The Shooting of Trayvon Martin, Justice or Racist?

Sanford, Florida, United States
February 26, 2012
Andy Kim and Caroline Jeon

Whether it was the Triangular Trade during the 16th Century or even now, racism has been a lingering problem throughout the history of mankind. As a result, when 28 year old Hispanic George Zimmerman was convicted of second degree murder against 17 year old African American Trayvon Martin, many people automatically ruled racism as the culprit. Why is this so? Is it human nature to be presumptuous beings that only disagree and argue with one another? Would the case be any different were it a 28 year old black male? White male? Asian male? Though racism has been rooted into humanity since the inception of mankind, many qualities of this case can be an indirect result of undeveloped architecture in certain areas. Undeveloped areas result in lower class citizens, which in turn increases crime rate throughout the area. Though the Trayvon Martin case in itself became enveloped in controversy of the judicial system across the country, the root of the problem still remains in the underdevelopment of these lower class areas.

On February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida, African American Trayvon Martin was pronounced dead by gunshot to the intermediate by Hispanic George Zimmerman. Police took Zimmerman into custody and after five hours of interrogation, Zimmerman was released due to lack of evidence in refuting Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. Then on June 10, 2013, massive media coverage brought this case to life. During the trail, there were varying outspoken opinions that Zimmerman is a wannabe vigilante, Trayvon had it coming, Zimmerman murdered Trayvon, or Zimmerman is innocent. Despite all these uncertainties, there is one certainty that is fact. Trayvon Martin is black, George Zimmerman is not. Rather than official recordings or recollections of the incident, the trial became more than just IF Zimmerman murdered Martin; it became an incident of racism.

Thus, an end had to come. On July 13, after over a month of intense media coverage, George Zimmerman was acquitted of all second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. This verdict created a storm in the black community that resounded with one word: racism. A group of guests in “Good Morning America” had a conversation with the topic of “race and justice”. They’re all in a belief that Zimmerman is guilty and that the law did not have any support to prove Martin’s innocence. This conversation gave insights of the thoughts of people that are in support of Martin and how they think the whole nation should take an approach to the issue before same incidents happen again. Of the Trayvon Martin support community, the resounding cry for racism was most prevalent in the black community. Even President Barrack Obama refused to deny that race didn’t have a part in the case. He believes that blacks have been and still are being discriminated making President Obama look back at laws such as the Stand your Ground Law that became crucial in the case. Even world renowned rapper Jay-Z had a few words to say about the case. However, whether or not Zimmerman was guilty, in the eyes of the black community, the verdict stated a racial discrimination that has been thought to be close to eradication; a new wound has been formed that future generations of black children will have to remain fearful of.

Sanford Crime Data
Sanford Crime Data

At face value, a high profile case such as this is not uncommon. In fact, there are hundreds of similar cases going on at the present time. And though the cry for racism is powerful in the Trayvon Martin case, the question remains as to why this came to happen. Whether it be a juxtaposition in evidence between Zimmerman’s 911 call and a witness’ 911 call, or something as simple as the undeveloped infrastructure of Sanford, Florida, architecture as a whole can be

highlighted as the main reason for this tragic event. Statistically speaking, Sanford, Florida is wrought with staggering numbers. The crime rate far exceeds that of the national average and also boasts a crime index of 4 (100 being the safest). Being a victim in violent crime has a probability of 1 in 164 people, and for property crime, 1 in 17. Even back in 1946, when Jackie Robinson was recruited to the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was sent away from Sanford to Daytona Beach due to people being fearful for his life. With all these statistics thrown at face value, is the assumption that racism is the sole cause of these high numbers?

Crimes near Sanford
Sanford races chartCrimes Near Sanford and Race Distribution

Pulling away from a stats sheet and grabbing a visual representation of the crime rate in and around Sanford shows that bordering towns and cities have far less crime and while at the same time, having a higher average income rate. Based on assumption and intuition, it’s not hard to conclude that lower class individuals are being pushed to this architecturally undeveloped and lower income area. But in reality, with a little bit of push, Sanford, more likely than not can overcome this trivial dilemma and thrive off its natural ability to prosper.

