Trayvon Martin: The killing of an American child

Frances Robles of the Miami Herald reports that the “U.S. Department of Justice, FBI and FDLE to probe Trayvon Martin killing“:

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI will investigate the killing of Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer, the department announced late Monday.

The announcement coincided with a statement from Florida Gov. Rick Scott asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to offer “appropriate resources” in the case.

The federal and state agencies are intervening in what attorneys call a botched investigation into the killing of the Michael Krop Senior High School student, who was killed Feb. 26 in Sanford, a town of 55,000 just north of Orlando. Trayvon, 17, on suspension from school, was staying at his father’s girlfriend’s house when he walked to a nearby a 7-Eleven store to buy candy and iced tea.

George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer with a long history of calling in everything from open garage doors to “suspicious characters,” called police to say he had spotted someone who looked drugged, was walking too slowly in the rain, and appeared to be looking at people’s houses. Zimmerman sounded alarmed because the stranger had his hand in his waistband and held something in his other hand.

The unarmed teen was carrying Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea.

Trayvon Martin was 17 and he didn’t do anything wrong.

Judd Legum provided a good roundup of Trayvon’s slaying yesterday, “What Everyone Should Know About Trayvon Martin (1995-2012).” From that article:

Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)

5. Martin weighed 140 pounds. Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds.

6. Martin’s English teacher described him as “as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.”

… 10. According to neighbors, Zimmerman was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.”

11. Zimmerman “had been the subject of complaints by neighbors in his gated community for aggressive tactics”

12. A police officer “corrected” a key witness. “The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.

13. Three witnesses say they heard a boy cry for help before a shot was fired. “Three witnesses contacted by The Miami Herald say they saw or heard the moments before and after the Miami Gardens teenager’s killing. All three said they heard the last howl for help from a despondent boy.”

The Field Negro and Where’s the Outrage? have been following this story closely. So has Ta-Nehisi Coates, who highlights the way local police seem determined to exonerate the shooter while casting suspicion on the victim. Coates also reports that Trayvon Martin was on the phone as Zimmerman began following him. The account of the friend he was talking to confirms that of eyewitnesses, while contradicting that of the shooter and the police defending him.

Rashad Robinson writes about the ColorOfChange campaign to seek “Justice for Trayvon Martin.” The letter from ColorOfChange offers more details on the incident, the investigation, and the background of the Sanford Police. Here is their petition urging the U.S. Justice Department to take over the investigation. The DOJ is “investigating” the incident, but as I understand it hasn’t yet taken charge of the case.

Chauncey DeVega cuts to the heart of the matter:

Trayvon Martin was killed for the crime of being black, young, and “suspicious.” Like many other young black boys and grown men throughout United States history, he was shot dead for the crime of possessing an innocuous object (and likely daring to be insufficiently compliant to someone who imagined that they had the State’s permission to kill people of color without consequence or condemnation).

… Common sense renders a clear judgement here: if a black man shot and killed a white kid for holding a bag of Skittles he would already be under the jail; in this instance, the police are operating from a position where a young African American is presumed “guilty,” and his murderer is assumed innocent.

… White privilege … involves the luxury of not having to have a conversation with your kids about how to avoid being murdered by the cops because of your skin color. In many matters of life and death, white supremacy remains, in many ways, unchallenged. Black and brown folks, if they are responsible parents, cannot avoid such conversations with their children. The foot-dragging by the police in regards to the murder of Trayvon Martin reveals this ugly truth.

Grace at Are Women Human? begins a passionate, thoughtful post on the case by quoting from Audre Lord on the same subject DeVega mentions there:

Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.

Lorde wrote that in 1980. The killing of Trayvon Martin reminds us that it is still horribly true 32 years later.

Grace’s Are Women Human? post discusses the appalling details of the lopsided investigation by the Sanford, Fla., police:

This was a kid. A child. With a family who loved and cared about him and still does. We talk endlessly about protecting children and family values when the truth is we don’t think many children are worthy of protection. Quite the opposite. We don’t value many families.

Look at this case and see how the basic decency that Trayvon and his family are owed as human beings has been trampled and spit on at so many points.

