SANFORD, Fla. – The organizer of a vigil meant to mark what would have been the 18th birthday of Travyon Martin, a teen shot and killed last year in Sanford, has canceled the event out of concern for participants' safety, reports Local 6 partner Florida Today.
Father's Stand Up Corporation founder John P. Francois said he got wind of rumors of "a lot of stuff that I heard that might occur" at the vigil. He canceled the event, which was set for 6:15 p.m. tonight at Palm Bay City Hall, because "I don't want to see anybody get hurt on my watch."
Francois declined to give more details of the alleged statements, but said he did not consider them threats and did not plan to get police involved. "I'd rather be safe than sorry," he said.
Instead, Francois asked that Brevard County residents join him in a moment of silence at 6:15 p.m.
Martin, 17, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in a Sanford neighborhood on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman was not immediately arrested, but later was charged with second-degree murder, in a case that has received intense media coverage and public interest. Martin would have turned 18 today.
Francois said he was upset that strong opinions surrounding the controversial case prevented the Palm Bay event, which he said was meant only to remember the life of the slain teen.
"You have some people that stand behind George Zimmerman, then you have people who are really saddened by a young teen getting killed," he said. "To me, to Fathers Stand Up, it's about the teen not being here anymore.
"All it was going to be was a lighting of candles, happy birthday Trayvon Martin, rest in peace."