In the evening hours of February 26, 2012, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was returning to his father’s fiancée’s home in Sanford, Florida from a nearby convenience store when he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a member of the community watch unit, who thought Trayvon represented a threat to the neighborhood. Zimmerman was eventually tried but acquitted of the murder. In response to his acquittal, three black women – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi said “enough” and started on the path of creating a movement they would later call #BlackLivesMatter (BLM).
The movement is described as “an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. BLM is an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression” (“Herstory”).
The hashtag quickly grew in popularity. People demanded justice for those who were unfairly profiled and murdered due to their race. The names of victims of police brutality--Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Mya Hall, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, and countless others--soon sparked discussions around the epidemic of police brutality in the United States. While this grassroots movement gained ground, Black men and women continued to suffer injustice in the hands of police officers.