Ohio University students and local residents rallied on College
Green last Wednesday, demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old
Florida teen fatally shot by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in
Local rally-goers were encouraged to wear a hooded sweatshirt
(hoodie), mirroring nationwide protests such as New York City's and
Philadelphia's "Million Hoodie" marches.
OU senior Theron Andrus said he wasn't able to attend the rally,
but agrees that Martin deserves justice and that Zimmerman should be arrested.
"If other people wear a hoodie and look a certain way, how can they feel safe
if others can just kill you because you look suspicious?" Andrus asked.
Martin's hoodie became the center of debate when Fox News
contributor Geraldo Rivera blamed the boy's apparel for Zimmerman's alleged
hate crime. "Trayvon Martin, God bless him, an innocent kid, a wonderful kid, a
box of Skittles in his hand didn't deserve to die," Rivera said. "But I'll bet
you money if he didn't have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood
watch guy wouldn't have responded in that violent and aggressive way." Rivera
added that a hoodie should only be worn if it's raining or when at a "track
meet," though it was raining the night of Martin's killing, according to ABC
Since the Feb. 26 shooting, debate surrounding the case has
exploded with many people slamming the Sanford, Fla., Police Department, the
Florida "stand-your-ground" self-defense law, and the possible role of racial
profiling in the teen's tragic death. Others have charged that the outpouring
of anger is itself a product of reverse discrimination, with critics
disregarding the possibility that Zimmerman actually did act in self-defense as
"I think the fact that we're even talking about this is
completely ridiculous," Andrus said. "I think that certain laws, such as
'stand-your-ground,' should not be decided on the scene by police officers. If
anyone — black, white, Mexican, Native American — gets killed on the street,
unarmed, then the person that kills them should be arrested. I know we have
'innocent until guilty,' but someone is dead, unarmed, while the other guy
doesn't even have a scratch on him."
According to ABC
the original police report found Zimmerman with a "bloody nose and wound on the
back of his head," yet in a police surveillance video released last week,
Zimmerman appears on tape, the night of the shooting, without any evident blood
The Sanford Police took Zimmerman's word that it was
self-defense. After arriving at the scene, they found Zimmerman armed with a
handgun, while the unresponsive teen had only a bag of Skittles and bottle of
iced tea. Zimmerman was never arrested or tested for drugs and alcohol, raising
concerns of "questionable police conduct," according to the article.
On March 19, the U.S. Justice Department launched an
investigation, and Florida's State Attorney's office announced plans to review
the case before a grand jury on April 10.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee resigned, as well as key investigator State
Attorney Norman Wolfinger. Sanford Police continue to stand by Zimmerman's
self-defense story, which claims that Martin punched his nose, slammed his head
into the ground and tried to take his gun, as reported in ABC News.
The article further pointed out that the state will have to prove
that Zimmerman is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt," thanks to Florida's "stand-your-ground"
law, which justifies deadly force in the case of self-defense (despite the fact
that Zimmerman wasn't allowed to be armed in the first place on neighborhood
However, authors of the law maintain that it doesn't apply to
Zimmerman because of a 911 call in which Zimmerman admits to following the
teen, making him an instigator. "You're not required to retreat, but you
can't actually bring yourself to the fray and be the aggressor," attorney
Jude Faccidomo said in NBC
Miami News coverage.
On March 27, ABC News
reported that protesters began demanding that Zimmerman be charged with a
federal hate crime.
According to a letter to the editor
published in the Post, OU senior Tazz
Mays echoed Andrus' point that justice for Trayvon should be the primary focus
of this case. In the letter, Mays wrote, "If the tragedy of 17-year-old Trayvon
Martin was not bad enough, there has been a lot of discussion on why what
happened happened. Most of the arguments are concerned with whether Zimmerman
is a racist or the fact that there were recent burglaries in the area or the
fact that Trayvon was wearing a hoodie and had his hands full with Skittles and
an Arizona iced tea. These are interesting points for discussion, but Zimmerman
shot a child. I barely care about the rest of the facts. Zimmerman shot a
Last Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, sported a gray
hoodie on the House floor during his statement about Martin's killing. Rush
urged the end of racial profiling, adding, "Just because someone wears a
hoodie, does not make them a hoodlum," according to ABC
His microphone was cut off for violating the U.S. House of
Representatives' dress code.
According to change.org, the
petition calling for Zimmerman's prosecution is the "fastest-growing campaign
in the site's history," with 1,000 people signing per minute at its peak. As of
early this week, the online petition had more than two million signatures, and
On Tuesday, media released an "enhanced" higher resolution version of
the surveillance video of Zimmerman after the shooting, which shows what
appears to be some redness and bruising on the back of Zimmerman's head,
leaving many to debate the extent of his injuries.