Despite the fact that the police knew George Zimmerman went after a smaller, younger kid, who wasn’t doing anything wrong, despite the fact that they knew Zimmerman was armed and Trayvon was not. …

They ran a background check on Trayvon Martin, who was dead, but not on George Zimmerman, the man who killed him. They believed Zimmerman had a clean record – on his own assertion, apparently. Turns out he doesn’t. They ran alcohol/drug tests on Trayvon Martin (likely as a routine part of an autopsy), but not on Zimmerman, his murderer.

The police didn’t have the basic decency to do their job and investigate whether Trayvon Martin had a reason for being in the neighborhood, whether he had any friends or family in the neighborhood. Instead, they tagged him as a “John Doe.” His family thought he was missing. They had to call around and essentially do the work for the police of identifying their dead son.

Grace also refuses to allow the question of racism to be reduced to a matter of personal sentiment:

Look, I don’t give a shit how George Zimmerman or Bill Lee personally feel about black people or what their personal relationships with black people are like. I am not in the least interested in whether they’re “really racist” or not. I care what they did. I care about the cultural and institutional realities that made what they did (and are still doing, on the part of the Sanford PD) possible, and made them think – with very good precedent for thinking so – they could get away with it. And those – the actions and structural realities – have everything to do with racism, no matter what Zimmerman or the Sanford PD feel about black people.

… They can love all the black people they want – nothing changes the fact that this was, no question, racism at work. Racism isn’t just hate. It’s inequity. Privilege for some and contempt for others.

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  • Authoritarian conservatives are always whining about Big Brother, but they apparently don’t have a problem with the cops scrutinizing your every action if you’re black.

    “What are you doing walking through this neighborhood in the rain?” a cop might ask. “Whatever the fuck I want,” is an answer I can get away with, because I’m white. In a perfect world it’s an answer anyone could get away with, because unless someone is visibly committing a crime, they have a right to stroll in the rain if it strikes their fancy.

    The crime this kid was visibly committing was being black. The fact that that’s still a de facto crime is disgusting.

  • Maria

    … They can love all the black people they want – nothing changes the
    fact that this was, no question, racism at work. Racism isn’t just hate.
    It’s inequity. Privilege for some and contempt for others.

    Pretty much. I’ve heard commentary on this case that basically boiled down to, “It’s not racist unless you’re literally wearing a white hood and goose-stepping down the streets of Indiana. Killing a kid because he’s black and then having the cops essentially ignore it doesn’t qualify because if you bend over backwards enough you can a-a-a-a-almost come up with a cockamamie rationalization for it” For example, you ‘self-defense’, where the ‘defender’ has a weapon and the ‘attacker’ has a bag of candy (what was he going to do? Give Zimmerman tooth decay?); I’ve also heard people suggest that Martin was somehow technically guilty of trespassing because it was a gated community, even though he was staying with family who lived in the community and didn’t actually own a home in the community (which somehow doesn’t apply to Zimmerman even though he didn’t own a home in the community either).

    It’s amazing just how far people can bend over backwards to justify things like this.

  • MPM

    “White privilege … involves the luxury of not having to have a
    conversation with your kids about how to avoid being murdered by the
    cops because of your skin color.”

    That’s absolutely true and I would never suggest that I or my children are in the same or even a roughly comparable situation. That said, I have, as a white father of white children, had “a
    conversation with your kids about how to avoid being murdered by the
    cops.” You never know what may, one day, mark you to authoritarian, overzealous law enforcement as an “other.”

  • Anonymous
  • Fred, thank you so much for writing about this. I was just talking to a white Christian blogger last night about how disheartening it is to witness the silence of white Christians with a significant social media audience on this case. The same people who were investing so much time in writing about and looking into Invisible Children two weeks ago are absolutely mum on this, even though it’s an issue where awareness and spreading the word can actually make a huge difference to a grieving family. If white American Christians want to understand better why white churches have so much trouble attracting and retaining members of color, well, here’s an example. We see how little white Christians care about the issues that affect us – and in this case an issue that *everyone* should care about, because an innocent child is dead and his murderer is being protected by people who are supposed to work to see justice served.
    So thank you again for posting about this. I hope others follow your example.

