Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On A Rainy Night, History And The Odds Were Never In His Favor

Trayvon Martin, 17, killed by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012.  George Zimmerman still has not been arrested. 
Sybrina Fulton


Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Wednesday, March 28
, 2012

Never mind the smash hit movie "The Hunger Games", which depicts teenagers fighting each other to the death for survival as a fictional blood sport of Suzanne Collins' novels.  A real hunger for blood, a hunger to play a deadly game of hunt-a-black man was hatched in the mind of George Zimmerman on February 26, a rainy Sunday evening in Sanford, Florida.  "Fucking coons," he muttered under his breath as he was heard on tape pursuing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin (pictured above less than two weeks before he was killed.)

"These assholes they always get away," Mr. Zimmerman said on a 911 call that will do as much to sink him in the minds of any prospective jury as the killing of Mr. Martin will.  Mr. Zimmerman, who had a perverse, perhaps psychosexual fixation on black men (he had called 911 dispatchers 46 times since January 2011 and in all but two calls mentions a black male "suspect" acting "suspiciously"), made sure that Trayvon Martin wouldn't get away. 

A 28-year-old unregistered, self-appointed neighborhood watchman slash wannabe cop with a record of violence (including an assault against a police officer) and alleged abuse against a girlfriend and a fiancee, George Zimmerman did not stand his ground on Sunday, February 26.  He stalked Mr. Martin, hunted him down, accosted him and killed him. 

Killed Trayvon Martin's young, precious life, his hopes, his dreams, his future.

And after that George Zimmerman just walked away.  Walked away with his gun and license to carry it and his license to kill intact.

This sanctioned terror and cold-blooded killing -- make that cold-blooded, premeditated murder -- is no different than anything in 1841, when a free black man in New York named Solomon Northup, was kidnapped and brought to the South and enslaved for 12 years (Steve McQueen is scheduled to shoot a new film this summer based on Mr. Northup's true story Twelve Years A Slave.) 

This February murder in Sanford, Florida is no different from 1929 in Rosewood, Florida, where mobs of whites burned an entire affluent black town to the ground and killed many of its black residents, or in 1955, when a mob of whites killed Emmitt Till, or in 1986 when Michael Griffith was chased to his death in Howard Beach by a mob of white teens, or in 1989 when Yusuf Hawkins was murdered by a white mob when walking through Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to answer an ad for a used car he was there to buy, or in 1991 when Latasha Harlins was shot in the back of the head as she walked out of a Korean grocery store in Los Angeles, or in 1998 when a mob of whites dragged James Byrd for miles on a road in Texas until his body disintegrated into pieces, or in 1999, when Amadou Diallo was blasted with 41 shots, 24 of which ripped through his flesh, or in 2005, when some blacks were shot dead by police in Louisiana as they were simply trying to save their own lives by seeking to dry ground in a more affluent area as Hurricane Katrina had already destroyed much of New Orleans, or Sean Bell in 2006, shot 50 times and killed by plain-clothed black police officers in New York just hours before his wedding, or in 2009, when Oscar Grant was handcuffed face down and killed in the East Bay in Northern California, or the killing this month of Bo Morrison, an unarmed man in Wisconsin, victimized, shot dead by a homeowner he intruded on, thanks to the law of "The Castle Doctrine."

These and countless other murders of unarmed black men and women in America have happened for centuries, from enslavement onwards.  And they continue. 

And go overwhelmingly unpunished.

Doesn't that disturb anyone?

It sure troubles the hell out of me.  It should you, too.

To be black in America is to be condemned to a premature death sentence.  Whether angrily, hastily, methodically or figuratively.

George Zimmerman is being protected the same way the Ku Klux Klan were protected by police in a not-too-distant past.  Some of those police themselves were Klansmen. 

Sanford, Florida has a long history of racial violence and unrest fomented and perpetrated in part by police as well as white citizenry.  It is well-documented, and I won't spend time detailing it here.  The residents of Sanford, who testified at a public hearing recently, can attest to it.

Hoodies have become a cultural catchphrase now, but the hoodies people should really be afraid of aren't those worn by black, Hispanic, Asian and white men -- whom I see in my gym almost every morning wearing hoods over their heads -- but those white hoods with two holes in them worn by cowardly white men.

For that is the true symbol of the terror, violence, hate and murder of and against black men that goes routinely unpunished in the United States and continues to go unaddressed.  The violence of a 9mm semi-automatic handgun that cruelly silences an innocent young boy's screams for help, his screams for his very life.


Trayvon Martin was an A and B student who majored in smiles and happiness.  In truth it does not matter what kind of student he was.  His death never should have occurred.  It's not just a tragedy.  This is an unmitigated fucking outrage. 

An outrage, in that merely walking down a street at night in America during rainfall is punishable by death. 

George Zimmerman should be arrested immediately.  The world knows that if Mr. Martin had shot Mr. Zimmerman, an arrest would have been immediate.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin, Trayvon's parents, yesterday at a hearing in Washington. 

