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.

  • adiatc

    I just viewed the photo on Gawker’s site. At a loss for words…

  • Angela

    I couldn’t click the link. I just….I have a son. I couldn’t click the link.
    Well written article!

  • cosmicsistren

    I went onto Gawker and saw the photo. It made me very emotional. I’m glad the photo was published. George Zimmerman should rot in jail for the rest of his days on this earth.

  • AJ Hodge-Jackson (@ThreeFacesofMom)

    I share your sentiments. I wanted to be annoyed with Gawkers. I wanted to believe that opportunistic impulse drove the decision to do something that most mainstream media outlets consider taboo. Then I looked at the picture and it brought me to tears. Seeing the image makes the gravity of this tragedy uniquely real. Yes, people need to see this.

  • copelli

    I was more alarmed about the fact that I wasn’t more alarmed over the picture.

  • noirluv45

    “Others, however, feel the image of Martin’s body further humanizes the teen and highlights what can happen in an overly armed society.” People who have a heart and compassion, will look at this picture of this child and feel the pain I did when I saw it. I cannot imagine Sybrina and Tracy seeing this.

    Those who do not have a heart, will look at it and rejoice that another one of us is dead and gone or they’ll think he deserved what he got.

  • noirluv45

    Let me not forget Jahvaris and the rest of the family.

  • dbsm

    They didn’t cross the line. Zimmerman crossed the line. Police cross the line. Police wannabes cross the line. Men with certain complexes cross the line.

    This could have been my son or my brother. This forces people to look at the reality and the gravity of the situation. For too long we have been shielded. This is what murder looks like. This is a child that most of us have only come to know through his murder. Let it be.

  • JN

    Perhaps as a journalist he didn’t do the right thing, but I approve of what he did because of his motives.

  • march pisces

    for the brief moment i was able to look instant tears. prayers to trayvon’s parents and his brothers. also praying that the jury comes back with a guilty verdict.

  • noirluv45

    You know another thing that is so hard for me looking at the picture of him laying there dead is that minutes before, he was at 7-11 buying Skittles and iced tea. When I see the video of him at the store, I think, “He had no idea that he would meet a beast named Georgie Zimmerman” and that he would be dead.

    My heart just breaks when I think about it, and it will break even more if they don’t punish GZ for what he did.

  • entro

    Let me say this as a mother of two boys. I am prepared to be their protector until the day that I die. In my zeal to protect them from the ill will and hatred of this society, I wont allow them to do the normal things teenage boys do, without my hovering. Like walking to the store by themselves, playing basketball at the park without me being somewhere near etc so in an effort to keep them alive they probably will be called mommas boys, I don’t care I have to protect them.
    I told my husband this morning that if this verdict is an acquittal, it is once again open season on black boys . I feel that at this point if ANYONE harms my children I will Have to hunt them down like dogs and kill them myself because there is no justice for our children they have been marginalized and dehumanized by society (not only white ) less anyone think Im ignoring black on black crimes.
    Seeing that picture hurt me to tears and I saw my own children and I cant comprehend how Trayvons parents can contain themselves

  • mostexhalted30

    I can’t bring myself to look at the picture. I just can’t. It’s too heartbreaking. May GZ burn in hell for what he did. He has no remorse. Nothing. Just pure hatred for “young black thugs” like Trayvon would needed to be gunned down. I see it in his eyes, in his family, and his attorneys. Nothing but filth, the worst of mankind exist in these individuals.

  • Tasha

    Several years ago images of Saddam Hussein and his children or siblings were circulating within mainstream media. For some reason, I was one of the few people who was disgusted by the sight of their deaths. There was very little sympathy or even respect for them shown in their deaths.

    I wonder why Trayvon is different. Shouldn’t we value all human life not just the ones who look like us?

  • jamesfrmphilly

    line? there is a line?

  • Deb

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

    yep and this is why I’m not following the case or all the nonstop chatter (there’s no real conversation happening IMO) online. Race issues are just a god dang mess in this country. I just pray for his justice and his poor parentd and that George Zimmerman will realize that he ended the life of a young man whether by mistake or intention. I never expect real justice to be served instances like this.

