July 20, 2013
The answer, in short, is because there is no comparison. In the other horrific instances, such as the case with young , an investigation began immediately, and the alleged perpetrators apprehended, charged and jailed. The system worked.
Not so in the case of Trayvon Martin. With Trayvon, the police were aware of the killing, but there was no charge until there was national pressure. The Trayvon Martin case made national news due to the inaction by the Sanford Police Department.
What if what happened to Trayvon Martin that evening happened to my child?
I have resisted because to imagine that is too emotionally difficult. I do know what it's like to lose a child -- through no fault, no one was responsible -- and to willingly attempt to walk myself through what Trayvon Martin's parents experienced (understanding that I will never come close to understanding what they truly experienced and feel) is something I've avoided.
The negative, angry reaction from a significant segment of the US population to President Obama's remarks yesterday regarding racial issues shows many things, but the first thing which comes to mind is the extraordinary empathy deficit he spoke of many years ago. The lack of empathy I see in many places, in many people...the lack of willingness to even ATTEMPT to empathize ("There was a trial, a verdict; not guilty. Get over it.") made me take the time to imagine this hell.
Which is precisely how so many within the black community have felt this past week.
When the adult carrying a loaded weapon who chose to follow a 17-year-old on February 26, 2012 -- a 17-year-old doing nothing wrong whatsoever at 7:15 or so that evening -- ended up suffering no consequences as a result of his lethal choices that night, it led to national mourning on the part of people of color. What we are witnessing is primal pain and mourning, more than anger.
For the shooter to be hailed as a hero by a large segment of our population and media, while my daughter is torn to shreds and ripped apart in public, IS APPALLING.
(by racists and gun nuts, let's be honest here) -- trying to justify the choice Zimmerman made that fateful evening by choosing to follow the teen, with a loaded weapon -- perhaps my daughter would instead be demonized as a slut, saying she was asking for trouble or something. Maybe they'd find a pic on FB that someone could use to paint her in that light.
Whatever elements were involved that may have led to my child's unnecessary death, you better believe I would be pushing to explore every single one in order that no one else has to ever feel my pain. In the case of Trayvon Martin, racism and racial profiling is an element that must be explored, not only as it concerns George Zimmerman but the Sanford Police Department and the entire criminal justice system.
Regarding the lack of a "proper investigation" as it concerns George Zimmerman, what led many to feel a proper investigation didn't take place includes but is not limited to the fact that:
-- George Zimmerman was not subject to a criminal background check until after he was released from custody.
-- Nearly a week passed before important witnesses were interviewed by the police.
-- Investigators failed to access Martin’s cell phone records for weeks.
“Those mistakes should not have been made,” said Andrew Scott, former chief of the Boca Raton police department and a national policing consultant. “They were such rudimentary aspects of an investigation.”
Again, if it were my child and if the police had just summarily believed the shooter rather than investigate fully and more thoroughly, I would have done exactly what Trayvon Martin's parents did. I think any parent would.
Though I don't believe I would be so graceful and dignified; I think that's largely because I don't know what it's like, as a white person, to have injustice and discrimination heaped on me and my child each and every day, in myriad ways. I might have more energy to scream and fight and pitch a fit because I haven't fought that particular battle my entire life. , a war on the middle class and those living and working in poverty, but this post is about the very specific battles only people of color fight in the USA.)
Again, to address my initial point, everything I wrote above is what made this a national media story and why it's different from other stories being put out as being a comparison. So, please, especially if you are a parent, try putting yourselves in the Martins' shoes. If your heart can take it.
EDIT TO ADD
"And for those who -- who resist that idea, that we should think about something like these Stand Your Ground laws, I just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws."
And how would such an outcome have played out in the courts and our media? Put on your empathy cap and try to imagine, but be honest -- if only with yourself.
EDIT #2 (7/24/13) :
for a breakdown of the facts regarding pictures being used. (There are actually more; hopefully Snopes will update their piece soon.)
1. Zimmerman was the one who initiated this incident via his choice to follow Trayvon, who was not in the midst of any criminal activity, by all reports.
2. Zimmerman chose to do so with a loaded weapon.
I do hold him responsible for those two choices that evening.
I speak of racial profiling because that is one daily reality experienced by many people of color on a regular basis. Many topics deserving our attention have been brought to light by this case, amongst many (including SYG laws and the criminal justice system).
My message in this blog post has more to do with the lack of sensitivity, demonization, and downright inhumanity by many people as it concerns the death of Trayvon Martin, and to encourage people literally try to put themselves in the shoes of ANY parent whose child was killed while NOT doing anything wrong and who did not initially receive justice (in the form of a proper investigation).
This blog post is in response to the outcry -- just as the graphic above says -- "What's the difference?" between the two cases.