Eighteen years ago today, Trayvon Benjamin Martin was born to Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. Nearly a year ago, their son was killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., who viewed Trayvon as “a real suspicious guy.” Instead, the unarmed teenager was found with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea from 7-Eleven and a bullet hole in his chest from Zimmerman’s Kel-Tec 9 mm PF-9.
art: by Shepard Fairey
The problem being, in his mind is, which I can’t get into because he’s passed, he perceived you as a threat…He has every right to defend himself, especially when you are reaching into your pocket to grab the cellphone…What do you think his motivation was? The kid had no violent background. No violent tendencies that we can find…What made him snap? He’s not on drugs. Can you fill in that blank? . . . What do you think set him off? Had he been a goon, a bad kid, two thumbs up…No. He does not fit the profile of what occurred, which is another unfortunate thing we got going on here…I want to know, everybody wants to know, what set him off. He’s not on PCP. He’s not on anything. He’s on Skittles.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the LA riots set off by the acquittals of city cops who beat King after a traffic stop. He also weighs in on one aspect of the Trayvon case…”The horrifying sound of a young black male screaming for his life on a 911 call reminded me of my horrifying scream on a videotape 20 years ago,” King says. “It’s a death scream.”
art: artist’s drawing of King as he testified in the 1991 federal trial.
No matter what he does—rescuing the unemployed, insuring people with pre-existing conditions, getting us out of Iraq, ridding the world of bin Laden—the obscuring hoodie of his uncharacteristic life plunges his actions into a troubling darkness. No matter how familiar his face has become, half the country still cannot recognize him. The deranged “Stand Your Ground Law” that has had the effect of legalizing murder in Florida got on the books before Obama’s election. But since Obama became president, paranoia and hysteria have fueled the opposition to him, and laws making it easier to carry concealed weapons have proliferated throughout the country. Make no mistake about it. Forged in paranoia and hysteria, Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin was no less than a surrogate assassination of our alarming black president.
Both the initial police report and various mainstream media outlets have reported that George Zimmerman…had signs of trauma to his nose, blood on the back of his head and nose, and grass and moisture on the back of his red jacket when they arrived on the scene, as a result of being beaten by 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. A video obtained by ABC News proves those assertions to be untrue.
…Chief Lee’s statement that Zimmerman was not arrested for lack of evidence sufficient to challenge his claim that he had not acted in self-defense (“We don’t have anything to dispute his claim of self-defense”) appears to imply that, absent such evidence, a white or otherwise non-black man…claiming self-defense after killing a black man is simply to be taken at his word. It is hard to resist the thought that race matters here, for who believes that, had an adult African American male killed a white teenager under similar circumstances, the police would have taken him at his word and so declined to arrest him?