Home BGG2WL In Honor of Trayvon Martin

In Honor of Trayvon Martin

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I am crushed. Absolutely broken in spirit, right now. And terrified.

I’m not writing this post for awareness – it is my sincere hope that you are already aware of the person I’m referring to – but I do write it for solidarity.

A young boy – someone’s son – was walking, minding his business when he was followed in a car by someone serving a volunteer role as a community watchman. That volunteer community watchman got out of his car, approached the young boy and demanding authority that was not bestowed to him in any official capacity and attacked the boy when he wasn’t granted that authority. That same volunteer community watchman then shot that boy when he wasn’t given that authority.

I am not a Black man, and I cannot identify with their experiences with the police or authority figures in general. I may be able to identify with being hypersexualized no matter where I go, what I wear or how I behave… but I simply cannot identify with being harassed by police. In fact, I value police.

But we’re not talking about police. We’re talking about a volunteer community watchman – the community he volunteered to watch didn’t even think enough of his services to pay him for them. I’m incredibly familiar with gated communities. Even the cheapest ones know the importance of at least giving you an official position. He didn’t have a uniform. He didn’t have a badge. How the hell did he identify himself? “Freeze! Volunteer community watch official! Identify yourself!”

And that is where my concern comes in. What made a 25 year old man think he had the right to demand any special kind of authority from a young boy, to the point of shooting him at close range in order to finally get it? George Zimmerman wasn’t a police officer, had never been employed by any form of law enforcement, was considered a nuisance by the community he volunteered to “protect,” and even had his record expunged for battery against a police officer. He even lied about having a clean record at the scene of the crime when asked by police.

This is where I identify, here. As a woman, the thought that my child, my daughter, should be expected to obey any man on the street – because that’s who George Zimmerman was… any old regular ass man – and give him the authority he demands, lest she (or he, if I have more children) be shot to death and the killer never see the inside of a cell… if you can look yourself in the mirror, eye to eye and say that doesn’t terrify you, you should never have children.

And that’s just as a Mother. As a survivor of sexual violence? The thought that I, me, myself, me, I should be expected to obey any man on the street – because that’s who George Zimmerman was… any old regular ass man – and give him the authority he demands, lest I be shot to death on the street and my killer never see the inside of a cell… if you can look yourself in the mirror, eye to eye and say that doesn’t terrify you, you should never…what? Never leave your house?

I can’t lie. If I was in Trayvon’s situation? Ol’ dude might’ve never been able to reach for his weapon. I might’ve broken BOTH arms after I kicked him directly in the nuts. At least I’m honest. I’m a dirty fighter.

What message does this send our Country? What message does this send to people who have children who look like Trayvon, or people who identify with Trayvon? What message does this send to people who look like or identify with George Zimmerman? What message do the police send when they commit such grievous acts of impropriety?

But after the shooting, a source inside the police department told ABC News that a narcotics detective and not a homicide detective first approached Zimmerman. The detective pepppered Zimmerman with questions, the source said, rather than allow Zimmerman to tell his story. Questions can lead a witness, the source said.

Another officer corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.

The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.

The Sanford Police Department refused to release 911 calls by witnesses and neighbors.

Several of the calls, ABC News has learned, contain the sound of the single gunshot.

Lee publically admitted that officers accepted Zimmerman’s word at the scene that he had no police record.

Two days later during a meeting with Trayvon’s father Tracy Martin, an officer told the father that Zimmerman’s record was “squeaky clean.”

Yet public records showed that Zimmerman was charged with battery against on officer and resisting arrest in 2005, a charge which was later expunged.

Zimmerman has not responded to requests for a comment.

“I asked [the police] well did you check out my son’s record?” Tracy Martin told ABC News in an interview Sunday. “What about his?…Trayvon was innocent.”

You may choose to not sign the petition. You may not choose to call and call and call and call. But remember, this situation and its popularity sends the message that any “suspicious looking Black boy wearing a hood and walking slowly in the rain” that you know  – it could even be you… who among us doesn’t look “like a boy” when we wear a hood and walk slowly in the rain? – is up for being shot to death by any random stranger.

And, because of that, I stand in solidarity with everyone who believes this is an outrage, and that justice for Trayvon’s murderer must be meted out expeditiously. ASAPtually, actually. Because just as we deserve safety from “suspicious individuals walking our neighborhoods,” we deserve safety from vigilantes who use incredibly excessive force to demand levels of respect they don’t deserve. If laws need to change, then change them. If precedents need to be set, then set them. But there is no way this man, this volunteer community watchman, should be allowed to murder a young boy and then go home to pet his dog and watch TV as if nothing happened.

