Nobody besides George Zimmerman may ever know exactly what happened the night that he shot and killed an unarmed Trayvon Martin in 2012. The creators of a just-released reenactment of that night’s incident, however, hope viewers will fight against the laws that made it legal for Zimmerman to do so.
This reenactment forms a PSA called “Stand Up to Stand Your Ground.” It arrives less than a month after President Obama’s speech about the Martin verdict, in which he urged Americans to reexamine the self-defense laws in their country. (Currently, 26 states enforce the Stand Your Ground law, which legalizes the use of deadly force to defend one’s self, without any requirement to evade a dangerous situation.) In the reenactment, we follow a Zimmerman stand-in as he pursues the famously hoodie-wearing Martin. Grounding the video even more firmly in reality, though, is the chilling inclusion of actual 911 calls made that night in Sanford, Florida.
The spot’s creator and director, Floyd Russ (an ad creative at agency Grey New York) says he got the idea for this PSA the night that the verdict came down in July. Previously, he’d produced the Cannes-approved “Ed” gun control ad. This time, he wanted to work quickly to get the topical short video out as close to the verdict as possible. After successfully reaching out to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Russ and his team worked with the organization to recruit crew, cast, and equipment. They then ultimately shot the video for $5,000, with money they’d raised online.
The video tastefully refuses to speculate on exactly what happened between Zimmerman and Martin in the moments before the gunshot. Instead, the POV abruptly cuts to another 911 call made that night, from a woman who could hear the altercation taking place outside. This third-party observer is perhaps a surrogate for the viewer when she reacts to the outcome of that altercation. The video wraps up, as the incident itself did, with a young man dead on the ground. Here though, the camera pulls back to reveal more hoodie-wearing victims, and the names of the states with Stand Your Ground laws in place.