  • George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer with a long history of calling in everything from open garage doors to “suspicious characters,”

    So a guy with a history of being one of those annoying controlling little assholes who smugly gets his neighbors in trouble as well as wasting the police’s time, now has the police bound and determined to find an excuse for him not to be charged with manslaughter.

    Who does he have to kill next for the police to take this shit seriously?

  • Anonymous

    When I was an EMT, this is the sort of person we called a ‘yahoo’ or a ‘wannabag.’  The kind of person who lives in suburbia with a Ford F-150 with a crew cab, puts a light-bar on it (and has to be dinged by the cops for using a blue light bar, again and again and again) and loads it up with EMT gear for which he is barely trained in, surgical kits he should never even touch, a defibrillator that he took a class in a few years ago, an air compressor and a Jaws of Life, etc. etc. etc.  All sorts of shit that he thinks he should carry because he’s a big shot EMT and might need to jump in to save the day!

    The big difference being… the EMT yahoo’s heart is in the right place.  He might have only a passing idea as to how to do a tracheotomy, but you can trust him to know the basics, and he’s good to have in disaster-prone areas.  And under that yahoo lights-and-sirens-all-the-time, DEFIBRILATE ALL THE THINGS!, look-at-me-I’m-an-EMT! exterior, theres someone who really does want to help others.  It might be for a somewhat aggrandized view of themselves, but if they can swallow their pride long enough to take orders from a CERT chief in a disaster, I’ll be glad to see them.  And their F-150 full of gear.

    Zimmerman, though, is just a punk.  He wants all the authority, he wants to be saluted, he wants to be The Man.  And if he can’t get people to stand at attention when he orders them to, he has a gun to press the issue.  Zimmerman is a danger to not only anyone whom he doesn’t like, but also the neighborhood.  (And himself, but getting him out of the equation — preferably into a nice quite room in a nice quiet place — would be a bonus.)  The yahoo just wants to be a hero.  Guys like Zimmerman just want to be sucked up to.  RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAEY!

    Zimmerman is a punk. A punk who has killed someone. Let justice be served.

  • The death of an innocent teenager is, of course, by far the most godawful thing about this incident.  Yet right now, for whatever reason, I am especially struck by the behavior of the police.  How is it that certain cops ever come to imagine themselves as defenders of the traditional social pecking order?  Enforcers of some ‘greater law’, (in which a White suburbanite is always correct in whatever dispute against ‘one of them’) beyond the laws on the books? 

  • The fact that people are so eager to bend over backwards to explain that this white guy who gunned down an unarmed black kid maybe kinda sorta had a good reason to is itself an example of ingranied, systemic racism. But try getting them to understand that.

    Every time a black person guns down a white person (a rarer occurrence than Fox News would have you believe), Rush and Bill-O and Glenn Beck (for whatever audience he has left) are quick to demonize the perp and declare it the vanguard of a black-on-white race war that will end with upstanding white Christians herded into concentration camps.

    But when it’s the reverse, eh, it’s just an isolated incident, and he probably had a good reason anyway. ^_^

  • Anonymous

     “Who does he have to kill next for the police to take this shit seriously?”

    A police officer
    A relative/friend of a police officer
    A prominent person with influence
    A relative/friend of a prominent person with influence

  • Anonymous


    When your political philosophy resembles Cartman…

    Mah propperteh! Mah… mah PROPERTEH!

    Or Fuzzy Lumpkins…

    There is a problem.

    I really want to say something more about this, but I just. I have no words.

  • Anonymous

    The discrepancies between Zimmerman’s version of the story and the version from the girl Trayvon was on the phone with are striking.

    ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Crump about the last moments of the teenager’s life.

    “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.”

    This completely contradicts Zimmerman’s account (emphasis added):

    Zimmerman said he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on when Trayvon attacked him from behind as he walked back to his truck, police said. He said he feared for his life and fired the semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry because he feared for his life.

