• Standing my ground on racial profiling

    As a black man, I’m not shocked that George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin. While it’s heartening that many people, of all races, get it and are saddened and outraged by the killing of an unarmed teen, it’s frustrating that some don’t or won’t see any racial undertones in the case.

    The verdict has the effect of saying Trayvon Martin caused his own death. The defense was successful in turning the teen into the scary land shark that many believe young blacks to be. The fear is this verdict coupled with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law will make it open season on young black males.

    “Fucking punks. These assholes always get away.”

    That’s what George Zimmerman told the police dispatcher minutes before killing Trayvon Martin. If that’s not profiling, what is?  He’d never seen Martin before. He had zero evidence that Martin was doing anything illegal. Yet in his mind he’d already decided that Martin was a punk and part of some group that “always get away.”

    Does the verdict mean Trayvon Martin wasn’t allowed to walk through George Zimmerman’s neighborhood? I guess for him to hold a cell phone or a bottle of iced tea was somehow threatening to Zimmerman. Although, Zimmerman never says what makes this kid suspicious.

    The fear of young black males runs through the case. Why did the prosecution want to show the jury a photo of Trayvon in 7-11? I submit that the reason they wanted to put that photo before the jury was to frighten them. When is the only time you ever see surveillance video from a convenience store? When it’s being robbed. They showed a hoodie-wearing black male in a convenience store to scare that jury of six women.

    The defense fought to introduce the trace amounts of marijuana in Martin’s system for the same sleazy reason. What exactly would that prove? It would prove that he used an illegal substance. Illegal = criminal. Another photo they showed was of Trayvon wearing a gold grill in his teeth. The implication was obvious: He is one of them.

    All of the focus has been on the MMA-trained, 9mm gun toting, and heavier George Zimmerman’s alleged fear of Trayvon Martin. Only in America is an unarmed, Skittles carrying, pursued black teenager still a perpetrator.

    For the people who can only empathize with Zimmerman and see him standing his ground against a scary thug, perhaps that’s because they’ve never been in Martin’s shoes. I have. Many people of color know what it’s like to be profiled. We know what it’s like to be followed by store security. I know what it’s like to be searched by security in front of everyone and have them find nothing.

    How many times have you been pulled over or stopped and questioned by police? For me, over a dozen times in my life. How many times have you been stopped by police and had to keep your hands raised where the police could see them? I’ve had it happen twice. My younger brother was pulled out of a car at gunpoint in a case of mistaken identity. I once was talking to two of my brothers at night standing by my car and the police came saying there’d been a report that some guys were trying to break into a car.

    When you live life where you’re thought of as a suspect first, you can empathize with a Trayvon Martin.

    I’ve never contended that George Zimmerman is a racist. To me, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that night he saw Trayvon Martin through a prism that stereotyped him as a young black thug.

    “Fucking punks. These assholes always get away.”

    Zimmerman, a man who’d called the police 46 times in the previous eight years, pursued Martin after a police dispatcher told him the police didn’t need him to do that. Zimmerman, who claims he was afraid, got out of his truck. Why? If you were afraid, why would you do that? That gun on his back. As the lead investigator, Detective Chris Serino said, Zimmerman had a “little hero complex.”

    I’m part of my own Neighborhood Watch. We watch and call police. We never confront people because it’s too dangerous. 

    Zimmerman never identified himself as a member of Neighborhood Watch. He never gave Martin the benefit of the doubt. From first glance, Martin was guilty. Maybe the jury sees Zimmerman defending himself against a scary black thug. I see a scared teenager defending himself against a guy playing Batman.

    The implication of this verdict may be far reaching. It says go ahead and stereotype young black men. In states that have the Stand Your Ground law it says to go ahead and confront young blacks and if you find yourself losing a confrontation that you set into motion, shoot them dead.

    Equally dangerous is the fact that you can bet the next Trayvon Martin walking home from 7-11 after a snack run is not going to be unarmed and he’s going to stand his ground. Is the law going to protect him?

      • Jesse

      • July 16, 2013 at 8:51 am
      • Reply

      Thank you for writing this. I completely agree.

    • Excellent piece, Kelvin. I’m so sorry this has happened to you so many times. It’s horrid, unacceptable, and unfortunately, it takes a long time for people to evolve. Thank you for speaking up- you are helping the process of evolution.

    • Kelvin, this is a sad but well said piece. I am sharing it. It became a trial of Trayvon instead of George. How wrong is that??? So wrong. Also, did you know that California has a stand your ground law and one in which you can pursue if needed and shoot to kill. I was shocked to learn something like 36 states have this law and California too. So unnecessary to me for any case. Stay in the damn house or car and call the police.

      • Kelvin

      • July 16, 2013 at 11:15 am
      • Reply

      Thank you. I know California had a fairly liberal self defense law but I didn’t know about the pursuit. It’s not codified in the law. Some hundred year old court rulings. Perhaps it’s less of an issue here because CA isn’t an open carry state and it’s harder to get a concealed weapons permit here than in other states.

      From one of the jurors’ interview on CNN it’s obvious that they identified with Zimmerman. From my perspective, Trayvon was the victim. He was the one being pursued by a man who never identified himself. A man who turns out was carrying a gun. To me, it was Trayvon who was defending himself. To the jurors, I think they saw what they wanted to see. A stereotypical thug.

      • Tom Mcmasters-Stone

      • July 16, 2013 at 1:54 pm
      • Reply

      Great work, Kelvin, as always, although I am so sorry that it comes in the format of an autobiography…

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I agree with everything you have said. Your comment about the 7-11 survelliance tape was very perceptive. I cannot imagine what parents of teenagers are supposed to tell their kids. This verdict was a sad one for America. We all need to speak up.

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