by: Tenikka Smith Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
The shooting death of an unarmed teenager by a neighborhood watch leader in Florida has led to outrage and calls for justice across the nation. Now an effort to get justice for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is getting local support.
During a meeting Tuesday at the Billy Graham Library, evangelist Franklin Graham agreed to partner with the national NAACP in its efforts to fight for justice for Martin.
Pastor Jamal Bryant, a member of the NAACP's Religious Affairs Committee, took part in that meeting.
"We came to an understanding that the black church is going to stand with Franklin Graham and his passion on Sudan and asked him, in turn, to stand with us calling for justice for Trayvon Martin in Orlando," Bryant said.
Police said Martin was shot in the chest by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who claimed it was self-defense. Zimmerman has not been arrested. Now, federal officials are stepping in to determine whether police mishandled evidence, properly interviewed witnesses and did all they could to find probable cause to make an arrest in the case.
More than a half-million people have signed an online petition demanding Martin's death be investigated as a murder and Zimmerman be prosecuted.
Thousands are expected to attend a rally hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton on Thursday night in Sanford, a suburb of Orlando. Local civil rights leader John Barnette will be going with a convoy of more than two dozen people. "We definitely are going down trying to make an impact." Barnette said, "We hope that thousands show up to show the world and to show Florida in particular, that this is definitely an injustice."
As for Graham's involvement, a spokesman said since the partnership with the NAACP on the Martin case is in its early stages, there's no game plan for how he plans to work with the effort. The representative said Graham is going to work on gathering more facts in the case, then figure out how to move forward.