On Prejudice, Vigilante Justice and the Frightened Search For A Scapegoat That Has a Fall Out All Of Its Own

Zimmerman Trial Enters Jury Dissertation Phase

1) Consequences: When you equip people with guns and instill fear and paranoia in them and encourage them to go out there and take “justice” into their own hands and “stand their ground“, someone’s gonna get hurt. This shit doesn’t happen in a void. “Stand your ground” laws have very real life and death consequences and one of its unfortunate victims today, among many others, is a 17 year old black boy named Trayvon Martin who is buried six feet deep in dirt and who will never live his life – all because he was black and some racist, unevolved swine in the form of George Zimmerman thought he was guilty of something, being black and all.

2)  This verdict makes a mockery of the justice system and justice itself, because this it not only sets a legal precedent but also tells us that Martin was, rightly, executed for “walking while black”, even though he did no wrong and that it was ok for George Zimmerman to racially profile, stalk and execute an unarmed teenager. 

3) “They always get away.” These were the words George Zimmerman uttered as he followed and later shot Trayvon Martin.

Ask yourself this question: If Zimmerman had seen a white youth walking in the rain that evening, would he have seen him as one of ‘them,’ someone about to get away with something?

Racial bias reverberates in our society like the primordial Big Bang. Some years ago, Rev. Jesse Jackson made the point in a dramatic way when he acknowledged that he feels a sense of relief when the footsteps he hears behind him in the dead of night turn out to belong to white feet. Social scientists who study our hidden biases make the same point in a more sober way with statistics that demonstrate that we are more likely to associate black people with negative words and imagery than we are white people. It’s an association that devalues the humanity of black people — particularly black youth like Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman probably saw race the night of February 26, 2012, like too many others would have. Had he not, Trayvon probably would be alive today.

Now I am not saying we should incarcerate people for hidden biases and prejudices. However, the point is that race played a role in this. A lot of people say it is not about race, but about a child dying, and that is not true. It is precisely and only about race.

George Zimmerman was out to get someone, “them”, who always get away with it. And he did. The police told him to stay put and he did not listen, he got out to get “them”. The difference between Jesse Jackson and Zimmerman is that Jackson didn’t murder anyone based on that prejudice. Thinking something and acting on it are two different things and motivation in a court of law only matters with respect to the outcome. If Martin was alive, no one would have dragged Zimmerman in front of a court of law for having prejudiced thoughts. He was dragged there because his prejudice ultimately prompted him to go after Trayvon Martin and murder him.

For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. And the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fall out all of its own. 

Martin was a brown man and that is why he is dead today. If he was white, he would be alive. That is all we need to know and care about, everything else is just semantics. Not to mention that if people had followed the trial, they would know that Martin was the one on trial all along. Even the defense used race as a defense: “he was black”, “he smoked pot”, he did all these black things ipso facto he deserved to die somehow. That’s been the gist of the defense’s argument.

4) George Zimmerman murdered a child in cold blood and he wasn’t even found guilty of manslaughter. That is not justice. Getting out of your car, armed with a gun, to follow a teenager for no reason is reprehensible.

According to Wendy Dorival of the Sanford Police Department, the protocols under which  neighborhood watch groups operate specifically instruct volunteers not to follow  suspicious persons since that’s the job of trained law enforcement personnel. On the night Trayvon Martin was killed, the police even advised him that it was not necessary to get out of his car to pursue the suspect, yet Zimmerman ignored them and still pursued and stalked a black teenager.

This shows premeditation and racially informed pursuit which ultimately lead to Trayvon’s death. Zimmerman had a choice,  which is to not get out of the car to get “them“, but he chose to grab his gun and get out to pursue a kid for the sole reason that the child was black and thus clearly suspicious in Zimmerman’s eyes.  Had Zimmerman stayed in the car and waited, Trayvon Martin would be alive.

5) The trashing of Trayvon Martin’s character who had just been walking home and minding his own business is disgraceful and repugnant. He died not knowing who Zimmerman was and why he targeted him and jumped out of his truck in the dark of night to follow him. How was he supposed to know Zimmerman was neighborhood watch, as far as Martin was concerned Zimmerman was just criminal trying to mug and/or hurt him. 

6) The fact that people had to march and protest and bring immense media attention to the issue just to get him charged and subsequently prosecuted  is, by itself, evidence enough to the extent to which race played a role. As Michael Moore putHad a gun-toting Trayvon Martin stalked an unarmed George Zimmerman, and then shot him to death… DO I EVEN NEED TO COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE?

7) The sad truth is that if Zimmerman had shot a deer without a hunting license he would have received more punishment.

8) Unarmed  teenagers have a right to public space – without  owning armed  citizens any explanation as to their equal right to the sidewalk

9) Racism harms people, even if it is casually muttered by chubby cheeked chefs in the from of Paula Deen. When you casually make racist remarks, you have to remember that such casual statements contribute to the kind of “othering”  and dehumanizing mindset under which George Zimmerman acted. A mindset that prompted him to follow a child, a black child, at night, presume he was guilty of something because he was black and trying to “get away with it” and then subsequently shoot him.  This is why Paula Deen’s remarks and sweet-toothed racism are so dire: they add to culture of hate, paranoia and prejudice with deadly consequences for those who have to endure them, such as Trayvon Martin and his family.

10) To paraphrase Jermaine Paul, how much of a better world would it have been if George Zimmerman had offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night, instead of acting on his suspicions, fear, paranoia and prejudices and shoot him to death. 

11) This was a sad day for justice but a great onr for the gun lobby.  A great day to be a murderer in Florida. A great day for white supremacy.  A great day for vigilante justice.

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fall outs. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices.  To be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. And the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fall out all of its own. For the children, and the children yet unborn.”

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  1. #1 by C. S. Jackson on January 8, 2014 - 8:27 PM

    It was on Rod Serling show “The Twilight Zone.” It was mentioned in Mamie Till Mobley autobiography. She was on the panel discussing themes of Emmit Till in his show. As usual, Serling hit the hammer on the nail on this one.

    • #2 by popreflection on January 9, 2014 - 11:48 PM

      The episode is called “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”

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