In 2012, soon after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., protesters hit the streets. At Color of Change, meanwhile, activists turned instead to their computer keyboards. In his defense, Zimmerman cited Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which gives citizens the right to use potentially lethal force against people who they believe threaten them. Color of Change—the nation’s largest online African-American civil rights group—had been tracking support for such...

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