By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
CULVER CITY, Calif. (FinalCall.com) – All her family wants is justice and closure to begin healing, not vengeance, says Sabrina Fulton regarding the fatal shooting of her son, Trayvon Martin.
But the family’s pain has been exacerbated by tactics of her son’s killer’s attorneys–including the audacity and attempt to blame the 17-year-old for his own death, Ms. Fulton says.
Judge Debra Nelson ruled George Zimmerman’s attorneys could access the teen’s school and social media records to see if he had violent or aggressive tendencies. The decision confused and saddened her, Ms. Fulton says.
“Trayvon is the victim and it seems to us like they are putting Trayvon on trial and he’s at rest right now. I think it’s reversed,” she told The Final Call in an exclusive interview, which included family attorney Benjamin Crump.
“Why would you reverse the role and put the victim on trial?” Ms. Fulton asks, adding the focus should be Mr. Zimmerman’s intention and mindset because he didn’t know her son at all.
As Mr. Zimmerman’s attorneys prepare to argue he was merely acting in self-defense under a law that allows deadly force if one feels threatened, reality about the loss of Trayvon strikes his family.
The conclusion of the encounter could come during a Stand Your Ground hearing planned for April or May, if Judge Nelson rules in favor of Mr. Zimmerman’s claim. Or it could come later at his trial for second degree murder, which Judge Nelson tentatively scheduled for June 10.
Analysts interviewed by The Final Call say forensic tests that found no trace of Trayvon Martin’s DNA on Mr. Zimmerman’s gun may have a bearing on the Stand Your Ground hearing. But the facts definitely implicate Mr. Zimmerman as the aggressor, they argue.
In addition, Judge Nelson planned to rule on prosecutors’ request for a gag order at Final Call press time on Oct. 29. Authorities requested the order arguing there have been too many leaks in the case, which could sway potential jurors, Atty. Crump explained.
“We have no control over the court system. We have no control over the judge or the jury. What I do know is we want people to follow our example and our example is for peace regardless,” Ms. Fulton responds when asked if she was prepared for the trial.
Despite their tragedy and pain, the family wants to portray a good image and advocate for peace over violence and the ultimate goal of justice, she says. The family is relying on the court system, prayer and a higher power to cope through it all, she continues.
“I think rather than losing a child, I’d give an arm and a leg. It’s just that deep. I think of a lot of things that’s going on now as a smoke screen. We haven’t gotten to the fire yet, you see. I truly believe that we’re not in control of what’s going on right now,” Ms. Fulton adds.
Trayvon Martin was just like the average teenager, his parents note. And perhaps that’s why so many people related to their ordeal. After Mr. Zimmerman fatally shot the unarmed teenager in late February, claiming to be a neighborhood watch captain on patrol, the news went viral in mainstream and social media.
Demonstrators across racial and social backgrounds held rallies and marches to protest the shooting. They were also angry Sanford Police let Trayvon’s killer walk free and with the gun he used in the fatal shooting.
People realize he could have been their son, trying to get from point A to B, but instead he’s pursued and killed, Ms. Fulton says. School children, NBA players, lawmakers, celebrities and even President Barack Obama have spoken out, either verbally or simply by wearing hoodies, which is what Trayvon Martin wore the cold, rainy night he was killed.
“I think it’s more than just Trayvon Martin. People were a little sick and tired of the same thing going on and they decided, ‘Listen, I’ve got to stand up for something,’ ” Ms. Fulton says in an exclusive Final Call interview.
Mr. Zimmerman’s attorneys are out to make Trayvon look like a bad kid, but the bottom line is he was just that–a child, she emphasizes. “A lot of people want to say it was one man against another man. Trayvon had recently turned 17. He was only 17 for three weeks, so he was no comparison to a 28-year-old adult,” Ms. Fulton says.
Releasing Trayvon Martin’s school records, which are private and confidential, sets a dangerous precedent and essentially ruins the policy for future cases, Atty. Crump adds.
“When it (vigilante or law enforcement killings) happens to our children, they try to find something to justify why you can kill our children and not be held accountable. And this is an old tried and true method unfortunately when it comes to matters of equal justice for our children,” he says.
