trayvon-martin-death-photo-gawkerAs George Zimmerman’s trial for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin comes to a close, media outlets are scrambling to cover the case from all angles. And as lawyers complete their closing remarks and the jury begins deliberations, the web is heaving with emotions on both sides of the aisle.

With tensions running high, Gawker took a controversial step and posted an image of Trayvon Martin’s body as he lay dead on the grass with a gunshot wound to the chest.

The image shows the lanky teen laying face up, with his mouth and eyes wide open. Martin is wearing a black sweatshirt, cuffed khakis, and sneakers.

According to Adam Weinstein, he received the image from a reader who took a screen shot from a TV broadcast of the trial. Although controversial, Weinstein says what prompted him to post the graphic image, despite major news outlets refusing to do so, was good old-fashioned rage.

He explains:

“To Trayvon’s parents, Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, I’m sorry that I feel compelled to share this photograph. Were I a slave to journalistic norms, I would say that it’s somehow in the public interest to see him there. I would point out Florida’s sunshine laws, and the TV network’s incompetence, and argue the inevitability that this image would’ve gained a wider audience than it has already.

But those are rationalizations. They don’t explain my motive: Good old-fashioned rage that this kid is dead because my home state empowered a dullard aficionado of Van Damme and Seagal movie cliches to choose his own adventure. Florida literally gave George Zimmerman license to make up neighborhood threats and invite violent confrontations, confident in the knowledge that he carried more firepower jammed down his sweaty fat waistband than every army on earth beheld before 1415.

I wish I were a better person than that, but I’m not. People come up short all the time, after all. I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t have a gun.”

Many have chided Gawker for posting the image of Martin’s slain body, especially without a warning. They have accused the website of trolling for page views. Others, however, feel the image of Martin’s body further humanizes the teen and highlights what can happen in an overly armed society.

When I first read people discussing the image on Facebook, I wanted to be outraged.

“HOW DARE THEY?!” I thought. “Gawker is SO trolling for clicks with this.”

But then I saw it.

And I was once again reminded of the fragility of life. I was reminded, again, that Trayvon Martin is not a symbol of young black men in America. He is not the poster child for “scary thugs” who “get what they deserve.”

He was a young man on his way home from the store.

He was Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin’s son. He was Jahvaris Fulton’s little brother. He was 17 and he had his whole life ahead of him.

Trayvon Martin was walking home with skittles and iced tea, and he was murdered.

And murder is gruesome, and ugly, and heart wrenching. And it’s often glossed over, talked around, and sanitized to make us all feel more comfortable.

We see bodies under white sheets, crying parents, and chalk outlines. We don’t see cold, dead eyes staring toward heaven unless we were there.

Now, we are all here with Trayvon, gazing toward heaven.

While I understand the outrage, sometimes we need to bear witness to the ugly, gruesome, hard-to-watch parts to understand just what we lost.

  • Chelle

    I saw the picture and I could feel my hear breaking all over again. He looked so much like my own little brother. They’re the same age and all I could think of was “This could’ve been my brother.” I can’t imagine losing him, he’s like my baby. I truly hate that this happened. I wish I could open my eyes and this entire ordeal was just a nightmare. But I can’t. Sentence Zimmerman to life so we can all move on. Trayvon Martin’s life will never be forgotten.

  • http://twitter.com/ScallywagNYC Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC)

    Which brings us to the core question. Is a picture of a dead man’s body newsworthy? Is it really about journalism? But then again who said media really has anything to do with being newsworthy in the first place anymore? Or is it really about providing us with sanitized versions of reality that are consumer palatable? Or maybe media is just all about being entertaining and sensational?

    If we are going to sit down for months and talk about motives, prejudice and hoodies and pictures of Trayvon looking like a gangster, why not the end result picture too…?

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2013/07/trayvon-martins-dead-body-sends-the-media-world-into-a-tizzy/

  • Justanotheropinion

    My heart and soul broke when I saw this pix. And then the tears….It could have been my son. This one really hit home. It’s been thousands of young black men before him and unfortunately, I don’t see an end to this madness.

    Rest in Peace young Trayvon. The justice system has failed you (now that the verdict is in), but there is a legion of people that will continue to pray for you and your family.

    I don’t think I’ve ever advocated street justice, but my soul & heart are so very, very weary and tired of this. As has been said before, ‘No Justice, No Peace’.

    Welcome to AmeriKKKa…..

  • http://twitter.com/shining0polaris (Ai)♛+♔= ♡ (@shining0polaris)

    Well the published photos are online for everyone to see. Someone should look at 4chan just to see how much of a mockery a tragic death can muster.

  • The Truth

    Does the justice system only work when it plays into your desired outcome? Yes this is tragic and the darkest hour for his family. So since he is half white it’s a race issue? Where is your logic here? I was in school when the OJ Simpson trial was underway, did you think that there was justice there? Can you really name thousands of other cases like this?

    Your full of fallacies. Where is your justice for all the other kids that died? You jump on what’s convenient and you’ve taken the easy road by playing the race card. WAKE UP!!

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