The tragic shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has led to a public outcry for justice, which many feel has not yet begun to be served.
George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old who claims he shot Martin in self-defense, has yet to be arrested or charged with a crime. Demonstrators have taken to the streets, lawmakers have protested on Capitol Hill and even President Obama has spoken out in support of Martin and his family.
The hip-hop community has also been vocal about the delicate matter, which has overwhelming racial implications. “It’s something very near and dear to me, because my son is around his age,” Young Jeezy told MTV News last week. “He looks like an innocent kid. I understand the situation as far as dude wanting to be [on] neighborhood watch, but everybody that’s black and young ain’t up to no good.”
On February 26, Martin was shot dead by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman as he walked through a gated Sanford, Florida, community. Zimmerman believed Martin — who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt — looked suspicious, so he called 911. The police dispatcher advised Zimmerman not to pursue the teen, but he reportedly ignored those instructions. By the time police arrived on the scene, Martin was dead. Although Zimmerman admitted to the shooting, police declined to arrest him citing the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows a person to kill in cases of self-defense.
Mobb Deep’s Prodigy doesn’t understand why local authorities didn’t take Zimmerman into custody. “To me, it’s up to the police department out there in Sanford to handle that the right way,” he said. “They were supposed to arrest him.”
“It’s unfortunate any time things like that happen, and I don’t know exactly what the motivation of the man who actually killed him was, but it doesn’t feel positive,” 50 Cent said. “For any circumstances when someone’s killed and there’s a person there that we know did it, regardless of their intentions at that point, there’s right and wrong. And I think that it’s obvious who’s wrong in this actual situation.”
Over the past week, there have been rallies calling for the arrest of Zimmerman in New York City, Chicago and Trayvon’s native Sanford, Florida. During a March 23 press conference, President Obama said if he had a son “he’d look like Trayvon,” and on Wednesday (March 28), Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush was removed from the House floor after he gave a speech in support of Martin while wearing sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt in a symbolic show of solidarity.
Game believes Trayvon’s death is another example of racial injustice in America. “For some reason, people don’t think that they need any excuse to kill us, beat us, hit us, run us over, disrespect us or anything like that,” he said. “This is just another reminder that stupidity still exists.”
Killer Mike took a militant stance, expressing his frustration with the so-called Stand Your Ground law. “If we’re not gonna change the laws, then we have to change our mentality,” he said, urging young black men to arm themselves as long as they operate within the confines of their state’s gun laws.
Trying to make sense of a senseless act, Nas hopes that young Trayvon didn’t die in vain. “Maybe he thought in football he’d have a legacy,” Nas reasoned, “but now his legacy can become something that helps change things, hopefully.”
Share your condolences for Trayvon Martin’s friends and family in the comments below.