911: Are you following him?
911: Ok. We don’t need you to do that.
With the release of the 911 tapes from the night of Feb. 26, it has become apparent to those listening to the chilling audio that George Zimmerman was aggressively pursuing Trayvon Martin the night he killed him.
Only through the filter of following the law to the “T” could one come to the conclusion that George Zimmerman could possibly get off scott-free for taking the life of a young man.
The actual law in question is Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Stating that citizens have the right to shoot if they feel that they’re in danger, it gives a broad spectrum under what it constitutes as self-defense. On today’s “Starting Point” with Soledad O’Brien, CNN Senior Analyst Jeffery Toobin said that the law makes it so that “if you’re hit with a fist, you can reply with a gun.”
My question is, how can someone who pursued another individual consequently causing a confrontation then claim that they felt that they were in danger? Is the color of a man’s skin as dangerous as the loaded gun Zimmerman was carrying? Let’s not forget that Zimmerman got out of his car to confront Trayvon, who was mere feet from his destination: home.
For now, let’s take the racial aspect out of the situation. A young man was killed after being pursued for doing nothing but walking home. Fight or no fight, a boy was killed. That’s enough grounds to at least hold someone in custody until an investigation either clears their name or proves them to be at fault for the death.
Not only was Zimmerman allowed to return home that night, he wasn’t even tested for drug or alcohol usage that night. Some experts even state that they can hear Zimmerman slurring words on the 911 tape where he called in to report a “suspicious person.” The drug/alcohol test is routinely done during a homicide investigation.
Does that scream racism? No. Not by a long shot. What it shows is a gross negligence on the part of the Sanford Police Department. When you also factor in an account of a witness claiming that when they described Trayvon screaming for help, an officer of the law corrected them and told them that they heard Zimmerman asking for assistance.
Feeling like the police are protecting Zimmerman rather than thoroughly trying to provide justice for Trayvon. That’s part of the reason his parents have asked the FBI to step in. The other part has everything to do with race.
In the Black community, there’s the long standing feeling that the police are not acting in our best interests. This cannot always be true. But…the times where they’re genuinely trying to help solve crimes that happen in our neighborhoods are continuously outweighed by situations where murders go unsolved or even go on without a proper investigation.
Add to that the fact that racial profiling exists. A disproportionate stake in the prison population. Black people in certain areas and the police have the same relationship as citizens of occupied countries and the occupying Army have. This has inspired the “Stop Snitchin’” campaign which is presented as a community solving its own problems but is actually a vehicle that perpetuates crime not being reported out of fear. [More on this later.]
And then the media…
Mediaite’s Frances Martel says:
Several reasons exist for the divide in black and white media regarding how they approach this story. For one, the reasons for Martin’s death necessitate an understanding of racism that only black people—particularly black men—fully understand. As a white Latina, I can say, without a doubt, that no one looks at my skin (or my name, for that matter) and feels fear. I can understand bringing that out in people for immutable traits— I know what it’s like to forget I’m in a rural place and speak Spanish, prompting bad service at a store or “this town is going to Hell” comments from locals. I know what it’s like to see your dad stopped by a cop for having a mustache. But, for the most part, no one knows I’m not “the right kind” of white without an extra clue. People like me don’t have to deal with “it,” usually. Given that my family barged into the American history narrative almost a decade after the Civil Rights Act passed, they likely could have avoided dealing with it had they been here, too.
Trayvon Martin, like so many “suspicious-looking” young black males with similar fates, did not have that luxury. No one can hide his or her skin color and, in the context of vigilante violence, the false threat of black skin is a uniquely black male problem. That doesn’t mean that those who have not experienced it cannot see why it is so obviously troublesome, nor does it exonerate non-black people from the responsibility of demanding a more just legal system that sends a clear enough message that murders like Martin’s are so unacceptable that they will, for the most part, go away. That lack of joint responsibility may be the single most troubling part of this story.
When Caylee Anthony disappeared, Nancy Grace almost single-handedly decided for us that this was America’s Problem. For a good year, this was America’s Problem. This was America’s Problem despite the fact that, by the time Caylee’s mother was arrested and acquitted, there really wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. Black media leaders had to cover Casey Anthony’s trial, too. And Joran Van Der Sloot’s. And Amanda Knox‘s. The lack of reciprocity, particularly in cases with black victims, is stark and needs to be addressed.
When I wrote my final paper in my Journalism Methods & Theory class, it was about racism. I came to find out that some whites don’t see something as racist unless it is outright so. I challenge Caucasian people everywhere to this: Instead of seeing racism as just a person calling a black guy a “nigger,” realize that there is also a systematic approach as well. Look out the neighborhoods, schools, services [or lack thereof], or job options that we have available to us. Know that if they’re lacking, its not because we chose to live in crime-ridden areas or places where the school are failing their students. Know that its like that for a reason. As much as there is overt racism, there are also covert manifestations of racism.
This comment stood out to me on the Orlando Sentinel’s storyon the situation.
Sorry, Darryl, you’re publishing to the unwashed mass on this forum. They don’t understand. They won’t understand. They can’t understand.
History provides no bearing for the unwashed, therefore history has no bearing on cultural development of any nationality, society, or race. Your examples are merely opening of old wounds which bear not in the least on today’s world events.
It is sad, but ignorance is the root of racism, and we’re still awash in both - ignorance and racism.
Frankly, publishing your premise - a premise forwarded by a black journalist - should have been a wonderful opportunity for white citizens to delve into your even deeper understanding of the black community, but that was not to be. Truly regretful.
The truth; it is simply much easier for us white folks to shirk any responsibility, move right on down the same road, doing the same old same old, all the while expecting different results. Forget black slavery, forget all of history, forget white inhumanity regarding our treatment of blacks in this, the Land of The Free. The Emancipation Proclamation seems to have set us white folks free as well.Certainly the negative noise level found on this forum is not indicative of the general readership of the Sentinel. In that light, you will have reached many whom understand what you intended. I did and I thank you you for it.GingerTop gets it.As for other comments about “Where was the outrage when …. happened?” It’s like this. If the community stands idle while George Zimmerman sits free, they’d be condoning his actions. If nothing is said about the unjust killing of a young man, it’d be like a starter pistol to those who have been searching for a reason to kill our already endangered male population.I’ve got younger cousins that are in the same age group as Trayvon. Lord willing, I’m going to raise a young black man one day. I don’t want them to have the same fear of being at the wrong place at the wrong time that I have; thinking that if I’m leaving work or home at an inopportune time that I could “fit a description.” In order to change the situation, you have to speak up at some time. The time is now.