It has been nearly 16 months since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in a gated community in this suburb of Orlando. And the trial of George Zimmerman is now beginning in a case that has become an international symbol of the lingering issues of race in the United States.
Even before the jury selection process gets underway on Monday, the trial of Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of the unarmed, 17-year-old high school student, has become a larger-than-life drama. It has been the focal point of emotional marches and rallies across the nation, even drawing comment from President Obama.
The reaction to this incident has been so dramatic, so emotional in large measure because the dead teenager was an African-American high school student who was carrying nothing more lethal than a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. His shooter was 28 years old, of white and Hispanic parentage and carrying a 9-millimeter handgun. And it was days before an arrest was made.
“It resonated with so many people because of the manner in which he died,” said Hasan Kwame Jeffries, a professor of history at Ohio State University, speaking with BET.com. “The initial reports made it seem so patently unjust. And it seemed even more unjust when the shooter was essentially allowed to walk away.”