Trayvon Martin, a young African American17-year old high school student from Sanford, Florida was fatally shot February 26, 2012. He was shot George Zimmerman, a half Caucasian and half Hispanic neighborhood watch leader in his community.
According to Zimmerman, Trayvon looked like a suspicious person canvassing the neighborhood for trouble. Zimmerman’s account, as told by him, is that Trayvon threatened him
At the time of the shooting, Trayvon was on his way back from a local convenience store, where he bought a bag of skittles and a bag of iced tea. He was staying with his father and his father’s fiancée at the time of the shooting.
According to Zimmerman, Trayvon was walking around the neighborhood and looked suspicious so he called the police. He has maintained that he was acting in self-defense when he pulled a 9 mm gun and shot Martin, who was unarmed, after the two got into a scuffle.
According to the “stand your ground” law, Sanford police decided not to arrest Zimmerman, because the law allows a person to use force in self-defense when there is a reasonable belief of a threat. However, the Sanford police’s decision has sparked national outrage over the case, even reaching international outcries for Zimmerman’s arrest.
On April 11, 12, the Sanford police department charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder for the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen. Many believe the national and international pressure of the case finally led the police department to bring charges, although it took over a month for it to occur.
Throughout the month of March, a wave of protests across major metropolitan cities in the U.S. took place in support of Trayvon Martin, with his parents leading some the protests. Many of the protesters wore hooded sweatshirts in memory of Martin, who was described by Zimmerman as wearing a hoodie when he called the 911 dispatcher the night of the shooting.
The case reached such national attention that the Sanford police department was forced to turn the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (D.O.J.). The case was turned over because federal officials believe that Sanford police improperly handled the case.
Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin have appeared on national television since the fatal shooting of their son and have been involved with national action networks like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by Rev. Al Sharpton. Many national and local political leaders began speaking up, calling for the arrest of Zimmerman and national celebrities have even been vocal about the injustice that has taken so long for police enforcement to deliberate on.
In a case like this, police investigators have said that Zimmerman has the benefit of the doubt because he was the only witness to the crime. However, police tapes have shown that police asked Zimmerman not to pursue Trayvon after he called to report a suspicious person in the neighborhood.
Public outcry of the event has also shown that many disbelieve that Zimmerman was telling the truth that Trayvon was a real threat, bringing many to believe that Trayvon’s race was a factor in Zimmerman’s decision to shoot.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Trayvon Martin’s parents, has said for days that he was “cautiously optimistic” that Zimmerman would be arrested and charged in the case.