By NICK CHILES
While the furor over the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin continues to build, the release of the 911 tapes surrounding the case just add to my disgust over the fact that the police department in Sanford, Florida, has effectively endorsed the actions of the shooter, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, by saying they have no reason to arrest him.
The details that have been revealed show that Zimmerman was an armed and overzealous cop wannabe who felt his job was to rid the subdivision of suspicious young black men. With such a mindset, an altercation like the one that led to him blasting a hole in Trayvon’s chest was almost inevitable—especially in a neighborhood that was growing increasingly black.
As the outrage grows, I only hope it doesn’t let up until Zimmerman is behind bars. A spokesperson for the State Attorney’s Office in Seminole County, where Sanford is located, said the office website was so bombarded by emails demanding that it prosecute Zimmerman that its website had to be taken down for 45 minutes. The petition calling for Zimmerman’s arrest has garnered more than 355,000 signatures on the change.org site, and at one point signatures were pouring in at the rate of 10,000 an hour, according to the site.
The 911 tapes are bone-chilling because they captured the desperate, loud, moaning pleas of a boy who sounds like he’s begging for his life. Zimmerman claims that he was the one crying out—somehow even though he was holding a Kel Tek 9mm and pursuing a teenager, Zimmerman says he felt his own life was in danger. While I’m not a speech expert, when I listen to the tape the high-pitched voice I hear pleading and moaning sounds much more like a 17-year-old boy than a burly 28-year-old man. Witnesses in the subdivision say the same thing: they heard a boy begging for his life.
And when you simply parse the actions of Zimmerman before the shooting, each of the decisions he made led directly to the boy’s death. Firstly, and most importantly, he ignored the 911 dispatcher’s directive for him to stay in his car and not confront the “suspicious” boy because the police would take care of it.
This is where the entire case hinges. As a black man who’s been walking the streets of the U.S. for more than three decades, I’ve been followed by cops on many occasions. When I was a student at Yale, I used to get an escort home by the campus police almost nightly when they’d spot me strolling through the pristine New Haven campus after dark. It enraged me—sometimes I used to wonder what the police would do if I suddenly took off running back to my room. Of course I never did—hey, I wasn’t suicidal—but all kinds of crazy thoughts would race through my head. But here’s the thing: the police never got out of their car and confronted me. Because they knew that as long as they followed me, I was not going to commit any crimes and very soon it would become apparent where I was heading and what I was up to—as soon as I pulled out a key and made my way into my residential college/dorm, I was instantly transformed from a “suspicious” black guy into a student. If the idea was to keep the campus safe, confrontation wasn’t necessary. As soon as they get out of the car and approach me, they immediately change the nature of the affair—now there is a very real possibility of some kind of physical encounter, of something stupid happening.
That brings me back to George Zimmerman. His father says he’s half Hispanic, speaks Spanish, has plenty of black friends and couldn’t possibly be racist. Of course this is the same defense we always get in these cases—the “but I have black friends” plea. But this case isn’t really about who Zimmerman hung out with in high school or who’s around when he grabs a beer at the local bar. This is about a guy who has proclaimed on more than one occasion that his goal was to rid the neighborhood of black guys who were there to commit crimes. In a story in the Miami Herald, one 25-year-old black male resident said he was so afraid of Zimmerman’s overzealousness that he decided not to do his recreational walks in the subdivision after Zimmerman sent out emails saying he was intent on stopping black males who were committing crimes.
No, this doesn’t mean Zimmerman is a racist. But he’s certainly selective and discriminatory in his views of who are the criminals and “suspicious” characters in his neighborhood. Even if some burglaries have been committed by young black males over the years, does that justify this cop wannabe getting out of his car, carrying his semiautomatic weapon, and confronting every young black man he sees? Wouldn’t he be just as effective in preventing crimes if he kept his ass in the car and just followed the boy until his intent became clear?
During his call to the dispatcher on Feb. 26, Zimmerman reportedly said, “Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy at Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good.”
When he was told to stay in his car, Zimmerman resisted the idea because, he said, “These assholes always get away.”
Well, if Zimmerman continues to walk free after killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in cold blood, I think we can say the same thing about him.
1. Teenager Killed in Florida by Neighborhood Watch Brings Terror To My Heart
2. The Nation Is Watching: the Killer of Trayvon Martin MUST Be Arrested (UPDATE)
3. Another Black Boy, Another Senseless Murder When Will It Stop?
4. Black Boy Swagger, Black Mom Fear
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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I listened to the recording and he screams help at least twice. This bring tears to my eyes…as I face the reality that my own son has to live in a society that will not even “INVESTIGATE”. I am sadden for this family and their needless loss. This simply took my breath away as I listened to him scream for help…..I believe he’s still screaming and that we need to help.
Its called internalized racism: when a person who has been oppressed by racism acts out the same behavior at another person who is oppressed by racism. When someone of color believes there’s a “right” way to be “Hispanic” or Black or Asian or you name it… This incident is heart breaking on so many levels.
I know that the news is filled with more bad news than good. I hold on to the reality that there is in actuality more good news than bad; when push comes to shove, integrity, intelligence and just plain common sense always wins. We just don’t hear about it.
Not to say that the bad news shouldn’t be reported. We get to remember Trayvon Martin and how his precious life was taken far too early. And we get to work to make sure this madness stops!
This is very sad. I am confident that the FBI will investigate and bring all involved to justice including the Chief of Police.
When, when, WHEN is this crap going to stop???!!!!! It’s inhumane and unfair to target people simply because of their skin color. When the hell is this ever going to stop. It sickens me and embarrasses me as a human being. My heart goes out to that young man and his entire family. As for Zimmerman? I have no words. Justice needs to be served. I cannot fathom how that P.O.S. looks himself in the mirror every day after this despicable act. God help each and every one of us.
It’s a shame what happened to this young boy. I can see why Zimmerman would need a gun especially when he is intimidated by children just because of their color. He is just a coward who hides behind a gun. They should have IQ test before giving out guns. He wouldn’t have gotten a water pistol!I don’t like how his (Zimmerman) kind act but I certainly don’t feel i need to shoot them. What a shame. Hope he rots in jail!
The media is so one sided and people are falling for it. Trayvon was a 6′ 3″ almost 18 yr old young man. Most the pictures circulating are of him when he was 12 yrs old. The police had been dispatched to that ‘gated’ neighborhood over 400 times in the last 13 months. This is the second shooting and murder. Lastly, Zimmerman is hispanic not white as the media keeps claiming. It is a senseless tragedy for both families. But so was the murder of 10 ( youngest being 6 yrs old) and 40 injured by the gang shootout this week. But none of those children were white enough to cause a racist frenzy the media could latch on to. It sickens me how in 2012 the media puts racism in a headline and we flock like moths to a flame.
Zimmerman chased Trayvon till he came face to face to him. He NEVER walked to his car. He was sooo pissed off (hello 911 calls). What do you think he said when he confronted Trayvon? Hello young man, nice wheather were having? Give me a break. He started yelling at him. He started the fight period. I could care less if he a a swollen nose or a scratch on his head that doesn’t prove ANYTHING. He started the fight and they were both fighting each other than he shot him. The weird thing is Zimmerman is so messed up and paranoid he really thought Trayvon was a bad guy. He’s crazy!!! RIP Trayvon.
There was an alfred hitchcock movie I saw along time ago that reminds me of Zimmerman it freeks me out. This lady was sooo paranoid. She kept saying to hubby ” thats the man, thats him”. Then she drove by another guy and said” thats the man, thats him” Then her husband realized after killing the first man she was crazy. So sorry Trayvon. RIP.