Trayvon Martin died. George Zimmerman killed him and got away with it. A part of coming to terms with this is starting from the place of great sadness that a black child is dead, and from a place of outrage that the law favored the wannabe vigilante against the unarmed kid. Assist from Florida’s awful stand your ground law, and hockey assist from the NRA and right-wing policy shop ALEC.
I’m not surprised. The cynic in me wonders “what in the history of America suggested otherwise?” Don’t have look too hard (see Chin, Vincent and countless others). Some perspective from the New Yorker:
There’s fear that the verdict will embolden vigilantes, but that need not be the concern: history has already done that. You don’t have to recall specifics of everything that has transpired in Florida over the past two hundred years to recognize this.
If anything, the verdict is a confirmation of the still-kicking institutionalized racism pervasive in American government. And the murder is a reminder that racial profiling kills.
We did a profile a few months back of the Miami Heat’s well publicized hoodie photo and it’s not surprising that athletes, black and otherwise, are pissed. Dave Zirin has a great summary of the reactions on Twitter, worth checking out and has an interesting observation about the lack of celebration seen by right-leaning athletes:
There were many others: some preaching calm, others disgust, others fury. But interestingly, even though there are a lot of right-wing athletes, I couldn’t find evidence of the horrific gloating seen in the darkest recesses of social media, not to mention Zimmerman’s defense attorney following the verdict. That speaks, in my mind, to the fact that even the most right-wing, white-survivalist, gun-loving player shares a more integrated existence in the locker room than many do in their daily lives. Once you see someone as a human being and not as an avatar of a predator, it’s damn hard to accept the word of this jury that they are disposable [emphasis mine]
Contrast that with the defense team’s shameless celebrating. Also not surprising, given that the defense’s character assassination of Martin (necessary if you’re going to argue that the kid deserved to die). I’m loathe to quote from Jason Whitlock (of Jeremy Lin penis joke infamy – he did apologize) but I thought this summed it up well:
Mark O’Mara needs to shut up Don West. West is doing an inappropriate end zone dance and there’s a dead kid.
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) July 14, 2013
Here’s some choice quotes collected from the day from a number of pro athletes on the topic:
America[‘s] justice system is a joke. — Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) July 14, 2013
Who really failed here? The prosecution? The jury? No. The laws in the state of FL failed. Be constructive in response. Focus on change. — Scott Fujita (@sfujita55) July 14, 2013
So my phone dies, and I come back to learn that our legal system isn’t the same as justice. Color me shocked. #waitdontcolormeillgetshot
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) July 14, 2013
For all the folks insisting that Zimmerman is Hispanic. So the case doesn’t fit neatly in the black-white paradigm (proving what exactly?). Though I do think at the end of the day it IS a racial issue…
White black or Zimmerman. This isn’t a racial issue. This is about a man seeking out a child and murdering him. I am black I am white — Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) July 14, 2013
Warriors get in the act:
Sad day for the justice system but more importantly trayvon’s family. Unbelievable. — Klay Thompson (@TeamKlay) July 14, 2013
Watched a lot of the case…though[t] manslaughter was a definite! Thinking about everyone involved especially the Martin family
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) July 14, 2013
There’s also some of the “reaction to the reaction” that’s setting people off. Props to Dave Zirin for standing up for the basic right to be pissed. Come on people, tweeting and talking about reacting with anger (and yes, violence) is a far cry from killing a kid. That’s cable news fake equivalence.
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) July 14, 2013
So what next? At Picked Last we’ll take a closer look at stand your ground laws the next few days and there’s news of other legal proceedings. Really though, there are times to just hit the streets.
Find a list of demonstrations and gatherings in your city courtesy of Occupy Wall Street.
See you in the streets.