Monday, July 15, 2013

I Have To Talk About This

I don't know how to begin. I think I'm still in shock. The jury's not guilty verdict was a stunning one.

Trayvon Martin and his step-brother were going to spend the evening watching a movie on television, so Trayvon went to the convenience store just outside their neighborhood to buy a bag of Skittles and a can of flavored ice tea. Before he left the house, he put on his grey sweatshirt and pulled the hood over his head. It was February, cool outside by Florida standards, and it had been raining off and on most of the afternoon and evening.

With the bag of Skittles in his hand and the can of tea in the pocket of his sweatshirt, Trayvon headed back home. It had only been lightly drizzling since he left home, but when it began to rain a little harder, he ran for the shelter of an overhang of a nearby building. He stood there, waiting for the rain to subside a little, talking to his friend Rachel on his cell phone, when he noticed a man in a truck pull up across the street and sit and watch him.

"There's a guy watching me," he told his friend on the phone.

The rain started to subside somewhat, so Trayvon decided to jog home and try to escape the man's scrutiny, but as he headed up the sidewalk, the man in the truck began following him.

Still on the phone with Rachel, he said, "That creepy ass cracker is following me."

Trayvon jogged up the sidewalk, looking over his shoulder at the man in the truck following him, so he veered off onto a narrow cement walkway that runs between the townhomes. The man in the truck couldn't follow him there and, feeling relieved, Trayvon slowed down to a quick walk and continued to talk on the phone with Rachel. But, the walkway between the buildings didn't go all the way to Trayvon's house, so he headed back to the main sidewalk next to the road, less than five minutes from home.

As he exited between the buildings at the main sidewalk, he once again saw the man in the truck.

The man got out of his truck and followed Trayvon, who had turned back up the walkway in an effort to avoid the man following him. As the stranger walked up behind Trayvon, Rachel heard Trayvon ask him, "Why are you following me?" After that, she heard a couple of "thuds" and Trayvon yell, "Get off. Get off!" Then the phone went silent.

Within a span of 60 seconds, Trayvon Martin was dead of a gunshot wound to the heart.

I watched or listened to most of the trial because I have little else to do with my life.

If I had to make one comment about the prosecuting attorneys...they sucked. They acted like they didn't even care. They were required to present a case for the state; they weren't required to do it well. So they didn't.

I listened to the defense attorneys attempt to portray Trayvon Martin as a thug, looking sinister and threatening in his grey hoodie, and George Zimmerman as a hero and a victim of the thug's violence.

This undated, apparent personal photo of Trayvon was used throughout the media and during the trial.

 photo trayvonhoodie_zpscfab6ba8.jpg

It's just a head shot photo of a 17 year old black boy in a hooded sweatshirt. How many kids do you know who take "selfies" and post them on Facebook or Instagram? Yet some people, without evidence or corroborating information, do see sinister in this photo. Thug or gangster even.

What do I see? Look at those eyes. I see a little sadness, like a boy who likely got into trouble with his mom or dad after being suspended from school and is feeling bad or self-deprecating about it. Certainly not thuggish.

Throughout the trial, the defense attorneys painted Trayvon as a hot head, a thug looking for a fight. It worked, but it only worked because Trayvon had one huge strike against him. He was black.

The defense team was all white. The prosecutors were all white. The judge was white. There was a jury of six women, five white and one Hispanic. All but one of the witnesses for the defense were white. A significant number of witnesses for the prosecution were black. Who are those jurors going to believe?

Even after seeing this photo...

 photo trayvondead_zps48c7f3c5.jpg

...the jury did not see a teenager in khaki skinny jeans, a pullover sweatshirt and tennis shoes who had just been shot to death. They didn't see a boy who had been running home with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head against the rain. They didn't see a boy who was being stalked and followed in his own neighborhood because of the color of his skin. They saw what George Zimmerman saw. They saw a criminal, a threat.; one less threat in their community to worry about.

The basic facts of this case will never change. A teenaged black boy went out to buy Skittles and iced tea. On his way home, he was confronted by a man with a gun who killed him. Yet, this was declared a noncriminal act. Those jurors, after hearing the testimony, had to believe the very worst about black boys in order to reach such a verdict.

Trayvon Martin didn't have a chance.


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right: Trayvon Martin did not stand a chance! Had he been a young white male or a young female, he would still be walking and breathing. If the prosecution had done a better job of presenting the facts, George Zimmerman would not now have possession once more of his weapon. When the clerk read the verdict, I just sat and shook my head. We still have a long way to go before we overcome racial prejudice in this country.
Val Hightower

Terri said...

Val, I couldn't agree with you more. We have been struggling with this since our country was founded and we still haven't come very far IMHO. Thanks for stopping by.

altadenahiker said...

The case baffles me on so many levels. For example, apparently the victim was tested for drugs; the murderer was not tested for drugs. So if you drive thru a red light, you can be pulled over and tested, but if you kill someone, that's somehow not relevant?