    Nevermind for the moment that all current evidence casts this account as false. Zimmerman “feared for his life” so he stepped out of his truck with a semiautomatic weapon? A large man stalking children through the night with a gun gets the benefit of the doubt? Between that and the 911 dispatcher urging him not to follow Trayvon, how is there not at least an initial arrest? This is disgraceful, but apparently not uncommon since Florida instituted the “Stand Your Ground” law:

    About Florida’s law:

    Q: How did law enforcement respond to the law?

    A: Prosecutors across the state opposed the law before it was enacted Oct. 1, 2005. In the following five months, there were at least 13 shootings in Central Florida where self-defense was claimed. Out of six men killed and four more wounded in the cases, only one was armed. Some Orlando-area police agencies simply stopped investigating shootings involving self-defense claims and referred them directly to state prosecutors to decide.

    Q: The law lets people use force if they “reasonably believe” it’s necessary to defend themselves. What defines “reasonable” in the perception of deadly threat?

    A: Professor Scott E. Sundby of the University of Miami School of Law says that part of the law is included in many self-defense statutes. “The court leaves that amorphous question to the jury to decide,” he said.[…]

    Q: Can an unarmed person legally pose a deadly threat?

    In case after case during the past six years, Floridians who shot and killed unarmed opponents have not been prosecuted

  • Of all the items on Legum’s list, #2 bothers me the most. The police explicitly told Zimmerman not to engage Martin; that he did anyway smacks of premeditation to me.

  • Lori


    A police officer
    A relative/friend of a police officer
    A prominent person with influence
    A relative/friend of a prominent person with influence 

    Short version—someone white.

  • Anonymous

     It would be interesting… well, okay, horribly tragic, and interesting in a morbid way, to see what would have happened had Zimmerman shot a black police officer, or a relative of a black police officer.  Would the Thin Blue Line become a noose around Zimmerman’s neck? or would whatever simmering undercurrents of racism in that particular police department rear up full and ugly?

  • Lori

    Sanford has a nasty racial history, so my guess is that if Zimmerman shot a black cop the Thin Blue Line would not rise up as one to hang him. I may be overly cynical on this issue, but I kind of doubt it. 

    The same way that so many stories about this have noted that Trayvon was suspended from school at the time of his death, I’m sure that if the victim had been a black cop we’d be hearing about every problem he ever had on the job and he’d somehow get labeled a troublemaker or a malcontent or some such.

  • Viliphied

    A white guy

  • Anonymous


    Seriously. What do you say to this? Fuck, man, this country is drowning. A man with a gun followed a kid walking back from a store, got out of his truck, and shot him with a semiautomatic. The kid is the one people are raising an eyebrow at. What the fuck.

    I’m trying to think of this and not let the personal overcome me. But it’s hard. The town I went to school in is pretty racially diverse. We share a border with a rich white town. I’m just– it’s hard to read this story and not think, “Shit, that could’ve been Phil. Or Shaquille. Or David. Or Duane.” But it couldn’t have been Carl, or Danny. (Or me, actually. Which stings.) All of those kids have committed the ‘crime’ of walking slowly home in the rain with a bag of skittles and a can of tea. But Zimmerman wouldn’t have thought a white kid with a big hoodie and one hand in his pocket was suspicious.

    There’s a man I know, a rich white businessman who shops where I work, who wouldn’t think twice about calling the cops if he saw a young black boy walking slowly through his gated neighborhood in the rain. There’s probably several more who I don’t know by name. Some of them own guns, I’d wager.

    Fuck, man. Just… fuck. This kid should’ve had a long life. He should’ve had a fucking chance.

    Where are all the people crying about the death penalty? You know, If you come and kill us, we will kill you back! Where are all the people talking about tax dollars being spent on cops who don’t do their jobs?

    When Amadou Diallo was shot, they at least had some pathetic excuses to hide behind. They were cops, they were stupid, they were trigger-happy. This was a man with a gun who shot an unarmed teenage boy for walking in the rain with a package of candy and tea. And they ran a background check on the victim.

    What the fuck is wrong with this country?

  • Anonymous-Sam

    Oh, Fox was absolutely wonderful at revealing the depths of their discrimination during Katrina. “On this video, you can see some African Americans taking advantage of the chaos to loot indiscriminately. Watch as they carry much-needed supplies away from this supplies depot where others could have benefited from them! (A 7-11) In this video, watch these courageous young men scavenging in the face of danger, doing whatever it takes to survive (carrying boxes of food away from a 7-11).”

    Same. Bloody. Store. Same. Bloody. Boxes. One group is selfishly looting, the other’s just doing what it takes to survive.

  • Anonymous

    Oh fuck, oh fuck, why did I look at the comments on Field Negro’s post about Zimmerman? (Well, one of them; he’s been brilliantly covering this case.)

    My only coherent thought right now besides rage is that I really want somebody to come up to me and say that what we need right now is bipartisanship and to make peace with the people who say Zimmerman did America a favor by removing a trouble-making negro criminal from the world. What we need is to worry that victims might rise up and hate their oppressors. That’s the thing to worry about right now. I’d fucking love to see somebody tell me that now.

    If you’re Zimmerman, you’re a bad person and you deserve, at the very least, to spend the rest of your pathetic life in prison, if not death yourself. If you defend him because well, you know, blacks, or technicalities, or fdhdhgd, you are my fucking enemy and I hate you.

  • But Zimmerman wouldn’t have thought a white kid with a big hoodie and one hand in his pocket was suspicious.

    Sure he would have. The difference is that he would have pulled over and asked questions of the kid instead of pulling a handgun.

    I grew up as a white kid who liked hoodies and was out at odd hours, sometimes in odd neighborhoods. I worked swing and graveyard shifts at a stop-and-rob a few miles from home, and didn’t have a car, so I walked home at odd hours of the night. Sometimes I took the main streets, and sometimes I cut through apartment complexes or subdivisions or business parks because it was quicker.

    Did I get stopped by cops? Did neighbors driving by sometimes slow down, or even pull over and ask me questions? Sure they did. But (probably because I was white) no one ever pulled a gun, or was hostile, or threatening. The cops would ask where I was going and why I was out, but they never wanted to search my bag, they never cuffed me, and they only ran my ID a few times. (usually holidays like New Years or Christmas; don’t ask me why)

    I don’t think the color of my skin would make me more or less suspicious to a jackhole like Zimmerman, but I believe he would unconsciously correlate how threatening I ‘seemed’ with how far from white my skin color was. I think had he seen a white kid wandering around, he would have pulled over & rolled down the window, asked a few questions, maybe even offered the kid a ride home because it was raining.

  • I thought it was called Neighourhood “Watch” not Neighbourhood “Act” for a reason …

  • I keep seeing people bring up this “stand your ground” law. If that can be used in any way to excuse this behavior, then what’s to stop someone from shooting Zimmerman on sight and claiming they felt threatened?

    I’m hoping this law is being misrepresented, because if it’s not, then it’s wildly broken.

  • I was wondering when you were going to pick this up, Fred. Florida government is corrupt. That this happened in this state is no surprise. 

    The Sanford police defended Zimmerman by saying he’s “college-educated” and that he took a criminal justice class. 

    Getting to this point took an internet petition by Trayvon’s mother, by the way. 

  • JohnK

     It’s not so much that it’s being misrepresented, but that the way it’s written creates a situation where, essentially, I can provoke an argument with you, and if you walk towards me or swing at me or do anything that even looks vaguely threatening, I can kill you and claim self-defense. The law doesn’t explicitly permit this but it makes it very difficult for the Government to prove otherwise in a court of law.

    Basically, it’s an expansion of the old English common law, the ‘Castle Doctrine’, which in essence says that you don’t have to retreat if someone attacks you in your own home. (Before that, citizens had an obligation to retreat and weren’t allowed to respond with deadly force unless they had retreated as far as possible from the danger).

    The issue here, of course, is that the local authorities didn’t even try. What’s supposed to happen in a case like this is, unless there’s actual evidence at the scene to support the claim of self-defense, the police should at least make an arrest and allow a judge to decide whether or not the self-defense assertion is valid at a preliminary hearing (held before the actual trial, to determine if the Government has enough evidence to justify the felony charge). But because of the breadth of the law, prosecutors often don’t even bother doing that much.

  • That a lot of people even *here* are just now hearing about this is really, really depressing me.

    By the way, the people of Florida, including in Sanford, are, by and large, incredibly angry that Zimmerman hasn’t been prosecuted. It’s one more instance of our state just plain not working. 

    The name of the prosecutor who isn’t doing his job in this case is Norman Wolfinger.

  • At what point in our descent into every-man-for-himself barbarism could we reasonably expect the victims of the violence of the predator class to attempt to take matters of justice into their own hands? I know that is not desirable, we did have reasons to develop the rule of law.

  • hapax

     I want to post about this, but I don’t know what to say.

    Except I know this exact same thing could happen in my town.  Not with an African American kid;  we successfully ran them all out of town generations ago.

    But a “brown” kid:  Latino, East Asian, “Arabic-looking”….  Yeah, I could see it happening.

    I’d expect it to be the cops doing the shooting, of course.  But if a Concerned Citizen felt the need to take up arms to “protect the neighborhood” — nope, I don’t see the police looking too hard into the matter.

    After all, it was only a couple of years ago when the local gay bar was burned down, and it was written off as an “accident”, despite months of reported vandalism and harassment of clientele.  But when the Baptist church on the same street burned down (despite a burn pattern pretty clearly indicating the fire started in the kitchen), all sorts of rumors about “Satanic gangs” and “Mexican  cartels” were credulously reported by the newspapers.

  • No, I don’t think Zimmerman would have been suspicious of a white boy. He had an obsession with young *black* men.

    Zimmerman also didn’t just pull over — he was stalking Trayvon, and Trayvon knew it and was frightened. The girl he was talking to on the phone told Trayvon to run. They both knew exactly what was happening and why. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve stayed determined to unhook myself from ‘the stream’, especially TV and news, for months and months now out of simple sanity-preservation, which explains why I only learned about it this morning from a ColorOfChange email.

  • Anonymous

    Police Chief Lee said that Zimmerman was “within his rights to track the boy down and ask questions”. Really? Help me out here someone, because I have no knowledge of the finer details of the American legal system. Surely only an officer of the law would have such powers? Or does the fact of being an armed white male enable one to have “rights” over a terrified child running for his life?

  • SB

    Did I get stopped by cops? Did neighbors driving by sometimes slow down, or even pull over and ask me questions? Sure they did. But (probably because I was white) no one ever pulled a gun, or was hostile, or threatening. The cops would ask where I was going and why I was out, but they never wanted to search my bag,

    Oh definitely. A tough looking, poor  looking young white man walking in a richer neighborhood is going to be considered suspicious…but he’ll get a chance to explain himself.  I am a young white woman, and I once wandered into a private garden (that I didn’t know was private) in a neighborhood much richer than my own.  Oh yes, I was confronted. A guy said “Can I help you?”   “I was just taking pictures” I said. “Uh, this is private property,” he replied.  “Oh, sorry,” I said, I got in my car and left.  

  • LeCalabro

    Maybe so Ms. SB.  But, hundreds of thousands of felony crimes care committed against whites by black each year.  Unfortunately, black males commit most of the robberies, stores and strong arm robberies. 

    In 2005,  black males committed over 35,000 rapes of white women and less than 10 black women were reported raped. 

    Even liberal Jessie Jackson said that if he is walking on a darken street and he hears footsteps, as I recall, he said he hoped it was NOT a black male. 

    The National News does not discuss this issue to any extent, but they are givng much attention to this one white on black killing. Both kinds of situations should be given National attention.  

  • Lori


    Police Chief Lee said that Zimmerman was “within his rights to track the
    boy down and ask questions”. Really? Help me out here someone, because I
    have no knowledge of the finer details of the American legal system.
    Surely only an officer of the law would have such powers? Or does the
    fact of being an armed white male enable one to have “rights” over a
    terrified child running for his life? 