  • Simone L

    And till this day, my husband remembers that, how desensitized we’ve become.agree.

  • jennifudy

    …and meanwhile Black people are rallying to support Paula “Racist Saturated Fat Queen” Deen. Perspective…we need it. Badly.

    Sure it’s shocking, disturbing, and prime bait for site clicks, BUT I’m glad Gawker had the guts to go against ethics and post this. Yes, the photo disturbs me and hurts my heart, but that’s what it needs to do. It needs to disturb people to make them realize the reality of the situation. Most have been focusing on trivial aspects of this trial but have forgotten what is essential — a human being lost their life and Zimmerman is a cold blooded killer who needs to rot UNDER the jail. This photo is a wake-up call that was needed to remind everyone that Trayvon Martin and his family deserve justice, because if not, it just proves how much our society (once again) cares so little about life, and that right there is even more disturbing to me.

  • mostexhalted30

    I feel the same way. And honestly, if someone harms my child I have to take justice into my own hands. I don’t trust the courts. Black life is so devalue in this country. And this case of Trayvon Martin’s murder is nothing more entertainment for cable news and radio stations. It’s nothing more but useless fodder for people to demonize Trayvon and black people in general (mainstream media can feed off the racial aspect of this story for days like it’s amusing). It’s nothing more but imbeciles seeking airtime on primetime cable news. It’s nothing more but a charade. I didn’t watch any of the trial. It is repulsive to me how the serious aspect of this case and what happened to this young man’s life just got lost in the shuffle of useless chatter.

  • Anthony

    I saw a bit of his body MSNBC yesterday. They flashed it for a second before taking it down. I have not looked at the Gawker site yet, and I probably won’t look. I’m sure I have seen worse, but I’m not up to seeing this kid’s murdered body.

    I was 17 once, in my mind, it seems like almost yesterday. I remember incidents that could have ended violently that I ran into due to no fault of my own. I could have been a Trayvon Martin, the truth be told, most black men have come much closer to being a Trayvon Martin than we care to admit.

    I did look at the picture. It is not gory, but it is so sad. I am almost forty years older than that skinny kid, and I look to forward to the rest of my career and retirement. I look forward to my children growing up, my wife and I both getting promotions, and being able to travel. Seeing dead Trayvon makes me grateful that I have lived long enough to have arthritis and survive cancer.

    Everything was stolen from Trayvon by a hateful wannabe tough guy/cop/hero, who concocted a story that wouldn’t fly for one second if the victim were anyone but a young black male.

    This country is sick with racism, if a person with that skinny little body could be seen as “scary,” this country is hopelessly sick with hate. Even if Trayvon were the size of a young Shaquille O’Neal, he is still just another human being. Unless a person genuinely is doing something like breaking into a house or assaulting someone. Being big does not someone an animal.

    What is scary is that even if Zimmerman is convicted, black people had to move heaven and earth to approach justice. If real justice existed. Zimmerman would have been arrested the night of the crime.

  • Natalie

    I’ve seen the picture and its not graphic but it’s very painful and heart breaking to look at . Sad how a young teenage boy was killed because GZ ASSUMED he was doing something bad. All trayvon was doing was walking home and trying to get away from GZ because he felt uncomfortable being followe by someone three times his size…I don’t even think he had any other option left other than to try to fight back since there was no way of him to escape . And even if he did try to walk away, I bet he would’ve gotten shot because GZ Is full of nothing but hate .

  • NJNP

    I didn’t want to look but I have sons. He was a kid and there is no mistaking that he was a kid. Where was the thug!!!!!!! Where was the thug!!!!! I’m crying and I’m angry dammit!!!! To think that people who think like GZ will only see my sons no matter how baby faced they may be and a see someone who needs to be hunted and shot down like a dog. After seeing that picture of Tracy and Sabrina’s baby I don’t care at this point if it comes about through the courts or through the streets but justice needs to be had.

