Monday, March 19, 2012

Unacceptable Vigilantism

When I saw what happened with Trayvon Martin it broke my heart. It broke my heart because it could have been my nephew, a 17 year old kid who has a pretty big appetite and known to make a stroll to the local store to get a snack. It broke my heart because it could have been me. Numerous times throughout my teen years I was approached asking why I was somewhere. As if something about me said that I shouldn’t be there. After hearing the case of young Trayvon it looks like I am one of the lucky ones.

What was this young man’s crime? What did he do that was so bad he was shot and killed like an animal? His big crime was being somewhere he didn’t belong apparently. You can hear it on the 911 tapes when self appointed neighborhood super cop George Zimmerman says “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about… These assholes always get away.” What assholes? Teenagers with a case of the munchies?

I can sit here and express disgust and some will still say “well Brian, you know you weren’t there.” “He could have been acting in a suspicious manner.” And you know what, that would be a fair point to bring up. But here are the facts, if you are so alarmed you call the police, why would you follow this young man? Why would you get out of your car and confront this young man? On the 911 tapes he says that Martin began to run. You know why he ran? Because a weirdo in a car was following him on his way back home!

I get protecting your home and neighborhood from people who wish to bring harm to you and your neighbors. But that doesn’t give you the right to execute a kid who weighed 100 pounds less than you and was armed with nothing but a bag of skittles and a can of tea. This wasn’t self defense. This was murder. And claiming it was self defense when you literally ran this kid down who was screaming for help is a joke. When things like this still happen in this day and age you feel helpless. You tell the younger guys don’t put yourself in situations where you are in danger, apparently getting a snack will have to be added to the list of dangerous situations.

My heart weeps for the family of this young man, by all accounts a very intelligent kid with a bright future who was forever silenced by an overzealous wannabe cop. I can only hope that this doesn’t happen again, and thank God everyday that as a skinny 17 year old myself I didn’t run across a George Zimmerman.

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