There’s no telling what Trayvon Martin could have become and sadly the world will never know. But his tragic death at the hands of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, will forever be a part of the nation’s still-controversial history in race relations.
Just 17, Trayvon was walking back to his father’s home in Sanford, Florida, after buying a bag of Skittles and a soft drink when he encountered Zimmerman, who was patrolling the neighborhood. Zimmerman, who is widely believed to have racially profiled the hoodie-wearing teen, called the Sanford police department’s non-emergency line to report that that the “Black male” looked suspicious.
Even though the dispatcher told him to not follow the boy, he ignored their advice and entered into an altercation with him. Claiming he felt threatened and buoyed by the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Zimmerman shot the teenager. Six weeks passed before he was arrested. On July 13, 2013, a jury found Zimmerman not guilty of any crime.
The tragedy roiled the nation and sparked a wide-ranging debate over the dangers of “Stand Your Ground” laws in states around the U.S and a Justice for Trayvon movement.