Trayvon Benjamin Martin

February 26, 2012

On February 26, 2012, 28-year-old George Zimmerman shot to death 17-year-old Trayvon Benjamin Martin (1995–2012), who was walking home to his dad's house from a convenience store where he had purchased a bag of Skittles and a bottle of juice. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was patrolling the neighborhood in Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon's father lived. Zimmerman had called the Sanford police to report a suspicious person but ignored the police dispatcher's advice not to follow the person. When the police arrived on the scene, Trayvon was dead on the ground and Zimmerman was claiming self-defense. The police did not arrest him, and no eye witnesses came forward.

After nationwide protests and debates about racial profiling and self-defense laws (Florida's Stand Your Ground law allows people to use lethal force if they fear for their safety), the police charged Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, with second degree murder. His high-profile trial during the summer of 2013 ended in acquittal. In November 2013, the city of Stanford instituted new rules forbidding neighborhood watch volunteers from carrying guns or pursuing suspects.

In 2013, in response to the acquittal of Zimmerman, #BlackLivesMatter was founded "to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes."

In 2014, the Trayvon Martin Foundation, a social justice organization that seeks to end gun violence, was established on the campus of Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

In December 2019, Zimmerman filed a $100 million lawsuit against Trayvon's parents and others, claiming they swapped out a witness during the 2013 trial.

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