Category: Trayvon Martin

Why is Black America still fixated on Trayvon Martin?

George Zimmerman and his lawyer Mark O'MaraBy Alan Bean

If you were hoping the big fuss over Trayvon Martin was going away, this weekend’s March on Washington 2 was a rude wake-up call.  Speaker after speaker pointed to the Zimmerman-Martin saga as an example of why Dr. King’s dream is yet unfulfilled.

A host of white opinion leaders have argued, with some justification, that the Zimmerman trial devolved into an unsightly media circus.  Sure, the media exploited this story, the way they exploited  the carefully orchestrated outrage perpetrated by Miley Cyrus a couple of days ago, but they didn’t create it.

The media flocked to this story because millions of African Americans see Trayvon Martin as the new Emmett Till.

In 1955 the issue was lynching; in 2013 it’s racial profiling and stand your ground laws.

If you’re thinking the issue would be settled by a jury verdict, remember that Till’s murderers were also acquitted by a jury of their peers.

But wasn’t Trayvon Martin a little thug?  Didn’t he initiate the fight?  Didn’t he have the well-intentioned Zimmerman fearing for his life?  Didn’t Trayvon’s pot-smoking past justify Zimmerman’s profiling?  Isn’t this whole story a saga invented by race-baiters like Al Sharpton and Barack Obama?  Haven’t there been a series of black-on-white crimes much worse than anything Zimmerman did that have been ignored by the race-baiters?  Aren’t black people just trying to change the subject from their high drop out rates and single-parent family problem?

If you are asking these questions (and, Lord knows, some of you are) please read this post from Craig Watts that recently appeared on the excellent RedLetter Christians blog.

Beyond Trayvon Martin and Racism

Posted AUG 14 2013


Racism Killed Trayvon Martin
It continues even now. The group emails and facebook posts spotlighting incidents of black on white violence and the cries, “Where’s the outrage now like there was over Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman! Why isn’t the President speaking out now?” And each time the comparison offered shows a total lack of understanding about why Martin’s killing was different.

No doubt there have been acts of violence more horrible than Trayvon Martin’s case. And no doubt there is black on white violence as well as white on black violence, though most killings by far involve people of the same race. And certainly innocent people of all races have been killed.

Still there are differences in Zimmerman’s killing of Martin, differences that rightly led to the national attention.

The day after the court decision I was in Orlando, Florida where I was visiting with two men –one of them a minister- who were attending the NAACP national meeting. “It wouldn’t have gone down this way if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon was white,” remarked one of them.  “The police wouldn’t have failed to arrest an armed black man who tracked down an innocent white kid, caused a fight with him and then pulled out a gun and killed him. The police would likely shot the black man right there.”

No one can know for sure what the police would have done. But the scenario the man described is not at all farfetched. And it wouldn’t have made national news. Unfortunately, many white people –like those who make the questionable comparisons- have not even considered the matter from the perspective of a black man. (1) A young black man had done nothing wrong. (2) He was tracked down by an armed man of another race for no other reason than that the young man was black and therefore viewed with suspicion as a white young man would not normally have been. (3) The armed man provoked an unnecessary confrontation. (4) In the midst of a fight the armed man pulled out his weapon and killed the innocent black young man. (5) Police did not arrest the killer until there was a public outcry. (6) When the killer when to trial, he was declared “Not Guilty.”

Those who object to the attention given to the killing of Trayvon Martin and who continue to post stories of doubtful similarity to Martin’s case on Facebook or send them in emails fail to see that those six characteristics are essential to the whole issue.  Too many people the attention given to Zimmerman’s killing are simply in denial about enduring and still pervasive problem woven into the nation’s social fabric: racism.

I’m hesitant to simply label all these people as racists who point to other incidents of violence and make questionable comparisons. But I do believe a certain kind of moral myopia is at work, hindering their ability to see what’s going on. What appears as racism is often an expression of a broader problem: the failure to have sufficient empathy and compassion for people outside of one’s own circle, not only of race, but of class, nationality, sexual orientation and others crucial aspects of identity. This failure accounts for the apparent inability of some to even begin grasp the real issues at stake when discrimination and inequality come into play and even to blame the victims who are not like him or herself.

Sadly, this failure is far too prevalent among American Christians. Love, kindness, and compassionate understanding are present in them. But they don’t extend it in fullness to those who are not like them. Jesus sought to address this problem in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Loving our neighbors involves more than care for people who are like us. The circle of care and understanding must extend even to people who have been perceived as at odds with “our kind” of people. Suspicion must be put aside.

This matter is beyond racism. The failure to have sufficient empathy and compassion for people outside of one’s own circle, not only of race, but of class, nationality, and sexual orientation is a failure of moral imagination. We can’t “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15 ) if we can’t or won’t get out of our own shoes and imagine ourselves in their place. More likely we will minimize their suffering and troubles or attribute the misfortune to the people’s own personal flaws. We will insensitively judge and tend to be self-righteous.

Attitudes toward the poor among many people in the United States display this same lack of empathy and compassion. Too many blame the poor for their plight and assume their problems are the result of laziness or moral failings. In other words, they blame the victims rather than seek to sympathetically understand the struggles and suffering of those who are disadvantaged.  Self-righteous judgmentalism overshadows merciful traits found in the way Jesus dealt with the poor.

