By Lisa D’Souza
News reports and discussions about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin continue. The Sanford police have provided information about George Zimmerman’s statement to them. Zimmerman’s friend has spoken out on his behalf. This week, both The Diane Rehm Show and Talk of the Nation aired shows discussing the tragedy with experts and callers. With a federal investigation underway and the autopsy results still sealed, we will learn more as the days and weeks unfold.
Why was George Zimmerman suspicious of Trayvon Martin? What happened in the 20 minutes that elapsed between Zimmerman’s first seeing Martin and the shooting? How do Florida’s self defense and gun laws affect police decisions?
And the big question: what about race? Some have remembered the similarities between Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin’s deaths. President Obama encouraged us all to do some “soul searching” about not just this incident but the history and context in which it happened. In response, Newt Gingrich decried the insertion of race into the discussion of this case. When we can admit that black males are just over 6% of our nation’s population, and yet they are more than 40% of our murder victims (and this data likely doesn’t include the deaths of black men that are not prosecuted due to self-defense claims made by the killer), then we must acknowledge that a discussion of race, violence and criminal justice is long overdue.
It is good that one month after his death, we are still talking about Trayvon Martin. Let us hope that we remember him for a long time, and that his memory moves us to act so that his tragic and untimely death is the last one of its kind.