Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Lynching of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman: a perspective

image of George Zimmerman (left) and Trayvon Martin (right) is from here
What follows was written by Carolyn Edgar of CNN and by Michael Skolnick of GlobalGrind. I found these excerpts posted together at Racialicious. I have inserted my own commentary in bold and brackets.
Trayvon Martin was a teenaged boy who was walking home from a convenience store. He was not engaged in an unlawful activity. [Other than being Black in the US and walking in a place where non-Blacks live.] He was in a place where he had a right to be – near the home of his father’s fiancée. [He should have had the right to be there.] George Zimmerman followed him [read: stalked him with the intention of doing harm], even after being told by the 911 dispatcher not to. [His fragrant disregard for the counsel of the 911 dispatcher demonstrates to me that he was wanting some form of public attention, or applause, for what he was about to do.] Zimmerman left his vehicle holding a loaded gun and began pursuing Martin on foot. It is plausible to infer that Zimmerman, not Martin, initiated the attack. The tapes indicate that Zimmerman may have been the aggressor in initiating contact with Martin. ["Plausible"? "May have been"? In what moral universe does disregarding the advice of someone trained to deal with crime and crisis, and instead stalking--with a deadly weapon--an innocent person, NOT constitute "initiating an attack"? How could a boy walking from a store where he purchased Skittles to the home of family constitute, and then screaming for help when his live was threatened, constitute "intitiating an attack"? The boy, by all accounts, was not seeking to engage in any way with the virulently white supremacist George Zimmerman. Would anyone think that a Black or Brown man similarly going after a white boy armed with Skittles would be regarded as anything other than behaving with an intent to kill?] Assuming the published reports are true, Martin, not Zimmerman, was exercising his lawful right to “stand his ground and meet force with force” by engaging in an altercation with Zimmerman. [Florida apparently has a law which allows (wealthier and whiter) people to murder (poorer and darker) people who are in their neighborhood if deemed "threatening". But last I heard, carrying Skittles and minding one's own business, such as by talking with a girlfriend on the phone, isn't threatening behavior to residents of a neighborhood.]
By questioning why Martin didn’t simply stop and answer Zimmerman’s questions, and characterizing Martin as the aggressor [aren't we supposed to teach kids not to talk to strangers?], Sanford Police Department Chief Bill Lee Jr. appears to have assessed the Martin case using the standards that apply to law enforcement officers. [This puts aside the rather unavoidable issue of white supremacist police forces systematically harassing and mass murdering people of color in the US.] This is wrong. Martin was under no legal duty to obey or to cooperate with Zimmerman in being questioned, because George Zimmerman is not a law enforcement officer. [And if he were? What right should a law enforcement officer have to stop such a youth?]
Being the local neighborhood watch captain [read: assassin or cold-blooded killer] does not elevate him to that status. Nor was Zimmerman asked by any law enforcement officer to assist in detaining Martin – in fact, he was specifically told not to follow Martin. Zimmerman is entitled to none of the presumptions available to law enforcement officers under Florida law. The presumptions of acting in good faith that are afforded to law enforcement officers do not apply to Zimmerman. [The presumption of acting in good faith should not apply to armed members of racist police forces.]
- Carolyn Edgar, CNN
I got a lot of emails about Trayvon. I have read a lot of articles. I have seen a lot of television segments. The message is consistent. Most of the commentators, writers, op-ed pages agree. Something went wrong. Trayvon was murdered. Racially profiled. Race. America’s [uber-white] elephant that never seems to leave the room. But, the part that doesn’t sit well with me is that all of the messengers of this message are all black too. I mean, it was only two weeks ago when almost every white person I knew was tweeting about stopping a brutal African warlord from killing more innocent children. [Yeah, about that: white celebs and news people, and their followers, are upset about human rights atrocities when whites don't commit them against Black and Brown people; let's see George Clooney speak out against white and male supremacy in the U.S.A.] And they even took thirty minutes out of their busy schedules to watch a movie about dude. They bought t-shirts. Some bracelets. Even tweeted at Rihanna to take a stance. But, a 17 year old American kid is followed and then ultimately killed by a neighborhood vigilante who happens to be carrying a semi-automatic weapon and my white friends are quiet. Eerily quiet. Not even a trending topic for the young man. [Thank you. And in a report about two kids who very negligently threw a shopping cart over a railing, causing a white woman below to be seriously injured, I took note of how many whites made sure to characterize the two youth as "thugs". The first comment on this story at Huffington Post reads as follows:
05:24 PM on 11/04/2011
Charge them as adults with attempted murder. At 12 years old they should have known they could hurt someone. The severity of the charges must fit the severity of the crime."]
We’ve heard the 911 calls. We seen the 13 year old witness. We’ve read the letter from the alleged killer’s father. We listened to the anger of the family’s attorney. We’ve felt the pain of Trayvon’s mother. For heaven’s sake, for 24 hours he was a deceased John Doe at the hospital because even the police couldn’t believe that maybe he LIVES in the community.
There are still some facts to figure out. There are still some questions to be answered. But, let’s be clear. Let’s be very, very clear. Before the neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, started following him against the better judgement of the 911 dispatcher. Before any altercation. Before any self-defense claim. Before Travyon’s cries for help were heard on the 911 tapes. Before the bullet hit him dead in the chest. Before all of this. He was suspicious. He was suspicious. suspicious. And you know, like I know, it wasn’t because of the hoodie or the jeans or the sneakers. Cause I had on that same outfit yesterday and no one called 911 saying I was just wandering around their neighborhood. It was because of one thing and one thing only. Trayvon is black.
- Michael Skolnick, GlobalGrind
Again, thank you, Michael.

