The case of Trayvon Martin

This case has sparked national and international protests and exposed parts of America’s laws. In February 2012 George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch man of a gated community in Florida shot Trayvon in an alleged act of self defence. In the trail which culminated earlier this month, (July 2013), the Jury acquitted Zimmerman of manslaughter and second degree murder.

The background
George Zimmerman is a 29 year-old man who was part of the local neighbourhood watch programme in the Twin Lakes area (a gated community) in Florida. The area had reported some burglaries in the year hence why the neighbourhood watch committee had been set up.  On the day of the shooting, Zimmerman reported spotting a black youth around the estate, looking ‘suspicious’. This person was in fact Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old boy visiting his dad and step-mother at his step mothers  house. After Zimmerman calling the police and relaying what he had seen, he still pursued Martin. An altercation occurred which ended in Trayvon being fatally shot. Zimmerman after the shooting was not arrested but questioned and released after citing not enough evidence. As Zimmerman had acted in self defence after the ‘Stand your ground law’.

Stand your ground Law 
The stand your ground law is a self defence law which gives individuals the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves without the need to run away from the perceived danger. This means if an individual believes or perceives that a situation is potentially dangerous and life threatening that individual has the right to use reasonable force to remove that threat. In the case of Trayvon, Zimmerman allegedly perceived that he was in danger and therefore shot him.

Why is this case important?
This case has inflamed international and national American press. The killing of an unarmed, young, black teenager who was  and seemingly innocent, who had nothing but a bottle of iced tea and a packet of skittles is the main bone of contention. Without knowing the intricate details of the trial itself, I cannot judge the accuracy of the testimonies or the techniques of the defence or prosecution; however what is apparent is that Zimmerman had used a form of judgement to assess the intent and reason why Trayvon was in that area. Stereotyping did play a role in this case; Zimmerman judged Trayvon incorrectly as someone who shouldn’t have been in the area and posed a threat. The outcome was a dead teenager.