In the early days of the Zimmerman trial, several analysts remarked that there was an intentional effort to keep conversations about race off the table in the courtroom. And indeed, the race and ethnicity of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman were never overtly mentioned in the court proceedings. But anyone who's been following the details of this case since day 1 knows that race was always going to find a way into the court proceedings. With that in mind, The Root staff decided to compile 11 of the most significant racial events of the trial.
In the days leading up to the trial, Robert Zimmerman Sr. published an e-book on Amazon and blamed black leaders, ranging from the Congressional Black Caucus to NAACP President Ben Jealous, for causing the racial divide that has permeated the case.
The six-person jury, made up entirely of women — five white and one Latina — was finalized. Many were concerned that having a relatively homogeneous jury would spell defeat for the prosecution. But others believed that the defense would have been at a disadvantage, too.
Rachel Jeantel, the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin before he was killed, took the stand. She was rumored to be the prosecution's best witness. Once she began her testimony, many African Americans said that she embarrassed the black community, while the media put down her demeanor, speech pattern and attitude. But others came to her defense.
During Rachel Jeantel's testimony, she mentioned that Trayvon Martin referred to George Zimmerman as a "creepy-ass cracker" during his telephone conversation with her while Zimmerman was following him. It resulted in many accusing Trayvon of being racist and drove CNN to air a special asking whether "cracker" is worse than the n-word.
During an outing that Zimmerman defense attorney Don West took with his daughters to get some ice cream, his daughter, Molly, posted this picture to Instagram. She added a caption — "We beat stupidity celebration cones #zimmerman #defense #dadkilledit" — in reference to her father's performance during the trial. But because of the racial undertone of the trial, folks weren't happy.
After the broadcast of the trial showed photos of Trayvon Martin's body, multiple Facebook pages popped up poking fun at Trayvon's death. One page was full of memes of Trayvon's body photoshopped in various places and situations. People on social media sprang into action, starting a successful campaign to get many of the pages removed.
Dr. Shiping Bao, the Seminole County associate medical examiner, testified as a witness for the prosecution because he performed the autopsy on Trayvon Martin's body. During cross-examination, the defense made efforts to reinterpret Bao's testimony. But he pushed back and refused to be intimidated. While the media made Bao out to be "combative" and aggressive, Twitter (mostly black Twitter) praised his actions on the stand.
A video game appeared in the Google Play store called "Angry Trayvon." The objective: to defeat Trayvon, a guy who fights people at night while wearing a hoodie. Though the game's developer, Trade Digital, claimed that the male in the game was not supposed to represent Trayvon Martin, folks on social media weren't buying it. The game was removed from the app store.
While many black people thought every other black person would side with the prosecution, at least one black woman is apparently on Zimmerman's side — on his legal team, to be precise. Twitter users had many opinions about her presence in the courtroom.
As the close of the trial approached, Florida law-enforcement agencies became concerned about riots in the event that George Zimmerman was found not guilty. As a result, the Broward County Sheriff's Office created the "Raise Your Voice, Not Your Hands" public service announcement to appeal to potential rioters. However, people within the black community took offense, claiming that perpetuating the possibility of riots was racial fearmongering.
During the prosecution's closing statements, prosecution attorney Bernie de la Rionda declared that Trayvon "is dead because another man made assumptions." De la Rionda alluded to the stereotype that Trayvon was a thug and a criminal because he was a black male in a hoodie. The prosecution's closing statement affirmed that Zimmerman's profiling of Trayvon is the reason for this entire trial.