Our lives are worth more than that. And these people need to start acting like it.

Sound off, y’all. I’ve got to go hug my daughter.

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21 comments

BalancingJane March 16, 2012 - 10:18 AM

I keep looking up this story every day thinking, “surely he’s been arrested today. Surely this is all a mistake.” And every day I see that this murderer is still free, not even charged, and the facade of safety and justice gets pulled back a little more. This story breaks my heart. It breaks for Trayvon’s family. It breaks for that community. And it breaks for our society as a whole.

Evelyn March 23, 2012 - 11:40 AM

Jane, I couldn’t have said it any better myself…smh

JenJ March 16, 2012 - 10:19 AM

My brother is 19 and this story scares me. This could easily have been him. Is this 2012?? Seems like we are going back in time.

Tina F. March 16, 2012 - 11:07 AM

I’m so happy you have posted something on this story. I’m upset for two reasons about this story. 1. I’m upset that it even happened and 2. I’m upset because I live in Italy and for that same week, my email and FB page was inundated with petition after petition, video after video, post after post by other Americans to get rid of Joseph Kony for his criminal acts against children and here it happens in America, the guy goes and stays free and none of the people who flooded my page and email with Kony stuff never mentioned a word to me about this in efforts to sign a petition or even to be outraged.

This man, Zimmerman, has taken the life of a young boy. Period. End of story. That to me, is murder. Be it second-degree or manslaughter (and if argued correctly, it can be first-degree due to the the premeditated thought as indicated by the gun he had on him), it’s still murder and a death of a young boy. I’m outraged too because I’m about to give birth to a girl in May and this is the world she’s going to be born into. A world that has this police department vouching and doing everything they can to save Zimmerman, with the exception of asking him to join the force and giving him a metal of honor, but will place blame on a kid who had nothing on his record or his person except skittles and and an Arizona ice tea at the time of death and we’re to be ok with that? My question for anyone who can answer it is how can a young boy enter into a gated community without a code, a community-given id or something that allows entrance to them but not to those who do not live there? The mere fact he had entrance into a gated community either shows that he knows someone there or lives there. Not trying to say that Twin Oaks is without issue of theft or violence (obviously not violence, huh?) but it’s certainly not as violent or as filled with crime as other communities across the country.

I, for one, am NOT ok with this at all and I too stand in solidarity with those who are not ok with this and will do what they can to ensure justice comes to this family. *Sorry for the long post but I’m just so happy that I’m seeing this story discussed elsewhere other than what I can find and post on it.*

Jenny T March 16, 2012 - 11:27 AM

As a single blk mother of two teen-aged boys this saddens me and angers me at the same time. They wear nothing but hoodies this world is so scary. Prayers to the family

Tiffany March 16, 2012 - 11:37 AM

Everytime I see that picture of that smiling boy, tears well up in my eyes. His poor family. I, also am not a black man, but my brother is, my father was, and my male relatives are black men and it scares the sh*t out of me everytime I hear a stroy like this. How could he not have been arrested yet?!?!? He is just living his life with the knowledge that he killed an innocent child- yes at 17 Trayvon was still a child with his whole life ahead of him and this “volunteer” took that from him. I have signed the petition and will keep posting it on my FB page until this man is in jail. I cannot on a Friday morning…

Dawn Young March 16, 2012 - 3:11 PM

I am angry, outraged, and revolted. I am not black, but I am human and this is wrong! As a law student and a believer in the law to bring justice or least a chance for justice, I am baffled on how charges have not been filed yet. The real pressure needs to be put on the community that hold the power to reelect the prosecuting attorney in that county.

BFly March 16, 2012 - 4:39 PM

This story hurts me on many levels: as a woman of color, a mother, an aunt of several wonderful nephews, a sister of 2 beautiful black brothers, cousin & dear friend to many law-abiding, non-threatening black men and as a concerned citizen of the U.S and this world. A few of my nephews are teenagers, they all wear hoodies and none are a menace. Trayvon could’ve been any one of my nephews and in fact, shares the same name as one of my nephews so this sent chills directly up my spine & fury to my soul. This Zimmerman guy needs to get got (by the police) and put in his place (in a square, tight cell), never to see the light of day or feel the dark of night again. I can say so much about the state we are in and the many adaptations & compromises we (people of color) must constantly make, just to get by with peace of mind each day but I won’t even go there. I’ll just suffice it to say, in 2012, This shit is (still) cray!

