George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter today (July 13). He was accused of murdering Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. Many believed that Martin was singled out and killed by Zimmerman for racial reasons. Martin, 17, was Black and Zimmerman is Hispanic.
“You have a little Black boy who was killed,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin’s parents, according to usatoday.com. “It’s going to be reported in history books and 50 years from now, our children will talk about Trayvon Martin’s case like we talk about Emmett Till.”
Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black male, was tortured and murdered in 1955 in Mississippi after being accused of flirting with a white woman. Till has been referenced in rap lyrics by Kanye West, Lil Wayne and others in the last decade, and David Banner has worn shirts with Till’s image on them in videos.
Members of the rap community voiced their displeasure with the verdict in the Zimmerman case on social media.
Reef the Lost Cauze said that the verdict caused him to feel afraid for his own son:
I’M GETTIN THE FUCK OUTTA HERE MAN MY SON IS FUCKING MARKED FOR DEATH FUCK THIS FUCKING BULLSHIT I FEEL SICK
— Reef The Lost Cauze (@LostCauze) July 14, 2013
Meek Mill and fellow MMG artist Wale drew comparisons between the Zimmerman trial and NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who received two years in prison for dogfighting:
He made out better than mike Vick….. And that was a simple dog fight!
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) July 14, 2013
Lock a man away for dogfighting (which is wrong) for two years . But u can kill a. Child tho.
— Wale Folarin (@Wale) July 14, 2013
Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Nicki Minaj, Big Boi, and others were more vocal with their displeasure:
I guess we all understand wht kind of world we livin in especially when a grown man kills a child n gets away wit it its a sad day in th USA
— Jim Jones (@jimjonescapo) July 14, 2013
SMFH!!! No Justice No Peace!!
— Juelz Santana (@thejuelzsantana) July 14, 2013
I’m in Switzerland and heard the terrible news about the verdict of The trial,
— Tity Boi (2 Chainz) (@2chainz) July 14, 2013
And our taxes paid for that trial. We just paid to see a murderer walk free after killing an innocent unarmed little boy. #GodBlessAmerica
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) July 14, 2013
— RAEKWON (@Raekwon) July 14, 2013
& that is America…. #NoJusticeForOurSons!
— Ghostface Killah (@GhostfaceKillah) July 14, 2013
I am speechless, not guilty!! A child is dead and this nig gonna walk???
— Twista (@TWISTAgmg) July 14, 2013
What the Fuck !!!!!!
— Big Boi (@BigBoi) July 14, 2013
An attorney told usatoday.com that they were not surprised by the verdict in the Zimmerman case. “The prosecution had no clear narrative, witnesses that appeared poorly prepared, and at the end of the day, this is more of a loss by the prosecution than a win by the defense,” criminal attorney Darren Kavinoky said.
Zimmerman was not initially charged with a crime because police citied Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law, which allows someone who believes they are in imminent danger to take whatever steps are necessary to protect themselves. Florida State Attorney Angela Corey, however, charged Zimmerman with murder on April 11, 2012, as per usatoday.com.
Among the more than 50 witnesses who testifed at the trial were “forensic experts who testified about the angle in which Trayvon was shot, the position Zimmerman’s gun may have been in, and where DNA and blood was found,” usatoday.com reported. “Other witnesses offered conflicting statements about how the fight happened, who had the upper hand when Zimmerman shot and who was screaming for help in a 911 call recording.”
The verdict means that the jury felt “that Zimmerman justifiably used deadly force and reasonably believed that such force was ‘necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm’ to himself—Florida’s definition of self-defense,” according to usatoday.com.
The six jurors “decided Zimmerman didn’t ‘intentionally commit an act or acts that caused death’ or demonstrate a ‘depraved mind without regard for human life’—Florida’s definitions of manslaughter and second degree murder, respectively,” as per usatoday.com.
“I think he’s going to be great,” Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara said during a press conference after a verdict. “I think he is still worried. Hopefully everyone will respect the jury’s verdict.”
Martin’s parents were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read, according to reports. Martin’s father Tracy posted his reaction to the verdict on Twitter.
Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY
— Tracy Martin (@BTraymartin9) July 14, 2013
The Rap community’s reaction to the Zimmerman case is not the first time Rap artists have responded to a high profile legal case. One such case was that of Yusef Hawkins, a 16-year-old Black male who was shot and killed by a White mob in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York on August 23, 1989. Hawkins went to Bensonhurst to inquire about a used car. The mob of white kids who killed Hawkins were waiting for Blacks they thought were trying to date neighborhood White girls. Joseph Fama, who fired shots that struck Hawkins, was convicted of second-degree murder in 1990, according to nytimes.com.
Chuck D mentions “A son slain in Bensonhurst,” referring to Hawkins on the 1989 Public Enemy song “Welcome To The Terror Dome.” Chubb Rock says, “In your hearts and mind, never forget Yusef Hawkins” on his 1990 hit “Treat ‘Em Right.” Big Daddy Kane raps, “In the streets of New York, I think of Yusef Hawkins” on the Kool G Rap & DJ Polo 1990 single “Erase Racism.” Kane says later in the song, “When I think of areas like Bensonhurst, notice how I mention Hearse.” X Clan rapper Brother J mentions marching on Hawkins’ behalf on “A Day Of Outrage, Operation Snatchback,” a cut from X Clan’s 1990 album, To The East, Blackwards.
The rap community also commented extensively in songs and videos about the Rodney King case. King was beaten by Los Angeles police officers following a high-speed car chase in 1991. Much of the beating was caught on video tape and aired on television news outlets. In 1992, three of the four police officers charged in the beating were acquitted of all charges. The fourth officer was eventually also eventually acquitted of all charges. The acquittals are often considered to be the catalyst for the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and others rapped directly and indirectly about the King case.
Additional Reporting By Roman Cooper