22 March 2012


From Wikipedia ~ "Trayvon Martin (February 5, 1995 - February 26, 2012, shown above left) was an African American teenager who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman (shown above right), a multiracial Hispanic man in Sanford, Florida.  Martin, who was unarmed, had been walking to his father's girlfriend's house when Zimmerman, acting as an unaffiliated neighborhood watch member, followed him based on alleged suspicious activity, then fatally shot him during an altercation between the two.  Zimmerman described the shooting as self-defense.  The circumstances around [Martin's] death received international attention, particularly regarding Florida's self-defense laws and allegations of racial motivations and police misconduct, triggering multiple investigations."

Ya think?  Zimmerman was a self-appointed vigilante with a long record of placing 911 calls with complaints about black children in his neighborhood (46 calls over 10 years).  He pursued Martin despite the 911 operator's instruction not to.  A tape from another 911 call reveals a young voice calling for help, then crying out "No!  No!", then a gunshot.  And then silence.  

Zimmerman's claim of self-defense is called into doubt by his own record of racist paranoia, by the fact that he doggedly chased Martin after being told not to, and by the fact that he outweighed Martin by 100 lb.  Trayvon Martin died at age 17, with no criminal record.  You can find more details on the tragedy here.  

However much progess we have made since the civil rights movement, we remain a deeply racist society.  Want proof?  Refer to The 10 Most Disturbing Facts About Racial Inequality in the U.S. Criminal Justice System.  The essay fills out the details.  Here is the list ~

  1. While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States' population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.
  2. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes.
  3. Students of color face harsher punishment in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated.
  4. African American students are arrested far more often than their white classmates.
  5. African American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prison, in spite of their young age.
  6. As the number of women incarcerated has increased by 800 percent over the last three decades, women of color have been disproportionately represented.
  7. The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses.
  8. Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders.
  9. Voter laws that prohibit people with felony convictions from voting, disproportionately impact men of color.
  10. People of color face disparities in wage trajectory following release from prison, compared to their white counterparts.
At every stage in the criminal justice system, from questioning to arrest to criminal charges to trial to conviction to sentencing, if your skin isn't white, you're screwed.  This, in the land where "all men are created equal".  Where is the shame?  Where is the outrage?  Trayvon Martin didn't even live long enough to be questioned.  He was executed based on the color of his skin.

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