See also *here* and *here* for more on some of these stories at Democracy Now!

What I take from all of this is that the genocide of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people is on-going without relief across the Americas, across Central Asia (including the mass murder of an Afghan family by Sgt. Robert Bales), and across the globe, by wealthy white male supremacists and their imperialist militias. We know, too, that millions of women and girls will be raped, tortured, and murdered by men again this year, for the "crime" of being female, and that the gynocide will not be reported or understood in these terms. 
The issue of what constitutes crime (including hate crime), terrorism, and human rights violation and who is immune from any and all laws supporting human rights, will not likely be discussed by the most structurally powerful members of my society who engage in criminal and violating behavior. What will be defended in court by supremely well-paid attorneys is the rights of militias and rich folks and whites--disproportionately male--to threaten, harass, terrorise, and mass murder Black, Brown, and Indigenous people by any means "necessary" to sustain and affirm het white male and imperialist corporate power.

To sign the petition calling for the arrest of the assassin of Trayvon Martin, please see *here*.


Christina said...

Hi Julian,
I was hoping that you would have posted a bit about Sgt. Robert Bales. What happened there really disgusted me. But what I think concerns me the most about this is the fact that we are all been lead to believe that it is an isolated case. In reality these WHM who invaded Iraq and Afghanistan have been murdering and raping the locals since the invasions started.
Interesting that the idea of him being a terrorist is never even part of the discussions in the media, just like all those other WHM who have and are still causing so much suffering to so many people. And yet they are never called terrorists or criminals.

Julian Real said...

Hi Christina,

Here in the US he is being referred to as having committed a crime. But I doubt "terrorist" will be used to describe the kind of person he is, for what he did so ruthlessly. And, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he did not act alone. And, as you note, we know that many, many, many US soldiers when engaging in the mass murder of people of color on non-US soil, are also terrorists, if we take the experience of those threatened, attacked, and murdered to be just as human as any white man is.

Christina said...

Time has moved on and what has happened to try stop white males from killing defenseless people. Absolute nothing. In my experiance every time a women stands up to a white man she is sexist. Every time a black man hast tried to stand up to a white male he is racist. It seems that only white males are allowed to use terms like racist and sexist and they decided who falls into these categories.

Julian Real said...

This speaks to the power of white males to define terms in ways that benefit them materially, protect their power structurally, and ensure their social and economic dominance.

Christina said...

Absolutely, and it is aggravated by so very many news articles that appear in the media be it newspapers, Internet or even TV that constantly point out what a raw deal white males are getting of late. Because we are constantly been fed this non-sens so many of us believe it. These lies give more credibility to the white males when they accuse a woman or a black person or even an organisation of sexism or racism. The media and many social networks are creating the illusion that women and black people now have all the power and with this power we are launching attacks on the poor victimised white male.

It is really disappointing that there are not more courage's people who really understand what is happening and speak the truth. We really do need more out there to challenge these lies coming from and about het white men.