Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)
Trayvon Martin was a 17 year-old Florida high school student when he was shot and killed on February 26, 2012. Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, a then 28 year-old, self-described neighborhood watchman.
On the evening Martin was killed, he walking to his father’s home in a Sanford, Florida subdivision after visiting a nearby convenience store. Reports say Zimmerman was in his vehicle patrolling the subdivision when he spotted Martin. Saying he believed the teen looked “suspicious,” Zimmerman called police about Martin’s presence in the neighborhood. Zimmerman would eventually exit his car and engage the teen directly, against the direction of the police dispatcher. During the ensuing altercation, Zimmerman shot Martin once, killing him.
Martin was unarmed at the time of his death, reportedly carrying only a can of Arizona iced tea and a bag of Skittles.
Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s non-arrest in the shooting’s immediate aftermath drew national attention and a renewed conversation about race and racial profiling in America. Countless protests, rallies and demonstrations dotted the U.S. for more than a year following the shooting.
Martin was African American. Zimmerman is white and Hispanic.
The legitimacy of Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law was also challenged. The law greatly diminishes the duty of one to retreat from a perceived threat and was used by Zimmerman as a defense for the shooting and cited by Sanford police as the reason Zimmerman was not immediately arrested.
On July 12, 2013, after being tried for second-degree murder, Zimmerman was acquitted in Martin’s death.
Trayvon Martin would’ve turned 19 years old today.