Justice Awaits for Trayvon Martin

Los Angeles activist Najee Ali gets the crowd fired up at a recent rally for slain teenager Trayvon Martin. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

The path to justice in the tragic death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is getting personal now. It wasn’t enough that neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman allegedly racially profiled, stalked, pursued, got into some sort of altercation and then shot and killed the black Florida teenager with his Kel Tek 9mm PF9 semi automatic handgun.

Anyone with a thread of common sense and a bit of intellectual capacity could probably come up with up with this conclusion after hearing the audio recording of Martin’s last-gasp conversation with his girlfriend and the many 911 tapes Zimmerman made to police dispatchers on Feb. 26.

It wasn’t enough that Zimmerman was able to go home and sleep in his bed after being interviewed by a police investigator about the incident. It wasn’t enough that this same law enforcement agency failed to test Zimmerman for drug and alcohol consumption as they did on the now dead Martin.

It wasn’t enough that Sanford police officer Timothy Smith admitted in a partial account of the initial police report that at no point did he question Zimmerman about the fatal incident. It’s not enough that Zimmerman is able to walk around freely. An animal killer stands more of a chance of landing behind bars than it appears Zimmerman will ever do.

Now a month after Martin lost his life, the people who don’t want to see true justice are going out of their way to kill Martin all over again through the probing eyes of the media. After a month of growing outrage-to the point where President Barack Obama weighed in his opinion on the matter when he said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” the other side of the aisle is now trying to paint a different picture of the young Martin through character assassination.

Dennis Perkins (left), Trina Harrison and Rick Harrison attend the march for Trayvon Martin in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

Through his attorney, and through friends, Zimmerman and his camp are trying their best to smear Martin’s name with the announcement of his being suspended from school on a couple of occasions. Their portrayal of Martin to the public is that the Miami-area high school student was not upright young man he is made out to be.

Zimmerman and his pals are trying their best to scare the public into believing that his action of killing Martin was somehow justified. It wasn’t. Zimmerman was not a police officer or any type of law enforcement agent. He is a regular citizen just like Martin was. Zimmerman had no legal authority to question or stop Martin.

Martin, like any other citizen of the United States, was not under any obligation whatsoever to provide answers to someone he didn’t know on the rainy night he lost his life. In fact, under the 14th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, it says in regards to citizenship:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

A black boy wearing a hoodie shouldn’t automatically invoke criminality condemnation. Just because you see someone you don’t know or recognize that live in a certain neighborhood doesn’t warrant the invasion of my privacy.

This has to raise the question whether Zimmerman violated Martin’s civil rights when he allegedly decided to pursue him with prejudice and without cause or provocation.

Make no mistake about this: the shooting of Martin has everything to do with race. From the moment Zimmerman, a white Hispanic male, is caught on the first 911 tapes telling a police dispatcher that Martin was black and “looked suspicious,” it was about race and racial-profiling.

Actress Jennifer Lewis (Think Like a Man, Hereafter, Meet the Browns) voices her opinions on the Trayvon Martin shooting at a rally in Los Angeles. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

Never mind that Martin was walking along in the neighborhood he belonged in, and should have had the right of every American citizen to walk anywhere he chose without having to answer to anyone about where he was going and what he was up to.

As the father of four sons and a daughter, I talk to and train my children to protect themselves from strangers, especially my boys.  I talk to them about being racially profiled as a black male. I have conversations with them about the many negative stereotypes they will encounter and endure as a black man in this country.

One of those stereotype-handling is automatically being vilified as someone breaking the law or involved in sort of illicit criminal activity as Zimmerman thought about Martin when he told the police dispatcher without hesitation that he “looked suspicious.” As a parent and father, I tell my kids not to talk to strangers.

Strangers sometime rape people. They rob you. They can cause harm. They can bring imminent danger to your space. Strangers kill. This is what I was taught as a child.

That is probably what Zimmerman was to Martin, who was on his way home from a local 7-11 store, armed with a pack of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Here was Zimmerman, a shadowy figure, a stranger approaching this teenage boy, in the dark, in the rain, first in a moving vehicle then on foot.

At this point, didn’t Martin feel threatened? Didn’t he have the right of every citizen in Florida to ‘stand his ground’ and protect himself? What would have anyone of us have done? Run? Fight back? Stand and protect ourselves?

Our basic human instinct tells us to do what it takes to survive. Zimmerman allegedly told police he shot and killed Martin out of self-defense.  If Zimmerman had simply chosen not to allegedly stalked and pursued Martin in the first place there would be no self-defense claim.

If Zimmerman had followed the police dispatcher’s request for him not to get out of his vehicle and follow Martin, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton would have their son today. If Zimmerman had tried not to be a rogue street vigilante taking the law into his own hands, he wouldn’t have a dead black boy’s blood on his hands.

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