Shooting death of Florida teen spurs outrage, allegations of racism


by Renee Murphy

Posted on March 20, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 20 at 6:41 PM

(WHAS11) -- The shooting death of a Florida teen by a neighborhood watch captain has sparked outrage and allegations of racism.

Now, some Louisville students are discussing the case in the classroom. WHAS11's Renee Murphy was visited Central High School, where students shared their thoughts about the investigation.

Trayvon Martin’s picture has been all over the news as people across the country are asking why he was killed. The topic sparked a discussion in a history class at Louisville’s Central High School.

They have been looking at the case and asking questions.  Students like Jaleyah Hackett say they are scared a shooting like this could happen here.

“Sometimes I even walk in stores and I’ll have people following me because they think I’m going to do something as far as steal something like that,” Hackett said.

Trayvon Martin was unarmed and was walking to the store in Florida to get candy and juice.  A neighborhood block watch captain admits to shooting and killed Martin. He says it was self defense. 
911 dispatchers told block watch captain, George Zimmerman, not to follow Martin.  In the 911 calls, you can also hear Zimmerman say what sounds like a racial slur. 

It’s raised the national debate about how Blacks are viewed in America.  Police describe Zimmerman as White and Martin was Black.

For Jaleyah Hackett the subject matter is very important.

“White people are more scared of Black people than Black people are scared of White people because they think that Black people have more potential of hurting them than they have of hurting us,” said Hackett.

She believes if Martin were White, he’d still be here today.

“I don’t think if he was a Caucasian boy, that he would have shot him.  He might have got out of the car and followed him also but I don’t think it would have went to the next level of Trayvon getting killed if he was Caucasian,”  Hackett said.

History teacher Chris Brown says he wanted to discuss this case in class, not as a racial issue, but because he wanted the kids to form their own opinion about what happened.

“It’s not uncomfortable at all.  Again, as a teacher, I have to bring up multiple perspectives, everything from every side and part of my job is to let them formulate their own opinion,”  Brown said.

Zimmerman has not been criminally charged but his case is going to grand jury for review and possible charges.