Christians will not be agents of reconciliation and healing as long as they see the world from the perspective of the privileged or fail to even attempt to see from the viewpoints for those who are unlike themselves in important ways.  We have a higher calling than simply to be representative of our race, class, nationality or whatever else defines us in this world. “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

The Zimmerman jury worries me

By Alan Bean

By the time you read this the jury in the George Zimmerman trial will likely have rendered a verdict; but as I write, deliberations are just underway.

And I’m worried.

I have seen too many all-white juries in the course of fifteen years of advocacy work and they invariably get it wrong.

Poor, young,  black defendants are perceived as a threat by most white jurors and this perception often overrides all other considerations.

I have no desire to see George Zimmerman spend the rest of his life behind bars; nor would I be particularly upset if the jury convicts the defendant of the lesser charge of manslaughter.   (more…)

Zimmerman blames God for Trayvon Martin’s death

By Alan Bean

I almost hate to share this bizarre snapshot from the George Zimmerman reality TV show.  Zimmerman is an idiot, and it’s not fair to exploit the feeble-minded, even when they request an interview with Sean Hannity.

On the other hand, Zimmerman’s statement that he doesn’t regret what transpired the night Trayvon Martin died reflects a uniquely American heresy: the idea that everything “happens for a reason” and is therefore the direct will of God.

George, God did not pull the trigger, you did.  God did not want you to pull the trigger.  God did not want you to leave your vehicle.  God did not want you to resort to vigilante justice.  God didn’t even want you to buy that gun.  This is all on you, my brother, every last, tragic bit of it.

Zimmerman should ‘regret’ Hannity interview

There were many contradictions in George Zimmerman’s softball and leading interviewwith Fox News’s Sean Hannity last night. But none was more revealing and disturbing than the killer of Trayvon Martin’s response to being asked if he had any regrets.


HANNITY: Is there anything you regret? Do you regret getting out of the car to follow Trayvon that night?


HANNITY: Do you regret that you had a gun that night?


HANNITY: Do you feel you wouldn’t be here for this interview if you didn’t have that gun?


HANNITY: You feel you would not be here?

ZIMMERMAN: I feel it was all God’s plan, and for me to second guess it or judge it —

Folks understandably have zeroed in on Zimmerman’s “God’s plan”remark. But if you read the transcript carefully — and honestly — you’ll see that he was responding to Hannity’s question about whether he thought he would not be alive today if he didn’t have his gun that night. Still, what he said immediately before that stood out as particularly callous.

No regrets about getting out of his car? No regrets at all? Not even of taking another life? In the capias request written by Sanford Police Detective Christopher Serino on March 13, which sought to have Zimmerman arrested for manslaughter — a request that was denied — he noted, “The encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement.” There’s no arguing with that assessment.

Asked by Hannity at the end of the interview to turn to the camera and address America and Trayvon’s parents, the man who said he had no regrets getting out of his car, no regrets following Trayvon, no regrets carrying a gun, sought to clarify his remarks.

First, I would like to readdress your question when you asked if I would have done anything differently. When you asked that, I thought you were referring to if I would not have talked to the police, if I would have maybe have gotten an attorney, if I wouldn’t have taken the CVSA and that I stand by, I would not have done anything differently.

But I do wish that there was something, anything I could have done that wouldn’t have put me in the position where I had to take his life. And I do want to tell everyone, my wife, my family, my parents, my grandmother, the Martins, the city of Stanford, and America that I am sorry that this happened.

I hate to think that because of this incident, because of my actions, it’s polarized and divided America, and I’m truly sorry.

On the “Today” show this morning, Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, was having none of it. Asked by Matt Lauer if she would be open to meeting with Zimmerman one day, the still grieving and visibly angry mother said forcefully, “Absolutely not.” And after last night’s interview, I don’t blame her.

Capehart: Zimmerman’s story doesn’t add up

George Zimmerman has given a series of statements describing the night the shot Trayvon Martin dead.  In this WP column, Jonathan Capehart compares the recently released tapes of Zimmerman’s various statements and arrives at a simple conclusion: none of this makes sense.  AGB

Zimmerman caught on tape: ‘It sounds like you’re looking for him’

George Zimmerman’s version of events the night he killed Trayvon Martin have never really made sense. And thanks to the release of a treasure trove of audio files last week by his attorney, we get to hear Zimmerman tell police what happened that rainy Feb. 26 night in his own voice. But what you’ll immediately notice is that what he tells the Sanford Police Department while in custody and in subsequent interviews doesn’t exactly match what he said during his infamous call to the non-emergency line at the SPD. You’ll also understand why investigator Christopher Serino, who had problems with Zimmerman’s account from the beginning, sought to arrest him for manslaughter two weeks later.

To refresh your memory, click here to listen to the phone call Zimmerman placed to the SPD. There have been break-ins in the neighborhood and “there’s a real suspicious guy” who “looks like he’s up to no good,” he told the dispatcher. “These [expletive], they always get away,” Zimmerman said before getting out of his car to pursue Martin. When he confirmed he was following the unarmed 17-year-old, the dispatcher said, “We don’t need you to do that.” They discuss where he would meet the police when they arrived.

