Monday, 26 March 2012

The death of Trayvon Martin

I haven’t felt the need to comment on a news story since the London riots. It saddens me, what brings me back to a more sombre tone. On February 26th Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old student, was walking home from buying some snack during a break in a basketball match on television. He was followed by 28 year old, ex military personnel, George Zimmerman, beaten and shot. George Zimmerman claims that he was acting out of self-defence and Trayvon Martin attacked him when he was climbing out of his SUV. And yet remarkably there are recordings of his phone call to police stating that he was following a ‘suspicious’ young man. He was also caught on tape cursing ‘f***ing coons’. In addition to George Zimmerman’s recordings, later T-Mobile provided recordings from Trayvon Martin’s phone in which he tells his Father’s girlfriend that a strange man is following him.

The police were not incompetent in their response to this incident. They were deliberately blind to the fact that there was evidence to disprove Zimmerman’s defence. They took a statement from an eye witness claiming to see Martin on top of Zimmerman, punching him while Zimmerman called for help. Another witness Mary Cutcher made numerous attempts to give her account which was to the contrary and she was repeatedly brushed off. Why was it that the police would push away the opportunity to gather more information? The police also failed to check Trayvon Martin’s mobile phone to find a contact number to notify his loved ones of his death. Instead of identifying the boy, they stuck the body in the morgue under the name ‘John Doe’. His parents spent 24 hours in suspense, wondering what happened to their son. It was only when they themselves filed a missing person’s report that they found out their son was dead. They were asked to identify ‘John Doe’s’ body.

Zimmerman is still, a month later, free. The police’s refusal to conduct a thorough investigation, to release the police tapes to his parents and finally to arrest Zimmerman; has come under scrutiny from the media. Personally, I am disgusted that in this day and age, a young person can be murdered, the evidence can mount in piles against the murderer and the police take no affirmative action.

There are massive racial undertones to this story. Usually I try my hardest not to get into debates about race and ethnicity, they are messy and seldom ever resolved. However, I must speak my mind on this point. I cannot comprehend why George Zimmerman is still free. I will not accept the feeble excuses that the police have given, having ‘missed’ the racial slur that Zimmerman uttered moments before he shot the boy. That it is ignored that Zimmerman told his neighbours to watch out for ‘young black men who appear to be outsiders’.

My heart is heavy for Trayvon Martin’s parents. No matter what happens as a result of the investigation that opened March 20th, nothing will bring back their son.  I think or I hope that this is not considered a blow to the African American community, or the black community worldwide. Even though I have touched on the racial implications of the incident, I hope that people worldwide can separate the fact that Zimmerman was Latino-Caucasian and that Trayvon Martin was black. I hope that people can see the incident in these simple terms.

A seventeen year old boy was murdered; there is mounting evidence against the perpetrator of the crime. Nevertheless, he walks free and the evidence is ignored. I do not think this is right.

Despite the fact I feel quite passionate about what I’m saying, it tires me to see the New Black Panther Party’s response. Mikhail Muhammad, the leader, has offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman. Really? This isn’t the dark ages. An act of violence will not help to rectify the wrongs done by George Zimmerman. Just because the legal system has thus far failed to respond to the incident doesn’t mean a civilian can don a mask and run out, guns blazing in search of home-made justice. It’s a ridiculous idea and a dangerous one. It’s the very idea that resulted in the death of the boy in the first place. By even suggesting this, you are equipping the people who are supporting George Zimmerman’s actions more ammunition. You are giving them false evidence to prove that blacks are violent, uneducated and irrational beings; who can only communicate with primitive violence. You are feeding them.

Use your words. Force them to be accountable, protest, petition, march against them peacefully. Please, don’t use violence. The last time I wrote a blog as serious as this was when violence exploded after the death of Mark Duggan, which was also badly investigated. As I said before Violence begets violence and hatred begets hatred.

I hope there is justice for Trayvon Martin’s family, legal justice. And wherever you are George Zimmerman, I hope this boy’s death weighs heavily on your heart.

1 comment:

  1. I heard about this story, it's so sad. Looking at the pictures of Trayvon he hardly seems like the type of guy that is 'threatening' to other people. He seems like a nice, young, happy lad. I personally don't believe the Zimmerman is innocent, I do think he is guilty and it's awful that he's still allowed to be free. I really hope there is some justice in this world and that the killer is punished for what he did. My thoughts are with Trayvon's family xx