Crime Rate
Crime Rate

Being a major trade route in the 18th century by accessing Lake Monroe, Sanford, in a very similar case like Syracuse, has a history of being a very prosperous city. Furthermore, it is located but a mere 20 miles from Orlando, home of Disney World. With these two combined, Sanford should be more than able to make up for its lower class income and become a tourist destination before hitting Orlando and Disney World. Instead of prosperity, Sanford seemed to have done the opposite. Much like how Syracuse is no longer the trading powerhouse it once was, Stanford has lost of lot of its wealth with a slowdown in waterway trade. In cohesion with the opening of Disney World in 1971, architectural focus went to Orlando in trying to commercialize and urbanize the area to create a hot tourist attraction. This takes attention away from already lower income cities such as Stanford and further pushes them away into crime and punishment.

Whether or not George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, the proposition that race is the cause of this tragic incident is but a claim that isn’t addressing the true problem at hand. Underdeveloped architecture creates a forced life style of crime deliberate or not. High crime rates aren’t because of the humanities inherent nature of racism and immoralist activities, it is the architectural proposition brought upon the citizens of Stanford that create the fear of living. This fear manifests in the people to the extent that many turn to illegal and heinous actions to compensate for the low income style of living.

Crime Rate. (http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Sanford-Florida.html)
Sanford Crime Data. (http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/fl/sanford/crime/#data)
Races in Sanford. (http://www.city-data.com/city/Sanford-Florida.html)
Crimes near Sanford. (http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Sanford-Florida.html)

RESEARCH RESOURCES

Journalism

1. ABC. “President Obama: ‘Trayvon Martin Could Have Been Me’.” Last modified July 19, 2013. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-obama-trayvon-martin/story?id=19715234.

This article is about a statement of President Obama made about Trayvon Martin’s case. President Obama shows his sympathy for Martin and says that this situation should not have happened especially because it has racial issue to it. He believes that the blacks have been and still are being discriminated and that could have been him which makes President Obama to look back at the laws such as the Stand your Ground Law.

2. ABC. “Trayvon Martin Case: ABC New Radio Conversation on Race and Justice.” Last modified March 28, 2012.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/trayvon-martin-case-national-conversation-race justice/story?id=16025761

The article shares few opinions that came out during a conversation from a group of guests in “Good Morning America” with the topic of “race and justice”. They’re all in a belief that Zimmerman is guilty and that the law did not have any support to prove Martin’s innocence. This article gave insights of the thoughts of people that are in support of Martin and how they think the whole nation should take an approach to the issue before same incidents happen again.

3. CNN. “George Zimmerman to ask for $200,000 from Florida for court costs.” Last modified August 28, 2013. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/26/justice/george-zimmerman-court-costs/index.html?iref=storysearch.

This article explains how Zimmerman asks for $200,000 to $300,000 worth of reimbursement from the state of Florida for the expenses used during the Trayvon Martin case. Zimmerman’s claim shows how much money and people he had to hire to win over Martin’s statement. We found this article particularly interesting because at first glance, this act from Zimmerman can come off as greedy despite the fact that Zimmerman still lives life on the edge due to death threats even though he was proven innocent.

4. UPI. “Trayvon Martin’s Mom Calls for Repeal of Stand Your Ground Law.” Last modified July 29, 2013. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/07/29/Trayvon-Martins-mom-calls-for-repeal-of-Stand-Your-Ground-law/UPI-74471375136539/.

This source provides the statement from Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, to abolish the “Stand Your Ground Law”. She believes that the law killed Martin and supported to prove Zimmerman’s innocence. In addition to Fulton, the National Bar Association has been trying to repeal of the law to reduce the fear from getting attacked with deadly force used as a self-defense.

