Melissa Harris-Perry On Trayvon Martin Killing: Remember His Name (VIDEO)

03/18/2012 12:07 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2012

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"When I say the name Trayvon Martin, does it mean anything to you?" Melissa Harris-Perry asked her MSNBC audience on Saturday. "If it doesn't, it should."

Harris-Perry then took some time to explain who Trayvon Martin is: a 17-year-old, unarmed black teenager who was allegedly shot and killed by a man in Florida in late February, after the man saw him walking down a street and thought he looked suspicious. The case has attracted substantial attention, in part because the man, George Zimmerman, has admitted to shooting Martin but has not been arrested or charged with any crime.

She played portions of the 911 call Zimmerman made to police, where he said that "something was wrong" with Martin, that he seemed to be "on drugs" and was "walking around and looking about."

"Walking around and looking about," Harris-Perry said. "That's what Zimmerman found so suspicious about Trayvon."

Zimmerman then followed Martin, and an altercation allegedly ensued. Harris-Perry pointed out that it is unclear what exactly happened between the two men — other 911 calls record screams that neighbors say were made by Martin — but that Zimmerman has remained free because of a law that allows people to use "deadly force" if they think their lives are in danger.

"Laws like that make modern-day vigilantism that can have these kind of tragic consequences," she said. "Too many young black men are losing their lives to mistaken identity and overzealous assumptions about their criminal intent."

Harris-Perry closed the segment with a forceful plea to her audience.

"Despite Zimmerman having injuries consistent with self-defense, he also had a gun," she said. "Trayvon had a bag of Skittles. His name is Trayvon Martin. When innocent children are killed, when their parents are left to wonder if their children's lives matter at all, at least we can remember their names."


Trayvon Martin Photos

04/30/2012 3:14 PM EDT

George Zimmerman defense team launches social media campaign.

The defense team for George Zimmerman, the man charged with murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, has launched a new website, Facebook and Twitter account designed to dispute misinformation and provide "a voice for Mr. Zimmerman."

"We understand that it is unusual for a legal defense to maintain a social media presence on behalf of a defendant, but we also acknowledge that this is a very unusual case," Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, wrote on the website,

O’Mara said that "social media in this day and age cannot be ignored," and that it would be “irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation” around his client's case.

Read the full story HERE.

04/20/2012 3:17 PM EDT

Judge Grants George ZImmerman Bail

A Florida judge has granted bail for George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch captain accused of second-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set Zimmerman's bond at $150,000, but said he would not be released today, pending deliberations about the terms of the release.

The bail hearing featured dramatic testimony from Zimmerman, who took the stand and offered an apology to Martin's parents.

"I wanted to say that I am sorry for the loss of your son," Zimmerman said, adding that he did not know how old Martin was or that he was unarmed.

"I thought he was a little bit younger than I am," he said. "I did not know whether he was armed or not."

Read the full story HERE.

04/18/2012 6:23 PM EDT

Judge in case steps down due to concerns over conflict of interest.

The judge who was set to preside over the trial of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin has stepped aside.

Jessica Reckseidler's recusal from the trial comes after Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, suggested that her husband's job as a partner to Mark NeJame, a CNN legal analyst covering the trial, represented a conflict of interest.

NeJame was initially contacted by Zimmerman's family to represent him, but NeJame suggested O'Mara.

The new judge in the case will be Kenneth R. Lester, Jr., who has presided over several much-covered cases, including ordering the release of a schizophrenic woman from a state mental hospital after she was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting deaths of her parents and sentencing an ax murderer to death after he killed a 71-year-old man. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Lester is popular among attorneys and is known for acting quickly.

The judge who would have been next in line to handle the Zimmerman case after Jessica Reckseidler could not take on the case because he had previously worked with O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney.

Read the full story HERE.

04/18/2012 6:22 PM EDT

Michelle Obama: Martin's death a 'tragedy.'

First lady Michelle Obama says her "heart goes out to the parents" of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.

Mrs. Obama says in an interview with NPR that all parents understand "the tragedy of that kind of loss." Martin was shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who has claimed self-defense.

The first lady says it's important "not to lose sight of the fact that this is a family that's grieving and there's been a tremendous loss." She says, "we all have to rally around that piece of it."

Police initially didn't charge Zimmerman in the Sanford, Fla., shooting, leading to nationwide protests. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder last week.

04/18/2012 6:18 PM EDT

Scrutiny for Sanford puts cramp on small businesses.

As scores of media personnel and activists descended upon the area, residents and businesses found themselves facing very public scrutiny and a growing fear that the community was harboring a racially hostile environment -- which prompted locals to cut back on their normal routines, including shopping. "There was an air that the community was on the verge of bad activity or violence and that is not the case," Nicholas Mcray, Sanford's director of economic development, said. "There was never any kind of trend of violence, but that was the perception put out by the media."

While it's been weeks since the shooting, the small businesses that make up Sanford's historic downtown continue to suffer, with some businesses seeing up to a 50 percent drop in activity. "A few convenience retailers are seeing a 2 to 3 percent increase, but the downtown area is really taking a hit," Mcray said.

Read the full story HERE.

04/18/2012 6:16 PM EDT

ALEC, lobbying group behind Stand Your Ground laws, changes tack.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial corporate-sponsored lobbying group whose push for "stand your ground" gun laws and voter ID legislation ignited grassroots protests, announced Tuesday that it is getting out of the social policy field to focus on core economic issues.

Corporations associated with ALEC had been under siege from public interest and civil rights groups who demanded they cut ties with ALEC, most recently because of its successful push to pass "stand your ground" legislation in multiple states. Florida's version of that law has been cited as a reason why neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was not initially charged in the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Several companies -- including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald's, Kraft and Intuit -- had already distanced themselves from ALEC before Tuesday's surprise announcement.

Read the full story HERE.

04/11/2012 8:42 PM EDT

George Zimmerman arrives at jail

The Associated Press is reporting that Zimmerman has arrived at jail.

04/11/2012 7:04 PM EDT

George Zimmerman charged with second-degree murder, in custody

Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced that George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder.

According to CNN, Zimmerman turned himself in and has a new attorney, Mark O'Mara. During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, he former employees announced that they had lost contact with Zimmerman and would no longer be representing him in the case.

If convicted, Zimmerman could face life in prison.

04/11/2012 3:06 PM EDT

Reports: Zimmerman to be charged in Trayvon Martin's death.

A day after George Zimmerman's attorneys stepped down because they had lost contact with him, the special prosecutor in the case will bring charges against him, according to reports.

The Washington Post is reporting that special prosecutor Angela Corey will announce charges against Zimmerman for his role in Trayvon Martin's shooting death. Earlier this week, Corey said she would not convene a grand jury in the case. Under Florida law, only grand juries can issue murder charges, which means that Zimmerman will face lesser charges.

Read the whole story HERE.

04/10/2012 12:55 PM EDT

Police car shot several times near scene of Martin shooting.

Around 4:30 a.m. this morning, an empty police car near the gated community where Trayvon Martin was shot through with bullets several times. The police in Sanford are investigating the crime.

Sanford's police department has come under withering criticism for its handling of the case. Yesterday, a group of student protesters blocked the entrance to the police headquarters, forcing the department to shut down for several hours.

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