SpikeTV will relaunch in 2018 as the Paramount Network, and the rebranded cable outlet has made a major acquisition for 2018: “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story.” From the Weinstein Company and Grammy winning rapper and producer Jay Z, “Rest in Power” is a six-part documentary series that chronicles the life and death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Florida in 2012 when he was only 17-years-old.
Martin was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who considered Martin a threat even though Martin was unarmed. According to Zimmerman’s recorded call to the police in Sanford, Florida, where the killing took place, Zimmerman followed Martin even though he was directed by the dispatcher not to do so. Martin was killed during their altercation, but because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law that allows deadly force if a citizen feels threatened, he wasn’t charged with a crime for over a month and was ultimately acquitted of second-degree murder. Outrage over the verdict helped spur the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Rest in Power” follows another docuseries by Jay Z and Weinstein that aired on Spike TV, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” which aired on March 1. That film told the story of another miscarriage of justice, in which Kalief Browder was arrested for alleged theft and spent three years at Rikers Island jail without a trial, with much of his time spent in solitary confinement. He was eventually released in 2013, but the mental health impact of his incarceration led to his death by suicide in 2015. “Time” was just announced as a nominee at the MTV Movie & TV Awards for Best Documentary.