Beyond race in the Trayvon Martin case

Anthony Thames
Spare Change News

On April 11, 2012, George Zimmerman was arrested and formally charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin in Seminole County, Florida. Special Prosecutor Angela Corey gave a courageous and moving press conference in which she detailed the state of Florida’s intentions to prosecute Zimmerman for second degree murder. What was especially moving was how Corey started the press conference by acknowledging Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of Trayvon Martin. Though none of us know how this case, which is sure to draw extensive media attention, will ultimately end; I personally take comfort in knowing that it will be handled by a sensible, compassionate and highly skilled prosecutor.

The facts in this case are pretty much straightforward. George Zimmerman, while acting as a volunteer community watch captain, noticed Trayvon Martin, a 17 year-old-black male, walking through this gated community and immediately he became suspicious of him. Zimmerman called 911 and conveyed his suspicions to a 911 dispatcher. Zimmerman was eventually asked if he was following this suspicious person, and when he replied that he was, he was then told by the dispatcher, “We don’t need you to do that.”

Family, friends and “legal pretenders” for Zimmerman have gone on a media campaign and would like us to believe that shortly after speaking to the 911 dispatcher, Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon Martin and beaten to within inches of his life and that he was forced to shoot and kill Martin in self-defense.

Once again the country is split primarily based on race, class or political affiliation. Though people are entitled to their own opinions as to what may have occurred that fateful night in February, some of us seem to be missing the bigger point: That yet another of our children have died as a result of senseless gun violence.

Second Amendment rights groups have seized the moment to further their cause for gun rights. Lobbyists for these groups have been lobbying state legislatures to enact new laws. New laws where one can enjoy total immunity from criminal prosecution after having killed or inflicted great bodily harm on another. It appears that certain segments of the country are arming themselves for the next major offensive. One in which the enemy seems to be our neighbor. We’ve gone from declaring war on those who would destroy us, to those who ultimately are most like us. “Stand your ground” is a very bad law and every decent American should fight to have it repealed.

New York Times opinion writer Charles M. Blow expressed his personal views recently on a cable news program in which he stated: “This is about a 17-year-old boy in a Florida grave. This is about his family who will never get a chance to hear his voice again. This is about a man who took his life and whether the law protects George Zimmerman … this is about justice and about people’s faith in a justice system.”

He further stated; “I love America, not because America is perfect, but because America strives for perfection. America is like a garden and you have to constantly tend to that garden so that the bad weeds don’t take over. Wherever weeds of injustice spring up; we must work together to pull them out.”

I truly feel that we have made extensive gains toward justice and equality in this country and feel it is necessary we remain ever vigilant. We must be mindful of the fact there are those among us who would like to take us back to a darker time in history.

ANTHONY THAMES is a Spare Change News writer and vendor.

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