When George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, there were a number reasons for black teenagers to be concerned about their safety. For a number of different reasons, this case has put young black males at increased risk as they go about their everyday lives. In this article, we seek to address some of the new concerns that may arise in the aftermath of this historic court case.
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How Life Has Changed For Black Teens
1 – Presumed guilt – Young African Americans now must go through life understanding that they will be presumed guilty of a crime in many situations regardless of their actions. Zimmerman falsely assumed that Trayvon Martin had committed a crime and sought to confront him, leading to the fatal shooting. While his presumption of guilt was incorrect, the court validated Zimmerman’s actions which will allow this same situation to take place again in the future.
2 – Vigilante law enforcement – When Zimmerman sought to follow and confront Martin, he was taking law enforcement into his own hands. By saying that this is acceptable, the court has set a dangerous precedent. In the future, when people are suspicious of black teens they will be able to take action against them without involving law enforcement. This will make many new situations incredibly dangerous for young black males.
3 – Racial profiling – One of the most disturbing outcomes of this trial has been the validation of racial profiling. The court has essentially declared Zimmerman’s assumption that Martin was suspicious due to his race to be a valid conclusion.
4 – Dangerous environments – In the future, black teens will now need to be aware of environments that might be dangerous because of the presumption that they are engaging in criminal activity. Just walking through a neighborhood will now have to be a carefully considered action as the residents might act in a similar way to Zimmerman.