By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
Killer of Trayvon Martin goes free but verdict haunts America
- Zimmerman case sign of U.S. divide (FCN, 07-09-2013)
(FinalCall.com) – Angry protesters took to streets after an all-female, nearly all White jury, acquitted George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Black teen Trayvon Martin.
As calls mount for federal intervention and talks of an economic boycott of Florida circulate in social media, activists say the message was clear: Black life is worthless in America.
“Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus,” tweeted his mother Sybrina Fulton after the verdict July 13.
“Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY,” Tracy Martin, his father also tweeted.
President Barack Obama, who earlier said to the ire the Republican Party and Whites, if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon, also issued a statement. “The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions.
And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken,” said President Obama. He asked July 14 for respect for the verdict with the calm reflection shown by Trayvon’s parents. But as many declared justice was denied, the president’s appeal was disregarded by angry demonstrators.
Protests shut down freeways, train lines, and major intersections in some cities. While 200 people took to the streets July 14 in Chicago for a Sunday protest, another 2,000 marched into New York’s Times Square, where traffic was blocked for more than an hour. Hundreds rallied in Los Angeles’ Leimert Park, a Black business district, the same evening of the July 13 verdict, and marched down busy Crenshaw Boulevard. They blocked streets, disrupted service for a passenger rail line, and ultimately caused traffic to be rerouted. The next day demonstrators blocked traffic on a L.A. major freeway.
Seven-hundred people marched from Love Park to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. A smaller group marched through downtown Atlanta, shouting “Never again!” Houston residents rallied outside city hall. In Oakland demonstrators marched and some broke windows, burned American flags and started street fires. More protests were scheduled as The Final Call went to press and the court decision dominated U.S. media reporting.
“This young man, Trayvon Martin, beautiful young man in the States shot down by a community captain that followed him and said these a–holes. He’s (Mr. Zimmerman’s) telling you that he doesn’t like the person that he’s following. He shoots him. Now I talked to the mother, I talked to the father, I told them that this precious child is a nail in the coffin of White supremacy and his beauty, his peaceful demeanor, his sweetness has touched all of us who saw his face,”
said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, during an address earlier this year in Trinidad.Min. Farrakhan talked to the victim’s mother, sharing how scripture offers a picture of the crucifixion of Jesus as a way of redemption for others. “Some people die for the benefit of others … I said your child died that the sleeping masses who have been killing each other would rise up and say enough is enough. And today all over America now the people are rising,” Min. Farrakhan said.
“They (protestors) are offended and shocked and outraged. I have seen lawyers, politicians, preachers, moms, dads, people in tears of rage and frustration over the weekend,” said Atty. Ava Muhammad, a former prosecutor, who is also a national spokesperson for Minister Farrakhan and a Nation of Islam student minister.
It isn’t that people necessarily want to see Mr. Zimmerman locked up but it’s the idea that an innocent child walking home from a 7-11 was killed, she said. “The fear that it strikes in a mother’s heart, the idea that my child could go out here and say,
‘I’m going to go get an Arizona drink and some candy and I’ll be right back,’ and they never come home. This is sending waves and waves of anxiety and fear throughout the populous and this is why you’re seeing the response that you’re seeing,” Atty. Muhammad said.
“That jury of White females said this man did nothing wrong! … You’re telling me that Michael Vick went to prison for two years because some dogs were killed on his property and he wasn’t even there, but this man can shoot Sybrina Fulton’s and Tracy Martin’s child in the heart and leave his body lying in the rain while people stand around and look at it?” she added.
“As an attorney, I’m embarrassed for producing such an outrageous and unjust verdict in the George Zimmerman case. And it only shows that White racism and White supremacy and the devaluing of Black life is still heavily present in the American injustice system,” said Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, chairman of the New Black Panther Party.
“This verdict is a stunning slap in the face for Black people of all class lines and across religious lines. It is a stunning shocker to many who actually believed in this system and had some hope in a so-called changing America under the Obama administration,” he said.
But after being stunned, Atty. Shabazz said, hopefully people will be shocked into consciousness that there is no reconciling between Black and White in America and her political or judicial systems.
