Was race a factor in the Florida teen’s death?
The Trayvon Martin case has shed a lot of attention on the subject of racism – a subject that should not even be an issue in this day and age.
Last month, an unarmed African-American teenager was shot and killed in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., marking the beginning of the Trayvon Martin case. What followed was a disturbing sequence of events bringing to light the fact that racism truly is still an issue in this country.
George Zimmerman, 28, who admitted to shooting the 17-year-old, has still not been charged in the Trayvon Martin case. A police report says Zimmerman, the head of neighborhood watch, called to report a suspicious person in the neighborhood and against the 911 dispatcher’s advice, he followed the “suspicious” Martin. Minutes later 911 dispatchers received several calls of shots being fired in the neighborhood.
The report said Zimmerman’s back was wet and he was covered in grass as if he had been on the ground. He was bleeding from his nose and the back of the head.
Zimemrman is claiming self-defense. Police said Zimmerman described Martin as suspicious because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking slowly in the rain.
Martin’s family and lawyer are claiming that Trayvon Martin was a victim of racial profiling. Zimmerman’s father, Robert, released a statement to the Orlando Sentinel saying that his son is not racist:
“George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever… The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.”
Ultimately, racism is not clearly definable and prosecutors will have a difficult time proving that race was a factor in the Trayvon Martin case. Prosecutors will also have hard time making a case since there is no one else to contradict the self-defense claim Zimmerman is using.
Many have been critical of how the Trayvon Martin case has been handled. ABC News uncovered questionable police conduct in the investigation of the fatal shooting, including the alleged “correction” of at least one eyewitness’ account. Trayvon Martin was tested for drugs and alcohol following his death, but Zimmerman (the shooter) was not. Sanford police told Trayvon Martin’s father that Zimmerman’s record was “squeaky clean,” but it was later discovered that he was convicted of assaulting a police officer in 2005. These are just some of the concerns surrounding the Trayvon Martin case.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott directed the state Department of Law Enforcement to help local authorities with the Trayvon Martin case. In a memo to department commissioner Gerald Bradley he said that the circumstances surrounding the death “have caused significant concern within the Sanford community and the state.”