Trayvon Martin's Killer Can't Walk Free
Act now! Demand Justice!
Revolution #306, June 12, 2013
February 2012. One minute 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is walking home from the 7-Eleven. The next minute he's dead because some racist neighborhood watch captain considers a Black youth wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles "suspicious."
On the night of February 26, George Zimmerman called 911 and reported seeing a "real suspicious guy" who "looks like he's up to no good." He told the 911 operator, "These assholes, they always get away." After being clearly told by the 911 operator not to pursue him, Zimmerman then stalked and confronted Trayvon Martin and gunned him down in cold blood.
Following the murder, the cops walked Zimmerman in one door of the police station and out another. Police and prosecutors insisted there was no basis to prosecute Zimmerman, saying this killing was justified as self-defense because of Florida's Stand Your Ground law.
That would have been that. But people around the country weren't having it. Tens of thousands ACTED to not let this go down!
All this was very important and made a crucial difference. The system was working the way it always works—and until people came into the streets, Trayvon Martin's killer was on his way to literally getting away with murder—with no charges. But after massive protests of thousands of Black people joined by people of all nationalities and from a wide swath of society, the 911 tape was released, further revealing that Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon. As the audiotape got out on the news, protests grew in anger and drew in more people.
For many thousands this hit deep: This could have been me... This could have been my son.... This could have been my brother. And many others who don't on a daily basis face the threat of racist vigilante and police terror, but who see the injustice of what is happening to Black and Latino youth in this society, also took to the streets saying, "We are all Trayvon Martin."
Forces in positions of power moved to do "damage control." On April 11, almost a month and a half after the murder, Zimmerman was finally arrested.
Now George Zimmerman's trial is scheduled to begin on June 10. And once again, and in an even more intense way, what people do will be decisive in whether or not there will be justice for Trayvon.
This is bound to be a very sharp struggle. Already George Zimmerman and his whole defense team have been VERY active in not only working on his legal defense but working to build public opinion that would defend this cold-blooded murder.
Leading up to the trial, Zimmerman's defense is working to completely turn things upside down—trying to put Trayvon Martin on trial in an attempt to justify the attack and murder. Abetted by the mainstream media, Zimmerman's legal team is trying to reverse the basic issue of right and wrong—saying he acted in self-defense, saying he feared for his life. They are attempting to focus the whole trial on what happened after Zimmerman got out of his car and stalked Trayvon. But whatever happened that led to Zimmerman killing Trayvon Martin, it happened after Zimmerman disregarded the instructions of the 911 operator, then got out of his car and followed Trayvon.
Slander in the Media
Zimmerman's side is trying to paint Trayvon Martin as the criminal in this trial before it even starts. This youth—who had never been arrested and had no criminal record—is being depicted as a dangerous criminal. The evidence? Trayvon was suspended from school, smoked marijuana, listened to gangsta rap, his cell phone had a picture of a Black hand holding a gun, and so forth. These so-called incriminating pictures from Trayvon Martin's cell phone are being plastered all over the media. This is exactly the kind of thing that's happening to millions of Black and Latino youth who are being criminalized in high schools around the country—where everything from being tardy to talking back to a teacher can end up putting you on a fast track pipeline, not to the principal's office, but to prison.
To all these accusations we can only say… First of all, George Zimmerman had no knowledge of any of this when he killed Trayvon. As the Martin's family lawyer, Ben Crump, said, "[T]hey attempt to posthumously judge a dead teenager by his tweets and his social media. And that is the problem here. You cannot know what is in a person's heart by reading a tweet, and it's irrelevant because George Zimmerman did not know what Trayvon Martin's Twitter persona was when he got out of the car, profiled, pursued, and shot him in the heart."
And second, NONE of this justifies cold-blooded murder.
The effect of this whole media campaign by Zimmerman's defense team is to both poison the jury pool and contribute to the overall atmosphere in society where Black youth have been criminalized through decades of the system's "war on drugs"—which has led to a situation of mass incarceration with almost 2.4 million in prison, mostly Black and Latino people.
The defamation of Trayvon plays on and bolsters the images of Black youth widely propagated in society over the last few decades to justify intense repression and the destruction of the lives of hundreds of thousands who have been incarcerated. And these attacks on Trayvon also serve to build sympathy and a defense for Zimmerman in the public eye and to rally his supporters.
And whether this so-called evidence gets into the trial or not, broadly putting all this out into the world can "taint" or prejudice potential jurors. That is, even if all this does not get into evidence (and this is far from determined and Zimmerman's lawyers will no doubt continue to fight to bring it into the courtroom), many people, including people who will be on the jury, will have heard these stories.
