ONTD Political

The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin (trigger warning: gun violence)

10:25 pm - 03/16/2012
I wasn't sure if this had been posted yet, but it is finally get some national attention. I am disgusted. I am angry. I weep for this boy's family.

The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin

By CHARLES M. BLOW

“He said that Tray was gone.”

That’s how Sybrina Fulton, her voice full of ache, told me she found out that her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, had died. In a wrenching telephone call, the boy’s father, who had taken him to visit a friend, told her that Trayvon had been gunned down in a gated townhouse community in Sanford, Fla., outside Orlando.

“He said, ‘Somebody shot Trayvon and killed him.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Fulton continued in disbelief. “I said ‘How do you know that’s Trayvon?’ And he said because they showed him a picture.”

That was Feb. 27, one day after Trayvon was shot. The father thought that he was missing, according to the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, but the boy’s body had actually been taken to the medical examiner’s office and listed as a John Doe.

The father called the Missing Persons Unit. No luck. Then he called 911. The police asked the father to describe the boy, after which they sent officers to the house where the father was staying. There they showed him a picture of the boy with blood coming out of his mouth.

This is a nightmare scenario for any parent, and the events leading to Trayvon’s death offer little comfort — and pose many questions.

Trayvon had left the house he and his father were visiting to walk to the local 7-Eleven. On his way back, he caught the attention of George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain, who was in a sport-utility vehicle. Zimmerman called the police because the boy looked “real suspicious,” according to a 911 call released late Friday. The operator told Zimmerman that officers were being dispatched and not to pursue the boy.

Zimmerman apparently pursued him anyway, at some point getting out of his car and confronting the boy. Trayvon had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman had a 9 millimeter handgun.




The two allegedly engaged in a physical altercation. There was yelling, and then a gunshot.

When police arrived, Trayvon was face down in the grass with a fatal bullet wound to the chest. Zimmerman was standing with blood on his face and the back of his head and grass stains on his back, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

Trayvon’s lifeless body was taken away, tagged and held. Zimmerman was taken into custody, questioned and released. Zimmerman said he was the one yelling for help. He said that he acted in self-defense. The police say that they have found no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s claim.

One other point: Trayvon is black. Zimmerman is not.

Trayvon was buried on March 3. Zimmerman is still free and has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

Yet the questions remain: Why did Zimmerman find Trayvon suspicious? Why did he pursue the boy when the 911 operator instructed him not to? Why did he get out of the car, and why did he take his gun when he did? How is it self-defense when you are the one in pursuit? Who initiated the altercation? Who cried for help? Did Trayvon’s body show evidence of a struggle? What moved Zimmerman to use lethal force?

This case has reignited a furor about vigilante justice, racial-profiling and equitable treatment under the law, and it has stirred the pot of racial strife.

As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.

That is the burden of black boys in America and the people that love them: running the risk of being descended upon in the dark and caught in the cross-hairs of someone who crosses the line.

The racial sensitivity of this case is heavy. Trayvon’s parents have said their son was murdered. Crump, the family’s lawyer, told me, “You know, if Trayvon would have been the triggerman, it’s nothing Trayvon Martin could have said to keep police from arresting him Day 1, Hour 1.” Even the police chief recognizes this reality, even while disputing claims of racial bias in the investigation: “Our investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color. I know I can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”

Zimmerman has not released a statement, but his father delivered a one-page letter to The Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. According to the newspaper, the statement said that Zimmerman is “Hispanic and grew up in a multiracial family.” The paper quotes the letter as reading, “He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever” and continues, “The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.” And disclosures made since the shooting complicate people’s perception of fairness in the case.

According to Crump, the father was told that one of the reasons Zimmerman wasn’t arrested was because he had a “squeaky clean” record. It wasn’t. According to the local news station WFTV, Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for “battery on a law enforcement officer.”

Furthermore, ABC News reported on Tuesday that one of the responding officers “corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.” And The Miami Herald published an article on Thursday that said three witnesses had heard the “desperate wail of a child, a gunshot, and then silence.”

WFTV also reported this week that the officer in charge of the scene when Trayvon was shot was also in charge of another controversial case. In 2010, a lieutenant’s son was videotaped attacking a black homeless man. The officer’s son wasn’t arrested until the television station broke the news and asked about it.

Although we must wait to get the results of the investigation into Trayvon’s killing, it is clear that it is a tragedy. If no wrongdoing of any sort is ascribed to the incident, it will be an even greater tragedy.

One of the witnesses was a 13-year-old black boy who recorded a video for The Orlando Sentinel recounting what he saw. The boy is wearing a striped polo shirt, holding a microphone, speaking low and deliberately and has the heavy look of worry and sadness in his eyes. He describes hearing screaming, seeing someone on the ground and hearing gunshots. The video ends with the boy saying, “I just think that sometimes people get stereotyped, and I fit into the stereotype as the person who got shot.”

