Wednesday, July 17, 2013

#Trayvon Martin and George #Zimmerman - The Aftermath

I knew how I felt when the names "Trayvon Martin" and "George Zimmerman" first came to my attention.  Incensed.  Betrayed.  Determined.  I did not know the details of that night with certainty, not with one of the participants dead and the other untrustworthy.  What I knew for sure was that far too much leniency had been shown to George Zimmerman.  How could he not be arrested after admitting he shot and killed an unarmed teen whose path he crossed because he chose to get out of his car and follow Trayvon rather than minding his own damn business?  Being on Neighborhood Watch does not give one the right to harass passersby.  And to do so while carrying a loaded weapon is unconscionable.  It is provoking a fight that you have no chance of losing and the other person has no hope of surviving if you lose your cool.  Lose his cool is precisely what George Zimmerman did.  The legal term for this that ended up getting him acquitted is Self Defense.  Another term brought to our attention over the months following that brutal night was Stand Your Ground.  Why was it George's ground more than it was Trayvon's to protect?  George may have lived in the complex but Trayvon was visiting a resident so belonged there as well.  According to Zimmerman, Trayvon was acting suspiciously.  That's a pretty vague description of one's behavior.  If you suspect someone of being up to no good by a glance at their skin color, grooming, age, fashion sense, they automatically become suspicious by the mere act of existing in your presence.  It isn't a crime to consider somebody a suspect.  But when you act as judge, jury and executioner all in one, that certainly is a crime in my book.  I was under the impression that this constituted a crime in the opinion of our justice system as well.

Like countless others I demanded justice for Trayvon, and by this I specifically meant an arrest of George Zimmerman and a trial where he would be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.  I got what I wanted.  It took considerably more than should have been necessary but George Zimmerman eventually had his day in court.  As for the verdict, that was out of the hands of everyone but six carefully if not wisely selected people.  We got to hear the evidence along with them but only they were permitted to decide on it, to weigh in on George Zimmerman's fate.  They declared him to be Not Guilty.  This isn't the same as Innocent but serves flawlessly as a Get Out of Jail Free card.  Many people, I among them, are greatly dissatisfied with the result.  But I know that the verdict isn't necessarily the final result of this matter.  I'm not referring to the possibility of a civil trial.  I mean that the nation paid far too much attention to this case for it not to have far reaching repercussions.  Change should be brought about.  Good may come out of it in the long run.  Our disappointment, anger and pain was not in vain - or so I hope to be true.

We've learned substantial lessons as result of Trayvon Martin's untimely death.  Brought to mainstream attention was the fact that Stand Your Ground laws are sprinkled about this country, and in general are a bad idea.  Knowing this, we can now get to work on eliminating them.  The folly of our gun regulations and lack thereof was once again highlighted.  A spotlight was shed on racial profiling, even if the phrase did not make it into the courtroom.  People vented about being singled out, communicated in innumerable ways how insulting, demoralizing, and potentially dangerous it can be.  Even if ignored, their voices were heard.  Stop and Frisk is a policy that should end up with considerably less public support/acceptance as result of the killing of Trayvon Martin.  We learned that when seeking justice it is ideal for a jury to be peers of the victim as well as the accused, rather than only one or the other.  When George Zimmerman was not arrested right off the bat, we signed petitions and took to blogs and to Twitter and Facebook and every public venue we could find to express our dismay.  We learned that when we speak as one on a cause that truly matters to us, to the core of our being, we will be heard.  We also learned we have a President that could have stayed neutral and out of it, but instead jumped in and made us proud that he did not step aside from his blackness.

Coverage of the story from a wide variety of perspectives was exhaustive and omnipresent, but does that mean its effects will linger?  Will the killing and subsequent trial and resulting uproar over the verdict be like the Alamo, an event never to be forgotten so the chances of history repeating itself will be minimized?  Or will this all quickly fade when the next Big Thing arrives and snatches our attention spans?  Newtown shooting to Boston Bombing to Snowden the Snitch to Zimmerman trial to catastrophe to be named and hashtagged later.

I'd like to think that if nothing else, the death of Trayvon Martin at the acquitted blood stained hands of George Zimmerman will result in greatly increased incidents of non-instant judgment.  Fewer irreversible opinions formed at a glance would be a wonderful legacy for Trayvon's unfortunate death to stand for.  In a closer to perfect world we will not decide who a person is and what he/she is about based on skin color.  Or race of significant other.  Or accent.  Or attire.  Or hairstyle.  Or zip code.  Or political party.  Or level of education.  Or the name they call God.  Or their particular path taken in pursuit of happiness.

If the following is a cliche, that is only because it is true.  We should judge our fellow man strictly on the content of his character.  This quality is impossible to measure from the presence of a packet of candy, a sugary beverage, or a hoodie worn to keep the rain off but incapable of slowing the deadly path of a bullet.


Trayvon Martin Foundation

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Patches Of Grey by Roy L. Pickering Jr.

Patches Of Grey

by Roy L. Pickering Jr.

Giveaway ends August 02, 2013.
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