This past weekend Jurors found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The six-member, all-women jury deliberated for more than 15 hours over two days before reaching its decision.
Martin was killed on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla., as he was returning to a gated community, carrying candy and iced tea.
Zimmerman a neighborhood crime-watch volunteer, was accused of profiling Martin as a criminal and following him with a loaded gun, initiating the fatal confrontation. Zimmerman claimed that he shot Martin in self-defense after he was knocked to the ground and Martin was banging his head against the pavement. Professional athletes reacted with anger, shock and pleas for calm. They all chimed in from the NFL, NBA and MLB. There was a uniformed reaction from these athletes who like many of us could not believe that Zimmerman got to walk scott free.
The case had captivated all parts of the sports world. In March 2012, a photograph showing members of the NBA Champion Miami Heat wearing hooded sweatshirts, their heads bowed, in a powerful salute to Martin. Miami superstar Lebron James added “We Want Justice” This display of solidarity from the Heat endeared them to the black community and others who supported the Martin family who very much appreciated this display of support.
More athlete reaction followed Saturday night via Twitter after the shocking not guilty verdict. Many athletes reacted harshly and angrily including NY Giants Victor Cruz who tweeted “Zimmerman doesn’t last a year til the hood catches up to him.” The tweet was later deleted. He apologized for the tweet on Sunday and wrote his “prayers continue to go out to Trayvon Martin’s family.” The Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade wrote “Wow!!! Stunned!!! Saddened as a father!!! Some1 make sense of this verdict for me right now please!!! Don’t worry I’ll wait…” a clear indication of his frustration with the verdict. Shaquille O Neal, Steph Curry, Chris Paul highlighted an array of current and former NBA stars who reacted with utter dismay. One tweet that stood out to me came from the Chicago Bulls Nazr Muhammad who wrote “Don’t know what the appropriate punishment is but this sets an ugly precedence. Gotta feeling were gonna see more cases like this” hashtag profiling. Even myself writing this article stood speechless for almost five minutes, shaking my head in utter disbelief. I looked at my son who is nine years old and realized that sadly I must continue to teach him the things that I have been telling him all along.
I told him these words “You are prey, not only from others that look just like you but from a system, a nation that continues to tolerate racial profiling” . It is hard to believe that my son going to the store to buy candy is NOW a risky proposition. President Obama said if he had a son he would LOOK like Trayvon Martin. Sadly the way Trayvon Martin looked is the reason he is dead. The sports world has echoed what most of us felt in the aftermath of this verdict, it is a another sad day in America.