In any given day there are hundreds of reports of shootings and deaths of young black men. But the story of Trayvon Martin being shot and killed as he walked home from a convenience store, has hit a nerve. It is not that he was killed by a bullet, but it was in the way it happened.
Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman shot Trayvon, supposedly in “self-defense”. The 911 calls seem to imply there was some type of altercation before it happened. But what’s unclear is why Zimmerman would feel so threatened by a young teen who was unarmed. Each time I hear a different report, no matter how uncomfortable Zimmerman felt, killing a man without a weapon just does not make sense.
This is clearly why the laws in Sanford, Florida, which allows the general public to protect themselves with a weapon when they feel threatened, need to be changed. The loose language of “if you feel threatened and are acting in self-defense” makes it fine to kill someone, just does not work. Everyday civilians may not have the good judgement required to detect when a weapon is needed and when it’s not. If a police officer shoots an unarmed man they are scrutinized to the fullest. But when a civilian does it, he is not even arrested? What’s wrong with this picture?
The gunman’s family and friends reported that George “couldn’t stop crying” after the incident. But why was he following Trayvon in the first place? The killer now fears for his life and is in hiding. The Black Panther’s have put out a $10,000 bounty for his capture. And all for what…a young black man wearing a “hoodie” was “threatening”? George may be free in body, but not in soul…he is certainly imprisoned for life from this point forward.
Protests are being held around the country by outraged citizens; including large cities like New York and Chicago. It’s blown up to a huge debate, similar to the recent “Occupy” movement. Millions of Trayvon supporter’s (including pets) have posted photo’s of them wearing hoodies on Facebook and other social media outlets. President Obama even spoke in support of Trayvon and his family. The President went as far to say “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Why did this one particular youth strike such a cord with all races and ethnic groups? Some believe it’s because of the unfortunate way he lost his life. But it seems more deep than just that…is it really pinned up anger over unresolved issues in our nation?
Whatever the case, let’s hope this young man did not die in vain. It has opened a bandaged wound which never seems to heal, but at least it has caused many to bond together and speak out. This is definitely the start of a society that will not tolerate acts of hatred and pre-conceived judgement of people of color or unorthodox style. Wearing a “hoodie”, baggy pants, tattoos, or anything else which seems “gansta” or “different”, does not define a person’s character.
In the end, a young life was lost for a senseless reason. Let’s just hope this opens the door for change and awareness. This tragedy shows we have come a long way…but still have a long way to go. Finally having a President of color was the beginning of acceptance, but not the end all of racism and discrimination.
R.I.P. Trayvon Martin, you did not die in vain…laws to protect others are on the way.
READ THE FULL TRAYVON MARTIN TIMELINE AT ABC NEWS.
LISTEN TO THE 911 TAPES AND WATCH VIDEO HERE