Race and Victimization

George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on the night of February 26,2012, as he walked towards his father’s home. The shooting occurredat Sanford, Florida in the United States of America. Trayvon Martinwas a seventeen-year-old African American student who was in highschool while George Zimmerman was a twenty-eight-year-old mixed race,Hispanic man. Zimmerman was the watch coordinator for the Twins Lakescommunity which is a gated community in Sanford, Florida (Bobo,2015).

According to the shooting report, Zimmerman said that he shot Martinin self-defense. Zimmerman was licensed to carry a firearm sinceNovember 2008. At the time of the shooting incidence the populationin the gated community according to the census was 20% black people,23% Hispanic, 5% Asian and 49% non-Hispanic white (Adam, 2012). Oneyear before the shooting of Trayvon Martin the Retreat at Twin Lakeshad registered one shooting, eight burglaries, and nine thefts. Thoseincidences had created an atmosphere of fear in the Retreat. Between2004 and 2012 Zimmerman had made over 50 calls to the policedepartment reporting various forms of disturbances such as opengarage doors and loud parties. Therefore, in 2011 after a fewbreak-ins in the Retreat, the residents held a community meeting andcreated a watch program.

Zimmerman started paying close attention to people who he suspectedas susceptible to committing criminal activity. The shooting ofMartin due to his race might have been caused by past suspiciouscriminal activities by young black individuals. According to theneighbors and friends of Zimmerman, on 2nd February threeweeks before the shooting of Martin, a young African-American youngman had been noticed and reported by Zimmerman peeping into an emptyTwin Lakes house. The police were not able to arrest the young lad ashe had escaped by the time they arrived. Five days later, a stolenlaptop and jewelry were discovered in a backpack of a young AfricanAmerican man who Zimmerman identified as the same person he hadspotted a few days back (Haislip and Miofsky, 2012).

Zimmerman was allegedly accused of being motivated by racism (Bobo,2015). Zimmerman profiled Martin racially basing on previous criminalinstances by the young people of the African American race. In theprevious 911 calls that Zimmerman made to the police, he was recordedof accusing the victims based on their ethnicity. The police werealso accused of victimization and acquitting Zimmerman of all chargesin the first place even after Martin was unarmed and Zimmerman shothim. People of color in the U.S are more victimized than whiteAmericans IN almost every violent crime category. According to Truman(2011), the rate of violent victimization in 2010 for AfricanAmericans was 20.8 per 1000, 13.6 per 1000 for white Americans and15.6 per 1000 for Latinos. More recent studies by Truman and Langton(2014) show that U.S residents aged above 12 years encounter anestimate of 5.5 million violent victimizations.

Some of the protestors argued that if Martin an African American hadshot Zimmerman, a Hispanic man the judicial system would not haveacquitted him of the murder charges. Zimmerman was dismissed underthe protection of Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defenselaw (Ackermann et al., 2015). The whole case caused uproars leadingto the Black Lives Matter Movement. Zimmerman shooting action wasbased on racism grounds, and the police disinterest was also accusedof being racist because Martin was black rather than white.


Ackermann, N., Goodman, S., Gilbert, K., Arroyo-Johnson, C., &ampPagano, M. (2015). Race, law, and health: Examination of ‘StandYour Ground’and defendant convictions in Florida. Social Science&amp Medicine, 142, 194-201.

Bobo, L. D. (2015). Deadly Injustice: Trayvon Martin, Race, and theCriminal Justice System. D. Johnson, P. Y. Warren, &amp A. Farrell(Eds.). NYU Press.

Like-Haislip, T. Z., &amp Miofsky, K. T. (2011). Race, ethnicity,gender, and violent victimization. Race and Justice, 1(3), 254-276.

Langton, L., &amp Truman, J. (2014). The socio-emotional impact ofviolent crime. US Department of Justice.