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Trayvon Martin Case: Self-defense Vs Deadly Force

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Table of contents

  1. Background On Trayvon Martin
  2. The Case
  3. Changes In Our Society

Have you ever thought of what the world would look like if we were all just accepting of each other? So many tragedies happen in our everyday life just because of our skin color, stereotypes, and prejudice individuals. Most of us are all just some innocent people trying to make it in this place we call our world. Trayvon Martin; The case of a shooting homicide that took a toll on many people and it still affects all of us today, a young victim robbed of his life. The whole situation was life changing because after this tragedy happened, a movement known as Black Lives Matter happened that changed many people’s outlook. We live in a world that isn’t so caring or mindful of the way they see things. I have researched and read on Trayvon Martin and his heartbreaking misfortune, and articles have educated me more including authors like History Editors, Karen Grigsby Gates, Andre Munro and etc. The information I have became aware of was very heartbreaking and hard to believe. Not everyone is treated the same, the world is a cold place, and it takes a death to make people realize that something needs to be changed in society. This paper will focus on the Background of Trayvon Martin, The case, and lastly the Changes in Our Society.

Background On Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin was a young African American boy born on February 5, 1995. He lived with his mother Sybrina Fulton in Miami Gardens, Florida. Trayvon’s dad was a truck driver, and his mother was a program coordinator. Martin’s parents divorced 4 years after he was born, but while they were together his parents had a plan for him and he wasn’t going to be swallowed by the bad of the world. They wanted him to be involved in many sports, activities such as horseback riding, and wanted to show him what the big place of the world is, to discover new sights. “At Carol City High, where Martin went to school before Krop, the youngster took an English Honors class, though his favorite subject was said to be math. Tall and athletically inclined with tattoos of family member names on his frame, the often quiet Martin was highly interested in studying aviation and potentially becoming a pilot. Yet he had also started to have problems at school, receiving suspensions at different times”(Biography, 2014). For the most part, Trayvon Martin was not a troubled kid, he was involved in many extracurriculars, and truly dedicated to his academics. This also shows he was not one to start problems, or the type to be involved with those who are up to no good. On the day of February 26,2012 Trayvon was unarmed and killed by George Zimmerman. This was the one homicide that created controversy all around the world.

The evening turned out to be a fatal catastrophic moment for Trayvon. While he was visiting his father who lived in Sanford, Florida, he decided to walk to the supermarket to get some ice tea and Zimmerman became alert because that was his deal. George Zimmerman was the “neighborhood watch” for his gated community. The man had his own gun and he was licensed, he was also very racist towards colored people. Every time he became aware of a African American man he would get attentive and automatically call the police without any evidence that there was any suspicion going on. When Zimmerman seen Trayvon he decided to automatically call the police and say, “told the dispatcher that he had observed “a real suspicious guy” who was “walking around, looking about.” Zimmerman also described Martin as someone “up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something” (Munro, 2012, para. 2). He then started to follow Martin, that led up to a confrontation and also Trayvon’s death. George Zimmerman shot him in the chest Trayvon died on the spot from excessive loss of blood. The spot where he died was about a 100 yards from where he stayed at. The young innocent teenager did nothing wrong, but because of his skin color he was automatically degraded, and seen as a threat.

The Case

The case of Trayvon Martin started out unfair, and unjust as many people said. In the beginning, on March 8, 2012 Martin’s parents decided to call attention to the case, but it has been known that George Zimmerman was not charged from the start because police officials said it was a act of “self-defense” and there was no evidence to prove that Zimmerman said what happened was false. Since Zimmerman was not charged, Trayvon’s parents hire a attorney to advocate and have police arrest the murder, but it fails. “Trayvon’s parents renewed calls for Zimmerman to be arrested after the release of the 911 tapes, and college students gathered outside the Seminole County criminal courts to protest the incident which they felt was a case of racial profiling”. From this quote you may have noticed that once the police decided to release tapes from the shooting, it went viral and lots of people came out and spoke their opinion on the situation, this provided more attention to get this case justified and noticed. Later on March 18th, a petition is put out on for Zimmerman’s arrest. More than 2 million people from all over the world sign it. The Civil Rights Division and FBI decide to open an investigation on the shooting, to actually get the right answers they need in order to come to a conclusion.

