You are hereHuffington Post: Bill Lee, Sanford Police Chief, Steps Down Temporarily Over Trayvon Martin Case

Huffington Post: Bill Lee, Sanford Police Chief, Steps Down Temporarily Over Trayvon Martin Case

-By Trymaine Lee

March 22, 2012- SANFORD, Fla. -- At a hastily called press conference Thursday afternoon, Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. announced that beleaguered police Chief Bill Lee Jr. is stepping down temporarily amid growing anger over his handling of the investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin. Bonaparte told reporters that he hoped the move would "restore calm to the city of Sanford" and help speed the case through the legal process. He said that the city has not yet appointed an interim chief.

"I am aware that my role as the head of the department has become a distraction," said Lee at the press conference. "I have come to the decision to temporarily remove myself."

Lee's resignation comes just hours before a massive rally, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday night in a local park and led by Rev. Al Sharpton. Thousands are expected to attend as the wave of resentment and anger has spilled from this city of just over 50,000 to as far away as New York City. Discontent over the handling of the case has also gone viral online, with almost 1 million people signing an online petition, and celebrities like Spike Lee and Gabrielle Union taking to Twitter to speak out for justice.

Turner Clayton, head of the local NAACP, said he'd been meeting with city officials for more than a week, pushing for Lee's firing or resignation. He said that while Lee's temporary resignation is a good start, ultimately the community wants his permanent removal.

"I'm elated that the chief decided to step aside and allow the city to heal," Clayton said, "But it will be a whole lot better if he just goes ahead and resigns permanently. This is just a temporary fix for right now, of course, we're looking for a permanent fix."



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