By Rob Markman
Trayvon Martin was shot to death inside a gated community in Florida on February 26, and after weeks of rallies and protests on behalf of the slain teen, his shooter, 28-year-old neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, has been charged in the case. Zimmerman turned himself into authorities on Wednesday (April 11) and shortly afterwards, at a press conference held in Jacksonville, Florida, it was announced that Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder.
Martin's February 26 death sent shockwaves through the nation. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, saw 17-year-old Trayvon walking through his gated community in Sanford, Florida, and immediately grew suspicious of the teen, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. When Zimmerman called 911, police dispatchers advised him not to pursue Martin. By the time police arrived on the scene, Martin was shot dead and Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense, was not arrested or charged with a crime. Trayvon didn't have a weapon.
A week after the shooting, Sanford Police Chief Billy Lee said there was no evidence to dispute Zimmer's self-defense claim and they couldn't arrest Zimmerman because he was protected by the so-called "Stand Your Ground" law that allows Florida residents to shoot someone they reasonably believe is threatening them. According to reports, Zimmerman told police Martin punched him in the nose, knocked him down and repeatedly slammed his head into the ground.
Since the shooting death, there has been public outrage. Demonstrators took to the streets, and on March 23, President Obama called for an investigation into the incident, saying, "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon."
The hip-hop community has been particularly vocal, calling for justice for the teen. ?uestlove, Game, Young Jeezy, Nas, Killer Mike and Prodigy all spoke out in protest, while rappers like Plies and Bad Boy's Los made songs dedicated to Trayvon.
What do you think of the second-degree murder charges handed down to George Zimmerman? Let us know in the comments.