It rained in Sanford, Fla., on Tuesday, just like it did exactly a year ago when Trayvon Martin died there.
The shooting death of an unarmed black 17-year-old at the hands of a part-white, part-Peruvian neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community catapulted the central Florida city into headlines around the world and launched heated discussions about race and guns and Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
George Zimmerman, 29, faces second-degree murder charges in the case after invoking that law, which allows the use of deadly force in some life-threatening situations.
Despite the damp conditions Tuesday, a crowd amassed outside Sanford’s Goldsboro Welcome Center and the Goldsboro Historical Museum by midmorning. Museum curator Francis Oliver said she opened the welcome center a few hours early to accommodate the score or so of people who gathered to get a glimpse at the items memorializing the slain teenager.
There are crosses and flags, dolls and pictures of the teenager, Oliver said of the items showcased at the permanent memorial made from the items that initially cropped up outside the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the gated community where Trayvon was fatally shot.
Oliver spent Tuesday afternoon showing visitors around the memorial and crossing her fingers that the rain would let up by 6 p.m., when locals planned to gather for a candlelight vigil at Sanford’s Fort Mellon Park.
“Everyone is anticipating being a part of a movement tonight,” said Oliver, who helped plan the vigil. “Everybody’s talking about it. Everybody’s excited to remember him.”
For Oliver, Tuesday was about making a statement that transcended Trayvon’s death itself.
“This day symbolizes a chance to band together for peace,” Oliver said. “And band together for gun control and violence against children.”
A thousand miles up the Atlantic shoreline, another -- much larger -- candlelight vigil was scheduled to honor the shooting victim remembered for what he was wearing and holding when he died: a hoodie and a bag of Skittles.
Using the Twitter hashtag #millionhoodies, event planners urged as many people as possible -- the lofty goal was 1 million -- to show up at New York City’s Union Square on Tuesday evening.
Trayvon’s parents, the family’s attorneys and entertainer Jamie Foxx were all expected to be among the masses who would gather in hoodies to remember Trayvon.
At 7:17 p.m. -- exactly one year after the first police officer arrived at the gated community and found Zimmerman standing near Trayvon’s body -- they would have a moment of silence.