Spurred by social media and community rallies, the shooting death of a 17-year-old Florida youth has become the latest flashpoint over how young black men are perceived in the United States.
Trayvon Martin’s death Feb. 26 at the hands of a Neighborhood Watch leader in this small, gated Florida community has rippled through many corners of the nation’s justice and political system and raised questions about the relationship between the black community and police in small towns.
In the past 48 hours, the case has:
•Sparked an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the Florida state attorney’s office;
•Brought calls for changes in a Florida self-defense law that says a person being attacked has no duty to retreat and may return force;
•Ignited protests, including a “Million Hoodie March” in New York City planned today, a protest Wednesday outside the Florida Division of Licensing, urging state officials to withdraw George Zimmerman’s concealed weapons permit and a rally Thursday in Sanford led by civil rights activist Al Sharpton;
•Amassed more than 600,000 signatures in an online petition calling for charges to be filed against George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch captain who said he shot Martin.
•Prompted NAACP national President Benjamin Todd Jealous and local NAACP officials to host an open forum Wednesday in Sanford for residents to share their stories of abuse and discrimination by the Sanford Police Department. Jealous said Tuesday night that the information provided would be turned over to the Department of Justice, which is investigating the Martin shooting.
Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
Source: USA Today | Yamiche Alcindor, Marisol Bello and Larry Copeland