1) Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old Miami student visiting Sanford, Fla., near Orlando, with his father when he was killed on Feb. 26. His father, who also lives in Miami, was visiting his girlfriend in Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated townhouse community.
2) Trayvon had made a short trip to a nearby 7-Eleven store to pick of a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea and was returning when he was stalked by George Zimmerman.
3) Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is of Peruvian descent, fatally shot unarmed Tayvon in chest.
4) Zimmerman was an unregistered neighborhood watch captain who was not supposed to carry a weapon while on patrol. Chris Tutko, director of Neighborhood Watch for the National Sheriffs’ Association, told the Orlando Sentinel that Zimmerman had broken a couple of cardinal rules. “If you see something suspicious, you report it, you step aside and you let law enforcement do their job,” Tutko said. “This guy went way beyond the call of duty. At the least, he’s overzealous.” Tutko also said volunteers should never carry lethal weapons. He said, “There’s no reason to carry a gun.”
5) Though Zimmerman acknowledged killing Trayvon, he was questioned and then released. Police did not follow basic guidelines of homicide investigations such as testing him for drugs and alcohol, though they performed the tests on Trayvon.
6) Trayvon was talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend shortly before his death and reported being followed by a strange man in a vehicle.
7) A police dispatcher specifically told Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon, instructions he ignored. When Zimmerman confirmed he was following Trayvon, the dispatcher said, “OK, we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman continued anyway.
8) Benjamin Crump, the family’s lawyer, said that based on 911 tapes, Zimmerman harbored at least three stereotypes of Black males: “He said, No. 1, he looked suspicious. No. 2, he must be high. No. 3, he’s looking to break in someplace.”
9) Some said that Trayvon became a suspect because he wore a hooded sweatshirt, known as a “hoodie.” Some have even blamed Trayvon’s death on his clothing. On the March 23 edition of Fox News’ “Fox & Friends”, network contributor Geraldo Rivera said, “I am urging the parents of Black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” However, others, such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper, say they have frequently adorn hoodies and have never been viewed as suspected criminals. And no one dares suspect New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick or Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, both known for wearing hoodies, of being criminals. Some kooks posting on Fox News Network site were extremely crass. One wrote, “GOOD SHOT, ZIMMY. I’m just glad Zimmerman didn’t miss and hit an innocent bystander.”
10) Police say Zimmerman was not arrested because of Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law, a measure that gives broad protection to any citizen acting in self-defense. However, Jeb Bush, who as governor of Florida signed the stand-your-ground bill into law, said the legislation does not cover the neighborhood watch captain who shot Trayvon Martin to death. “This law does not apply to this particular circumstance,” Bush said after an education panel discussion at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.”
11) At 9 years old, Trayvon saved his father’s life. In an interview with Roland Martin on “TV One”, the elder Martin said, “At the time, he was 9 years old. We had just came from the Little League football park. We fell asleep while the stove was on. A grease fire started. I went into the kitchen to try to put the grease fire out. The grease splattered all over my leg. My body went into shock and by me and him being in the house, I started calling out his name. He finally woke up and, at 9 years old, he pulled me from out of the kitchen, where the kitchen cabinets were on fire. He pulled me out of the kitchen onto the balcony. He actually went back into the house and got the cell phone and called 911.”
12) Trayvon’s parents still have nightmares about his death. His father, in an exclusive interview with NNPA publishers, said: “I can’t describe the feeling, I can’t describe what was going through my mind because I was actually staring at a photo of my pride and joy on the ground dead. I still see the photo now — his eyes weren’t closed all the way, his mouth wasn’t closed, it was the worst feeling of my life.” — (NNPA)
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. He can be reached via his website, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.