It should come as no surprise that George Zimmerman goes free for the murder of Trayvon Martin. This killing of an unarmed Black teenager who was shot by a white adult male is not new, nor is the lack of punishment if the perpetrator is white and the victim is not. It is an ongoing tragedy played out many, many times in a country based on and defined by racism since its inception.
The Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement reports (http://mxgm.org/trayvon-martin-is-all-of-us) “the use of deadly force against Black people is standard practice in the United States, and woven into the very fabric of the society” and their research shows that extrajudicial killings of black people by the police, security guards and unauthorized vigilantes like Zimmerman take place every 28 hours in the U.S.
The “Stand Your Ground” laws proliferating around the country are the 21st century manifestation of American lynch law. The Florida statute conveniently allowed Zimmerman to claim “self-defense” even though it was he who attacked Martin. The police originally accepted his story and declined to pursue charges. Conversely, if Martin had the gun and shot a strolling white young man, there is no question that he would have been immediately arrested. Were it not for the tenacious demands of Trayvon Martin’s parents and ensuing national outrage, Zimmerman would never have been arrested and charged.
Everyone knows the difference is race -- that racism was always the central issue -- yet this unspoken elephant in the room was not allowed to be named in the trial or considered pertinent to the prosecution. Instead, the deceased Trayvon Martin and his key witness were put on trial and discredited.
In addition to noting who does not go to jail for their crimes, we must not forget those who are jailed because they fight to right injustice like Lynne Stewart, Mumia abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier and Oscar Lopez Rivera; or Muslims who are scapegoated in the name of the “War on Terror” like the Holy Land Five, Yassin Aref, and Tarek Mehanna; or the victims of the drug wars and mass incarceration inflicted on the Black and Latino youth population.
This case and the millions of other examples of racial injustice must not be forgotten. The Obama administration announced a review of this case which may lead to the filing of federal charges. The NAACP has initiated a petition demanding the Justice Department file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman (www.naacp.org). There must be unrelenting demands upon the president and attorney general to secure justice for Trayvon Martin and to take action in the hundreds of other extrajudicial killings of unknown black people which took place in the past year.
Regardless of justice department action in this case, the Obama administration must not be allowed to claim innocence when it routinely kills people, including children, all over the world. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was a teenager like Trayvon Martin. This young American citizen was killed by our government’s extrajudicial drone murder in Yemen as a direct result of Obama administration policy.
We should advocate for the elimination of America’s war of terror, all racist and unjust laws, mass incarceration, and the torture of solitary confinement.
But most importantly, we must take to the streets and build a mass movement to protest this gross miscarriage of justice and all racist laws and practices endemic to the “American way of life”.