On the one-month anniversary of his death, Trayvon Martin’s Twitter account and school records are making the public rounds.
Some background for those unfamiliar with the case: On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was walking unarmed through the gated community where his dad’s fiancee lived. He’d just bought some Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea and was on his way back to her house when he was shot by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed Neighborhood Watch volunteer. The events that led up to the actual shooting–whether or not there was a struggle, whether or not Trayvon was being followed, whether or not Trayvon attacked George Zimmerman first–are debatable and still being worked out by authorities.
Numerous protests have been held in Trayvon’s memory, ranging from anger at the Sanford, Florida police to wider reaching undertones of racial injustice. A member of Congress, Bobby Rush, was even escorted out for wearing a hoodie in support of Trayvon Martin’s case. The more that comes out about the shooting, the more uproar there is, and there are even more protests marking the month since Trayvon’s death, especially on college campuses.
Since the shooting has drawn national attention, Trayvon Martin’s Twitter has been in the headlines almost as much as his death. But why? He took a picture flipping off the camera. So do a lot of other people. He posted some questionable things. So do a lot of other people. Unless he was tweeting about it at the time, what does it have to do with the fact that he got shot when he was unarmed? A lot of people post stuff that they assume people won’t see later on, and a lot of people post stuff that they don’t mean. How is his social media activity relevant to his death?
Similarly, Trayvon Martin’s school records show that he had a penchant for tagging, truancy, and tardiness. Fair enough. But again, what does this have to do with his shooting? He’d been suspended for having an empty marijuana baggie and suspected of jewelry theft (but never charged or actually investigated for it). While it’s not commendable behavior by any means, it doesn’t change anything else about his death.
To us, pointing out Trayvon Martin’s Twitter and school records and using them to justify his being shot is nothing short of absurd. It doesn’t sound much different from saying a girl wearing a short skirt was just asking to get raped. It doesn’t sound much different from someone saying that since most dollar bills in the United States have traces of cocaine on them that anyone carrying cash should be arrested for drug possession.
We’re not saying Trayvon Martin was a saint. But we are saying he was a 17-year-old kid. If we were all judged by our tweets, statuses, and tagged photos from our teen years, chances are no one would ever be able to run for office ever again. We’d all be asking for it, we’d all deserve everything that came to us, and we’d all have our reputations eviscerated when we were no longer around to defend ourselves.
What’s the most telling about Trayon Martin’s Twitter and his background is that all of this came to light after he was dead. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by someone who ostensibly didn’t even know about his past–because if Zimmerman’s account of what happened is true, it didn’t include a background check before he pulled the hammer and fired. We think this says more about those trying to destroy his reputation than about Trayvon Martin himself.
Do you think Trayvon Martin’s Twitter and school background are relevant to his death? Do you think social media activity should be monitored? What are your views on Trayvon Martin’s case? Let us know in the comments!