And that is the burden of black boys, and this case can either ease or exacerbate it.


ETA: TRIGGER WARNING
Link to 911 tapes released:

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/opinion/blow-the-curious-case-of-trayvon-martin.html?_r=1
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tabaqui 17th-Mar-2012 03:34 am (UTC)
Disgusting. Zimmerman needs to be in prison yesterday. What a bunch of bullshite.
deevee45 17th-Mar-2012 03:37 am (UTC)
This is one of the saddest things I've ever read--saw it a few weeks ago and the story still haunts me. Just thinking about that poor kid, dying in the street, with just skittles in his pocket.
erunamiryene 17th-Mar-2012 03:44 am (UTC)
"real suspicious"

Really? Any evidence besides "the kid wasn't white"? Did he have the wrong kind of skittles?

Also, the fact that your FIRST FUCKING INSTINCT WAS TO SHOOT SOMEONE means you need to be taken off the streets for everyone else's protection.

How is it self-defense when you are the one in pursuit?

Well, are you in pursuit of one of Those People Not Like You? Then of COURSE it's self-defense.

And just once, I'd like the family of The Asshole In Question to go "yeah, he's a fucking racist, we're not surprised". Just ONCE. fucking admit it, don't give us these platitudes about "color blindness" and "wouldn't hurt a fly", blah blah blah.
roseofjuly 17th-Mar-2012 05:08 am (UTC)
I mean...he got out of the fucking car with the gun. He had every intention of shooting this poor kid before he even knew what the fuck was going on.
24_24_1_1526 17th-Mar-2012 03:45 am (UTC)
A bag of skittles guys...
Do not read the comments from The Orlando Sentinel site. You will want to put your face through a brick wall.
boojaeholvr 17th-Mar-2012 06:15 am (UTC)
I was curious and I looked. The johnnyla guy just popped one of my nerves. He replies to nearly every single comment DEFENDING Zimmerman...sometimes I really don't understand people.
mercystars 17th-Mar-2012 03:49 am (UTC)
this whole story makes me fucking sick to my stomach

this zimmerman shitbag needs to be in jail for the rest of his life, where he can't fucking hurt anyone else

jfc fuck this shit
ladypolitik 17th-Mar-2012 03:54 am (UTC)
I've never...heard someone die before. I dunno what I was expecting, but it wasnt this. Regret listening.
24_24_1_1526 17th-Mar-2012 03:58 am (UTC)
what makes me sick is the police holding the tapes and claiming there wasn't anything to be found from it. i forgot my "fuck the police" tag.
mercystars 17th-Mar-2012 03:57 am (UTC)
"...ABC News reported on Tuesday that one of the responding officers “corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.”

uh huh. I SEE.
iheartomntd 17th-Mar-2012 04:00 am (UTC)
I actually just posted about this too. Those tapes are just too heartbreaking and the fact this man remains walking free, is just beyond the realm of reasonable.
schexyschteve 17th-Mar-2012 04:00 am (UTC)
What a heartbreaking story. That poor family. :(

That Zimmerman guy needs to be in prison for life.
angry_chick 17th-Mar-2012 04:02 am (UTC)
I can't stand when people claim that "Well, he's Hispanic, so he obviously can't be racist!"
24_24_1_1526 17th-Mar-2012 04:07 am (UTC)
honestly, i blinked for a moment. i've never in my life come across a hispanic person named 'zimmerman'. am i wrong for questioning the validity of his father's assholish statement? i'd go to my shame corner, but i am just to sad right now reading the different reports on this story through google news.
sihaya09 17th-Mar-2012 04:08 am (UTC)
This asshole NEEDS to be arrested and put to trial. As if his murder of this boy wasn't enough, the second crime is allowing him to remain free.
nesmith 17th-Mar-2012 04:14 am (UTC)
I think you can really use this as a barometer, because even exhausted and half-conscious I am seeing the GIGANTIC MOUNTAIN of shit that does not fucking add up here, and WHY people are not demanding the immediate post-haste time-turning time-traveling yesterday-arrest of this asshole (really?? is this REALLY what this country needs? a bunch of paranoid white guys with GUNS driving around ignoring the police?) is beyond my ability to comprehend. I don't know--it seems so damn simple to me, so what's the problem??

I give all my tears and condolences to that family.
oh___princess 17th-Mar-2012 06:39 pm (UTC)
ALL of THIS, wrapped up in a sweet little justice pie for this kids family.

