Commentary: Trayvon Martin Shooting A Different Kind Of Race Issue
By Derrell Connor Special To Channel 3000
I feel a number of different emotions about what happened to Trayvon Martin.
Martin was a 17-year-old African-American male who was shot and killed as he was walking back to the home of his father?s finance after a trip to the convenience store. The man who shot him is George Zimmerman, the head of a neighborhood watch organization in the gated community of Sanford, Fla., the scene of the incident. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, was driving his vehicle when he observed Martin walking down the street, in the rain, with his hood up. Feeling that Martin looked suspicious, Zimmerman called 911 and proceeded to tell the operator that Martin was behaving suspiciously and wanted to follow him. After being told by the operator not to follow Martin and to wait for an officer to arrive, Zimmerman decided to get out of his car and follow Martin anyway, which led to a confrontation that was reported by several neighbors and left Martin dead.
I can only imagine what members of Martin?s family are probably feeling right now?sadness, numbness and anger. As an African-American father of three, I would be absolutely devastated if something like this happened to one of my sons. I would be angry and demand an answer to the question of how a young man, who was a good student, with no criminal record, was gunned-down by someone who may have felt that Martin was up to no good. I, like the Martin family, would be angry that the person who shot my son is walking the streets a free man. Because Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense, no charges have been filed (which is also baffling) despite several different 911 recordings from neighbors and some from Zimmerman himself that indicate he disobeyed the operator?s orders?he got out of his car, and followed and confronted Martin. The whole incident is shameful and sad, and it makes you wonder why too many of us continuously fail to accept each person as an individual instead of painting people with a broad brush. But that?s not the only thing that angers me about this case.
In the weeks that followed the death of Trayvon Martin, there have been many cries for justice. Petitions have been filed by a number of organizations. There has been national coverage and outcry from many around the country, even some celebrities, who have been using this incident as a clear example of racism, and how the life of a young black man means very little in our society. It seems that everyone?s on the ?justice for Trayvon? bandwagon. And yet I can?t help but wonder: where?s the outcry for the thousands of innocent young black men gunned down by other young black men day in and day out?
Earlier this month in Milwaukee the school superintendent called a special school board meeting to discuss the murders of three African American teenagers during this academic calendar year. And this past weekend, three more young African American teenagers in Milwaukee were murdered. In cities like Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Los Angeles, young black men have been killing each other for years. Where?s the anger? Where are the demands that this type of disregard for life can no longer be tolerated? Where are the folks that will be in Sanford, Fla., to rally for Trayvon Martin and demand accountability from the police department? Why haven?t you been demanding that same accountability from those who have been doing the exact same thing for years? Is it because it?s easier to rally around an issue like this only when the perpetrator isn?t black?
These are questions that I?and I?m sure many others?want answered. I?m angry about what happened to Trayvon Martin. I feel bad for his family, I really do. But until we display the same anger about what happens in inner cities every single day and mobilize to push for change, consider me off the bandwagon.