Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American teen from Miami, was murdered on Feb. 26 as he was walking back to his father’s fiancé’s home from the store. He was shot and murdered by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman called police prior to the shooting and described the youth as “suspicious.”
“This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something. He’s got his hands in his waistband. He’s coming towards me,” he is heard on the 911 call saying.
The officer advises Zimmerman not to follow the teen. A short while later the teen was shot in the chest after an apparent scuffle. Zimmerman was not arrested for the shooting nor brought in for questioning for the shooting. Though standard procedure in most homicide investigations, Zimmerman was not tested for drugs or alcohol.
Flashing back to the 1950s, we see a similar tale of the judicial system failing to deliver justice. Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old African American Chicago teen, was murdered after allegedly whistling at a white woman. The teen was in Mississippi visiting family members. A few days later after the incident, the woman’s husband Roy Bryant and half brother J.W. Milam arrived at the teen’s great-uncle’s house and took him to a barn, tortured him and gouged out one of his eyes. They shot the Chicago boy in the head, tied a cotton gin fan around with barbwire and threw his body in the Tallahatchie River. His body was recovered three days later.
Till’s mother held an open casket funeral for the world to see the brutal nature of her son’s murder. Bryant and Milam were brought to trial for Till’s death and later acquitted. A few months later, the two boldly admitted to killing the teen in a magazine interview. Bryant and Milam were protected by double jeopardy, which prevents a defendant from being charged with the same crime after being acquitted.
Though the circumstances are different, there are striking similarities in the two situations. Like Till, Martin was in an area unbeknownst to him. The community his father’s fiancé resides is a majority white gated community. Martin committed no crime the night of his murder, but was automatically deemed suspicious. He was immediately stereotyped by Zimmerman as a gun-toting thug on drugs and up to no good. Zimmerman remarked Martin had his hands in his waistband.
“I don’t know what his deal is,” he told an emergency dispatcher.
Both situations open up a lot of questions regarding race and stereotypes in this country. An African American male at night is feared. A black male walking into a convenience store at night or simply walking anywhere is frightening to a lot of people. The perception of black males in America is fear. They are expected to rape, steal and kill. This is what Zimmerman feared that fateful night.
Whether race and stereotypes were involved in this case is debatable. However, Zimmerman broke the law. He failed to follow the police’s orders. Now a young African-American teen is dead. Justice needs to be served.
As Zimmerman is brought to justice, the country needs to continue the debate and discussion on race. Until we can come together to have an open discussion on race in this country, we may sadly experience another Trayvon Martin case.
We have audio of the Trayvon Martin 911 calls in Collegiate NetVision.
Listen to George Zimmerman’s 911 Call by Clicking Here
Listen to 911 Call of actual shooting and screams by clicking here.
Watch interview of teen who witnessed Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman’s altercation by clicking here.
Trayvon Martin’s Family Demands Justice