The facts beyond dispute in Trayvon Martin’s murder offer a shocking, if sadly unsurprising, example of what it’s like to be young, black and male in much of America today.
The 17-year-old high school junior went out unarmed at halftime of the NBA All-Star game to buy snacks at a 7-Eleven and wound up being killed by George Zimmerman, an armed neighborhood watch captain who had called police to report a suspicious person.
Zimmerman called Martin a “Fu*king Co*n” on the first 911 call, as this chilling recording confirms, and was told clearly by the police dispatcher not to follow Martin and to wait until police arrived without doing anything.
According to the New York Times’s Charles Blow, “Trayvon had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman had a 9 millimeter handgun. The two allegedly engaged in a physical altercation. There was yelling, and then a gunshot. When police arrived, Trayvon was face down in the grass with a fatal bullet wound to the chest.”
Claiming self-defense with many circumstantial questions to the contrary, Zimmerman has not been charged with police citing Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, one of the broadest set of self-defense statutes in the country which, as Mychal Denzel Smith explains, places the threshold for self-defense so low that you need little more than your word to show that your life was in danger. Zimmerman’s description of events was enough for the police, who evidently feel they know all that they need to know to determine that Zimmerman was acting appropriately.
Outrage has grown as details have emerged and media attention has highlighted the many questions in Zimmerman’s portrayal of events. Rallies are being planned and elected officials and community activists are organizing against “Stand Your Ground” which has seen homicide rates jump from an average of twelve to thirty-three per year in the state since the legislation’s implementation.
In a quest for justice, Martin’s parents posted this Change.org petition calling on Florida’s 18th District State’s Attorney to prosecute Zimmerman. Please sign on today; then join the call to abolish Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. No more Trayvon Martins.