So the first goddamn question I have is this: Are WE (meaning especially the over 45 million black people in this country) GONNA DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS RACIST MURDER? Second question: Are WE going to DEMAND that the federal law enforcement authorities --which is to say the Obama Administration!-- via its Justice Department and the FBI not only "investigate" this blatant vicious coldblooded murder of a 17 year old boy who "happened to be" an African American male but also immediately arrest and take the 28 year old murderer into police custody? Third question: Are WE going to aggressively organize a massive national movement against the ongoing white supremacist stalking, profiling, harassment, and murdering of black men throughout the United States by the police, private citizens, and the criminal justice system? Next question: Are WE going to sit back once again and allow this domestic terrorism against our People to continue sanctioned and supported by the State? Are WE going to DEMAND that the President of these United Hates--yeah you know the one everyone keeps ritually referring to as "our first black president"--immediately call a national press conference to directly address and condemn these terrorist acts, and openly assure the national black community that he is seriously committed with all the power and authority that he and his state apparatus has in its possession to attacking and institutionally resolving once and for all the severe systemic and structural crisis of racial profiling and racist vigilante violence in this country? Because you can bet everything you own and will ever have that if the situation was reversed and black police officers, private citizens, self proclaimed "neighborhood watch commanders", store employees, random individuals on the street etc. were systematically stalking, harassing, and murdering white American males that Obama would have LONG AGO called just such a news conference and not only assured white American citizens of justice against such ongoing racist terrorist acts by "the blacks" but both he and Congress (and reinforced on every conceivable level by the Supreme Court!) would have passed so many stringent and ironclad laws and edicts against such terrorism so fast that your head would spin and never stop. The President would have declared martial law by now if millions of white citizens had demanded it (and you KNOW they would have)...
So do WE have the guts, the determination, and the deep respect for our own humanity and that of our loved ones throughout this country to GO TO WAR against this "New Jim Crowism" and to relentlessly and aggressively and tirelessly DEMAND that the federal and every single state, local, and municipal government do the same?
WELL DO WE?
Justice for Trayvon Martin
by Mychal Denzel Smith
March 19, 2012
Here’s what we know: Trayvon Martin is dead.
On February 26, during halftime of the NBA All-Star game, the 17-year-old high school junior went to a nearby store in the Orlando suburb where he was visiting his father and stepmother in order to buy some candy for his younger brother. He returned to his family a six-foot, three-inch, 140-pound corpse.
We know who killed him.
George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old college student who had appointed himself captain of the neighborhood watch for the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, admits to shooting Martin with a 9mm handgun. Zimmerman spotted Martin and followed him in his car before placing a 911 call to report a “suspicious" person in the area.
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something,” Zimmerman told the 911 operator. “He’s just staring, looking at all the houses.” What happened in the approximately twenty minutes between the time this call took place and when Zimmerman fired the shot that killed Martin is disputed—although recordings of the 911 call provide chilling hints—but what we do know is that Zimmerman claims he shot the young man in self-defense. This was enough for the police to let him go. Zimmerman was not and has, as of this writing, yet to be arrested.
We also know that Trayvon was black.
There are some who would argue that race is not a factor here. We’ve heard that Zimmerman is Hispanic—but this is not a defense. Neither is the statement released by Zimmerman’s father, which employs the “he has black friends” claim. Mentoring two black children and word from a black neighbor that she would entrust Zimmerman with her life doesn’t preclude him from holding racist views of black men. If it did, how then does he explain what made Martin a suspicious enough figure that it warranted Zimmerman leaving his vehicle and getting into an altercation with the young man?
What was the threat? We know that the only items retrieved from Martin’s person were a bag of Skittles, a can of iced tea, and some money, so unless Zimmerman felt he was in danger of contracting a deadly form of diabetes or a lethal cavity, he has more explaining to do. But whether the item is as innocuous as a bag of candy—or, as in Amadou Diallo’s case, a wallet—the assumption is that the natural state of black men is armed and dangerous.
If Martin was so threatening, why didn’t Zimmerman wait for the police to arrive, particularly after being told not to follow the suspect? (“We don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher told him.) Why have three witnesses come forward to say that in the moments before the shooting they heard crying that stopped as soon as the bullet fired? Was Martin crying in anger? And what if he was? Would he not have a right to be angry that a man was stalking him for no reason? And if Martin was the aggressor, how did he manage to get a man over a hundred pounds heavier than himself to the ground? What injuries did Zimmerman sustain that would lead us to believe there was a struggle that left him in the grip of a life-and-death situation? The 911 tapes that have been released suggest that the two shots that were fired, one from a distance, the other the fatal one from close range. Does self-defense require a warning shot?
That these questions are likely to go unanswered in court of law is thanks to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which places the threshold for self-defense so low that you need little more than your word to show that your life was in danger. Zimmerman’s description of events was enough for the police, who evidently feel they know all that they need to know to determine that Zimmerman should be free to walk the streets while Martin’s family mourns. The crime of killing a black person still is not greater than the crime of being black. And, as one of the family’s attorneys asked, “Do we really believe that if Trayvon Martin had pulled the trigger, he would not have been arrested?”
We know that being a black man in America is a life-threatening occupation, whether you’re a 22-year-old in Oakland or a 13-year-old in Chicago or a 17 year-old in Orlando. The characters change, but the script remains the same. When everyone has had their say, another young black man has been killed for doing nothing more than being a young black man.
