Mar 18, 2012

Trayvon Martin And Our Troubled History With Racial Justice

UPDATE: 5:39pm JULY 14th 2013

My new blog post about the Zimmerman Verdict is up. CLICK HERE TO GO AND READ THAT.

UPDATE: 9:35pm JULY 13th 2013

So. Yeah.  George Zimmerman was found not guilty by a jury of six women in Florida.  Under Florida law he'll get his gun back that he used to shoot and kill Trayvon.  I can't properly express my thought right now because I'm kind of overwhelmed.  I'm devastated, demoralized, and kind of deflated.  I'm ashamed of my country, but to be fair, this country has a long history of fucked up things like this.

I've noticed I've gotten a lot of hits over the past few weeks on this post by people googling "Trayvon Martin's Criminal History".  I think that says a lot about where we are as a nation when someone is killed, their killer is put on trial and the most common search leading to this is "Trayvon Martin's Criminal History".

That the VICTIM who was killed is the one being questioned about a criminal history, rather than the person who shot him.  I'll have more to say on this tomorrow or the next day as soon as I've got some time to digest all of this nonsense. 

Saddened though. 


UPDATE: 4:50pm March 21st 2012

1. Some are starting to suggest that George Zimmerman will not be protected under the "Self Defense" laws in Florida that say that if you kill someone because you fear for your life then you are not going to be arrested and charged.   The fact that the 911 operator told Zimmerman not to pursue Martin, and he did so anyway may prove to be his undoing, and ultimately what brings justice to Martin's family, and his memory.

2. You knew someone was going to do it.  You knew someone, more than likely someone on the Republican/Conservative side of things, would take up for George Zimmerman against Trayvon Martin and begin attacking Martin.   And sure enough it has happened.  The Blaze, a website founded by former Fox News provocateur Glenn Beck has an article up essentially insinuating that Martin was a "Trouble maker" saying that he was suspended from school, and while the official explanation is that Martin had a series of issues being late to class or school, The Blaze are insinuating it was something more sinister.  They have no evidence to this other than quoting what could constitute a suspension.

Also on Fox News' website "Fox Nation" they are taking even a more evil road, making various disgusting comments such as commending George Zimmerman on a "Good Shot!" and another person who expressed relief that Zimmerman didn't miss and "hit an innocent bystander".

This is nothing new for Fox Nation though, as they habitually post racist and race baiting articles and images designed to foment hatred and divisiveness against the President in particular and African Americans in general.   If Fox News was around in the Civil War days, is there any doubt they would be the official network of the South?

Original post below.

To hear George Zimmerman tell it, he feared for his life.  This teenager, Trayvon Martin, who he did not know, was "acting suspicious" and concerned him.  Zimmerman, the self-appointed head of the neighborhood watch of the gated community in Florida, was on edge over Martin and decided to call 911 and report what he felt was suspicious behavior.

And if that was all he did, perhaps this story would have a different ending.  Sadly that was not to be.

The following is a transcript of the 911 call by Zimmerman in regards to Martin:

"This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something," Zimmerman tells the 911 operator.

"He's just staring, looking at all the houses. Now he's coming toward me. He's got his hand in his waistband. Something's wrong with him."

Zimmerman described Martin as wearing a hoodie and sweatpants or jeans. He continues: "He's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is. Can we get an officer over here?"

"These assholes always get away," he says to the operator. Zimmerman is then heard giving directions to the dispatcher. "Shit, he's running," Zimmerman says.

"Are you following him?" the dispatcher asks.

"Yes," Zimmerman responds.

"We don't need you to do that," the dispatcher says.

So despite the dispatcher clearly and explicitly stating not to follow Martin, Zimmerman did anyway.  What happened next, while the specific details are in dispute, the main point is not: George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin with a 9mm pistol.


Zimmerman claims it was self defense, and that he feared for his life.  The problem with that theory is that Martin had no weapon, and the only thing in his pockets were some Skittles and a bottle of Iced Tea.   He had left his father's house (who lived in the neighborhood) to go to a corner store during halftime of the NBA All-Star game that he and his father were watching together.  So it wasn't like he was in some strange neighborhood that he had no business being in.

It should also be pointed out the difference in size of the two, as Martin was 17 and weighed only 140 lbs, while Zimmerman, 28, was much larger.

Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged in the shooting, It took a month and a half to finally arrest Zimmerman, which has predictably riled up the community.   There are accusations of racism floating around, and to be honest it's kind of hard not to lean that way when you look at all the various aspects.

Zimmerman's father sent a letter to the Orlando Sentinal decrying the accusations of racism and said that his son was absolutely not racist at all.   Yet the more we learn about Zimmerman, the harder that is to swallow.  First off there's the little note in the 911 call where he made the "Those assholes always get away with it", and the fact that he seemed to have an obsession with crime in general and young black males specifically, in patrolling the neighborhood.