“And you just have to ask yourself, ‘Man! If it was reversed–you know had Trayvon pulled the trigger and it was an unarmed George Zimmerman on the ground–there would be none of this stuff happening, none of this stuff,” Atty. Crump adds.
The Martin family has requested Mr. Zimmerman’s medical records, which Atty. Crump believes are far more relevant than the teen’s school records. The records would reveal what, if any, drugs the shooter may have had in his system that night, but they haven’t been released yet, he notes.
“They are on a fishing expedition to try, as Sybrina has said, to crucify and assassinate his (Trayvon’s) character, even posthumously. They killed him physically and now they’re trying to kill his character and it’s real offensive,” Atty. Crump continues.
Meanwhile, the family has been developing the Justice for Trayvon Martin Foundation to in part raise awareness about racial profiling and raise funds to provide mentoring programs for youth. JusticeTM.org, its website, offers ways visitors can help other families suffering similar experiences. It also invites people to sign an online petition to help amend the Stand Your Ground law in Florida and other states.
They are also working to create the “Trayvon Martin Amendment” to the law, Ms. Fulton says. The amendment would prohibit pursuing, fighting with or killing another then claiming you were standing your ground.
“Because as far as we are concerned, Trayvon was standing his ground. Trayvon did not pursue anybody. He did not follow anybody. He did not start anything. He was just going from point A to point B … And it’s not simply about Black and White. It’s really about right and wrong. What is the right thing to do,” Ms. Fulton says.
The mother and attorney plan to travel to the 31 states with active Stand Your Ground laws in search of lawmakers who will sponsor the amendment. “It comes down to this law sends the wrong message. It sends the message that people ought to be vigilantes. People ought to take the law into their own hands. Let the police do their job,” Atty. Crump says.
Dr. Ava Muhammad, a lawyer and Nation of Islam student minister, is not surprised that in the course of a Stand Your Ground hearing, the court would allow release of Trayvon Martin’s school records. But the reality of it all is so offensive, she says.
“We all know in his short life this young child, there’s nothing at all that would even place him in a circumstance where we should even discuss whether or not he deserved to die such a violent and horrifying death,” Dr. Muhammad said.
The law is a travesty and was designed to give license to Whites to kill Black people, which is in line with Florida’s horrific history, she insists.
“We tend to think of Disney World, South Beach, oranges, lovely weather and palm trees when we think of Florida, but Florida was either the 2nd or 3rd state to secede from the United States in civil war. And it has one of the worst and most lingering histories of forced servitude after slavery, well into the ‘70s and even the ‘80s,” Dr. Muhammad says.
Dr. Muhammad’s staunch belief in the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad–that there’s no such thing as justice for the Black man and woman in America– has prepared her for a potential not guilty verdict if the case goes to trial.
“We may win a point here and there but the consistent outcome whenever we are brought into the criminal justice system, whether we are charged with an offense or the victim of an offense, the pattern is that we lose because this is a country built for White people by Black people. … So yes! I’m prepared for George Zimmerman to be let off. Yes I am,” she said.
Professor Marcella Washington of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, urged paying attention to the pending Stand Your Ground hearing. National Black organizations like the NAACP and others should be making statements to help bring the story back to the forefront, she says.
Understandably, the presidential election has taken precedence but at least immediately after the general focus must return to Trayvon Martin, Dr. Washington says. One reason is the Stand Your Ground Task Force assembled by Florida Governor Rick Scott is to review the law. The task force has primarily heard from people in favor of the law and carrying weapons during visits across the state and Dr. Washington fears the task force will affirm the law.
“Trayvon Martin is still such an important story for civil and human rights in this country. … It is imperative that the emphasis that we placed on it seemingly so long ago, in February, has to be energized. It has to be discussed now. It must return to national Black radio. It has to come back as a topic of discussion. We need to sound the alarm this is happening,” she says.
- Zimmerman Charged: Second Degree Murder in Trayvon Martin case (FCN, 04-17-2012)
- Blaming Trayvon? (FCN, 04-04-2012)
- Trayvon Martin – The fight for justice continues (FCN, 03-28-2012)
- Killing of Black teen, Trayvon Martin sparks outcry, national mobilization (FCN, 03-20-2012)