KILLED: Trayvon Martin
THE MOTHER of a boy shot dead by a neighbourhood watchman as he walked home from a local convenience store claims that her son was targeted because he was black.
Trayvon Martin was returning to his father's fiancee's house last month after buying Skittles for his younger brother and an iced tea for himself at a nearby 7-Eleven store, when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, a ‘Spanish speaking minority,’ claimed the 17-year-old was acting 'suspicious' and he later shot him in self-defence during a confrontation in the Sanford, Florida, gated community.
However, the teen’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, says Zimmerman’s motivation was based solely on race.
“He [Zimmerman] was reacting to the color of his skin,” Sybrina told NBC.
“My son committed no crime. My son wasn’t doing anything but walking on the sidewalk. And I just don’t understand why this situation got out of control.”
Police investigating the February shooting also admitted yesterday that investigators may have missed a racial slur by the gunman during his 911 call moments before the killing.
In a call to dispatchers released at the weekend, George Zimmerman can be heard muttering what sounds like 'f***ing c**ns' under his breath as he followed 17-year-old shooting victim Trayvon Martin, police say.
UNPROVOKED ATTACKED: The parents of Trayvon Martin believed the teen was targeted because he was black
The tapes also revealed that Zimmerman had been told by police not to pursue Trayvon.
The seemingly unprovoked shooting has sparked outrage in the Florida community as citizens call for Zimmerman's arrest.
An online petition urging local authorities to prosecute Zimmerman has meanwhile drawn more than 700,000 signatures at website Change.org. While a number of celebrities have also joined in the campaign for justice.
American R‘n’B singer, Tyrese, took to his Twitter page and wrote: “#TrayvonMartin we will speak for you. Your loss of life wasn't in vain .. This "mess" it's sending out a strong "Message"-RIH ...Heaven!..”
While Last King of Scotland Actress Kerry Washington said she was “PRAYING 4 compassion justice change”
The lawyer for the family of Trayvon Martin said that the family "won't rest" until Zimmerman is arrested.
Black Entertainment Television (BET) News reporter, Tony Anderson, who is in Florida reporting on the case, quoted the ‘family’s lawyer’, saying: "You cannot pick a fight, kill an unarmed person & then plead self defense. That doesn't make common sense."
It has also been claimed that the teen was talking to his girlfriend on his mobile phone when the confrontation began.
Attorney Benjamin Crump said that Martin told the girl that Zimmerman was following him. She heard the beginning of the altercation but not the shooting.
The girlfriend said Trayvon told her someone was following him and that he was going to try to lose him. He thought he had lost Zimmerman but hadn't.
SELF-DEFENCE CLAIMS: Neighbourhood watchman, George Zimmerman says he acted in self defence
“He says, ‘Oh he's right behind me, he's right behind me again,’” Crump said the girl told him.
“She says run. He says I'm not going to run I'm just going to walk fast.
“She hears Trayvon say, ‘Why are you following me?’ Other voice says, ‘What are you doing around here?’
Mr Crump says she told him that they both repeated themselves and then she heard a scuffle begin 'because [Trayvon's] voice changes like something interrupted his speech'.
She heard a scuffle and the phone call was cut off.
Within moments, according to Mr Crump's timeline, Martin was shot. She didn't hear the gunfire.
BET’s Tony Anderson confirmed the audio on Twitter. He said: “Just listened to the audio of the girl that was on the phone with Trayvon Martin. She tells him to "Runaway" and u can hear him running.”
Comedian DL Hughley later wrote on the social networking site: “What happened 2 Trayvon Martin is the GREATEST fear of every parent of a black male child! It keeps u awake til they walk through the door!
PHONE CALL: The family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, says the teen was talking to his girlfriend on his mobile phone when the confrontation began
Meanwhile, Zimmerman's father, Robert, denied his son is racist in a letter released to the Orlando Sentinel.
“George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends,” he wrote.
He continued: “He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. One black neighbor recently interviewed said she knew everything in the media was untrue and that she would trust George with her life. Another black neighbor said that George was the only one, black or white, who came and welcomed her to the community, offering any assistance he could provide. Recently, I met two black children George invited to a social event. I asked where they met George. They responded that he was their mentor. They said George visited them routinely, took them places, helped them, and taught them things and that they really loved George. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.”
A grand jury will convene in central Florida next month to consider the case on April 10.
In a statement yesterday, Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger urged outraged community members to be patient as the investigation unfolds.
Earlier this week the Justice Department yesterday announced it would probe the incident as a possible hate crime.
“The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation,” the agency said.