Chuck March 16, 2012 - 9:56 PM

this story just disgusts me. The nerve. The bloody nerve. I just can’t. I am damn near tears when I think of this. For him to be free…to walk away?! What the hell….

jordyn March 16, 2012 - 10:13 PM

Ladies & gentleman this is the world that we live in smdh

I Am Your People March 17, 2012 - 4:59 AM

What broke my heart is they released the 911 call. Trayvon was shot once, heard screaming, then after a long pause is shot again. This darling little baby was murdered while getting his little brother some candy from the store. I don’t have kids but cried like he was my own son

Feliciamichelle March 17, 2012 - 6:41 PM

Modern day lynching.

Brianna Leigh March 17, 2012 - 7:09 PM

I don’t have anything insightful or meaningful to say. I’m just sad.

Trina March 17, 2012 - 7:29 PM

This was very disturbing as a mother I truly sympathize with his Mom. Words cannot express enough the emotions and feeling behind this horrible act. I give the family m deepest condolences. I’ve been following the case on the Michael Basden show. May god be with this family. And justice prevail.

Cassandra Lynch March 19, 2012 - 1:33 PM

The Legal definition of self defense: The protection of one’s person or property against some injury attempted by another. George Zimmerman claims he shot in self defense. My question is why are you defending yourself from someone who never attacked you? George Zimmerman attacked Trayvon Martin first, so the kid was defending himself and screaming for help from the person who claimed was defending himself? This is crazy and Zimmerman is Lying. How can you defend yourself from someone who was just walking through the neighborhood looking at the houses??? Here’s another question: Would you run from someone suspicious who got out of a car with a gun and started following you? The answer: Heck yeah!! Zimmerman was suspicious looking to the kid. He probably thought zimmerman was a psycho serial killer. I know I would’ve. Trayvon had no intention of being violent, so why is no one asking the question of why he was shot, and why Zimmerman claims he was defending himself when on the 911 calls the dispatcher said “do not follow him” so during the call he wasn’t being pursued he was the pursuer. How is that self defense?

Vee March 20, 2012 - 8:39 AM

My heartaches for Trayvon Martin’s family.

Curlstar March 24, 2012 - 9:18 AM

My opinion, Zimmerman has read way too many Batman comic books. This story makes my heart hurt because this kid who was walking with some candy felt threatened by a stranger who was following him. That stranger (Zimmerman), acting in a vigilante mindset as if he was in Gotham, didn’t even bother to understand that, even after the 911 dispatcher told him not to follow that kid. I have 2 very bright and intelligent young black boys. I want them to live in reality, not the fantasy world that people like Zimmerman live in. The judgmental mentality that man exercised on that kid was highly inappropriate. My heart goes out to Trayvon’s family.

Wayne March 24, 2012 - 1:13 PM

Erika,

I pray the family finally gets some comfort from their grief.

And then on to what you wrote.

Your reaction was to say you would kick the man in the groin and then break his arms. Before, he produced a gun or a threat.

You say that Zimmerman’s crime was being a man.

As a man, that is scary.

But, that is where America has gone. Men should be scared. America has gone totally crazy.

What Zimmerman did was wrong. On what level? I do not know. But, I find it chilling that everyone becomes a vigilante seeking vigilante justice.

And the justification for then ‘anger?’

Zimmerman was a man, and a vigilante.

I pray for God to heal America. But, it may be too late.

Wayne

Erika Nicole Kendall March 25, 2012 - 11:21 PM

Following me, chasing me, approaching me and then demanding my obedience? Pushing me? Demanding I give him information he’s not entitled to? Disrespecting my personal space?

Come on. THOSE are threats. Zimmerman approached him, pushed him, demanded his compliance. THOSE are crimes, assault being one of them. They may not present as threats to YOU, as a man, but as a woman those are threats to me because those are how acts of violence towards women begin. With disrespect and a blatant disregard for personal space. I’m just “standing my ground.” Apparently, that’s legal in Florida.

Stop trying to make this about YOU. “Men should be scared.” Yes, when you do the things Zimmerman did, you SHOULD be scared. Because Zimmerman could walk away unscathed, apparently Black boys should be scared. When it’s acceptable for strange men to walk up to people and demand compliance and obedience without apprehension, WOMEN should be scared. “Men should be scared.”

You should’ve BEEN scared. Welcome to our world.

christine February 4, 2013 - 3:29 PM

When this story first came out I hugged my son a little tighter, this could’ve easily have been him. He used to get stopped walking to school because he “fit the description”, I could see the hurt and frustration in his face. People would tell me you need to move..umm it wouldn’t matter where we moved our skin would still be brown.

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