Name at birth: Trayvon Benjamin MartinFlorida teen Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26, 2012 by George Zimmerman, a 28 year-old volunteer for a local neighborhood watch group. The incident touched off an intense public debate on police conduct, gun laws and racial profiling. Trayvon Martin was a Black 17-year-old from the Miami area who was visiting his father's fianceé at her home in Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community in Sanford, Florida, a suburb of Orlando. On a Sunday evening around 7 p.m., George Zimmerman called the non-emergency police number to report Martin as someone who "looks like he's up to no good." Martin, it was later established, was walking home unarmed from a convenience store, having purchased Skittles candy and a can of Arizona Iced Tea. Zimmerman, who was armed with a 9mm pistol, followed Martin briefly, and at some point an altercation ensued. By 7:30, Martin was dead, and police on the scene detained Zimmerman, but released him without arrest after he claimed self-defense. Two weeks later, the Sanford Police Department turned the case over to the Florida State Attorney's office, who initiated an independent investigation. A recording of the call Zimmerman made to police on the night of the shooting was made public on March 16th, and raised new questions. Conflicting witness reports in the press and the official clampdown on information fueled a media frenzy. Some accused Zimmerman of assuming Martin was a criminal simply because he was a young Black man in a hooded sweatshirt (or "hoodie"). Rallies were held around the country for the slain teenager, and "hoodies" were worn in a show of solidarity. Zimmerman ducked publicity while the investigation continued. The United States Justice Department and the FBI also began investigations, based on the possibility that Trayvon Martin's civil rights had been violated. Florida prosecutors arrested George Zimmerman, and in late April of 2012 he was charged with second-degree murder. His trial began on June 24, 2013; on July 13th, the jury of six women found Zimmerman not guilty of Trayvon Martin's death.
TV talking head Geraldo Rivera helped fuel the debate over hoodies by declaring that “a hoodie is like a sign: shoot or stop and frisk me” and “His hoodie killed Trayvon Martin as surely as George Zimmerman”… At the time of the shooting, Trayvon Martin was on suspension from his school in Miami for having been found with “marijuana residue” in his backpack.
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