"I Am Trayvon Martin"

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I was shocked to hear about what happened to Trayvon Martin, but I wasn’t surprised that he was targeted because he was a black kid in a hooded sweatshirt.

I wear hoodies a lot, and I know when I walk through certain neighborhoods and see a cop that I’m probably going to get stopped. 

The first time I got stopped by the police I was 14. I didn’t know what was going on. I remember I had been hanging out with friends and it was getting kind of dark.  I was walking alone up Avenue D and all of a sudden I heard the sound of a police car.

The cop told me it was mandatory — “Just get on the wall, I want to see what you got in your pockets.” 

It felt kind of like getting a checkup at the doctor.  I wasn’t really comfortable having him touch me like that, but I thought he had the right because he’s an officer and that’s his job. 

I remember my mom used to tell me that the police are there to help us and that I should always listen to them no matter what.  I wasn’t about to go against the officer so I was just like, “Get it over with.” I felt guilty. I just felt like, "You’re stopping me? I obviously must’ve done something wrong."

When I got home and told my mom I thought she was going to hold me, make me mac n’ cheese. But she just looked at me like, “It happens.”

Vincent Marrero is a sophomore at Vanguard High School and is a member of WNYC’s Radio Rookies program, which trains teenagers how to report on stories in their own lives and communities.