ORLANDO, FLORIDA (AP) - It started a couple of weeks ago with a few cryptic messages on Twitter and other social media websites: Where is the justice? and R.I.P. TrayvonMartin.
“Unarmed 17-year-old boy shot by neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, FL outside of Orlando,” the tweet said. It provided a web link to a story.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of messages have spread the word about Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was shot to death Feb. 26 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Racial tensions have rapidly escalated as civil rights groups have held rallies, saying the shooting was unjustified.
President Barack Obama even commented on the case Friday, responding to a question about it by calling the case a “tragedy” and saying “every aspect” of it should be investigated.
Martin, who lived in Miami, was in Sanford visiting family when he went to a convenience store. He was walking back carrying a bag of candy and can of iced tea, the hood of his jacket pulled over his head because it was raining. He was approached by Zimmerman, who told a police dispatcher he thought Martin looked suspicious. Zimmerman shot Martin following a chase and fight.
The online uproar grew after the first emergency call tapes from the day of the shooting were released last week. In one of the calls, a dispatcher told Zimmerman to stop following Martin, but he continued.
Twitter messages about Martin have been mentioned almost 600,000 times, according to the social media monitoring firm PeopleBrowsr. On Facebook, some protesters are wearing hoodies in their profile photos with the caption, “Do I look suspicious?”
The Justice Department and FBI have opened a civil rights investigation, and the local prosecutor has convened a grand jury April 10 to determine whether to charge Zimmerman.
“What you’re seeing is that the Trayvon Martin case speaks to people around the country just like it speaks to people in this community,” said Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “It would have been easy for people here to say, `He wasn’t one of us. I didn’t know him. My kids didn’t go to school with him.’ But instead, people here are saying what people said around the world, which is, `He reminds me of my cousin, of my son, or my grandson.’”
Not all the online sentiments side with the Martin point of view.
Kyle Rogers blogs at Examiner.com and is also a national board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens. He wrote a post for Examiner asking questions about the facts that have been reported in mainstream media to this point.View Entire Story
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