“All he wanted to do was go to the store, come back from the store and go home. That’s all he wanted to do,” said Tracy Martin in an interview with the AmNews, speaking about the shooting death of his son, Trayvon, in Sanford, Fla., which has now garnered national attention.
“He got killed simply going to the store,” Martin continued. “He didn’t ask for any of that. He didn’t approach this individual or anything. As a father, I’m trying to hold my stability. If I break down right now, my son’s death will be in vain.
“My son never had a run-in with the law. My son was simply killed because it was raining, he had on a hoodie and he was not known to this gentleman. I’d like to see justice.”
Martin offered these words on the night he arrived in New York City before heading to a slew of scheduled interviews the following day with mainstream media outlets, accompanied by his attorney, to tell his story.
The word “outrage” is not nearly enough to describe the nation’s reaction to the shooting death of the Black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of a white man who has also been identified as a multiracial, light-skinned Hispanic man, George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has yet to be arrested and charged in the shooting, claiming self-defense to justify the shooting of the 17-year-old who had aspirations of becoming an aviation mechanic.
The incident took place Feb. 26, when Trayvon left the house of his father’s girlfriend in a gated community to go to the 7-Eleven to buy candy and iced tea. On his way back home, Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain, spotted him.
Trayvon was speaking on his cell phone to his girlfriend, who reported earlier this week that he told her a strange man was following him. She told him to run.
“I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast,” she told ABC News. “I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run.
“Trayvon said, ‘What are you following me for?’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here?’ she described. “Next thing I hear is pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the headset just fell. I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone.”
Prior to the confrontation, reports indicate that Zimmerman called 911 when he spotted Trayvon in the neighborhood. Tapes released earlier this week show the contents of Zimmerman’s suspicions.
“This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something,” Zimmerman told 911 dispatchers. He then described what Trayvon was wearing: “A dark hoodie, like a gray hoodie, and either jeans or sweat pants and white tennis shoes.”
The dispatcher instructed Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon, adding that police would take care of the situation. Zimmerman ignored the order. Some reports indicate that while he was walking to confront Trayvon, Zimmerman said “f–ing coon” under his breath.
Witnesses say a scuffle ensued between Zimmerman and Trayvon, followed by Zimmerman shooting Trayvon in the chest. “No! No!” and “Help! Help! Help!” along with agonizing screams could be heard, believed to be coming from Trayvon.
“I don’t think this would have happened if he had been white,” Tracy Martin said. “I would say he was profiled by this individual. As ugly as the word is, race is still an issue here. We are at a time now when people are actually tired of this. We live in a small town that is still living in the 1950s, and it’s time for them to step out.
“They are trying to sweep something under the rug and America is not going to let them sweep this under the rug.”
The family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, also spoke to the AmNews about the case. He said that pressure is being kept on the Sanford Police Department to arrest Zimmerman.
“It just seems so unfair that they are treating [Zimmerman] like the victim,” Crump said. “Everybody in the world knows that Trayvon did not attack this guy and it was not self-defense. The fact that people all over America have gotten behind the family–it’s giving them hope.”
Activism in the New York area is already taking place in protest of Trayvon’s shooting. A large rally took place on Wednesday in Union Square, with hundreds of people all wearing hoodies. Trayvon’s family attended the rally that was organized by several groups, including the Occupy the Hood movement.
This week, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Public Affairs and the FBI announced they are investigating the shooting. Both agencies are conducting an independent review of all of the evidence in the case. Florida’s attorney general is also on the case.
“The department is also providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident,” the DOJ said in a statement. “With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something the law forbids–the highest level of intent in criminal law.”
However, some believe the justice system is not moving fast enough. Earlier this week, Zimmerman’s phone number and address appeared on several social networking sites. The Atlanta-based group the New Black Liberation Militia announced this week they planned to make a citizens arrest of Zimmerman.
The NAACP has also been involved in the case, hosting a town hall meeting in Sanford on Tuesday with representatives from the DOJ. The NAACP is calling for the resignation of the chief of the Stanford Police Department.
“The rules of justice in this nation have failed when an innocent teenage boy can be shot to death by a vigilante and no arrest is made for weeks,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous. “Pursuing and killing a 17-year-old boy should never be construed as self-defense. Our society deserves better, our community deserves answers and Trayvon’s family deserves justice.”
On Thursday night, the Rev. Al Sharpton will hold a rally in Sanford in protest of the actions of the justice system. He will be joined by Trayvon’s parents and radio host Michael Baisden.
“There was nothing threatening that we have seen in any of this from your son. For this young man to be dead and this man to pursue him–he’s not a policeman, we don’t even know if your son knew who he was or what he was or if your son felt threatened,” Sharpton said to Trayvon’s father on his MSNBC program, “PoliticsNation.”
“To turn around and make him the victim is something that we cannot sit by and allow to happen.”