Sift everything. Sift the weeks of testimony, the theatrics, the recriminations, the tears. Sift the months of noisy commentary — the relentless, pounding, grating noise.
One image remains, clinging there to our consciousness. Sturdy, permanent, enduring, a distillation — a takeaway.
In the moment that the hoodie — Trayvon Martin’s hoodie — appeared in Courtroom 5D in Seminole County, Fla., it was as if the air sluiced out the door. There was a breathless, aching stillness.
Prosecutors displayed the dark gray sweatshirt that Martin wore on the last night of his life in an enormous, rectangular, thickly three-dimensional frame. The hoodie lay suspended between clear plastic sheets with its arms spread wide inside a cross-shaped cutout, set starkly apart from the brilliant white of the matting. It might easily have been mistaken for a religious relic, even as it became a singularly evocative entry in a long inventory of indelible courtroom artifacts from O.J. Simpson’s ill-fitting gloves to Lorena Bobbitt’s emasculating kitchen knife. Prosecutors lifted the framed hoodie awkwardly, teetering toward the jury.
“I get goose bumps just thinking about it,” says Michael Skolnik, who sat next to Martin’s parents on that morning, the day before the Fourth of July. Skolnik, the political director for hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and a member of the Trayvon Martin Foundation board, felt as if he were in the presence of something as consequential and iconic as Babe Ruth’s bat or the Declaration of Independence. “It’s like this mythical garment,” he says.
In the words of Jeantel the Hutt, “That’s retarded, sir!”