We also have the discrepancy between what happened where he claims that the voice on the 911 tape of someone screaming for help prior to the gunshot was him, whereas neighbors who also called 911 claimed that it was Trayvon who had cried out for help, and the cries stopped once the gun fired.   In fact when a witness was telling the police that Trayvon Martin was the one who had cried out for help, the police intervened and said "no, no, no, it was Zimmerman" who cried out for help.

And when the police were asked about why he had not been arrested or charged, they responded that they respected his background since he had studied criminal justice, and that he was "squeaky clean".  Only he was not "Squeaky clean" as he had a small criminal history involving assault on a police officer when he intervened in a friend's being arrested.

Zimmerman fancied himself as a cop, although he was not, and called 911 to report suspicious activities 46 times dating back to the beginning of last year to report disturbances, break-ins, etc and he would routinely tell people to be on the lookout for strange African American men.   In fact there have been reports of African Americans who live there that do not walk around a lot in their own neighborhood because they did not want to come across Zimmerman, due to his forwarding the emails describing the type of person to look out for.

In situations like this there is a tendency for many to cry racism and for others to decry the "playing of the race card".  Yet I don't know if you can make a case that racism doesn't play a part here. If Trayvon Martin had been white would Zimmerman, who was obsessed with black men hanging around the area, have felt threatened?  Would Martin have been shot?  If Trayvon Martin was white, would he be deemed "suspicious" for walking and looking around?

And if he had been shot, would Zimmerman still be free right now? We won't know that, however what we can do is judge the police department, who still has not arrested or charged Zimmerman who waited nearly two months to arrest him in Martin's death, based on their past actions when it comes to similar situations.

The following info is from the Miami Herald's website:

On at least two prior occasions, the Sanford Police Department was accused of giving favorable treatment to relatives of officers involved in violent encounters with blacks.

In 2010, police waited seven weeks to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was caught on video sucker-punching a homeless black man.

In 2005, two security guards — one the son of a longtime Sanford police officer and the other a department volunteer — killed a black man they said was trying to run them over. Black leaders complained of a lackluster investigation. The guards ultimately were acquitted. 

 “Zimmerman felt he was one of them; he felt he was a cop,” said Trayvon’s family attorney, Natalie Jackson, who accuses the police of protecting him.

To understand just why this is so outrageous to so many people, you have to understand history.   In the past there have been plenty of instances in which black people were murdered by whites with little to no repercussions.  One of the most infamous examples of this is the tragic case of Emmett Till, a young African American boy who had been accused of whistling at a white woman.

Later a male relative of that woman along with two of his friends showed up at Till's house, and made him leave with them.  Till's aunt offered them money if they would let Till alone, but they ignored her.   Those he was staying with stayed up waiting for Till to return, but he never did.

The below are details about what happened when Till's body was found, days after he was taken:

Three days after his abduction, Till's swollen and disfigured body was found by two boys fishing in the Tallahatchie River. His head was very badly damaged, he had been shot above the right ear, an eye was dislodged from the socket, there was evidence that he had been beaten on the back and the hips, and his body weighted to the fan blade, fastened around his neck with barbed wire. He was nude, but wearing a silver ring with the initials "L. T." and "May 25, 1943" carved in it.

Afterwards there were no charges or arrests, until the outrage got so great that the police had to do something.  In fact once the outrage got really bad, the local newspapers started defending the white men who had brutally murdered Till.

The police had initially stated that the body they found was positively identified as Till, and that there was a pretty good case against the accused.  However later they said that there was no proof that it was in fact Till, and accused the NAACP of stealing a body and planting it to convince everyone that it was Till, just to stir up condemnation.

In 1955, despite the accused ADMITTING ON THE STAND that they took Till from his home, the grand jury declined to indict them on kidnapping charges.  The jurors who had voted to acquit them for the murder charges said that even though they had no doubt about their guilt, they just didn't feel that life in prison or the death penalty was a fitting punishment for a white person who killed a black person.

Later, with the benefit of double jeopardy laws, the accused admitted in a magazine that they had done it.

So perhaps with this history lesson, some who perhaps did not know that will understand why there are cries of racism here, and why there's a growing frustration with Zimmerman not being charged or arrested over the murder of a young black kid.

It's happened before, many times.  And this is yet another example of how faulty that meme that "racism is over" now that we have Barack Obama in the White House.  I've written many times about the fact that death threats against the President rose 400% after he took office, more than the Secret Service had ever seen in their history.  How hate crimes against African Americans skyrocketed in the wake of his inauguration.

Then we have the bumper stickers calling for us to "Don't Re-Nig" in 2012 and I think it's very clear that racism is alive and well.  And nowhere is it more evident than in our justice system, or how it is often seen as, the "injustice system"

Hopefully there will be a Federal investigation into this situation, and justice will be served.  Right now there's too many questions and not enough answers.  And we've had way too many instances throughout history of people who felt they were able to kill black people with no repercussions.  And often they were correct in feeling that way because there was no one to really step in and say "that's wrong."

You would think that in the year 2012 that would not still be the case.

The below video is from The Young Turks show from March 14th 2012

Read more here:

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1 comment:

  1. Well written and compelling, thanks for speaking up and speaking true.


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