Students of Bridgewater College, VA, and others marching to protest the shooting death of Trayvon Martin this month.  Michael Reilly/AP

The Dred Scott decision, delivered in the late 1800s by then-U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney decreed that blacks have no rights that whites are bound to respect.  I said this on Twitter
two weeks ago: a black life simply isn't worth as much in America as a white life.  The long history of the U.S. criminal justice system's disparate treatment of and disrespect for black lives/victims bears my statement out, as do the disproportionate punishments blacks get in the murders of whites versus those whites receive for the murders of blacks. 

Outside the realm of the American justice system, in the human family, obviously lives are lives are lives, equal to one and all.  It's more than past time that the legal system in America behaves that way as well. 

And way past time that everyone sees this as well.  And acts accordingly.

Will that day ever come?

The family of Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, have been a sterling, righteous national and international symbol for justice.  A vast majority of America and the world, stands solidly in their corner, supporting them and rallying to their cause for justice.  Over two million people have signed
this petition.  And counting.

"It's not a black and white thing, it's a right and wrong thing," Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother often says.

She is half right. 

The intrinsic balance and certitude of reason and nature are upset when a killing occurs and the killer -- make that admitted killer -- isn't so much as questioned, let alone arrested.  That very sense of right, that sense of procedure supposedly guaranteed to all -- not carried out as it would have been had the victim been white -- sticks in anyone's craw. 

At the same time however, the sheer pattern of black men being murdered, many by black men, and many by white men and white male police, clearly demonstrates that it is also a black and white thing too, as is the way black victims are treated.  Mr. Martin, who lay stone cold dead on the grass that rainy Sunday February night, was drug-tested by police, while Mr. Zimmerman, blood on his face and a gun in his hand, was not. 

A dead black boy was treated like a criminal.  A bloodthirsty killer with a gun and white and Hispanic roots was treated like a victim.

Without any further investigation by the police.

Score one for summary judgment: George Zimmerman, presumed justified.

Black men, whether young or old, are always treated as if they are the criminal.  They are presumed to be.  By everyone.  I've been looked at that way at night and in the day.  Whether in a suit or in civilian clothes.  Whether I wear eyeglasses or not.  I have been stopped by police for no good reason.  Every day when I walk into a store whether in California or New York or anywhere, I am followed.  And that's not paranoia talking.  Nor 1977 or 1957.  This is in 2012, in the here and now to which I refer.  I once joked that the only way for store employees to stop following blacks (especially black men) in stores is to put every single item in their store at the front of the store by the counter in front of them.

Repeat: Black men, whether young or old, are always treated as if they are the criminal.

In Boston years ago,
Charles Stuart knew that.  He shot his wife dead and shot himself to collect insurance money then called police to say a black man shot them both.  Black men all over Boston, Roxbury and elsewhere in the Back Bay and other parts of Massachusetts were uprooted and lined up against a wall as if readied for a firing squad.

In South Carolina years ago,
Susan Smith knew that.  She killed her two babies, locking them in her car and pushing it into a Carolina river, where the two cutest babies you may have seen perished in a watery grave.  She called 911, tearfully explaining that a black man had abducted her babies.  The entire country was outraged, searching for the man who never, ever existed.

Next month (April 29) it will be 20 years since the acquittal of four white police LAPD officers in the beating of
Rodney King.  Even with a videotape in front of them, a few whites believed that "surely Rodney King did something wrong" to merit the beating.  There is an inherent and disturbing authoritarian model that sears through America: the idea that the police are always right, even when visual evidence suggests otherwise.  That idea has been punctured somewhat in white America now, and there are growing numbers of people who believe that some of the police who operate in America aren't protecting and serving.  Whether through their own personal experiences or through a growing number of police misconduct cases.

It has been a great, heartening and moving thing to see thousands and thousands of whites galvanized to the cause of Trayvon Martin's family.  It's not that I thought this wouldn't be the case.  It's just a great thing to see.  After all, I am hopeful, and ultimately I always invest in hope over fear or despair.  More often than not, Americans of all races rise to the occasion just when one thinks that they won't.

I believe justice will prevail in the case of Trayvon Martin.  I believe that George Zimmerman will be arrested.  I believe that he will ultimately be convicted for taking the life of Trayvon Martin.  Taking his life for no valid reason whatsoever. 

I hope that this resolute show of unity in the midst of such violence is a watershed moment for America.  I've had my hopes before, and they have been dashed.  The election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States was a watershed moment; then the racism of the Tea Party's more vocal members and the shouts of Joe Wilson washed or at least dampened a modicum of that historic moment.

This is another watershed moment.  Trayvon Martin would have smiled at this overwhelming response in his name.  For happiness and the human family is what he majored in.

Trayvon Martin, in a photo taken within the last year.  Photo obtained by AP

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