This Zimmerman guy needs to be tried immediately, as he's obviously guilty, and i would not weep if they gave him death penalty, I'm sorry. Someone with driving around with a gun is LOOKING for someone to shoot. How twisted is that? I cannot stand guns, i have no tolerance for them. I can't believe many states, mine included, is pushing for more lax gun laws, it's disgusting.
24_24_1_1526 17th-Mar-2012 04:15 am (UTC)
what's beyond sad is that if he does get arrested and goes to trial, he'll probably get a slap on the wrist. followed by a pat on the back "good job"
tiddlywinks103 17th-Mar-2012 04:31 am (UTC)
“Our investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color. I know I can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”

NO, IT FUCKING DOESN'T, WHEN YOU LIE TO MY FUCKING FACE.
maenads_dance 17th-Mar-2012 04:33 am (UTC)
The kid was on the ground begging for his life when Zimmerman shot him. I just... I can't bring myself to listen to the tapes, just read the transcripts.

I hope the Justice Department and FBI get involved.
mollywobbles867 17th-Mar-2012 04:40 am (UTC)
I can't find the transcript. Link?

Oh wait, I just realized the 911 tape they're talking about here isn't the one Zimmerman made.

Edited at 2012-03-17 04:41 am (UTC)
chimbleysweep 17th-Mar-2012 04:34 am (UTC)
If your first reaction to a situation where you are not being attacked is to violently lash out or SHOOT AND KILL, you need not be wandering around free.
nesmith 17th-Mar-2012 06:00 am (UTC)
Or at the barest minimum, you need not have any weaponry of any kind (as in not being allowed to own, possess, touch, be near, or carry any facsimile thereof). The most lethal thing you should be carrying is a shoulder blade.
apis_cerana 17th-Mar-2012 05:10 am (UTC)
Oh god. He was SEVENTEEN. Ffs, this is so fucked up.

“I just think that sometimes people get stereotyped, and I fit into the stereotype as the person who got shot.”I can't imagine feeling like that...the police are supposed to protect civilians, but I guess black people don't count as being civilians I guess? There is so much fuckery here, I can't even.
roseofjuly 17th-Mar-2012 05:18 am (UTC)
I just...I mean, it's not like this is anything new to black people anyway, as we've always been paranoid about our lives but especially our young men. But when this happens...it's pushed back in your face...I found myself thinking about my younger brother. He's 23, so quite a bit older than Trayvon, but still in that "young enough to be a threat" category. I wonder if he's heard about this story and what he thinks.
simplefaith08 17th-Mar-2012 05:22 am (UTC)
Nope, not going to listen. I have made it a rule of life that I don't listen to recordings of people before they die. The case itself already makes me want to cry for the poor family and just lock myself away so I can feel safe.

And you want to know what really pisses me off? I would literally bet every penny I owned on the fact that if this had been a Black man with a gun who shot a White teen out of "self defense," dude would be on death row right now and the news would talk about what a "great kid" the victim was, rather than repeating the "looked suspicious" claim over and over. And of course the man himself would be ridiculed and suddenly guns would be such a bad thing! That's why I automatically side-eye good-ol'-boy fuckers that go on and on about their right to own a gun; once the gun belongs to someone brown, oh, then it's dangerous.

I just...I'm seriously about to cry. I'm gonna go bake or something.
roseofjuly 17th-Mar-2012 05:23 am (UTC)
This news story makes me so deeply sad. I really hope they find this asshole and arrest him, and lock him up forever, but I know they won't because black boys' lives don't matter. So I just feel sad inside, and I worry about my brother.

I was talking to my SO about another story earlier and he said to me "Talking about thinking about this stuff, about all the blatant racism in the world...it depresses me, man. It makes me feel sad." I told him that it made me sad, too. I once burst out crying while watching a video for class about the deleterious health effects of racism on black Americans. And this story, this story made me really sad when I first read it and makes me sadder every time I hear about it.
othellia 17th-Mar-2012 05:29 am (UTC)
One of the most depressing things is that I live in Orlando and haven't heard anything about this in RL. Like the local news is buzzing with it, but not a peep from any of the people I know at work or at class.
pandaseal 17th-Mar-2012 05:43 am (UTC)
I don't have anything insightful to say. This is so fucked up.
ebay313 17th-Mar-2012 05:44 am (UTC)
I've read about this here before but I don't remember reading that he was originally considered a John Doe and his father reported him missing and it took a day before his father found out what happened. I can't imagine, that he was killed in that neighborhood and it took a day for his father to be notified. Is that normal? How horrible for his family.

illusivevenstar 17th-Mar-2012 05:45 am (UTC)
this monster needs to be off the streets. he will kill again.
effervescent 17th-Mar-2012 05:55 am (UTC)
I... So, the kid was yelling, and begging for help, and the guy shot and killed him.

I am trying to make sense of the mentality it takes to shoot and kill an unarmed person who is begging, and I just can't fathom it. It makes me feel sick. His poor family. I can't believe - well, I guess I can. But it still makes me sick that this isn't getting more attention.
kaelstra 17th-Mar-2012 06:16 am (UTC)
The 911 tape is heartbreaking. The kid is clearly screaming for help, and you never hear the man yelling. Then you hear the gunshot and...no more screaming. :( Why is his shooter walking free?
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