Some believed the case was open and shut: Mr. Zimmerman was told not to follow Trayvon Martin. He was told the police were on their way by a 9-11 operator after reporting the youngster as a suspicious person. Instead he exited his vehicle, going against training neighborhood watch volunteers receive. Trayvon was unarmed and blocks from his father’s home when he was shot and killed in an encounter with the older and armed Mr. Zimmerman.
Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network has joined the NAACP’s calls for the Justice Department to file federal civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman. The Justice Department is currently investigating to see if there is enough evidence to pursue federal charges. The National Action Network is also planning a 100-city “Justice for Trayvon National Day of Action.”
In Orlando, Fla., clergy, politicians and youth are planning a series of panel discussions entitled, “Unity in the Community to Save Our Youth.” The panels are scheduled to start on September 7, according to Kendrick Muhammad, student coordinator of the Muhammad Study Group in Orlando.
Dedon Kamathi, an activist and political scientist in Los Angeles said the verdict gives a green light to White males, obviously alienated and into the gun culture, to kill when they feel threatened. “Women, if they’re stalked, have a right to have their stalker in prison. Trayvon was stalked, no doubt about it and he defended himself when assaulted and the White boy got away with it, which shows a double standard in law,” said Mr. Kamathi.
Marqueece Harris-Dawson, executive director of the Community Coalition, said at the rally, he hadn’t even processed the jury’s decision yet. He was still too angry for words.
“Black folks we go through this cycle we’ve been going through for 400 years. It’s like an abusive relationship, right. You get the mess beat out of you you’re leaving. And you try to work it out and just when you think maybe we might be on the way to working it out, you get smacked in the gut again,” Mr. Harris-Dawson said.
What first comes to mind is the statement the Honorable Elijah Muhammad made to Black people many years ago, said Atty. Ava Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. He warned the best and only solution to the problem between Blacks and their former slavemasters was separation, she said.
The lawyer believed early on–and her belief was reinforced when the jury was impaneled–there would be an acquittal.
The verdict confirmed and publicly endorsed what has always been the state of affairs in America, Atty. Muhammad continued. “Any White man or White person has the absolute right to take the life of any Black person. That’s a matter of historical record that that has occurred but in 2013 for the state of Florida, through this jury, to endorse that practice, places us in the most dangerous set of circumstances we have been in since slavery,” she declared.
Blacks are haunted by questions about justice, in a biased system more than two centuries after slavery because there’s been no real accounting of that history or its consequences, said Timothy Wise, an anti-racism activist and author. Plus, there is a perpetual state of racial denial among Whites in America, he told The Final Call.
Mr. Wise, like many, felt lesser charges of manslaughter were likely the best people could have hoped for. There’s good reason it should be difficult to deprive people of their liberty and high standards for guilt, he said.
“Of course, the irony is, there are over a million Black folks in jails or prisons today, many of whom are there on far less convincing evidence than that which existed against George Zimmerman. So it’s not so much that having a high hurdle for Zimmerman’s guilt is a bad thing–it’s what we want the system to do–but it would be nice to have the same standards applied in cases involving Black men charged with crimes, rather than simply victimized by them,” said Mr. Wise, who is Caucasian.
From the outset of the trial, many wondered how justice would play out in the case, though in their guts, they knew it would come back empty as part of the enduring legacy of racism in the United States. What does justice look for young, Black males and other so-called minorities who are victimized?
“Not like this, that’s for sure,” Mr. Wise said. “Justice would have required a jury to recognize there is nothing legitimate about shooting someone who you followed and accosted, just because–even in the light most favorable to you–he might have got the better of you in a fight … a fight which never would have even happened had George Zimmerman not initiated the drama,” he said.
That the trial and arrest would never have occurred without pressure from activists, advocates, and Trayvon Martin’s parents, but going through the legal process isn’t enough, said activists, legal experts and protestors.
(Angelita Muhammad contributed to this report.)
Zimmerman case sign of U.S. divide (FCN, 07-09-2013)