Sting of Trayvon Martin Shooting Evokes Questions on Racism, Vigilantism, Gun Laws

Barrington M. Salmon | 4/4/2012, 12:15 p.m.

Cunningham, who is white, said he got a message about the case on a listserv and started a petition with Change.org, then posted it to Facebook and Twitter. The petition gained momentum. Celebrities and others helped spread the word on Twitter by retweeting it and when 10,000 people signed up, Change.org transferred the name to Trayvon's parents.

"We have 2.2 million signatures now. I just got the ball rolling," said Cunningham. "The first 10,000 signatures are the hardest."

Cunningham - social media coordinator for KinderUSA, a Palestinian children's charity - said this case was so over-the-top, it caught his attention.

"It seemed like crossing a new red line for civilians to kill people," said Cunningham, who graduated from law school in 2009. "He sees a kid, stalks him, kills him - a grown man versus a kid. It was very disturbing. It involves an element of race, class and culture."

Anthony Barnes, a father of two boys, 16 and 12, described Trayvon's death as the needle that burst the pus of corruption, racism and deception in Sanford.

"This is just another example of what happens when we continue to engender an ignorant society," said Barnes, 47 and a federal government employee. "Clearly, this is not the first time this has happened in Sanford ... It took the death of a teenager to bring out this system of corruption. I can't count the amount of people who have died to make sure this didn't happen."

"We would never know about this if this couple didn't say that enough is enough. Clearly, it looks like he shot the boy for nothing. He felt he could get away with this which is so upsetting to me. It is a gated neighborhood. Why did he need to protect it? He was not a part of this watch. He was captain of a one-man watch. This is bizarre," said Barnes, a Laurel, Md., resident.

Trahan said she is still at a loss to grasp the reality of the shooting.

"I wish I had more concrete answers. I'm so sickened by the whole thing," she said. "I don't know, I just don't know. He ignored the dispatcher and pursued the boy. It's raining, half dark and you're going to get out of your car and followed this boy? There was no one around. [Zimmerman] should have stayed way back. He put himself in that young man's space."

"I don't know how people are listening to the [911] audiotapes. I would be [messed] up for weeks to hear this child screaming for his life. It sucks, the hard reality of it all. There's a bounty on the heads of our children. That's a sad condition for my son, for all our children."