  • Lemons

    Yes Gawker crossed the line. Trayvon Martin deserves more respect than to be a photo op between headlines about bar fights and a story wondering what happened to teen smoking. Trayvon Martin’s family deserves more than to have pictures of their son’s dead body posted on the internet for all to see with just the motivation to make people angry. MSNBC showed the image for a few seconds while Gawker has had it up for hours and for what, to make people angry? Angry at MSNBC? Angry at Gawker? As of right now the story has ove 1600 comments and the best they can do is stand by their decision not to take it down?
    Did they ask permission from his parents to post this picture of their son on a very popular website on the internet? No they took it upon themselves to decide that we needed to see this picture to try to shame MSNBC while bringing some attention to themselves. Right now I’m having a hard time seeing a difference between them and the internet trolls they encourage you not to feed.
    I can’t help but wonder if it were some other victim of another race would they feel as strongly that the public NEEDED to see this photo?

  • Anonymous

    I agree. The family was not consulted. Gawker was up front that they did it for the page views. Gawker is the worst kind of media whore. They don’t give a darn about Trayvon Martin. This whole thing was to raise Gawkers’s visibility and it worked. Everyone is talking about Gawker on the day the case went to the jury. Disgusting. Gawker is no longer on my bookmarks.

  • Cali

    I was initially upset, but after reading the entire post I agree that if it reminds the people who’ve forgotten Trayvon was HUMAN – not a thug, not deserving of this – then I hope it serves a purpose. I hope it put an impression on that jury.

  • g2-b4994bb7ccb2e7df6936f0fdd6975aae

    I think this photo needed to be seen. Like the Emmitt Till photo, it tells the story of brutality. The photo tells the story of Zimmerman’s true cowardly act. Anyone could see this was a child. America needs to see to this photo to get the whole story. I have seen the photo and it is necessary to see.

  • Ash

    That picture is powerful and saddening. I hope the jury keeps it in their head and convicts Zimmerman.

  • Nadell

    I think this is similar to Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till, allowing the open casket for her son. It exposes the reality and depths of an individual who is evil. In turn it points the finger to the real individual who is the criminal and nefarious — it dehumanizes the person who acted less than human.
    The parents of the Sandy Hooks children should’ve allowed photos of their childrens’ lifeless, bullet-ridden bodies for all the world to see just how violence cannot be sugarcoated and placated.

  • U_been_schooled

    I feel the exact same. Although I think the image will honestly help people understand just how serious this trial really is, its sad that I’m so use to seeing graphic images.

  • Cici

    I know I’m gonna get several thumb downs for this but there are many of our fellow innocent blacks dying everyday from the hands of our own and a lot of us don’t even care or bat an eyelash. I’m not minimizing the GZ situation but if he was black I’m sure there wouldn’t have been all this outrage. 12 black kids were killed this past 4th of July weekend from the hands of other blacks and I haven’t even heard a peep about it.
    A black teen kills another unarmed black teen and it only makes the local news for a lousy day. A white hispanic man kills a black teen and it’s national news for over a year while all the black on black violence which is 10x greater than white on black violence gets ignored.
    A few weeks ago, an unarmed girl in her early teens was unknowingly passing by a fight between 2 black males and ends up getting shot accidentally and lost her life. It was on the news for one day then forgotten the next.

    When this case is over, if George Zimmerman is convicted many blacks will celebrate then go back to their normal lives, all while ignoring the gun violence in black neighborhoods that is destroying us in every single aspect possible.
    You can’t have it both ways. We must fix our communities first.

  • Child, Please

    “Those who do not have a heart, will look at it and rejoice that another one of us is dead and gone or they’ll think he deserved what he got.”

    I kid you not; I posted the image on Facebook for the same reason the author of the Gawker article included it in the article and two people felt the the pictures might display a different tone – one evoking the defense to use it as fuel for proving Trayvon’s “drug use.” The wording and tone of the comments weren’t indicative of concern for Trayvon’s parents, his legacy or even the prosecution, but of confirmation of justice was served. It disgusted me and makes it crystal clear this “post-racial” society is only existent in the Land of What If. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, given who the commenters were, it just goes to show people either truly don’t care about the outcome or as you said, they think Trayvon deserved to get shot.

