Okayplayer exclusively presents a photo essay by artist Dwayne Rodgers, the man behind The Black Vernacular, documenting yesterday’s NYC protest, The 1,000,000 Hoodie March, entitled “Stand Your Ground.”
On February 26, 2012 George Zimmerman, a white 28 year-old neighborhood watch “captain” in a gated community in Sanford, Florida fatally shot black teenager Trayvon Martin as Martin walked back to his father’s house after going to the store for snacks during half time of the NBA All-Star Game. Ignoring directions from the police — whom he had called from his car— not to approach a young man he’d described to them as “suspicious,” Zimmerman got out of his SUV with a loaded gun and confronted Martin. That confrontation ended with Zimmerman shooting Trayvon Martin in the chest, killing him. Not only the aggressor but armed and 250 pounds, Zimmerman has claimed self-defense. Trayvon Martin was 140 pounds and carrying candy and a soft drink.
911 tapes released earlier this week reveal the gut-wrenching final moments of 17 year old Trayvon Martin’s life with Trayvon screaming helplessly in the seconds before he was shot. At the scene of the murder George Zimmerman, who had called the police 46 times in the space of year (apparently intoxicated at times) and had been the subject of complaints by neighbors for his aggressive tactics, wasn’t tested for drugs or alcohol. Incredibly, he was not arrested. This case has highlighted the controversial “Stand Your Ground” gun law which allows Florida residents to use lethal force against an attacker if they feel their life is threatened. Stand Your Ground is the reason the Sanford police have given for not arresting George Zimmernan outright.
The only problem: Trayvon Martin didn’t attack George Zimmerman, as is clear from all available information. Along with with igniting more controversy about gun laws, the murder of Trayvon Martin has yet again put the spotlight on the undue use of deadly force against black people by white people in the U.S., which has its roots in slavery and continues to this day. Sadly, Zimmerman’s actions and the Sanford, Florida’s Police Department’s inaction has re-scarred the national psyche around the issue of personal racism, institutional racism and how they can collide in a very deadly way. Yesterday in NYC’s Union Square and all over the country people of all races and ages came together to call for the arrest and prosecution of George Zimmerman.
As of today George Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested and is still licensed to carry a gun.