I find myself once again dumbfounded, furious and dismayed; a bundle of independent emotions yet completely related to each other. Once again we have a child dead in the street, shot for no apparent reason other than he was young, Black and didn’t appear to belong.
Trayvon Martin, 17 was nothing more than young and black, that was his ‘crime’. According to the 911 tape, on which his assailant George Zimmerman says ‘These assholes always get away’. Trayvon’s crime? Walking while black in a neighborhood that George Zimmerman had decided he did not belong. Trayvon apparently carried the cultural weight of suspicion on his young and narrow shoulders.
We will never know what really happened the night of 26-Feb-2012, when George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin had their fatal encounter. We will never know because only one of them remains breathing and in this world to tell us, George Zimmerman and he isn’t telling anything that doesn’t serve his own interest. All we are left with is the context of a senseless killing of a young man and a ‘defense’ based on laws that create vigilante ‘justice’ by self-designated citizen police. What we know or can at least extract from pictures and listening to 911 calls is this:
- George was following Trayvon in his car. George made a 911 call describing Trayvon as suspicious in part because he was young and black.
- George got out of his car, though he was told not to follow or confront Trayvon.
- Trayvon ran and George chased him, despite being told not to by the 911 operator.
- There was a confrontation between the man and the boy. The man shot the boy, killing him. The man has claimed self-defense and is using the “Stand Your Ground” law as the basis of his defense.
What is the likelihood the last statement makes any real sense? That a 17 year-old would confront a man, ten years older and nearly 100 lbs. heavier? Even the bravest, the boldest of young men might be cowed by this skirmish. We hear on the last 911 recordings the calls for help, these calls don’t sound as if they come from a grown man, do they? So what are we left with, what do we have?
We have a family devastated by the death of their son and without answers to their basic question, “Why?” All we have is a local police that seem to have not done their job, are afraid even to have done the basic job we would expect in investigating the death of a young man, a 17 year old child doing nothing more than walking on the sidewalk in a neighborhood he in fact belonged in. All we have is a state Justice Department, refusing to do their job and turning over their responsibility to the Federal Department of Justice, is this fear or simple incompetence?
What we really have is another senseless death and another family shattered. Another mother laying her child in the cold ground, another father burying his son, another brother growing up without his big brother to guide and mentor him. What do we have? Trayvon Martin walked to the store to buy candy and a drink, upon his return he was met by suspicion and ultimately by lethal force for no reason other than he appeared to not belong. Why? Because he was young and black and George Zimmerman in his self-assigned role of neighborhood watch and apparently enforcement of standards believed he didn’t belong, for this and no other reason Trayvon Martin is dead.
Trayvon Martin is dead before he could vote. Trayvon Martin is dead before his high school graduation. Trayvon Martin is dead before he could make the choices in life most of us take for granted; what we will be when we achieve adulthood, according to his father he wanted to be an airplane engine mechanic. Trayvon Martin is dead before he could marry and have children. Trayvon Martin is dead at 17. What can we do?
We can demand justice for Trayvon and his family. We can demand the police; the Justice Department at all levels do their job to uncover the entire truth. We can demand those who failed to do their jobs pay the consequence of their inaction. We can refuse a platform to the family of George Zimmerman, the police or the Media that begins to shift the perception of who the victim of this encounter is. George Zimmerman is not the victim, whether he is a cold blooded murder is yet to be determined, nevertheless he is not the victim.
What can we do? We can remember Trayvon Martin, dead at 17, an incomprehensible tragedy.