  • Whatever

    I think it needed to be published as well. It really hit home hard for me just now. I have been following the case but this just got me really emotional in a way that none of the testimony or stories from that night were able to. SMH

  • Child, Please

    I think the difference is Saddam Hussein is portrayed his as someone who’s inflicted pain on the country; he was viewed as a harmful man. Trayvon is viewed as an innocent bystander minding his business and wound up shot by somebody who most consider an aggressor. I’m not saying it’s fair, but if you compare how they’re portrayed in the media and their actions leading up to their deaths, one might argue why showing one is more deserved of “celebration” (if you will) and the other of martyrdom.

  • Tsaun

    Why?…… I’m in tears. And this piece of s**t may walk…..smgdh….

  • Tsaun

    One can only hope and pray that will be the outcome. My heart breaks for Trayvons family……

  • Tsaun

    What did you need to see to be alarmed? Blood and guts? A 17 year old young man was killed simply for walking while black and no other reason…..that’s alarming enough for me.

  • Tsaun

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  • Southpaw

    Someone should release photos of Weinsteins dead family in the concentration camps.

  • LMO85

    You cannot escape the racial dynamics of this case. If Trayvon killed GZ, we wouldn’t be having this discussion either because Trayvon would’ve been locked up. I don’t see it as having it both ways. The killing of Trayvon and the killing of random “nameless” Black people in the streets have a similar theme that points back to the underlying structure that allowed someone like GZ to go home after shooting a young boy, the same structure that allows ‘Stand your Ground’ laws and the easy selling and owning of guns. The same structure that allows decay in the cities, high unemployment, easy flow of drugs, minimal cop coverage, and extreme poverty to continue. Black youth violence via guns may happen for different reasons but it comes from the same structure that allows a mentally deficient individual to take his mother’s gun and kill a bunch of elementary age children.

    Granted, people have become desensitized to Black youth violence because it happens and is reported on so often, but why can’t we be upset about both? GZ is one man who CAN and God willing WILL be held accountable.

    But when we have White Supremacy, apathetic law enforcement, heavy drug markets, mutha effers who can’t shoot and aim worth a damn, impoverished living conditions, the lack of “snitching” street codes, and disenfranchised communities who contain people who THINK they cannot leave the trash behind, then it makes it a lot harder to properly address the problem of Black violence.

    It doesn’t mean we aren’t upset about BOTH things, it doesn’t mean we don’t care. But it is not up to JUST US to “clean up” these communities. Yes we need to play our part, but many of us do, we preach about being fathers to your kids, we preach “no marriage no womb,” we hold marches to stop the violence, Black people cannot do it alone in this land. The Underlying structure HAS to change. People HAVE to vote, Have to hold city mayors and Police accountable, Have to challenge the judicial system to be more fair and just in sentencing, WE ALL have a role in this, as an entire Society. Yes we need stable homes, that is something that we can work on, but the ills of the “Black community” exist in a larger society. UNTIL Black people are seen as human, these things will not resolve on our efforts alone. Perhaps cases like Trayvon’s give us an opportunity to open even more eyes, to really force States to become stricter about gun laws and eventually more of us as a nation, will push for real and complete change.

  • dbsm

    Yeah, and I gladly thumbs downed you because I can’t stand comments like this. Trayvon’s death and the death of other innocent black boys are not mutually exclusive. That this one got national attention is via the efforts of many and that should be celebrated. Florida, too, has a long racist past. Rosewood anyone? This has reactivated communities in Florida that have suffered continuously even from their own inactions. This was an awakening so desperately needed. This is where SYG is and people, for years, have voted on laws and for people who do NOT represent their own best interest.

    One major difference is that black on black crime does not go UNpunished. Zimmerman would have walked scott free because the system upheld his innocence–again affirming to Black folk that Black lives, even of children, are not important. Suffer ye o little one.

    The fact that many Blacks will go back to their normal lives isn’t a detractor for those of us who will continue to fight for justice in the long haul. Do you think all Blacks participated in some aspect of the Civil Rights Movement? Do you think there weren’t other “Rosa Parks” in various cities throughout the U.S.?

    Let other communities put in the work to bring their issues to national attention and we, too, will sign on. We are not ignoring them.

    Just stop.

  • 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.

  • 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…?

  • 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…..

  • (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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