Tag Archives: Trayvon Martin

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Trayvon Martin shooting sparks questions of media dependence

By Cody Hibbard–

A sensational story has swept across our nation in the past month. Turn on your television and it is next to impossible to avoid conversations about hoodies, hate crimes and voice analysis. On Feb. 26, 2012, an unarmed 17-year-old named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old man and the head of a community watch group. Despite the fact that the shooting occurred a month prior, media outlets pounced on the story and created a national whirlwind of speculation and outrage on the details of the shooting. Zimmerman claims he shot Martin in self-defense, while supporters of Martin feel Zimmerman killed him in cold blood, motivated by his racial attitude.

Depending on which news source I watch, two drastically different pictures are painted between Martin and Zimmerman. Each of these media outlets provides “facts” to prove and disprove the arguments presented from opposing sides regarding the circumstances of the shooting. Misleading information is presented as fact, creating a misinformed viewer base that reacts to inaccurate facts. For example, take the photos used to portray Martin and Zimmerman. In some cases, the photos used by the media are outdated, showing Martin as a 12 year old. Zimmerman’s photo typically is a mug shot photo from a misdemeanor arrest from years ago. The opposite side will show Zimmerman in a business suite and will portray Martin as a trouble maker. These portrayals are aimed to sway your opinion on the case and do not serve any purpose in explaining what happened the night of the shooting.

Even reliable and trustworthy news source, NBC, is guilty of providing us with misleading information. NBC released an apology for reporting edited audio tapes of the conversation between Zimmerman and the police dispatch. The edited conversation presented Zimmerman as a racist, but when the full conversation was released, it was apparent that critical pieces of the conversation were omitted. This is simply unacceptable from our news outlets. How can I make an informed decision based on misleading information? This small piece of information is critical to our understanding of the events and NBC failed to sustain its journalist integrity and duty they serve to the public. NBC’s blatant misrepresentation of Zimmerman’s conversation with the police dispatch only added fuel to the fire surrounding the racial issues associated with the case.

So I find myself asking, what are the facts? What do we definitely know of this tragic situation? Therein lies the problem; media coverage with a disregard for factual information. Personally, I cannot justify complete outrage, social strife and campus protests based on misleading information. After all, media sources have vested interests in viewership and cases such as the Trayvon Martin tragedy can translate into big ratings.

What I do know is that the death of Martin is a terrible tragedy. I too find myself caught up in a rage, only my anger has a direction, a focus and is faceless. It isn’t one single individual. If Zimmerman did commit a crime under Florida law or federal law he should be punished accordingly. The real problem is much bigger and is centered in bad policy, legislation practices and poor reporting from what is supposed to be reliable journalists.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law enabled Zimmerman to shoot in self -defense if he felt threatened and without any attempt to avoid the situation. Police handcuffed Zimmerman and tried to charge him with manslaughter, but the system rejected these claims and cited insufficient evidence to support a case against Zimmerman. This is purely dreadful policy that several states practice today. Trained policed officers should be responsible for conducting and handling these circumstances and Zimmerman should have been responsible enough to understand that.

The media has taken advantage of the reactionary society we live in today. We simply do not know enough to form accurate opinions. When we jump to conclusions, mistakes are made. Police officers are trained to handle these circumstances. In this way, mistakes can be avoided. Sadly, a community watch group member took matters into his own hands and killed an unarmed 17 year old. Bad policy has shielded Zimmerman from any prosecution to date, and it will be up to the people to focus their energy into changing the policies and laws they disagree with. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is the perfect place to start.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal

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Students rally for slain Florida teen

By Caitlyn Crenshaw–

Students, faculty and community members flooded the Bingham Humanities quad Monday, holding posters that read “Justice for Trayvon” and “What is a Black life worth?” The assembly was part of a walkout and rally to support and memorialize Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen killed over a month ago.

National headlines have been filled with Martin’s name since the 17 year old was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. The rally focused on the supposed injustice of the Martin case and passed around a petition for students and members of the community to sign.

In a crowd of over 100 students and protesters, professor Stacy Brooks said, “There is no excuse for what happened,” with tears in his eyes.

Mikal Forbush, program coordinator for the Muhammad Ali Peace Institute at U of L, said, the goal of the walkout was to “raise awareness not only about Trayvon, but also the larger issues that the case highlights.” The rally at U of L was one of many occurring across the country this Monday, supporting justice for Martin.

Rallies across college campuses on Monday made the news in Virginia, Pennsylvania and California. Students at the University of North Texas organized a rally and encourage everyone to wear black hoodies in memory of Martin and 500 people signed a petition for a full investigation into Martin’s death at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

At the Million Hoodie March in New York City, Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, said, “My heart is in pain, but to see the support of all of you really makes a difference.”

Organizers passed around a petition throughout the U of L rally for students and members of the community to sign. Forbush said, “We want all involved to be informed. So the e-mails and petition is to invite everyone to be a part of the conversation and know exactly what’s happening.” Organizers will send out information of how to get involved and attend future rallies.

Many of the over 100 attendees of the rally went out of their way to come to campus. Ebony Campbell, a member of the Louisville community, said, she heard about it through Facebook and decided to come.

Tom Moffhett, who works with the Kentucky Alliance, said, he came because I wanted to come. Moffhett has been involved for over 30 years with rallies promoting social activism and encouraging change within society.

“We can’t forget Trayvon like we have forgotten so many before,” Brooks said.

An online petition on change.org started by Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s parents, has over 2 million signatures and calls to “prosecute the killer of our son.”

The Twitter account for Trayvon Martin, @TrayvonMRIP, currently with over 15,000 followers, said, “Show the public how we want justice for him.”

U of L President James Ramsey told WFPL that, in the Trayvon Martin Case, “the process needs to play out and the investigations need to play out. We totally support freedom of speech with our students and think that it’s fitting for them to express their views. We do believe that classroom time is very important.”

As students exercised their first amendment rights, Brooks said over the mass of people, Martin “has become a symbol for racial inequality that has unified people across this country.”

Forbush said, “The plan is to begin a larger conversation on campus and in the community about how race plays a part in the case and look at Louisville’s version of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.”

Another rally in support of Trayvon Martin is planned for Tuesday, April 3, outside of the federal courthouse in downtown Louisville.

Kassie Roberts contributed to this story.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal

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Students and faculty rally for Trayvon Martin

By Kassie Roberts–

On Monday afternoon, about 60 University of Louisville faculty, staff and students flooded the Bingham Humanities quad in a walkout to protest and rally for Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was killed last week in Florida.

Controversy surrounds the case on the fact that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Martin and later claimed self defense, has not been “brought to justice.”

Zimmerman claims that Martin posed a threat.

Those rallying were very enthusiastic about spreading the word on what they considered a “social injustice” in that Zimmerman has not been charged with the murder of a young man.

The rally’s purpose was not only to bring justice to Trayvon’s case, but to also spread the word about social justice in the Louisville community.

UPDATE: Students rally for slain Florida teen

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal