The victims are different. The results are almost always the same. Oscar Grant. Sean Bell. Yusuf Hawkins. Amadou Diallo. And now the parents of Trayvon Martin have to live with the fact their son now fall into that category.
A young black man has his existence snuffed out by a gun-wielding assailant that made the reckless and inhuman calculation that his life was not worth living.
This has become a disturbing pattern. Grant lost his life at a subway station in Oakland, California, shot in the back by a white BART officer as he lay on the pavement. The justice Grant’s family was seeking resulted in an involuntary manslaughter charge and just a two-year prison for the former officer, now out of custody. The 23-year-old Bell lost his life in a hail of bullets fired by New York police in the early morning hours of the day he was to be married.
Those officers never received jail time. Bell’s family was eventually awarded $7 million by the city. Hawkins was beaten and shot to death by a white mob in a mostly white neighborhood in New York. Only one of a handful of assailants in the murder received serious prison time. Diallo was shot down unmercifully 41 times by four white NYPD officers, who would later be acquitted of the charges filed against them.
This is kind of unequal justice continues to happen. And it will continue to happen as long as long as American citizens stay quiet about this matter. Trayvon Martin’s parents are not staying silent about their son’s death, which the alleged killer claimed to be “self-defense.” Trayvon’s parents are making a lot of noise over the Feb. 26 shooting. The nation is beginning to hear their pleas.
Adding salt to the wounds of losing Trayvon to a gutless and senseless attack, Trayvon’s parents are living through a nightmare of knowing their son’s killer is still free to walk the streets of Sanford, Florida, as if he just took out a groundhog or gopher with some sort of toy pellet gun instead of a human life. This has outraged more than a few people.
With Trayvon’s parents beating the drums of seeing justice done in their son’s death, the NAACP, local and national politicians, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice are all looking for answers. A Grand Jury is set to convene April 10 in the case, and the site Change.org has registered at least 800,000 signatures in a petition drive seeking justice in the killing. The Department of Justice released a statement in regards to its investigation in the case.
“The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the FBI opened an investigation into the facts and circumstances of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation. The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids – the highest level of intent in criminal law. Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws. The Community Relations Service will be in Sanford, Fla., this week to meet with civil rights leaders, community leaders, and local law enforcement to address tension in the community.”
According to numerous published reports, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a Hispanic male, watched, stalked, pursued and then confronted before shooting 17-year-old Trayvon in the chest, permanently ending the teenager’s dreams of a future life. In an instant, another young black man has his hopes and dreams senselessly and tragically taken away from him.
Trayvon will not have a chance to enjoy his senior prom. He will not get the opportunity to go to college. His parents will not enjoy being the proud grandparents of Trayvon’s unborn children. He will never have the choice of marrying and the woman of his dreams. His life’s ambitions are forever muted because of an indefensible act of cowardice and racial profiling.
When will it end? Why is that it is our young men whose lives are deemed invaluable through unmitigated acts of violence? Are we going back to the days of the White Citizens Council and Ku Klux Klan? As a journalist, I have to careful in writing this editorial because all of the facts surrounding Trayvon’s death are still being investigated. What we do have is that there were a total of eight 911 calls made to the police dispatcher before Trayvon was shot. The 911 calls, which are featured on Sanford’s homepage, seem to reveal the trail of a predator stalking his prey.
Trayvon becomes the latest number in this never-ending battle for young black males to preserve their lives. What did Trayvon do to deserve to be gunned-down in cold blood after buying a bag of Skittles other than the fact that he was black and walking around a conservative neighborhood in the waterfront city?
To people like Zimmerman, who is a volunteer Neighborhood Watch captain for the city’s police department that was enough to tell police dispatcher that he thought Trayvon “look suspicious.” For all of those people who think race matters, outlandish bigotry and hate crimes went away when President Barack Obama took over the Oval Office, think it again. They’ve just been swept under the rug for awhile. Now those demons are boldly rearing their heads again.
No one has the right to take another person’s life just because of the color of their skin or because of their gender. America still deep-rooted race issues it needs to confront and deal with. If it doesn’t, more hate crimes and tragic turn of events like in the heartbreaking murder of a young teenager buying Skittles will re-occur.
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers sports, social and racial justice, politics, equal rights, and entertainment. Dennis has over two decades of journalism experience. He earned a degree in journalism from Howard University. “I write what I’m passionate about.”