Eric Thomas: Trayvon Martin Case Is Far Too Common

When you hear the 911 tape, you hear the screams at a distance. The cries for help sound desperate because it’s a last resort. Then a gunshot peaks the phone levels, and silence returns to dominate the neighborhood.

So passes Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old black kid from Miami Gardens, Florida. He was an A and B student with hopes to go to college and later be an aviation mechanic. Instead at 17 his bones are now interred in whatever receptacle that society tosses young dead black men in. The man who shot him was set free with no investigation even though he had a violent past. The man who shot him claimed that an unarmed 17 year old with no history of violence toward anyone … ever …  at all … was attacking a man with a gun. Regardless of the suspicious circumstances surrounding Trayvon’s death, the killer walks free.

There is plenty of speculation into what happened and the debate has already raged into all directions. Many people are complaining about the so called “Stand your Ground Law” but that simply does not apply here. On the 911 tape George Zimmerman is persuing Trayvon clearly in the recording. That takes self defense off the table. If I have to chase someone down, I am not defending myself. The police can’t chase someone down and execute them, neither can private citizens. George Zimmerman also claims that he was screaming for help on the 911 tape. That is laughable. People with guns don’t scream for help unless they are setting up an alibi. should be arrested and charged with murder in the first degree. There is already plenty of evidence to convict, in my opinion.

This murder is going to be solved and many will pay for the mistakes that were made. Already, Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. has stepped down from his post “temporarily” amid the outcry. The outrage is strong, but Trayvon has been dead for a month. The only reason we know about him is because social media became sufficiently outraged. How is it that the conditions existed for the death of Travon Martin to go completely unnoticed for as long as it did? Based on the fact this was almost missed, what other innocent lives lay slain the streets around us?

The real tragedy is, we all know the answer to the question. Young black men have to shoulder a constant burden of suspicion. We all know this. It doesn’t matter how many times you see the statistics of how white people commit a vast majority of the crime in this country, the prejudice remains. I have been the victim of crime several times and the perpetrators were all white people and a black person has never done me any harm whatsoever, yet I still lock my doors when I take Woodward into the city. Trayvon Martin was shot because he looked like he was “up to no good”, which in the mind of many people falls under the category of “walking while black.”

The cops tossed Trayvon into the pile of young black men who got shot. Random violence is a plague in lower income communities. There are plenty of towns in Michigan that the “got shot” pile of bones is all races. It takes an extremely outrageous case before we all sit up and take notice but we cannot stop there. For all the black coaches, CEOs and president we have it is still extremely hazardous to be young and African American. With all the societal progress, very little has changed on the micro level. We turn our heads and our apathy is measured in silence.

The civil rights movement was sparked by the death of a 14 year old boy Emmett Till. He was beaten to death in the deep south when he whistled at a white woman. Trayvon’s passing needs to be noted the same way. We as a society must really look long and hard in the mirror. The death of African American teenagers is viewed casually. Rather than say every single case has its own merit and circumstances, these cases are judged in the aggregate.

Trayvon Martin screamed for help on February 26, 2012. No help came.


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