    This is not about the American justice system, it’s about the Florida justice system. The Florida law is badly worded, wrong-headed and an invitation to disaster, in large part because of the unique amount of leeway it gives one person to shoot another and claim self-defense. Florida government is broken*, so the chances of the law being changed, even now that someone is using it in an attempt to get away with murder, are effectively zero.

    *The state has been run by the GOP for like 2 decades now so the disaster is not exactly a surprise.

  • Sure you can always walk to someone and ask questions. And they can tell you to go hop in a lake.

  • Quinnthebrain

    You got some sources to back that up, LeCalabro?

  • Where on earth are you getting these statistics? The vast majority of sexual abuse is committed by someone who is the same race as the victim, whom the victim knows. 

    If I’m alone late at night and I hear footsteps, I hope it’s not a male, period. Including a cop. And it’s still WAY more likely that if I am sexually assaulted, it will be by a man or men I know. I’m not afraid of black men, I’m afraid of a justice system that does not bother to treat rape as an offense at all. 

    A young black man was just basically lynched, and you come in here throwing out statistics from God knows where and trying to pretend that white womanhood is under assault from evil rampaging black males? What on earth would motivate you to do this? It’s vile.

  • Anonymous

    [citation needed]

  • Among the other shameful and bizarre facts in this case:

    The police attempted to “correct” witnesses who heard Trayvon cry for help by telling them they’d actually heard *Zimmerman* cry for help.

    And this bizarre quote from Police CHief Bill Lee:

    “This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too.”

    Eww. Just eww. “I’m sure Trayvon would, too”? He’s like one step away from “Look; mistakes were made: Zimmerman shot an unarmed kid; Trayvon chose to be black. These are basically the same class of thing, so really they’re both to blame. “

  • cyllan

     You lie, and your words are vile.

    From 1976 to 2005 – 86% of white victims were killed by whites.  94% of black victims were killed by blacks.

    There were 194,270 white and 17,920 black victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2006.

    (Note: this is a summation statement from Wikipedia based upon the report listed below.

    According to the Center on Disease Control’s annual Youth Risk Behavior
    Survey, African Americans report being in a physical fight at a similar
    rate (36.5%, versus 32.5% for whites), but were arrested for aggravated
    assault at a rate nearly three times that of whites (137 per 100,000,
    versus 48 per 100,000).

  • Anonymous

    Get out.

  • Lori

    Shorter LeCalabro: I am a racist who gets all his “facts” from white supremacists.


  • hapax – I do understand not knowing what to say about this. It’s an incredibly sad and infuriating case. What I’d suggest if the words aren’t coming is sharing and quoting posts by others. The facts of the case alone say quite a bit, and while writing about this is important to do, for people who can, I don’t think everyone has to comment individually/uniquely on the case to make a difference.

    I didn’t write about it for some time myself because it was just too heartbreaking to think about for more than a few seconds. The host of a the internet radio show I listen to (Blacking it Up) made a really good point that sharing the story and not letting up on talking about it was the only way to be sure it would get the national attention it deserved. That was the kick in the butt I needed to get past my paralysis on it.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Lori. It sounds pretty chaotic and, as you suggest, open to all kinds of abuse. Of course that same law has now put Mr Zimmerman in real danger. Any young man of colour might upon seeing him fear for his own safety (I would, in their place) and acting in their own self-defence ~ what do you mean, it doesn’t work like that?

  • friendly reader
  • Anonymous

    Saying that he was killed for the crime of being young, black and “suspicious” is redundant. He was only “suspicious” because he was young and black.

  • Lizzy L

    Over at Digby’s place David Atkins has posted some of the comments made at about Trayvon Martin. Be warned: they are dreadful. But read them anyway. I am so glad the Justice Department is muscling in on this, and I hope they do take over the investigation. It seems pretty clear that the local and state authorities intended to actively ignore this young black man’s death.

  • The same thing happened when Whitney Houston died. Now, obviously, Fox News doesn’t provide the content of their comments threads, but it certainly does look like there is a strong pattern of Fox News attracting racist assholes.

  • Matri

    Well, Trayvon was non-confrontational and wanted to live. Of course the Chief was hoping he wanted to do things differently.