What we don’t yet know is what it will take to get justice for Trayvon.
A good place to start would be signing the Change.org petition started by his parents calling on Florida’s 18th District State’s Attorney to prosecute Zimmerman. Trayvon is dead, and black men everywhere live in constant fear they could be the next Trayvon. The very least we can do is put his killer in handcuffs.
[WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO ABOUT RACIAL TERRORISM IN THIS COUNTRY?]
More on the wanton racist murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin...I'm so filled with pure sputtering rage writing this that I can't even breathe properly at this point. All I know is that we had better do something about this NOW. We have to stop this racist carnage against black males NOW!!!!!
The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin
By CHARLES M. BLOW
March 16, 2012
New York Times
“He said that Tray was gone.”
That’s how Sybrina Fulton, her voice full of ache, told me she found out that her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, had died. In a wrenching telephone call, the boy’s father, who had taken him to visit a friend, told her that Trayvon had been gunned down in a gated townhouse community in Sanford, Fla., outside Orlando.
“He said, ‘Somebody shot Trayvon and killed him.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Fulton continued in disbelief. “I said ‘How do you know that’s Trayvon?’ And he said because they showed him a picture.”
That was Feb. 27, one day after Trayvon was shot. The father thought that he was missing, according to the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, but the boy’s body had actually been taken to the medical examiner’s office and listed as a John Doe.
The father called the Missing Persons Unit. No luck. Then he called 911. The police asked the father to describe the boy, after which they sent officers to the house where the father was staying. There they showed him a picture of the boy with blood coming out of his mouth.
This is a nightmare scenario for any parent, and the events leading to Trayvon’s death offer little comfort — and pose many questions.
Trayvon had left the house he and his father were visiting to walk to the local 7-Eleven. On his way back, he caught the attention of George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain, who was in a sport-utility vehicle. Zimmerman called the police because the boy looked “real suspicious,” according to a 911 call released late Friday. The operator told Zimmerman that officers were being dispatched and not to pursue the boy.
Zimmerman apparently pursued him anyway, at some point getting out of his car and confronting the boy. Trayvon had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman had a 9 millimeter handgun.
The two allegedly engaged in a physical altercation. There was yelling, and then a gunshot.
When police arrived, Trayvon was face down in the grass with a fatal bullet wound to the chest. Zimmerman was standing with blood on his face and the back of his head and grass stains on his back, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Trayvon’s lifeless body was taken away, tagged and held. Zimmerman was taken into custody, questioned and released. Zimmerman said he was the one yelling for help. He said that he acted in self-defense. The police say that they have found no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s claim.
One other point: Trayvon is black. Zimmerman is not.
Trayvon was buried on March 3. Zimmerman is still free and has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
Yet the questions remain: Why did Zimmerman find Trayvon suspicious? Why did he pursue the boy when the 911 operator instructed him not to? Why did he get out of the car, and why did he take his gun when he did? How is it self-defense when you are the one in pursuit? Who initiated the altercation? Who cried for help? Did Trayvon’s body show evidence of a struggle? What moved Zimmerman to use lethal force?
This case has reignited a furor about vigilante justice, racial-profiling and equitable treatment under the law, and it has stirred the pot of racial strife.
As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.
That is the burden of black boys in America and the people that love them: running the risk of being descended upon in the dark and caught in the cross-hairs of someone who crosses the line.
The racial sensitivity of this case is heavy. Trayvon’s parents have said their son was murdered. Crump, the family’s lawyer, told me, “You know, if Trayvon would have been the triggerman, it’s nothing Trayvon Martin could have said to keep police from arresting him Day 1, Hour 1.” Even the police chief recognizes this reality, even while disputing claims of racial bias in the investigation: “Our investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color. I know I can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”
Zimmerman has not released a statement, but his father delivered a one-page letter to The Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. According to the newspaper, the statement said that Zimmerman is “Hispanic and grew up in a multiracial family.” The paper quotes the letter as reading, “He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever” and continues, “The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.” And disclosures made since the shooting complicate people’s perception of fairness in the case.
According to Crump, the father was told that one of the reasons Zimmerman wasn’t arrested was because he had a “squeaky clean” record. It wasn’t. According to the local news station WFTV, Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for “battery on a law enforcement officer.”
Furthermore, ABC News reported on Tuesday that one of the responding officers “corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.” And The Miami Herald published an article on Thursday that said three witnesses had heard the “desperate wail of a child, a gunshot, and then silence.”
WFTV also reported this week that the officer in charge of the scene when Trayvon was shot was also in charge of another controversial case. In 2010, a lieutenant’s son was videotaped attacking a black homeless man. The officer’s son also was not initially arrested in that case. He was later arrested when the television station broke the news.
Although we must wait to get the results from all the investigations into Trayvon’s killing, it is clear that it is a tragedy. If no wrongdoing of any sort is ascribed to the incident, it will be an even greater tragedy.
One of the witnesses was a 13-year-old black boy who recorded a video for The Orlando Sentinel recounting what he saw. The boy is wearing a striped polo shirt, holding a microphone, speaking low and deliberately and has the heavy look of worry and sadness in his eyes. He describes hearing screaming, seeing someone on the ground and hearing gunshots. The video ends with the boy saying, “I just think that sometimes people get stereotyped, and I fit into the stereotype as the person who got shot.”
And that is the burden of black boys, and this case can either ease or exacerbate it.
I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at chblow@nytime