Mobilizing the Lynch Mob
An integral part of this media campaign is the effort to whip up all manner of racist and fascist elements in this society against Trayvon and all Blacks and Latinos. On March 21, Robert Zimmerman Jr., George Zimmerman's brother, tweeted side-by-side pictures of Trayvon Martin and another Black 17-year-old who has no connection whatsoever to Trayvon Martin but who allegedly shot a one-year-old baby during a botched robbery in March 2013. The post then says: "A picture speaks a thousand words. Any questions?" Then, in another tweet, Robert Zimmerman says: "Lib media shld ask if what these2 black teens did 2 a woman&baby is the reason ppl think blacks mightB risky."
According to Robert Zimmerman, Trayvon—and apparently every other Black youth in this society—is somehow to blame for the alleged crimes of another Black youth a little over a year after Trayvon was killed. And ALL Black youth are to be considered "risky." This is nothing but tweets for a lynch mob!
After these racist tweets, George Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, responded by saying that Zimmerman's brother "has his own opinions about things. He does not represent the defense, and he does not represent George." At the same time, when shown an interview with Piers Morgan in which Robert Zimmerman defended his photo comparison, O'Mara said, "I think what he was suggesting was that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor." And in any case, the damage was done in terms of criminalizing the victim in this case, and Black youth as a whole.
And Robert Zimmerman isn't the only one actively trying to create public opinion in defense of Trayvon's killer. There is a lot of shit being put out in social media trying to defame Trayvon Martin. For example one image sent around has a real photo of Trayvon Martin with an arrow pointing to it with the words, "The Trayvon Martin photo used by the hysterical race baiters, 12 year old boy." Then there is a fake photo of Trayvon, showing someone with a skull cap, shirtless, in a gangster pose, with the words, "Trayvon Martin, 17 years old, 6' 2", FU photo from his Facebook page."
The INjustice System
Thousands now have to ask themselves—now that George Zimmerman is going to trial, what are you going to do?
Most definitely, the people can't sit back and "let the justice system work." We already saw how the INjustice system worked when it let George Zimmerman go free. He was not arrested on the spot. His victim, Trayvon Martin, was treated like the perpetrator while Zimmerman was let go after questioning. The police told Trayvon's father one reason Zimmerman wasn't arrested was because they respected his educational background in criminal justice and he had a "squeaky clean" record… even though Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for "battery on a law enforcement officer." The police did a background check on Trayvon Martin as he lay dead, but not on Zimmerman, the murderer. They tested Trayvon Martin's blood for alcohol and drugs but not Zimmerman's.
Recently, tapes of the police interrogation of George Zimmerman a day after the murder were made public. An article in the Miami Herald reported that detectives who interviewed Zimmerman did not believe his story, but that "Sanford Police Det. Chris Serino told Zimmerman in a series of interviews that day that he was a 'good guy.'" And no charges were brought—until weeks of struggle created a situation where the powers-that-be felt they needed to do something to diffuse people's anger.
The Struggle Must Intensify
With the trial of George Zimmerman the struggle for justice for Trayvon must intensify. Remember, the prosecution, which is now supposed to be making the case against Zimmerman in court, refused to even charge him for weeks—accepting his claim that he acted in self-defense… even though Zimmerman had a gun and Trayvon Martin was "armed" with Skittles and an iced tea; even though Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds and Trayvon Martin weighed 140 pounds.
And we've seen time and time again how prosecutors routinely forget how to prosecute and judges go along with this—when it comes to police gunning down Black and Latino youth. Just last month, the indictment of the NYPD pig who murdered Ramarley Graham was thrown out by a judge on a technicality—that the prosecutors gave faulty instructions to the grand jury. People's rights are trampled on left and right in the courtroom, but when it comes to the rights of a cop or a racist vigilante who kills a Black or Latino youth, all of a sudden, the courts are very concerned about their rights.
This trial should NOT be about what happened after George Zimmerman left his car and followed Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman—who was the only one with a gun that night—was the aggressor as soon as he got out of his car. Whatever the truth is about the possible confrontation that occurred (though many might think that Trayvon himself was justified in defending himself against the aggressor if that is what happened) is not relevant.
The stage is set for an intense back-and-forth between those fighting for justice and those who would set back this struggle. People poured into the streets after the murder of Trayvon Martin because they saw that this was NOT an isolated incident, that it was yet another killing in a long history of Black youth gunned down by racist vigilantes or brutal police. And people were determined that this time, the killer would NOT go free. After this, George Zimmerman was arrested and is now going to trial. But now, the people need to get in the street, once again to demand real justice.