In the minutes before the shooting of Trayvon Martin, it appears there was yet another witness. Trayvon was using his cellphone (which remains missing) as he was stalked, hunted and Lynched by George Zimmerman.
In the final moments of his life, Trayvon Martin was being hounded by a strange man on a cellphone who ran after him, cornered him and confronted him, according to the teenage girl whose call logs show she was on the phone with the 17-year-old boy in the moments before neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot him dead.It's very clear that Trayvon was no threat. But the question is will this information make a difference to local police and can even the newly announced Federal Investigation (or Grand Jury) bring justice to Trayvon Martin?
"He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run."
Eventually he would run, said the girl, thinking that he'd managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.
"Trayvon said, 'What, are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn't answer the phone."
I have my doubts.
It's not like we haven't seen this before. The Shooting of Oscar Grant. The Killing of Jonny Gammage. The Jena Six case. The arrest of Skip Gates in his own home, even though Sgt Crawley falsified his police report there were no repercussions. None of these has turned out into a case study in Justice for innocent victims, particularly when those attacked and killed are black and those who attack them are white.
But is race truly the deciding factor in this case?
Look at how Police in multiple states are clearly overreacting violently to the Occupy protest and there are no consequences what-so-ever! It doesn't have to be racial.
Yes, Zimmerman was recorded on the 9-11 recording as saying "He Looks Black"... but that was in direct response to a question from the dispatcher asking if he was "White, Black or Hispanic".
That alone didn't seem to be Zimmerman's motivation. I know as a Black Guy, and I've had my share of near deadly run-ins with police, that may be hard to believe but if we expect - as Black people - not to be automatically thought of in the worst light when there is a glimmer of doubt, we need to be able to recognize when that doubt is present in others.
Judge Not, lest ye be judged. Besides it doesn't have to be Racial to Still be Wrong morally.
Yet even more troubling is the wording of the "Stand Your Ground" law which doesn't seem to require that the "aggressor" actually be aggressive, regardless of who they are or where they are. That law is a very large barrier to any successful prosecution. I'm not hopeful that there will be one.
In the Grant Case the Jury found the officer guilty of manslaughter, and innocent of second degree murder even though he shot an unarmed, prone and handcuffed man - who was actually trying to be a good Samaritan and end of conflict - in the back. The claim was that he actually ment to reach for his tazer and pull his service pistol instead. Exactly why he was trying to taze a man who was already on the ground is still unclear to me, but his reaction - which is clearly one of shock and horror, was enough to convince the jury.
Was that justice? Perhaps.
Stopped by police while supposedly "driving erratically" in a very nice car - which belonged to his cousin, NFL player Ray Seal - in the "nice" part of town, Jonny Gammage soon lay dead from asphyxiation as a result of officers attempt to restrain him after having a heated discussion with him. The officers involved were tried for involuntary manslaughter first ending in a mistrial, except for one officer who was later tried separately and found not guilty.
The Jena Six were a set a black students who after a series of escalating conflicts were convicted of beating a white student, Justin Barker. The conflicts began when white students hung a noose from a tree to make it as "whites only" and drive away minority students from the area. This led to a fight at a party, where the white students - including Justin - followed and attacked a set of black students which included some of the eventual Jena "Six" after they were refused entry. There was also an incident at a convenience store where the proprietor pulled a shotgun on the black students. They were ultimately charged with Robbery for taking the gun away from him. This ultimately led to the attack on Barker which was clearly retaliation, if not a pre-emptive strike against the terrorism that was being reined on them. They were convicted of battery and aggravated assault.
The history of how cases like this have been handled isn't encouraging.
As I said, I'm not yet sure that Zimmerman's actions were racially motivated, they might have been, but I do know that Justice in the case, even with the involvement of the DOJ, is unlikely.
But then again, just imagine if the roles - like in the Jena Six case - were reversed and the attacker was Black while the dead victim was White?
I have little doubt that that theoretical perpetrator probably wouldn't see the outside of a jail for the rest of his life, even with the "Stand your Ground" law, and that is the true injustice of this case. I wish I was wrong about that, but I don't think I am.
This shouldn't still be happening in America, but it does and it's not going to stop.
And any second now, the Right-Wing-Nuts are going to proclaim Zimmerman their "New Hero". The same way they rallied around Sgt Crowley or Dr. Laura & Her Amazing N-Word Canon as well as vilified the Jena Six, One So-Called Black Panther with A Stick, MF-ing Iced Tea at Sylvia's, Shirley Sherrod and Sandra Fluke. Mark my words, the clock is ticking...
10:06 AM PT: Looking over some of the comments I have to say that if Zimmerman was recorded saying "
Damn Fucking Coons" or some such on the 9-11 recording (sampled here), the Hate Crime argument against him goes up accordingly. Also the fact that he'd called 9-11 46 Times since January 2011, which is almost 3 times a week month is a element of "pattern and practice" that should be looked at closely.
However, for those who say they now feel less trustful of police - I think that's a mistake. Not because you're aren't justified, rationally you are, but because that's Confirmation Bias which is the root of all bigotry. It's diving down the same rabbit hole of cowardice and fear that led Zimmerman by the nose. If this nation is to truly move forward we have to recognize individually that we don't know everything, which means - as Attorney General Holder alluded to in 2009 - we have to have the courage to risk that our worst fears of each other might be true, in order to discover the blessing that they are not.
10:20 AM PT: Melissa Harris-Perry's Report on this:
5:07 PM PT: Just one final point/thought for the day: It doesn't matter so much that Trayvone was black, the thing that makes this a news story is the fact that Zimmerman isn't. If he were, and this were just another sad, sorry example of black on black crime - like the gang hit last year on a 15-year-old alleged "police informant" that took place not 15 ft from where I'm sitting as I type this - it wouldn't be news. We wouldn't be posting about it. It wouldn't be trending on twitter. It would confirm everything we already expect about young black people. We figure we can "save" a few of the good ones, maybe, while the bad ones are just "too far gone". I've done memorial shirt designs at my graphics gig for far too many dead children to count.
But since Zimmerman isn't a part of that culture, we think, we don't expect this, we don't tolerate this, we're shocked and outraged by it. Just a thought.