Trayvon Martin: How Social Media Became The Biggest Protest

Trayvon Martin How Social Media Became Biggest Protest

Twitter was practically groaning Saturday under the weight of a sea of protests from the likes of Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin last February. These tweets, scattered with hashtags like #nojustice and #RipTrayvonMartin, were just a small part of a massive social media-spun protest between the 17-year-old high school student's shooting and Zimmerman's 'not guilty' verdict.

In February of 2012, Trayvon Martin was found shot and killed, George Zimmerman standing over his body holding a handgun. Martin was unarmed, wielding only a bottle of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense and walked away from the scene. He was later arrested on April 11 and charged with second-degree murder in the shooting after months of protests.



Those protests, to a large degree, were created online — first with a petition posted to Change.org by Martin's family. That White House press conference in late March 2012, saying: 'If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness that it deserves and we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.'

Although Maree said that a 'number of things' led to Zimmerman's arrest, he does assert that 'Million Hoodies certainly played a critical role in getting Zimmerman arrested,' citing Pew Research Center research that shows social media attention to the case climbing after protest efforts began.

As the trial — which kicked off in June of 2013 — wound to a close, yet another movement was launched via avatars and Twitter feeds, this time featuring hashtags like #Blackout4Trayvon and #JusticeForTrayvon. Those using the #Blackout hashtag chose to share inky black photos on social networks, a trend that was taken up by Rihanna , Kevin Hart , Beyoncé, Ghostface Killah , Diddy and Amber Rose.

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Although the trial has now drawn to a close, the protests online have not. A Million Hoodies has launched a petition asking the U.S. Justice Department to open a civil rights case against George Zimmerman, and celebrities of all ilks are tweeting their outrage. It remains to be seen if this online ire can produce IRL results.