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United States: “I am Trayvon Martin”

On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman, a ‘Neighborhood Watch Volunteer’ in Sanford, Florida, USA, shot and killed 17 year-old Trayvon Martin while the latter was coming out of a store with freshly-purchased candy. George Zimmerman confessed to the police that he shot Trayvon in the chest.

According to the 911-recording of the telephone conversation published last Friday night, George Zimmerman had notified the police of a “suspicious individual”, Trayvon Martin, a 17 year-old black youth, coming out of a store. The 911-operator stated that George Zimmerman had been told not to pursue the young man.

"I am Trayvon Martin" – children at the Trayvon Martin March, photo by Gilbert King Elisa on Flickr licence-CC -BY

The indignation of American citizens and internauts regarding the incident continues to grow and is still making front-page headlines in the town of Sanford where the murder took place. The police unit in charge of the case up to now has not been able to come up with any formal charges against George Zimmerman, whose act is considered as a racial crime by many.

Gareth Bryant  on his blog, comments:

Why is the Black man always on the endangered-species list?
It’s like it’s my destiny, to forever be victimized in this matrix.

jrcm.t writes:

the perfect combination: “A fire arm and a black man” – racism at its best!!! And the defence is said to plead “citizens’ rights to use fire arms for self-defence.”
The social network reacted with this formula: white man > spanish man > black man.

The racial connotation in this case seems obvious, indeed. Even though the US Department of Justice and the FBI have initiated an investigation as to the “facts and circumstances” surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin, the internet community continues to put pressure on the US government to render justice. Among the more pertinent comments:

"In Loving Memory. Trayvon Martin 1995_2012" by greendoula on Flickr, licence CC-license-by-ND

"In Loving Memory. Trayvon Martin 1995_2012" by greendoula on Flickr, licence CC-license-by-ND

Tericruz, in The Huffington Post comment section (which has received thousands of comments on the article since its publication) writes:

You can hear the boy screaming for his life in the back ground of the 911 calls. I cried because all I could do is think of my son, in that position, knowing he was about to die and no one was there to help him. God Bless his soul and his family.

Claudial adds:

The law in Florida sounds like it gives cover to anyone who wants to commit murder, provided there are no witnesses. If I lived in Florida, I would be very afraid. The gun laws in this country are completely up-side-down.

MrScorpio created a subject on DemocraticUnderground.com [en] and ever since, internauts have been inundating the site with their reactions, personal testimonies and memories of mistreatment by white people in the United States.

On Change.org more than one million people have signed a petition addressed to the US Attorney General, and others, to ensure that justice be served.

Twitter has been flooded with comments about the case. Photos of demonstrations in Florida are available by following the following hashtag: #Trayvon.

@Black Voices:

At city hall, hundreds of residents and activists are calling for the arrest [of George Zimmerman] in the Trayvon Martin incident: #trayvon

@YsanneBueno broaches the racial issue:

@MUTHAKNOWS If Trayvon had been a white boy and Zimmerman a black man, I wonder how this all would have panned out? #TrueStory

@OmariShakirXo asks the global community to unite in memory of Trayvon:

Everyone who wanted to arrest Kony, please share your sadness over the Trayvon case. I really can't see how that would be asking too much…

Many are demonstrating against the ”Stand Your Ground” law, in force in Florida since 2005, which widens the auto-defence zones of residential areas to include most public areas as well. Such a law eliminates the notion under English law whereby one must “retreat” when faced with dangerous situations outside the home.  Without this nuance, an American citizen who is armed now has no obligation to withdraw when faced with a threat.

@Karen Hunter tweeted:

Can someone please explain to me why this ”Stand Your Ground” exists?

@Touré added:

The ”Stand Your Ground” law does not stipulate that ”If you feel threatened by a young black youth, you [are entitled to] respond with a shotgun”.

Charles M. Blow in the New York Times concludes:

Although we must wait to get the results from all the investigations into Trayvon’s killing, it is clear that it is a tragedy. If no wrongdoing of any sort is ascribed to the incident, it will be an even greater tragedy.

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