vigilante justice,” local officials said in a statement, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Attempts by civilians to take any person into custody may result in criminal charges or unnecessary violence.”
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, shot Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, on Feb. 26. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense and Florida police have yet to arrest him, though the Justice Department may wind up filing a hate crime charge against him for the killing.
In addition to stirring up a heated debate about racism, the killing of Trayvon Martin has focused attention on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force against those who illegally enter their property or vehicle.
Florida adopted the now-controversial law in 2005, becoming the first of a series of states to expand the right to use lethal force for self-defense, according to ProPublica.
Some 23 states have similar rules, referred to by such nicknames as “Stand Your Ground,” “Shoot First” and “Make My Day” laws.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the Justice Department should investigate the laws.
“They’re all new. They’ve been passed very, very quickly and I think the states who passed them, if they find out the real facts, they may decide to repeal them,” Schumer said.