Today, the eyes of the world are on the small Florida town of Sanford where jury selection began in the trial of George Zimmerman accused of second-degree murder of Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin.
Volunteer neighborhood watchman Zimmerman said he was defending himself when Trayvon was fatally wounded on February 26, 2012. Forty-four days later, after much outrage in the form of protest marches, rallies, and other acts of civil disobedience, throughout the country, George Zimmerman was arrested for Trayvon Martin's death. The lack of forthright action on the part of law enforcement in Sanford had become an embarrassment for the state of Florida and United States of America as a whole.
Trayvon, visiting Sanford with his dad after being suspended from school in Miami, was returning from a nearby convenience store after purchasing an Arizona ice tea and a bag of Skittles when he was spotted by Zimmerman.
Against the advice of law enforcement, George Zimmerman continued to follow Trayvon Martin and at some point exited the vehicle he was driving. Words were exchanged between Trayvon and Zimmerman. A struggle ensued, and Trayvon was fatally wounded.
Several days would pass before Tracy Martin would know what happened to his son Trayvon. The Sanford Police Department did not think enough of that young man to put forth maximum effort to notify the next of kin. They also ordered a drug and alcohol test for Trayvon but not for his killer. No, George Zimmerman was allowed to return home that evening.
While people of all ages and ethnicities donned hoodies in tribute to Trayvon Martin and demanding justice, George Zimmerman's supporters quietly, and some not so quietly, contributed $400,000 to his legal defense.
After many television appearances, interviews, and community rallies, the day has come for the George Zimmerman trial to begin at the Seminole County Courthouse.
Stay tuned, as this phase of the trial is projected to last a week or two as six jurors and four alternates are selected. The trial is projected to last for months. In the coming weeks we plan to live blog and tweet our visit to Sanford during this historic trial.
Photo: Vanessa W. Byers