Raheem DeVaughn collaborated with Styles P on “Trigger Man,” a response to the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman was acquitted July 13 of second degree murder and manslaughter in the case, which inspired DeVaughn and Styles P to speak out in song.
“The not-guilty verdict is a sad situation…not as Black people or White or Spanish or whatever–we need to look at ourselves as humans in the justice system and be fair to everyone,” Styles P says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX.
On February 26, 2012, Martin was visiting his father Tracy Martin in Sanford, Florida and was shot and killed by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch member who followed Martin and was later involved in a confrontation with Martin, according to reports. Zimmerman said during his trail the shooting was in was self-defense. Many believed that Martin was singled out and killed by Zimmerman for racial reasons. Martin was Black and Zimmerman is Hispanic.
“We’ll never really know what happened right before that fatal shot,” DeVaughn says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “The expression on his face…when you look at the photos of the face of Trayvon…if you ever seen someone die, whether it’s terminally or tragically from a gunshot wound or what have you, it was a look of surprise in his face and in his eyes. His eyes were open. That says it all.”
“Equal rights is still not balanced out,” adds Styles P. “I think it’s interesting that he’s not guilty. A grown man had no business stalking a child. I mean, what did he do? Now his life’s taken. Especially me being a Black man that dealt with the justice system…to see someone that had spoken to police and the police told him not to pursue him and he still pursued Trayvon and you don’t know what he did with that child. If I was a person getting stalked and you have these thoughts going home and someone starts following me, there’s no telling how I’d react or what I would do. No one’s sayin’ it from that point of view. You have no right to stalk anyone. Police are there to protect the community, not regular citizens. You can’t call in and go react with your gun and go handle someone and act like police…He was doing what he wanted to do. He was beyond the law. It’s not cool for the justice system to allow that.”
During the aftermath of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial, President Obama said, “Are we doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence? How can we prevent future tragedies?”
DeVaughn shared his thoughts on the President’s questions. “I don’t know how we’ll prevent future tragedies,” DeVaughn says. “The laws need to be changed. There needs to be laws in place for children. As an artist, you gotta stand your ground. If you really wanna make a change, you have to affect the economy of the state of Florida. I think that’s what needs to happen. Artists and athletes out there started to take a stand and say they refuse to perform or play in out there.”
As a social activist, DeVaughn was arrested with philosopher Cornel West at an OccupyDC protest in 2011. He hopes “Trigger Man” will raise awareness and funds for the Martin family and its foundation. “I hope the family hears it,” he says. “I hope the world hears it. If people like it, buy it and raise money to donate to the Trayvon Martin foundation. I hope it inspires artists to speak out in their music for a conscious cause.”
“God bless the family,” Styles P adds of the Martins. “They’ve been very dignified and very peaceful. God bless ‘em.”