Photo of road sign taken by our Observer in Michigan, near Detroit. The image of this racial slur was blurred by FRANCE 24.
UPDATE April 12, 2012:
While driving on a Michigan motorway in the Detroit area late one evening, our Observer rolled past a work site where a single sign stood near the shoulder of the road with the words “Trayvon A N*****” lit up in bright yellow block letters. Shocked, she stopped her car and snapped a photo of the slur; soon afterwards, city authorities fixed the sign. She believes this – and other similar messages that have popped up around the country – stand testament to mounting racial tensions in the United States over the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Martin was killed on February 26 as he was walking in the gated community where his father’s fiancée lived in Sanford, Florida by neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. After spotting the hooded black youth, Zimmerman reportedly called police to report a “suspicious person.” An altercation followed – the details of which remain unclear
– before Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed teenager. Sanford police took Zimmerman in for questioning, during which he said he had acted out of self-defence, before releasing him without charges.
The circumstances of Martin’s death sparked outrage and a nationwide debate on race, which more than a month later has not abated. The US media has kept up intense coverage
of the Trayvon Martin case as Zimmerman awaits a special prosecutor’s decision on whether or not to file charges against him. For now, Zimmerman is in hiding; his lawyers say he has left the state of Florida and that they will no longer represent him as he has cut off contact with them
The case has also roused extremists. Soon after Martin’s death, the New Black Panther Party announced that it would offer a $10,000 reward
for a citizen’s arrest of Zimmerman. (The New Black Panther Party
is not affiliated with the original Black Panthers Party.) In response, the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement issued a statement
in March announcing it had organised armed patrols in the Sanford area to protect “White Citizens.”
A man protests against a “Justice for Trayvon” rally at University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana on April 3, holding up a sign that labels Martin as a “Ghetto hoodlum.” Photo posted on Fark.com by what_now.
The words “Long Live Zimmerman” were spray-painted onto the side of Ohio State University’s Hale Hall, which houses the institution’s Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, sometime on the night of April 4. Video posted on YouTube by the TheLanternOSU.