Did George Zimmerman Commit A Hate Crime In The Killing Of Trayvon Martin?

On February 26th, Trayvon Martin, 17, was walking back to his father’s home in a gated community in Sanford, FL. He was returning from buying an Arizona iced tea and Skittles for his brother from a nearby 7-Eleven. George Zimmerman, 28, the self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman, was patrolling that evening in the gated community.

Zimmerman trailed Trayvon because he considered him suspicious and “up to no good or on drugs or something.” Trayvon was nervous because an unknown man who did not identify himself as a police or security force was following him. His girlfriend, whom he was on the phone with, told him to run, but Trayvon walked quickly to not get away from the man following him.

The incident ended when neighbors heard someone crying for help and then a single gunshot. When police arrived at the scene, Trayvon Martin was found dead. George Zimmerman claims he shot Trayvon in self-defense, but recent information has lead to a nation-wide debate that Trayvon’s death was the result of a hate crimeat the hands of Zimmerman.

Approximately 1:52 into the 911 call George Zimmerman placed, he can be heard muttering a profanity that sounds like a racial slur. Earlier in the call, he can be heard saying, "these a**holes always get away." Yet it is unclear if Zimmerman is referring to young black males, or general people he considers suspicious. Zimmerman has placed 46 calls to 911 in the past 15 months reporting suspicious situations and characters.

Zimmerman may have taken his job a bit too seriously. His neighbors reported, "Zimmerman went door-to-door asking residents to be on the lookout, specifically referring to young black men who appeared to be outsiders, and warned that some were caught lurking."

A neighborhood teenager, Teontae, stated that he and is friend, who is also black, "would sit at the end of the driveway in the evening and felt uncomfortable when Zimmerman would pass them on a neighborhood patrol." Zimmerman accused Travis Williams of stealing a bike and made him prove that he owned it with the bike's serial numbers.

However, those in support of George Zimmerman still maintain that he is not prejudicial. WFTV had an audio expert listen to the recording, and determined that Zimmerman actually said "punks", not "coons" as is commonly believed.

Zimmerman's father has released a letter to the public stating that "George is a Spanish-speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever." George Zimmerman has yet to make a public statement, as advised by the police. He and his family have moved after receiving an extensive hate mail and multiple death threats. Until a more thorough investigation has been conducted, it is difficult to reconcile these contentious views.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore is a Master's student studying International Relations at the City College of New York. She received her BA in Political Science from Fordham University.

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