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The Buzz 8/9/12

TRAYVON MARTIN’S ATTORNEY The attorney representing the Trayvon Martin family recently spoke at a day-long crime prevention seminar entitled “Bridging the Gap.” The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office hosted the event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in an effort to highlight the benefits of communication and action within the community by showcasing innovative crime prevention ideas and successful strategies for juvenile crime prevention.

The event featured five guest speakers, including Daryl Parks, the Trayvon Martin family attorney. Based in Tallahassee, Fla., Parks and his partner Benjamin Crump represent Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, parents of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old fatally shot by George Zimmerman in February.

“We are continuing to learn more facts as various evidence comes out,” he said. “The Martin family is very encouraged that justice will prevail in the matter. They continue to try and not do anything that would hamper the right to a fair and impartial trial. Worst case scenario is that Zimmerman will do maybe 25 years in jail, and it will be done.”

Parks said that Trayvon’s parents are currently beginning advocacy work and building their foundation, The Justice for Trayvon Martin Foundation.

“Trayvon’s parents are continuing to monitor the criminal court proceedings that are going on, but just as importantly they have begun ‘Justice TM,’” Parks said of the Florida-based nonprofit organization that was established in March. According to its website, some of the foundation’s objectives are to help amend the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, advocate for crime victims and their families and to increase public awareness against all forms of profiling.

“Building a foundation is work,” he said. “You have to go out and build the mechanism that you need for the foundation. Trayvon’s parents continue to travel around the country. Last week they were in Little Rock, Ark. and Cincinnati, Ohio advocating for non-violence.”

Zimmerman recently said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he had no regrets regarding getting out of his car or carrying a gun the night of Trayvon’s murder. Zimmerman said that it was “by the act of God.”

“Trayvon’s parents are Christian people so it’s tough for them to hear that, especially in light of losing their child,” Parks said. “In his apology, Zimmerman said that he is going through a lot and I guess he doesn’t think that the Martin family are going through a lot as well. They have yet to have a real chance to grieve, given how things have transpired.”

Controversy involving Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has been magnified due to the Martin case, but according to Parks, the law does not apply to the case.

“Once you are the person to provoke the situation, then it is your role,” he said. “Unfortunately, we can’t know Trayvon’s side to it, but we do know, at least from the independent evidence we have in the case, that Zimmerman went after him. Zimmerman has tried to interpret that differently, but I think the police tape speaks for itself.”

Given the recent shootings involving juveniles in Pensacola, Parks said issues that need to be raised include the importance of non-violence and economic empowerment.

“Empowering people within their households is essential, obviously households are the first defense that we have of raising good, healthy and prosperous individuals.”

EBO WRAP The Community Maritime Park Associates attempted some housekeeping recently and tended to some unfinished business within its Equal Business Opportunity Program.

“We decided we needed to have a special meeting for the EBO and get all our issues on the table, and hopefully off the table,” said CMPA Chairman Collier Merrill.

The EBO program was an effort to get minority businesses involved in the Maritime Park project. In addition to CMPA officials complaining that the program’s final report was insufficient, there have also been disputes between participants in the program.

“This is the first time I tried minority organization, and it’s the last,” said Rhonda Goggans, of Affordable Concrete.

Goggans, along with Donald Rice, told the CMPA board that Affordable Concrete, a subcontractor on the park project, had not been well served by the EBO program.

“It was a scam from the start as far as I’m concerned,” Goggans said.

The Affordable Concrete dispute was informally resolved when EJ Services agreed to pay the company $2,500 and write-off money apparently owed to them. Goggans had earlier described Affordable Concrete’s agreement with EJ Services as a “jerk contract” that was “sideways and slanted” and had “too much hush-hush involved.”

“We didn’t have time to negotiate,” she said. “We had time to be rushed to the office, ‘sign this, sign this, we gotta do this.’”

The CMPA also went over the final numbers for the EBO program. A total of 18.30 percent of the work—amounting to $10,111,175.65—on the park was done by minority businesses. The term ‘minority,’ in the case, pertains to African-Americans, women, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians.

Minority owned businesses completed 21.64 percent of the construction portions of the park project, and 4.58 percent of the soft-cost portions.

The CMPA board also took a look at the EBO program’s final report. Officials on the board’s EBO subcommittee had termed the report “just verbiage, no date.”

George Hawthorne, the report’s author, was asked to produce summaries of monthly reports, which would be added to his final report. Hawthorne agreed, noting that he had been asked to condense previous reports.

“I was specifically asked, ‘can you just cut it down,’” he told the board.

POLITIFOOD People on either side of the gay-marriage debate have staked out a new battlefield as of late: Chick-fil-A.

The chicken-sandwich chain interjected itself into the conversation when chief executive Dan Cathy issued a statement on the subject. The company—which is closed on Sundays—considers itself a Christian organization.

“We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,” Cathy said in the statement. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Since Cathy weighed in on the issue, conservative religious groups have rallied around the restaurant as others—including some city officials across the country—have spoken out against the comments.

Supporters chose Aug. 1 to descend on Chick-fil-A locations nationwide for a bite. Locally, the Chick-fil-A on Bayou Boulevard was packed with patrons.

Traffic was backed up as Cathy’s supporters swarmed the establishment. On the roadside, a man in a cow suit waved a sign: “GOD HATES FAGS.”

A couple of days later, people in favor of gay marriage planned the National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A. For that event, gay couples were encouraged to kiss inside the restaurant.