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Friday, September 24, 2021

Students react to the death of Trayvon Martin

Neighbors in a gated Sanford community were the only ones who actually heard the gunshot. Now, the country is analyzing the sound bite of Trayvon Martin’s last seconds. A cry. A gunshot. Then, silence.

Advocacy groups and others, including some UF students and professors, are demanding the arrest of George Zimmerman, who shot 17-year-old Martin on Feb. 26.

Zimmerman, 28, told authorities he shot Martin in self-defense after the two began to fight. Martin was unarmed that evening as he walked home from a store with Skittles and an iced tea.

In a 911 call released by the City of Sanford, a neighbor spoke with dispatchers with yelling in the background. A scream can be heard and, five seconds later, a gunshot.

Police arrested and questioned Zimmerman, who has a concealed weapon license, but he was later freed. Now, celebrities like Spike Lee and a petition with about 900,000 signatures are calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.

Vincent Adejumo, a UF Ph.D. student and a member of the Black Graduate Student Organization, said Zimmerman should be held accountable for Martin’s death.

“He took his life for no reason,” Adejumo said.

Steven Noll, a professor of Florida history, said the state has a legacy of racism, especially in Central Florida.

“White people tend to think that racism is over,” Noll said. “Black people have legitimate reasons for not seeing things the same way.”

UF law professor Michelle Jacobs said she’s not surprised Zimmerman hasn’t been charged.

“When a black person gets killed in questionable circumstances by a white person, no one should be surprised that law enforcement was slow to launch an investigation,” she said.

Jamie Taylor lives in Retreat at Twin Lakes, the neighborhood where Martin was shot. She denied reports that Zimmerman was part of a neighborhood watch team and said that no official group did neighborhood patrols.

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“Everyone feels horrible about what happened,” she said.

Adejumo said he agreed that the situation was horrible but said national media should focus more on the victim than the controversial circumstances.

“At the end of the day, we’re all God’s children,” Adejumo said.

Contact Shelby Webb at

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