Once the investigation started and in support of Trayvon, many people started protesting/rallying. One rally was the “Million Hoodie March” that took place in NYC, and other protests held in Los Angeles and Sanford FL. tons of people traveled far to attend these and provide a foundation for him. During this time President Barack Obama was also in office and he had a word for the incident. He came out very personal but made no comment on legal terms, “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon…” (Editors, 2018). When he said this it proved his support for Trayvon’s family. While this was taking place, there was plenty of people on Zimmerman’s side. “Joe Oliver came out in defense of his friend, Zimmerman, saying, ‘He’s a caring human being. I mean, he took a man’s life and he has no idea what to do about it. He’s extremely remorseful about it.’ Craig Sonner, Zimmerman’s legal adviser, said that Zimmerman feared for his life”. For some reason people came to a belief that the murderer was innocent and did nothing wrong but protect himself, protect himself? There was nothing going in that moment, and he racially profiled someone because of their skin color and then shot because “he feared for his life”, obviously we can realize this is a hate crime. Zimmerman tried to make himself look like the victim, and he tried to say that Martin did tons of damage to him, because he didn’t want to be seen as the bad guy. On April 2, George Zimmerman decides that if he is charged in the Martin shooting he will surrender, his lawyer Corey chooses to put the case to a grand jury. The following week on April 11 Zimmerman is arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Investigator Dale Gilbreath decides to put a bail on for him at $150,000 because of the contradiction of Zimmerman’s statement, he is then released on his bail. Many prosecutors and court officials in the cause decided to release evidence in the case including autopsy, surveillance videos, and witness statements. They wanted to hear what the public had to say, and what their opinion was. The courts started examining who Zimmerman was, “A Florida state attorney releases a 284-page FBI report on the case, which says that Zimmerman ‘had a pattern of calling authorities about criminal activities and safety issues in the neighborhood’ (The Week, 2012). In other words, the article asserts that Zimmerman is not innocent here, and he has done something like this before. Judges should keep in mind that he has history with situations like this, he cannot be trusted. When the attorney released the 284-page this helped trayvon because they could get insight to see how Zimmerman took action to little things. Zimmerman then has a murder trial begin with 6 jury members, they were all women with 5 being white, and one being hispanic. Following this on July 13,2013 George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder by the jury. They accepted Zimmerman’s allegation and believed that he shot Martin in order for self defense. In result of this, it set off a immense discussion regarding race relations.

Changes In Our Society

An unjust situation, a life lost, and finally we can get the change we need. After Trayvon Martin’s tragedy many people opened their eyes to it, and changed their outlook. Some believe that his death was a spark to the civil rights movement that has been ignored for a long time now. It didn’t only change the African American community, it changed a part in all of the community’s as a whole. Today, not just trayvon martin’s shooting but many other African American killings have drawn more attention to their needs now, because everyone is starting to realize that what is going on isn’t justice, it’s going against your own people. “The killing did cause a national outcry against “stand your ground” laws. Florida is one of 24 states that adopted such legislation, which has been championed by the National Rifle Association. In 2005, the Sunshine State amended its self-defense law to allow potential victims to stand their ground against an assailant by removing the duty to retreat and permitting them to meet force with force — including deadly force — if they reasonably believe it is necessary to save their lives. It also granted them immunity from prosecution” (Capehart, 2013). This shows that a couple years after the homicide took place that this caused a change in law. Many people started to realize that it was necessary for victims to be able to defend themselves when they are in trouble. Also it was believed that less homicides would end in the same way, less lives would be lost, and more safety would be ensured. For the most part it was proved that this law impacted those from ages 20-34 the most rather than other age groups.

Another movement that took a huge public spark from this case was The Black Lives Matter Movement. Once Zimmerman was acquitted, many people started spreading the #BlackLivesMatter with the hope that it would get awareness to show others the racial divides that go on, and that justice is not served for people of color. They hoped that this would make people realize that these homicides have been going on in the United States for years now, and it needs to come to a stop. BLM is a term to bring attention to the racial anti-black pervades in our society. It doesn’t just focus on the killings but it goes beyond that showing it is a unique contribution.

As a result, the Trayvon Martin Foundation was made for him by his parents Sybrina and Tracy. The foundation is a social justice organization aiming to end avoidable gun violence, and protect the community, strengthening families to look at the bigger picture, help minorities, and move on to make the society a better place for the kids to grow up. It was a good foundation created because it helped the those who needed a voice, and also gave emotional and financial support to those who have lost a loved-one to gun violence. Communities in Florida have benefited from this foundation, and many individuals are involved including mothers who are dealing with their troubles together. It is impactful and has opened the eyes to many unaware, a change day by day.  

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