Beyonce dedicated a moment’s silence to teenager Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead in Florida last year, during her gig in Nashville this weekend (July 13).
As The Independent reports, the singer’s gig at the Bridgestone Arena started half an hour after a Florida jury ruled that 29-year-old neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year. At the end of her set, Beyonce asked fans to respect a “moment of silence for Trayvon” before a cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ – made famous by Whitney Houston.
As protests took place across America demanding justice for the teenager’s family and questioning the fairness of the US justice system, musicians at London’s Wireless festival also spoke out about the case. During Jay-Z’s co-headline slot last night (July 14), the rapper told the crowd: “Rest in peace, Trayvon Martin.” Performing their first gig for 20 years, A Tribe Called Quest also issued a call to fans. “I don’t want to be a downer but yesterday in America, we saw a miscarriage of justice,” said Q-Tip. “It’s not the first time this has happened. Pray for us… we need help.”
George Zimmerman, then 28, killed Trayvon on the evening of February 26, 2012 at The Retreat – a gated community on the outskirts of Sanford in Florida. On the night in question, Zimmerman was driving through the neighbourhood when he caught sight of Trayvon, who had just left a local convenience store, in the street. Zimmerman called the police, claiming Trayvon looked suspicious. What happened next is still unclear – prosecutors say Zimmerman went to pursue Trayvon, Zimmerman’s lawyers claim Trayvon confronted and attacked him. The altercation finished with Zimmerman firing a shot from his 9mm pistol which hit the teenager in the chest.
Zimmerman had been charged with second degree murder, though jurors were also given the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of manslaughter. They chose neither. The verdict implies that Zimmerman acted in self-defence, which is justified under Florida’s “stand your ground” law allowing anyone who considers themselves in danger to take whatever action they deem appropriate to defend themselves. Civil rights activists argue that Trayvon – who had no criminal record – was attacked because he was black.
Scroll down to see a selection of tweets from Tom Morello, Chuck D, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Diddy and more reacting to the ruling.