Have you heard about the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17 year old African American boy who was killed by an armed neighborhood watchman who thought that Trayvon looked “suspicious”? If not, now is an excellent time to learn about this tragedy that has currently catapulted race relations and police incompetence into the national limelight. Here are the details about the tragedy, as well as how you can take action to bring justice for Trayvon and his family:
On February 26, 2012 seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was walking home from the store after having bought skittles and a drink. George Zimmerman, a local neighborhood watch captain, called 911 and reported that there was a suspicious looking man walking in a neighborhood that had recently experienced a rash of thefts. Zimmerman stated to the dispatcher that the young African American male seemed as if he was on drugs, was looking at him, and had his hand in the waistband of his pants.
Recently released 911 calls reveal that Zimmerman began to pursue Trayvon Martin, even after being prompted by the police dispatcher to not follow. Minutes later a number of neighbors called 911 to report a scuffle behind their houses. Calls for help were heard and were silenced by gunshots. Police arrived immediately at the scene and found Trayvon Martin dead and laying on his face. George Zimmerman had shot an unarmed seventeen year old.
In a bizarre twist of events, Zimmerman claimed that he shot Trayvon out of self-defense. Police did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol, a customary practice of homicide investigations. Witnesses claim that they were not spoken to by police or that police officials encouraged them to change their stories. According to Mother Jones, police informed Trayvon Martin’s father that he was not charged because he had a “squeaky clean” record and was licensed to carry his gun-although he had been arrested for resisting arrest in 2005. As of today, almost a month later, Zimmerman has yet to have been arrested.
Various media outlets have reported that the police have suggested that they have no probable cause to arrest Zimmerman due to Florida’s “stand your ground” law which gives citizen’s the right to defend themselves. A firestorm of criticism has ensued, with critics claiming that the law doesn’t apply to Zimmerman because he became the aggressor the moment that he was told by police to not pursue Trayvon. Over the weekend the case has garnered national attention and the Department of Justice has stepped in to conduct an investigation.
Mother Jones provides an excellent overview of additional details and frequent updates on the case, as well as the released 911 calls from Zimmerman and neighbors. If you would like to help bring justice for Trayvon Martin and his family, we also encourage you to sign the petition calling for the arrest and prosecution of George Zimmerman:
Photo credit: werthmedia