It’s Black History Month. I’ve opted to revisit a still healing wound that will surely be discussed as a part of Black History Month in the future.
The Shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Here are the first pictures that were released of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Neither of these pictures were them on the night of the shooting. These weren’t the most recent pictures. They had no bearing on the nature of either man’s actions the night of the shooting, but they had a tremendous impact on the public perception.
Initial new stories reported this as a shooting of a young black kid by a white man. I took one look at these pictures and did not believe for a second that Zimmerman was white. News outlets would go back and forth on Zimmerman’s race. It was here I became skeptical of all the information on every news station. If they couldn’t get Zimmerman’s race right, why would I believe anything else.
I didn’t want to jump the gun and make a judgement based on the first details. That did not stop other people. This story was and still is very divisive. New stations were split by party lines. Left-leaning stations leaned towards a conviction for Zimmerman whereas the right wanted to see him walk.
The way the story was playing it seemed to be this. Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin after a police operator told him to stop because he suspected him of being a burglar. He proceeded, there was a scuffle and then he shot the boy dead.
I still remained neutral for months while that narrative played.I knew how I was supposed to feel; vehemently enraged like all my friends on social media. Anger . I was indifferent. Might be because I’m a strange fellow who reads crime statistics and watches police training videos in his spare time. It was hard for this one death to emotionally disturb me when so many people get shot and die in Chicago on a random weekend. What was there to be enraged about? The racial element seemed forced to me. The justice system is most certainly racist. Just look at the differences in prison sentences between crack cocaine and regular cocaine. But I couldn’t see it here.
Something didn’t seem right. Why would a would-be murderer call the police? Why would he wait for the police to get there? How did the boy and he end up fighting? If he was But then Until this picture came out.
What do political affiliations have to do with his
Then I started to ask myself different questions.
What this kid got scared? Teens make brash decisions. Maybe he thought he could take this guy. Then he attacked him brutally. And the man turned his gun on him. What if he was justified? What if it had been self defense? I wanted more information. I was dying for it. It was almost like waiting for the next book in a long- running fantasy series.
You didn’t have to wait long. This was a national story for months. New developments came out daily. Every little bit of information was scrutinized and delivered to the public. I watched at least five different pundits analyze whether Zimmerman said “fucking coons” or “fucking cold”. Ratings were through the roof for this saga. The cynic in me wonders if news stations covered this so extensively for the money rather than to fulfill their purpose of bringing out the truth.
There was a trial. That gave us this picture.
Where you are for or against Zimmerman you have to admit, he has a great smile.
So Zimmerman was acquitted. I expected him to be. There was so much controversy surrounding the events, that I knew the burden of proof was too much for the prosecution. They had to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Zimmerman committed second-degree murder. And that couldn’t be done. Witness testimonies changed. Zimmerman couldn’t keep his story completely straight. The other half of the story was gone with Trayvon.
I was indifferent like earlier. I saw on CNN and MSNBC, people being interviewed. Lots of people crying and saying justice wasn’t served today. Why did this trial mean so much to them?
It was as if people projected all of the hopes and dreams of all black children unto Trayvon Martin. Like when Zimmerman shot him, he shot every black child. And when Zimmerman walked, he got away with killing that potential.
I still do not see the race here other than what was tossed in by the media on both sides. This was a simple case. Two people made mistakes. One was paranoid. One was young. They both should have walked away. But one didn’t. All that noise about skittles, hoodies, and iced tea was just that. Noise.
I was made furious by the coverage after the acquittal. The injustice of Trayvon Martin’s shooting was compared to Emmett Till.
Emmett Till was dragged out of a house, beaten to death, wrapped in barbed wire and then weighed down with a cotton gin to keep him from floating. All for a whistle at one white woman. To compare the two is unacceptable.
What fascinates me now is the martyrdom of Trayvon Martin. A mother spoke about her son’s killer being convicted. She said this was a victory for all black children like Trayvon Martin who didn’t get justice. That’s what he’s going to be now.
It reminds me of the case of Rodney King.
In school, Rodney King was portrayed as this hero. He was attacked by these cops and it led to L.A. Riots. I found out the truth behind Rodney King after leaving college. He was a scumbag. He sped away from the police while drunk-driving all to avoid violating his parole. That didn’t justify that beating, the cops were pieces of shit too. Rodney King was no hero. But he’s painted like one in history books. Trayvon Martin will be too.
Why are we so quick to create heroes and villains? To put things into black and white? Why does grey scare us so?