As everyone watches this Trayvon Martin/ George Zimmerman trial, please note there will be a lot of inflammatory stuff said and revealed leading to a lot of emotion and discussion.. That of course is understandable.. However, we need to keep in mind.. this trial will be used by many in positions of power as a distraction.. So first and foremost, let’s be sure to keep our eyes and ears open for other things taking place..In other words pay close attention to new laws and policies that allow clamp down on our freedoms and even our rights to appeal…
That leads me to my second point.. we must remember George Zimmerman is not a police officer..He’s a guy who tried to act like one.. but he’s not an officer, thus the shooting of unarmed Black people every 28 hours by police as reported by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement doesn’t suddenly end with a Zimmerman conviction.. Him going to jail will not have a chilling effect on police officers. It will not change the way DAs mishandled police brutality cases. It will not handle the way judges come down on side of the police…
Remember the DA in this case prosecuting Zimmerman, Bernie de la Rionda was appointed by state attorney Angela Corey.. This is the same Ms Corey sent Marrisa Alexander to jail for 20 years for shooting a gun in the air to scare off husband who had a restraining order and was threatening to bet rid of Corey.. If anything it may make her a hero leading us forgetting she has dirty hands..
The bottom line is in the larger scheme of things Zimmerman is powerless. Yes, today with all the emotions surrounding this case, he symbolizes injustice and hopefully he’s convicted and punished. But again just like the OJ trial didn’t end police terrorism in LA or systemic racism in the department. A Zimmerman conviction will not change policies like Stop and Frisk or even Stand Your Ground..It wont stop the people and organizations like ALEC that are behind those laws.. It won’t change the attitude of police who we saw just last week in Florida who feel they have a right to choke 14 year old boy holding a puppy in front of his mother because they didn’t like the ‘dehumanizing’ look given to them..Read about that HERE.
This Zimmerman trial has the potential to be a stepping stone to major changes, but that’s only if we follow-up and don’t make the mistake of thinking the movement to end injustice ends with a Zimmerman conviction.
We talked with Michael Skolznik of Global Grind who is down in Sanford and in our conversation he noted that fortunately he has seen the political will of folks willing to step up and go beyond this trial. He noted that since Trayvon, there has been a lot of mobilizing around Stand Your Ground, and even though it’s not a defense being used by Zimmerman, folks were able to organize around the country stop any new Stand Your Ground laws from being passed.. That’s the first time this has happened in 8 years.
Skolznik also noted that this Trayvon case also helped spotlight the insidious nature of Stop and Frisk and that while it’s a law that’s still on the books, the procedure has been put on trial and work will continue to end it once and for all.. He also noted that he and many others have drawn courage from Trayvon’s family and that the commitment to honor them and their son is to remain involved above and beyond the outcomes of this trial.
This was a point also shared by Cephus Johnson aka Uncle Bobby who was the uncle to Oscar Grant a young unarmed man killed by police in Jan 2009. Uncle Bobby who is also in Sanford at the courthouse noted that the hardest challenge facing the family will be the constant dehumanization of their son. It’s what the Grant family had to endure and its an overriding problem facing Black people in general. This climate of fear and suspicion has had deadly consequences and national dialogue about reversing these types of perceptions is surely needed. He noted that the movie ‘Fruitvale’ which will be coming out while this trial is unfolding will be important because it will help remind us that Trayvon like Oscar Grant was a human being who was dearly loved by his family and the community.
Lastly we should be pushing to hold media outlets accountable or at least start redirecting our attention to outlets that give us a fairer shake.. Remember many outlets minimized Zimmerman’s criminal past including his domestic violence issues but ran to the goal line on Trayvon being suspended for holding an empty weed bag.. Trayvon hadn’t been in trouble with the law like Zimmerman…Remember a Zimmerman conviction doesn’t get fools like Geraldo Rivera, who accused hoodie wearers as thugs, off the air.
Also many media outlets while reporting on Zimmerman refused to connect the dots to larger issues. Very few made the connection of Zimmerman being a vigilante killer to the rash of vigilante killings directed at Brown folks going on at our borders. This toxic climate of killing those we deem ‘un American and threatening was ignored..Heck very few even connected the vigilante killing by Zimmerman to the rash of killings that took place in New Orleans after Katrina.
Even more egregious is many outlets while rallying up the masses around the murder of Trayvon and how unarmed Black men were unfairly being killed, those same outlets and pundits refused to bring to light the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report which came out in the wake of Trayvon being killed and showed how pervasive such killings were happening.. At the time many were fearful that discussions that brought up the police would anger Police Unions and thus have impact on 2012 elections.. Well November is behind us there should be no excuse for ignoring that report now..
There are some hard conversations around Race, racial profiling and the overall disregard and disrespect for Black life.. As this trial unfolds, lets step to the plate and have them. Let’s push for real change to improve our lot no matter what goes down with George Zimmerman.