N.B. I say “disgrace” because it’s not a tragedy, precisely.
I am officially not allowed to look at the internet, as it is likely to give me a terrible migraine. More terrible than the one I already have. All the time. So this will have to be brief (lol srsly). I just scanned the front page to see if there was anything else, but didn’t see it, so I feel as if I have to say something about the shameful, quasi-state-sanctioned execution of Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin was 17, and was staying with family in Sanford, Florida, in what is referred to by the obligatory monicker “mostly-white gated community.” He walked out to buy some candy and a can of iced tea at a local convenience store, and was tailed back by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman, who deemed him “real suspicious” and “probably on drugs or something.” This joker George Zimmerman then got out of his truck to (perhaps) scuffle with Trayvon, and then shot him in cold blood, as far as anyone can figure, while Trayvon was pleading for his life. This (the pleading) can be heard in the background of neighbors’ 911 calls. I have to say it’s a little odd none of them stepped out on the porch with a shotgun to say “I’ve called the cops already, cut it out!” The number of people committing crimes who will just run away if you say “I see you down there, knock it off” is high IME. Zimmerman claims it is his high-pitched voice we hear begging for his life between the firing of the first and the second shot, after which there is silence. Take a look at a picture of the man. I don’t even know what to say.
UPDATE: I place this above the fold so everyone will see. I was sort of taking it for granted that people were reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blogging on this, which has been copious and excellent. But if you haven’t, you should.
Now, although I went to high school in D.C., and have lived a lot of other places, I was born in Savannah, GA, and lived in S.C. as a child, like unto L’il Soft Shell, the turtle chile (from Pogo). I always went home in the summertime, and always planned to spend my golden years on the screened porch with my brother and sister. John will
be consulted about his preferences also be allowed to come. So let me tell you what those gated communities are.
They started in the 70s and 80s and I’d bet more than half of them are brazen enough to have “Plantation” in their names. Ha. No really! They let white people move into places where black people couldn’t enter, on account of the gate. There’s a two-bit security guard running a little…what do you call those things, gantries, whatever. You get stopped if you’re black and asked where you’re going and whom you’re visiting, and are held up for an embarrassing length of time, and if you’re get white you get waved through, unless you’ve gone all Swedish death metal or something. Many of them pushed black people out, off of land they owned, on Hilton Head Island especially. Or rather, I happen to know about it. If I lived somewhere else I’d know about that. There’s a history book waiting there. They made it so black people couldn’t visit their own family cemeteries, going back to slavery days, because they had enclosed them in a gated community. They privatized the damn beach and chased black people off! You can’t privatize the everloving beach?! Under the high-water line is public to all, there ain’t no exceptions for gates. They didn’t fix these problems till various lawsuits forced them to in the 1990s. OK, sorry, digression, but if you wondered what a “mostly-white gated community” was, it is that.
The real problem with the situation is not that George Zimmerman, the man who shot an unarmed 17-year-old, is racist. He is racist as the day is long, as can be deduced from his thoughts on the nature of “being suspicious,” oh, and by his saying “fucking coons” while on the phone to the goddamn police dispatcher. Which he did, as plain as dishwater. There is no doubt there. I’ve heard all this “the young people don’t say ‘coons’ now what with the ipods and the friendsters and the series of tubes.” Bullshit. The problem is not that Florida has some poorly drafted law that either re-enshrines existing self-defense claims or grants justice to whoever shoots to kill first in any altercation. The problem is not that knee-jerk defenders of the powerful over the powerless of the Megan McArdle type would, in her words “have to acquit” if the case came to trial.
The problem is the cops didn’t arrest Zimmerman at the scene. They didn’t take his gun. They didn’t test him for drugs or alcohol, although they did do so to Trayvon’s dead body. They didn’t run Zimmerman’s records. They didn’t look at Trayvon’s phone and call the contact marked “Dad,” or note that he was on the phone within minutes of the death, and dial that number to see who that was. It was Trayvon’s girlfriend, and she recounts that he told her he was being “followed” by someone. She urged him to run, but he said he was not going to run, he would just “walk fast.” That just breaks my heart right there, as a mother. “I’m not going to run. I’ll just walk fast.” He was too brave as a young man to run, maybe, or he knew enough to know that running would make him look “real suspicious,” or both.
The problem is that the government of Sanford, Florida has given its official sanction to any white guy* who failed out of mall cop school, and sits home at night jerking off to back issues of Guns and Ammo, and has appointed himself neighborhood defender, to shoot a black teenager armed with candy, and walk away from the scene. That’s the thing: walk away from the scene. I know we’re all tired of hypotheticals, but we all know black Zimmerman wouldn’t have walked away from the scene after shooting an unarmed white kid. They didn’t breathalyze this asshole, they didn’t have him pee in a damn Dixie cup, they didn’t take his gun away temporarily just till “things got cleared up.” If an actual real-live cop shot somebody to death they would have taken his gun and put him behind a desk, even if the IA investigation was cursory bullshit. Higher level investigations are welcome, from the state of Florida, from the Feds… But nothing will change the fact that the cops thought Zimmerman was on their side. They were going to fix things for him. Those bastards had his back so hard his spine was right up in his beer gut. Nothing will change for the next black teenager walking “suspiciously,” i.e. at all, down some Florida street. Justice means more than just the Feds showing up the Sanford PD for a bunch of Skoal-using morons who couldn’t govern their way out of a wet paper bag. Justice means actual freedom for Trayvon Martin to walk down the street and not be in danger of losing his life to someone with no badge and a gun. Not just hypothetical freedom, like the kind of voting rights black people used to have before the 1950s and 1960s. Real freedom.
*I am aware that Mr. Zimmerman is, at least in part,
a s33kr1t mexican so it’s not about race and white people are the real victims here Hispanic, a non-racial classification used by the US census to…uh…help people who are “passing” go through a middle stage? Make sure we can keep track of which Hollywood actresses are “smoldering”? I honestly have no idea.