George Zimmerman Hit With Second-Degree Murder Charge In Death Of Trayvon Martin
A special prosecutor in Florida announced tonight that wannabe cop George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen fatally shot in February.
"Forty-five days after Trayvon Martin's life came to a violent end, the wheels of justice have finally begun to turn. This is an important first step toward bringing justice for Trayvon and his family," Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, says in a statement released following the announcement.
Authorities say Zimmerman shot Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black kid, on February 26 in Sanford, Florida, as Martin was on his way home from a convenience store.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, claims he shot Martin in self-defense, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows a person to use deadly force if they feel their life is in danger.
Since the shooting, there have been seemingly endless protests calling for Zimmerman's arrest after Florida police initially released him.
"Trayvon's case moved the nation because it underscored the twin tragedies that affect so many of our young people: Trayvon was profiled because of his race--looked upon as a threat rather than the loving son he was," Jealous continues. "And then, once he became a victim, he was neglected by the very police department tasked with protecting our communities and families. As a nation, we've got to address the issues of racial profiling and the valuation of black mens' lives by law enforcement. In the months ahead the months ahead, the NAACP and our allies in the civil rights community will continue to take these issues on as well as the urgent need to repeal stand-your-ground laws."
Zimmerman turned himself into authorities this morning. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.