The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin became the focus of social media users everywhere after it was revealed that the high schooler was unarmed when he was allegedly killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator.
The incident took place in February 2012 in a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood. Martin, an African-American, was walking in a gated area where he was allegedly staying for a brief amount of time when Zimmerman noticed him and called the police to report him as a suspicious person. After the phone call, Zimmerman apparently confronted Martin and shot him in the chest at close range.
The attack became national news, however, after it was determined Martin was unarmed, which in turn led many people via social media to label the attack as racism. News and social media reports suggested that Zimmerman only called the police and confronted Martin because he was black.
Both attorneys in this case—Benjamin Crump for Trayvon Martin’s partents and Mark O’Mara for George Zimmerman—agree that social media is playing a highly invasive role in the court proceedings and may even affect the outcome.
"I think that if I could do away with all media, including all social media, that I would not have it involved in a criminal case," O'Mara said at the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Banquet. "But that's a fantasy that is 40 years ago."
Crump, too, agreed, suggesting that social media has given "people who normally would not have a voice in matters like this" to take part in the case.
O’Mara claims that Zimmerman may not even be facing criminal charges if it wasn’t for social media. Instead, now Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. His trial is set to start in June.