Trayvon Martin: A Black Boy Who Made an Impact

Trayvon Martin: A Black Boy Who Made an Impact

Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9668-5.ch006
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In 2012, while returning from a visit at a local convenience store, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a community watch group member, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman stated that he was being attacked by Martin and shot him in self-defense, and in 2013 Zimmerman was acquitted of the death of Martin. There was a significant public reaction to Martin's death and the subsequent acquittal of Zimmerman. This chapter will describe Martin's death, the news media and social media coverage of the case, and the implications Martin's death brought on the discussion of racial profiling, implicit bias, and police conduct and practices. The chapter highlights the various roles Martin's death and news media and social media coverage played in the mobilization for social movement and activism highlighting racial justice in the United States.
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The Killing Of Trayvon Martin

The death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 was an event that highlighted how racial profiling and violence against non-Whites, especially Blacks, have contributed to extensive disparate treatment of Blacks in American society (Teasley et al., 2017). It was not only Martin’s death that impacted the American society but also the trial and subsequent acquittal of Zimmerman which caused a wide rage response on social media, among activists and in the news. Below I will describe Martin, Zimmerman, the shooting, investigation, trial and the subsequent acquittal of Zimmerman.

Martin was a Black 17-year-old high school student who lived with his mom and older brother in Miami Gardens, Florida. Martin was 5 feet 11 inches and weighed 158 pounds and was a junior in high school. At the time of the shooting Martin had been visiting his dad’s fiancée’s apartment in Sanford, Florida for seven days. Martin had been suspended for the third time from his high school in Miami due to drug residues that were found in his backpack. Both Martin’s father and mother agreed that taking him out of Miami for a few days during the suspension would benefit Martin and keep him away from his friends (Botelho, 2012). Martin was described by his mother as a boy who, although at times struggled with his academics and behavior, loved his friends, family, sports, and music (Fulton & Martin, 2017).

George Zimmerman a Hispanic and White male was at the time of the shooting 29 years old and resided in the same gated community where he encountered Martin on the 26th of February. That night Zimmerman was working the night shift as a neighborhood watchman and was driving around the apartment complexes (Torres et al., 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Racial Profiling: Refers to police-initiated actions based on race, ethnicity, or nationality instead of individual behavior, leading to the belief that an individual is partaking in illegal activities.

Ethnonationalism: A version of nationalism where nationality and nation is defined in terms of ethnicity.

Racial Justice: Systematic fair treatment of all races and ethnicities which leads to equal opportunities and outcomes for all.

Systematic Racism: Refers to racism that is embedded within the laws and regulations of organizations, institutions, and society.

Acquittal: Refers to when a person is determined by the court of not being guilty of the crime they were charged with.

Implicit Bias: Refers to negative beliefs and attitudes against racial minorities.

Defund the Police: Refers to advocating for a divesting funds from law enforcement agencies and relocating these funds to other forms of public safety and community support.

Police Brutality: Refers to excessive or unwarranted use of force by law enforcement.

Abolish the Police: Refers to advocating for replacing police with other forms and systems of public safety.

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