Encyclopedia Entries

1. “Stand-your-ground law”, last modified September 8, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_your_ground_law

Due to lack of profound knowledge about the “stand your ground” law, we wanted to clearly research what it was all about. In short, the stand your ground law allows a victim to use fatal measures in a means of self defense. In the case of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the stand your ground law gave Zimmerman the right to shoot Martin to protect himself. This has lead to controversies where people don’t find Martin justified as it can be interpreted that Martin himself was using self defense against the stalking Zimmerman.

Scholarly Articles

1. Blow, Charles M., “The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin.” (2012). New York Times Opinions Page. Accessed September 8, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/opinion/blow-the-curious-case-of-trayvon-martin.html?pagewanted=all

There are outspoken opinions that Zimmerman is a wannabe vigilante, Trayvon had it coming, Zimmerman murdered Trayvon, or Zimmerman is innocent. Despite all these uncertainties, Charles M. Blow points a fact that is becomes much more serious than that. “Trayvon is black, Zimmerman is not.” Rather than official recordings or recollections of the incident, Blow argues that this trial has become more than just IF it’s a murder; the trial has become an incident of racism. Throughout history racism has been an issue that sadly is still prevalent today. Blow states that letting Zimmerman go is not only the wrong verdict, but also a verdict that states racial discrimination that future generations of black children will have to remain fearful of.

Orthographic Documentation

http://bcclist.com/2012/03/27/trayvon-martin-george-zimmerman-map/

http://bewytchme.com/case-images/

The most vague and questionable area of the entire case is the question of how they met in the first place. As these two different maps show, people aren’t sure either. Depending on recollection of given evidence or through Zimmerman’s own personal mouth, there seems to be a discrepancy as to which path Zimmerman took. The trail of Martin himself seems clear enough yet there are a distinct two different routes that Zimmerman could have taken. This information is crucial as one can tip the scale of the judging over the other should the time come.

Video and Audio

Call #1 – George Zimmerman

http://trayvon.axiomamnesia.com/trayvon-martin-911-calls-audio/

This initial call is relevant because it is a live recollection of the events prior to the shooting. This step by step breakdown of the night from Zimmerman’s own mouth became a strong force in the trial as both proof for and against Zimmerman as a murderer. Those against Zimmerman saw to his quote such as “they always get away” as a reference to black people, thus becoming racial discrimination while supporters of Zimmerman claim that this call proves the suspicious activities of Trayvon Martin. We find it intriguing how one phone call can have very different interpretations depending on one’s morals and outlook of the entire situation.

Call #2 (Witness #11)

http://trayvon.axiomamnesia.com/trayvon-martin-911-calls-audio/

We found an interesting juxtaposition in evidence between the Zimmerman 911 call and the 911 call of a witness during the shooting. Rather than the caller, the most interesting part of the recording are what sounds like someone yelling for help. Again, supporters have been split down the middle arguing that the screams come from both Martin and Zimmerman. However, the most interesting part of the recording is the interpretation of the screams. After a clear gunshot in heard, the yelling immediately stops, creating immediate suspicion that Zimmerman murdered the teen. Yet based on Zimmerman’s account, he was straddled by Martin and had his head banged on the concrete repeatedly until Zimmerman was forced to shoot Martin out of self defense. Both cases prove to have compelling arguments that make a nice correlation to opinions generated by the interpretation and representation of architecture.

“Jay-Z vs. George Zimmerman,” YouTube video, 0:00-4:08, posted by “The Young Turks“, Jul 26, 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHLfE_e6K_w

What separates this case with many other suspected murder cases is the outspoken cry of the African American community, including celebrities. Jay-Z is quick to vouch for Martin and slam Zimmerman for trying to be a wannabe vigilante. Rather than assuming that Zimmerman murdered Martin and that Martin was innocent, Jay-Z brought into question the hypocrisy of the the “Stand Your Ground” law. Because of Zimmerman’s possession of a fire arm, the Stand Your Ground law seemingly gave Zimmerman the edge in the confrontation as anything Martin did would result in Zimmerman using the firearm as a means of “self defense.” Jay-Z argues that Zimmerman was the instigator, giving Martin the right to fight back; however, since Martin was killed in the aftermath, the only word that can be taken as truth is the one that survived, this case being Zimmerman.

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