R.I.P.: Trayvon Martin Would Have Turned 25 Today

Slain central Florida teenager Trayvon Martin’s birthday is today; the Black teen’s violent homicide at the hands of self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman became a rallying cry for justice for the teenager–and also shed light on many troubling aspects of the criminal justice system as well.

Trayvon would have turned 25 today.

He was murdered just shy of 3 weeks before his 17th birthday.

Trayvon Martin was simply walking home from a neighborhood store where he purchased an Arizona tea and a bag of Skittles when he was followed by Zimmerman, who called 911 to report the teen as “suspicious”.

Ignoring pleas by the dispatcher to not confront Martin, Zimmerman soon did just the opposite, and a struggle ensued. Martin would end up dead at the hands of Zimmerman, who was barely questioned and soon released from what can barely be described as “police custody”.

When details of the killing hit social media and became publicized by the press, protests quickly organized and demands for Zimmerman to be criminally charged increased.

Eventually, then-Governor Rick Scott appointed Jacksonville State Attorney Angela Corey, herself a controversial figure who had been widely criticized for her zealous campaign to disproportionately prosecute Black children as adults, was assigned to prosecute the Seminole county case.

The end result was a nearly all-White jury acquitted Zimmerman of charges related to Martin’s murder. Zimmerman, who had served less time in jail than most people serve for trespassing in Florida, became a free man–and a celebrated figure in White supremacist circles.

Martin’s tragic, senseless, and completely avoidable killing soon brought renewed national attention to the racial double standard inherent in the U.S. justice system; the often typical lack of justice when a victim is Black and the perpetrator is White; and also, police shootings of Black men. The visibility of all of these issues was raised subsequent to Trayvon’s murder.

Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, became a nationally-recognized activist in the aftermath of Trayvon’s killing, and is now running for Miami-Dade Commission.

Rest In Peace, Trayvon.

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