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Trayvon Martin: Fact vs. Fiction

Whenever a news story captures wide attention like the Trayvon Martin shooting, inevitably false information emerges that obscures the facts. This article aims to separate the known facts of the case from rumor and innuendo.

Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said at a news conference on Monday, "They killed my son, and now they're trying to kill his reputation!"-Could she be so concerned about that reputation that she's trying to trademark it?

YES. Sybrina Foster has applied for trademarks for the phrases "Justice for Trayvon" and "I Am Trayvon" for their use in DVDs, CDs and other media. The trademark attorney Foster hired, Kimra Major-Morris said in a written statement that Trayvon Martin's family is not seeking to profit from the trademarks, but is instead hoping to raise funding, through the trademarks, to help what she calls other victims of racial violence., and not seeking profit.

-Did Trayvon Martin, 17, have a juvenile criminal record? NO. However, Martin was on a 10-day suspension from his Miami school, Dr. Michael R. Krop High School, when he was shot. It was Trayvon Martin's third suspension. The one he was serving when he was fatally shot was for a baggie with marijuana residue on it, found in his backpack. An earlier suspension came after school officials found a dozen items of women's jewelry and a screwdriver, described by a school guard in the suspension report as a "burglary implement" in Martin's backpack. His other suspension was for vandalism.

All three suspensions debunk another unfounded rumor: that Trayvon Martin had been suspended for attacking a bus driver. In fact, a Miami-Dade School District official confirmed on Monday that Martin had no violent infractions on his record. .

-Did Hollywood megastar Will Smith tweet a message reading, "WE live in America where a girl that threw flour on Kim Kardashian was arrested on site. But the man who KILLED Trayvon Martin is still free."?

NO. While the message was re-tweeted by dozens of celebrities, including Spike Lee, and hundreds of other Twitter users, the message, was sent by @RealWillSmith. That account turned out to belong to a white man in Tennessee.

-Is there an eyewitness who saw the struggle between Martin and his shooter, George Zimmerman?

YES. A witness who has given his name as only "John," spoke off-camera with a reporter from WOFL-TV in Orlando, and described the scuffle between Zimmerman and Martin that he observed. "The guy on the bottom, who I believe had a red sweater on, was calling to me, 'Help help.' I told him I was calling 911."

The person wearing red during the incident was Zimmerman. The eyewitness description maintains that Martin was beating up Zimmerman before the neighborhood watch captain used his weapon.

-Has the Barack Obama presidential campaign introduced an "Obama 2012" hoodie in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case garnering headlines?YES. The first posted that Obama For America had started marketing a "collegiate hooded sweatshirt" earlier this week. However, that hoodie was added to a collection of dozens of Obama 2012 items for sale, including a different hoodie that the campaign had been marketing for quite some time.

-Also, new images of Zimmerman and Martin have emerged. One, of Zimmerman, is a sharp contrast to the photo of him that's been used most often in news reports, showing an unsmiling, hulking man staring somberly into the camera. A new image of the 28 year-old who remains in hiding, shows him smiling in a friendly manner.

Meanwhile, new, recently taken photos of Martin, including a self-portrait, show gold fronts he had applied to his teeth, and show tattoos on his body, including one of his mother's name, Sybrina.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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