BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 30:  A mural of Trayvon Martin is seen on the side of a building in the Sandtown neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested on April 30, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 30: A mural of Trayvon Martin is seen on the side of a building in the Sandtown neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested on April 30, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:19
How #BlackLivesMatter became a movement
Permit Patty phone call release vpx_00003612.jpg
Permit Patty phone call release vpx_00003612.jpg
Now playing
00:54
Hear woman call police on girl for selling water
PHOTO: _ethiopiangold/Twitter
Now playing
02:50
Woman faces backlash for calling police on young girl
Stephenie Sebby-Strempel
PHOTO: Rhe Capers
Stephenie Sebby-Strempel
Now playing
01:11
Police: Woman yells at black teen to leave public pool
PHOTO: Jhamel Robinson
Now playing
01:09
White woman's police call leads to huge BBQ
PHOTO: Karen Peconi
Now playing
01:36
Mayor suggests blasting protesters with water
PHOTO: Twitter/KenidraRWoods_
Now playing
02:59
Man berated in racist rant caught on camera
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
01:40
Fox commentator apologizes for racist remark
racism careers end orig mg_00005511.jpg
racism careers end orig mg_00005511.jpg
Now playing
02:42
Are the lines on racism blurring?
Now playing
01:57
Air Force head sends powerful message on race
Black man poses white supremacist Theo Wilson newday intv_00000000.jpg
Black man poses white supremacist Theo Wilson newday intv_00000000.jpg
Now playing
03:29
Black man poses as white supremacist
michael blacks for trump
PHOTO: CNN
michael blacks for trump
Now playing
01:45
The story behind the 'Blacks for Trump' man
GOLDEN, CO - OCTOBER 29:  Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally in the Rodeo Arena at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds October 29, 2016 in Golden, Colorado. The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Friday it discovered emails pertinent to the closed investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's private email server and are looking to see if they improperly contained classified information. Trump said "I think it's the biggest story since Watergate."  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
GOLDEN, CO - OCTOBER 29: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally in the Rodeo Arena at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds October 29, 2016 in Golden, Colorado. The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Friday it discovered emails pertinent to the closed investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's private email server and are looking to see if they improperly contained classified information. Trump said "I think it's the biggest story since Watergate." (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:25
Trump tweets debunked legend about US general
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:49
Panelist: I won't be attacked on my blackness
Governor John Kasich speaks to guests at a rally on April 7, 2016 in New York City.
PHOTO: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Governor John Kasich speaks to guests at a rally on April 7, 2016 in New York City.
Now playing
02:39
Kasich: we are 'looking backwards' on race
Jasmine Shepard, co-valedictorian of Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Mississippi.
PHOTO: CNN
Jasmine Shepard, co-valedictorian of Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Now playing
01:17
Valedictorian's mom sues school
va historic school vandalized racist messages_00000518.jpg
PHOTO: WJLA
va historic school vandalized racist messages_00000518.jpg
Now playing
01:30
Historic black school vandalized with racist messages

Story highlights

Trayvon Martin's death and the acquittal of George Zimmerman sparked the #BlackLivesMatter movement

Other deaths since have propelled national conversation about race and policing

(CNN) —  

Five years ago, the world learned of Trayvon Martin and how he died.

The African-American teenager’s death at the hands of a neighborhood watch volunteer spurred a movement and gave rise to a rallying cry that resonates with many today: “#BlackLivesMatter.”

Martin, 17, was carrying iced tea and candy as he walked from a convenience store to the home of his father’s fiancee in Sanford, Florida. Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman spotted the teenager and called 911 to report “a suspicious person” in his neighborhood.”

A scuffle broke out, but there were no direct witnesses. Moments later, neighbors reported hearing gunfire.

Zimmerman claimed Martin hit him, knocking him to the pavement. Zimmerman contends that he took out his gun and shot Martin in self-defense. Critics said Zimmerman was unjustified in confronting the unarmed teenager, particularly since Zimmerman disregarded a police dispatcher’s advice to stop following Martin.

In July 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted of a second degree murder charge, igniting protests.

The image of Martin wearing a hoodie became iconic. Professional athletes donned hoodies, and protestors repeated the mantra: “I am Trayvon Martin” to express solidarity and outrage.

Martin’s death inspired then-President Barack Obama to deliver a heartfelt message to Martin’s parents, saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Writer, producer and director Ava DuVernay took a moment Sunday to remember Trayvon Martin before heading to the Academy Awards.

“Our hoodies are still up and the movement is still strong,” she wrote on Twitter.

Supporters of Trayvon Martin rally in Union Square during a "Million Hoodie March" in Manhattan on March 21, 2012 in New York City.
PHOTO: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Supporters of Trayvon Martin rally in Union Square during a "Million Hoodie March" in Manhattan on March 21, 2012 in New York City.

After Zimmerman was acquitted, three activists – Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors – created the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in protest.

Since then, the deaths of several African-Americans at the hands of police kept the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the public eye.

Here are some of the cases that led to protests, and kept alive the national conversation about the deaths of black Americans, police conduct, and what critics say is inequality in the justice system

Eric Garner, 43

Died on July 17, 2014, in Staten Island, New York

Eric Garner.
PHOTO: Courtesy photo
Eric Garner.

Police tried to arrest Garner, a father of six, in front of a store for allegedly selling cigarettes. Garner raised both hands in the air and asked officers not to shoot him.

