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.