The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 23, 2012, 10:15 am
By Michele Goodwin
Trayvon Martin was murdered last month, but this week the case gained national attention. Martin, an African-American teenager, was gunned down by George Zimmerman, an individual who identifies as a white male. The controversy in the case involves not only race: Zimmerman apparently left his car, stalked the youth, because he thought Martin looked suspicious and “out of place,” and gunned him down. Zimmerman’s supporters claim that had Trayvon—who was on his way back to a family member’s home, carrying a pack of Skittles and ice tea—answered Zimmerman by identifying himself and explaining why he was in the neighborhood, this tragedy might have been averted. But, there is no duty to explain oneself while walking down the street. As a constitutional matter, individuals need not answer the police: You have the right to remain silent.