Seconds later, Officer Daniel Pantaleo grabbed the 350-pound Garner in a chokehold, pulling him to the sidewalk and rolling him onto his stomach.

The New York Police Department prohibits the use of chokeholds.

Garner, who had asthma, repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” as officers restrained him on the ground.

Police said he suffered a heart attack and died en route to a hospital. The death was ruled a homicide.

The jury later declined to indict Pantaleo, sparking protests and “die-ins.”

New York City eventually settled with Garner’s family for $5.9 million. The settlement “acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death,” but “the city has not admitted liability,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

Michael Brown, 18

Died on Aug. 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri

Michael Brown.
PHOTO: Photograph by Elcardo Anthony
Michael Brown.

Brown, an unarmed teenager, was walking with a friend in the middle of the street when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson approached them and told them to walk on the sidewalk in the St. Louis suburb.

From that point, the narratives vary. Authorities said Brown attacked Wilson and tried to take his gun. Some witnesses said Brown was surrendering with his hands in the air to indicate he was unarmed when Wilson shot him. Wilson fired his gun 12 times, documents show.

In November 2014, a grand jury decided not indict Wilson – a decision that led to heated and sometimes violent protests and clashes with authorities.

Days later, Wilson resigned from the force.

A Department of Justice investigation ultimately determined Wilson did not violate Brown’s civil rights. The department found that Brown reached into Wilson’s car and a struggled followed. Prosecutors couldn’t corroborate Wilson’s claim that Brown reached for his gun but couldn’t find any evidence to disprove Wilson’s account.

Michael Brown (far left) stands with fellow graduates at Normandy High School Summer graduation.
PHOTO: Normandy Schools Collaborative/Daphne J. Dorsey
Michael Brown (far left) stands with fellow graduates at Normandy High School Summer graduation.

The Justice Department also found that local police had excessively stopped and ticketed black residents, often citing them multiple times in a single stop. The DOJ said “many officers” apparently viewed some of the city’s black residents “less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.”

Last February, the DOJ sued Ferguson in an effort to reform the department.

What happened when Michael Brown met Ferguson officer Darren Wilson

Walter Scott, 50

Died on April 4, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina

A still from the cell phone video of Walter Scott's death on April 4, 2015.
PHOTO: Courtesy Scott Family
A still from the cell phone video of Walter Scott's death on April 4, 2015.

North Charleston police officer Michael Slager shot and killed Walter Scott after a traffic stop. The shooting was captured on a bystander’s phone, which showed Scott running away as Slager fired eight times, striking Scott three times in the back.

On the stand, Slager argued self-defense, telling jurors he shot Scott as he ran away because he posed a threat and could have turned around and charged him. A key piece of evidence in the trial was the cell phone video, which showed Slager chasing Scott, then shooting him in the back. Prosecutors estimated the two men were 18 feet apart when Slager opened fire.

Slager’s attorney, Andy Savage, had argued that the media created a “false narrative” of a white officer in Charleston who stopped a black motorist for a broken brake light and shot him as he ran away. The video, the attorney, contended, didn’t tell the whole story.

In December, a judge declared a mistrial on the fourth day of deliberations after a jury failed to reach a verdict.

Now playing
07:38
Keilar points out Fox News host's hypocrisy
Now playing
01:23
'There should be no threats': Biden's message to union-busters
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
PHOTO: CNN
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
Now playing
07:40
Former QAnon believer shares bonkers conspiracy theory about Biden
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
Now playing
01:24
'SNL' has 'Dr. Fauci' helping people get vaccinated
The Pokémon Company announced new games during its 25th Anniversary Celebration
PHOTO: The Pokémon Company
The Pokémon Company announced new games during its 25th Anniversary Celebration
Now playing
01:01
See the new Pokémon games coming soon
PHOTO: nickelodeon/from youtube
Now playing
01:33
'Real World,' 'Frasier,' 'Spongebob:' See the reboots coming to this new streaming service
Now playing
02:28
Fisker is making its next electric vehicle with Foxconn
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage during "Introducing Trips" Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb)
PHOTO: Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage during "Introducing Trips" Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb)
Now playing
03:51
Airbnb CEO: This is how we outperformed our competitors in 2020
PHOTO: ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
Now playing
01:46
Watch people struggle to identify second gentleman Doug Emhoff
PHOTO: "The Late Late Show with James Corden" / Youtube
Now playing
01:37
See Prince Harry and James Corden tour LA on open-air bus
Judy Scott
PHOTO: CNN
Judy Scott
Now playing
00:54
Scott's mother after mistrial: It's not over
Now playing
07:38
Keilar points out Fox News host's hypocrisy
Now playing
01:23
'There should be no threats': Biden's message to union-busters
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
PHOTO: CNN
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
Now playing
07:40
Former QAnon believer shares bonkers conspiracy theory about Biden
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
Now playing
01:24
'SNL' has 'Dr. Fauci' helping people get vaccinated
The Pokémon Company announced new games during its 25th Anniversary Celebration
PHOTO: The Pokémon Company
The Pokémon Company announced new games during its 25th Anniversary Celebration
Now playing
01:01
See the new Pokémon games coming soon
PHOTO: nickelodeon/from youtube
Now playing
01:33
'Real World,' 'Frasier,' 'Spongebob:' See the reboots coming to this new streaming service
Now playing
02:28
Fisker is making its next electric vehicle with Foxconn