Recently, the New York Times published an article on the events that occurred pertaining to the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. The article included three-dimensional maps of the neighborhood where the shooting took place. With the spector of racial profiling, a question arises when reviewing the maps – what information could be revealed by simply overlaying race/ethnic demographic data on top of the neighborhood area?
Figure 1 below displays a map image (created by Google Earth) overlayed with census block population data that identifies the race/ethnicity percentage of each block. The boundaries of neighborhood where the shooting occured are displayed in red. The yellow labels present the following race/ethnicity percentages in the following order:
- First – Hispanic or Latino%
- Second - White%
- Third - Black%
- Forth - Asian%
Does demographics reveal anything? The new map indicates the following. The specific finding is that the neighborhood’s census block where the shooting occurred, which is in the same block as the home that Trayvon was traveling to, had a population that was almost 25% Black. Other census block areas in the neighborhood where Trayvon was “not” walking to had a lower Black percentage.
Thus, these findings lead to another question – in a section of the neighborhood with a population of one out of four persons being Black, should a young African American walking through the area seem out of the norm and justify following the person? Even in the other areas where one out of six or even eight persons are Black, should Trayvon seem like an oddity? Most objective persons would probably say no.
Figure 1 – Neighborhood Census Block Demographics of the Trayvon Martin Shooting
Notes: The green asterisks represent the residence of George Zimmerman and the home where Trayvon Martin was visiting. The red dot indicates the location of the shooting. Also, the census block where George Zimmerman resides, includes a larger area that lies on the outer portion of his neighborhood, is connected to other neighborhoods. Thus the race/ethnicity percentage of that particular census block, contains additional houses outside his neighborhood. Finally, Census TIGER map files do not exactly match the actual shapes of the streets in the neighborhood.