On February 26th, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watchman in a Sanford, Florida neighborhood, took his duties too far and shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin dead, as he walked back from the store. Zimmerman claimed that he only shot Trayvon in self-defense, after Trayvon attacked him. Zimmerman was not arrested and no background check was performed. Phone records between Trayvon and his girlfriend were later released. The conversation revealed that Zimmerman actually began following Trayvon, as he walked. Shortly after his girlfriend told him to run, Trayvon was shot, dead. After further investigation, it was also unveiled that Zimmerman had been convicted of a felony before. The city police chief, Bill Lee, is being targeted for not investigating enough on Zimmerman’s criminal record and for releasing a man who many believe is a murderer. Many also believe that the shooting was related to Trayvon’s race. A released phone recording between Zimmerman and 911, revealed that Zimmerman said he thought Trayvon looked “suspicious,” remarked that Trayvon “looks Black,” and possibly called Trayvon a “f*cking coon” before shooting him. Still, George Zimmerman has not been charged. As a result, this week, rallies in Union Square New York, Miami (and other cities across the country) broke out, featuring hundreds of protesters. Also, a town hall meeting was held in Florida, where activists demanded that Zimmerman be arrested.
Trayvon’s case is not the first like it. Sean Bell was shot 50 times in 2006. Rodney King was beaten by 7 police officers in 1991, leading to the outbreak of race riots. Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times in 1999. Cases similar to those mentioned above have young, Black boys and their families worried about their lives. Author, Toure, released advice on how parents should talk to Black boys about how this case pertains to them. He suggests that it is important to let young children know that situations like this are serious, but that they should not live their lives in fear as a result. And the momentum of the outrage over this case continues. A rally will take place this Saturday, in Washington DC, at Freedom Plaza, from 2-4pm. For more info click here.