Tribute to Trayvon Martin, a teenage victim of racial vigilante violence in Florida in 2012. Words by Ella Baker. Postcard.
On the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, United States, George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high school student. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed-race Hispanic man, was the neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily living and where the shooting took place.
Zimmerman shot Martin, who was unarmed, during an altercation between the two. Responding to an earlier call from Zimmerman, police arrived on the scene within two minutes of the shooting. Zimmerman was taken into custody, treated for head injuries, then questioned for five hours. The police chief said that Zimmerman was released because there was no evidence to refute Zimmerman's claim of having acted in self-defense, and that under Florida's Stand Your Ground statute, the police were prohibited by law from making an arrest. The police chief also said that Zimmerman had had a right to defend himself with lethal force.
As news of the case spread, thousands of protesters across the country called for Zimmerman's arrest and a full investigation. Six weeks after the shooting, amid widespread, intense, and in some cases misleading media coverage, Zimmerman was charged with murder by a special prosecutor appointed by Governor Rick Scott.
Zimmerman's trial began on June 10, 2013, in Sanford. On July 13, 2013, a jury acquitted him. On 24 February 2015, the Justice Department announced that "there was not enough evidence for a federal hate crime prosecution."
The 2013 acquittal of Zimmerman on the charge of murdering Martin, inspired a Facebook posting that included the phrase "black lives matter", which later became the name of the Black Lives Matter movement.