Last month, a 28-year-old man shot a 17-year-old high school student in Florida. The teen, Trayvon Martin, was unarmed. He was walking back to his dad’s home where he’d been watching basketball with his family. He’d run out to buy some candy for his brother.
George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old who considered himself a neighborhood watchman, was driving along when he spotted Trayvon. Some 20 minutes later, Trayvon was dead. Zimmerman admitted to police that he had shot and killed Trayvon. The police readily accepted Zimmerman’s claim that he acted in self-defense saying they had no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s statement.
The 911 calls have now been released. So has a statement from the witness who spoke to Trayvon by phone as Zimmerman followed him. They tell a different story. Zimmerman got out of his car to confront Trayvon, pulled his gun, and shot him. Witnesses heard crying and calls for help that stopped after the sound of a gunshot. Police found only a bag of candy and a can of iced tea in Trayvon’s pockets.
Still, no arrest. It will not surprise you to know that Trayvon is black. Zimmerman is not. And their town, like so many in America, has a history of racial tension and wounds.
So, what can people of conscience do? We can mourn for Trayvon, pray that his soul rests in peace, and pray for his family in their time of grief. And we must do more.
We must also press for justice in this case. We can sign the Change.org petition calling for an investigation and prosecution in this case. And we must do more.
We should echo the words of Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, “[W]e don’t want there to be another Trayvon.” Trayvon is not the first person to be killed simply for being a black man. If we want him to be the last, we need to figure out why the belief that a black male is dangerous permeates our culture. When we ask this question and search far and deep for the complex answer, we may then begin to ensure that there are no more black men who meet Trayvon’s fate.
This would be the very best way to honor Trayvon’s memory. This is the only way to make sure there aren’t any more deaths like Trayvon’s.