Now, click here to listen to the Feb. 29 interview Zimmerman had with Serino and investigator Doris Singleton as they probe the inconsistencies in what Zimmerman said in the unredacted version of that non-emergency call and what he told Singleton hours after the shooting. A word of caution: There’s raw language in this conversation. The questions asked by the two detectives are what you would expect from seasoned homicide investigators. But they find Zimmerman’s responses unsatisfactory.

This combo made from file photos shows Trayvon Martin, left, and George Zimmerman. (AP Photo)

Serino and Singleton peppered Zimmerman with questions as they replayed Zimmerman’s four minute and 12 second call to the SPD’s non-emergency line. Why did he think Martin was suspicious? What did he think Martin was on drugs? Zimmerman would tell them he was afraid. But they focused a lot of attention on why the neighborhood watch captain would pursue Martin , “a good kid,” a “mild-mannered kid,” as Serino would describe him but who Zimmerman said made him fearful because he stared at him and walked around his car.

At one point in the call, Zimmerman says, “Oh [expletive], he’s running.” Serino asked Zimmerman to describe how Martin was running. “I don’t remember ’cause I was on the phone,” he answered. “It happened so quickly.” That was unsatisfactory to Serino. “It sounds like he’s running as to get away from you,” the detective said as he pressed Zimmerman to describe how Martin was running. “I don’t know why,” Zimmerman said in response.

On the call, the dispatcher asked him which way Martin was running. You can hear Zimmerman get out of his car and the detectives asked to confirm if he was getting out to see where Martin was going. “So, you basically jumped out of the car to see where he was going,” Serino inquired. When Zimmerman replied, “Yes, sir,” the investigator replied bluntly, “Okay, that’s not fear, all right. That’s one of the problems I have with the whole thing.”

Another area of contention was when the dispatcher asked Zimmerman, “Are you following him?” Serino asked him, “What went through your mind?” Zimmerman replied, “He’s right.” When Serino said, “You should have went back to your vehicle,” Zimmerman said, “But I still wanted to give [the dispatcher] an address.”

Martin was running in the direction of his father’s fiance’s apartment, where he was staying while on suspension from school. Serino said, “At this point, he’s gotta be hiding from you” because Martin could not have made it home and then come back to attack Zimmerman. Singleton challenged Zimmerman’s entire account for why he got out of his car. “You’re trying to catch up to him,” she said. “You’re looking for him,” Serino added. “It sounds like you’re looking for him.”

“Did you pursue this kid? Did you want to catch him,” Serino asked.

“No,” Zimmerman said, sounding exasperated.

“That’s not you,” Serino said. ‘That’s not what you’re about.”

“No,” Zimmerman said again.

Singleton questioned why at the end of the call, Zimmerman told the dispatcher to have the police call him upon their arrival and he would tell them where he was. “You’re going to be back at your car in less than 15 or 20 seconds from that distance,” she asked, “so why would they need to call you?” Zimmerman said he said this because he was frustrated he didn’t “give an adequate description” of where he was from community clubhouse. “You know what the impression would be,” Singleton said, “is that you’re going to continue to look and when they get here you’ll tell them where you’re at at that point.”

The call would end. Zimmerman and Martin would encounter each other. And Martin would be shot dead at point-blank range. Nothing about this case has made sense, nothing. What the Serino and Singleton interviews on Feb. 29 show is that the detectives didn’t think it made sense either

Five ‘Stand Your Ground’ cases you should know about

By Alan Bean

The Trayvon Martin case is important because it exposed the flawed, and potentially deadly, reasoning behind Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.  It doesn’t matter whether the victim was, or wasn’t, a marijuana user or whether the Zimmerman’s lied about their finances at a bail hearing.  None of that has any bearing on the tragic elements of this case.  In the end, it doesn’t even matter whether or not Trayvon Martin lashed out at the stranger who stalked and harassed him. 

The story is important because a really awful state statute made George Zimmerman think he could pursue and confront an unarmed private citizen and shoot him dead if he decided to defend himself.

In other words, this isn’t just about Trayvon, and it isn’t just about Florida–twenty-four states have passed some version of Stand Your Ground legislation.  You haven’t heard most of the horror stories because they haven’t been in the news.  You wouldn’t have heard about Trayvon Martin either if he didn’t have unusually determined parents.

Thanks to Pro Publica for understanding why the Trayvon Martin case is important and investigating the nationwide consequences of Stand Your Ground legislation.

Five ‘Stand Your Ground’ Cases You Should Know About

by Suevon Lee
ProPublica, June 8, 2012

The Stand Your Ground law is most widely associated with the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was acting in self-defense.

But as a recent Tampa Bay Times investigation  indicates, the Martin incident is far from the only example of the law’s reach in Florida. The paper identified nearly 200 instances  since 2005 where the state’s Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors’ decisions, jury acquittals or a judge’s call to throw out the charges. (Not all the cases involved killings. Some involved assaults where the person didn’t die.) (more…)