Racist gun dealer selling Trayvon Martin shooting targets


The attorney for George Zimmerman says he’s disgusted by the Trayvon Martin-inspired targets that recently surfaced for sale on a gun website.

“This is the highest level of disgust and the lowest level of civility,” Mark O’Mara told WKMG Local 6, a CNN affiliate in Florida.

“It’s this type of hatred – that’s what this is, it’s hate-mongering – that’s going to make it more difficult to try this case.”

The paper targets to which O’Mara was referring feature black hoodies with crosshairs stamped across the chest, and images of Skittles and a can of iced tea printed near the pocket.

Local 6 first spotted the ad for the targets on a firearms auction website and reports that it has since been pulled.

The station spoke to an anonymous person who claimed to be the one hawking the prints.

“My main motivation was to make money off the controversy,” the seller told Local 6.

The prints were sold in packs of 10 for $8.

“The response is overwhelming,” the seller told Local 6. “I sold out in two days.”

While the seller wouldn’t confirm how many printed targets were made or sold, he did say that some were sold to Florida gun dealers.

In the ad, the seller states that “obviously we support Zimmerman and believe he is innocent and that he shot a thug.”

The tasteless targets were inspired by the death of 17-year-old Martin, the unarmed Florida teen who was shot dead by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, on Feb. 26. His death sparked an uproar across the United States, and a national debate about racial profiling.Martin, who was shot in the chest, was wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles and the drink before his fatal interaction with Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla.

Trayvon Martin’s father says he warned son about stereotypes


Years before the killing of Trayvon Martin grabbed the nation’s attention, the teen’s father warned him that his race could make him a target of violence.

The advice Tracy Martin gave his black son, that people veiled by racism and prejudices might see him as suspicious or violent, is a common and continuous warning in many black families, parents and experts say. In the aftermath of Trayvon’s death, more families are having “the talk,” teaching sons to be aware of their race, avoid confrontations with authority figures, and to remain calm in situations even if their rights are violated.

“I’ve always let him know we as African Americans get stereotyped,” Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father told USA TODAY three weeks after his son’s death. “I told him that society is cruel.”

Trayvon, 17, was shot and killed on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., as he was returning to a gated community after buying candy at a nearby store. The gunman, George Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, now faces a charge of second-degree murder.

Trayvon was “profiled” by Zimmerman, who “falsely assumed (Trayvon) was going to commit a crime” as the teen was trying to get back to the home of his father’s girlfriend, according to public filings by Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey. The documents portray Zimmerman as the aggressor throughout the incident, remarking to police at one point that people like Trayvon were “punks” causing trouble in his neighborhood.

After spotting Trayvon, Zimmerman called 911, got out of his vehicle, and followed the teen. Zimmerman then “disregarded the police dispatcher” and chased Trayvon as he was trying to return home, the records say.

Trayvon’s family and their supporters maintain that Zimmerman deemed Trayvon “suspicious” because the teen was black and wearing a hoodie.

Zimmerman could face life in prison if convicted. He maintains he shot the youth in self-defense after he was attacked.

The killing sparked dozens of rallies across the country, largely fueled by the belief of many that the case is the tip of the iceberg of a glaring problem of racial injustice in the USA.

Reggie Bridges, a father of two young black boys, sees the Trayvon Martin case as an example of the type of racial profiling he has warned his sons about for years.

“You stand out from the norm,” Bridges, of Silver Spring, Md., said he often tells his children. “I try to heighten their awareness of what’s going on in the world.”

Bridges, 44, an insurance agent, often stresses dressing nicely and speaking articulately to dissuade potential perceptions that his boys are thugs or gangsters, he said.

Similar lessons have been passed down since just after the Civil War to ward off danger in an America that has for centuries perceived black men as threats, said Mark Anthony Neal, an African and African-American studies professor at Duke University.

“This kind of parenting goes back to the black codes,” he said. “It’s no different to the talk black parents had with black children, particularly black boys, prior to the civil rights movement, where the threat of real racial violence and lynching was always present. … Ultimately, what you are trying to do is keep them alive.”

Discussing racism with a child while not instilling fear or paranoia can be a delicate task. Those delivering the message — parents, extended family members, mentors or other older figures in communities — must be careful to also affirm blackness, experts say.

“Watch out should be accompanied with you’re beautiful and here’s why,” said Howard Stevenson, a psychology and education professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

It’s not enough to tell stories about Emmett Till or Rodney King to youngsters, said Stevenson, who has studied the racial awareness of children of color for several years. Kids must deal with their racial stress by understanding their feelings and practicing positive responses to potential racist situations, he said.

Dionne Bensonsmith, 40, of Claremont, Calif., started talking to her first son, Jonah, now 8, about race when he was 5 and 6. The youngster had already started saying “all police aren’t your friends” and pointing out that officers stopped a lot of black people in their small Iowa city, she said.

“I had the talk of how police target people around race,” said Bensonsmith, a professor at Scripps College. “I said if that ever happens to you, you have to remain respectful, you have to remain very calm.”

She and many parents see “the talk” as evolving lessons on racial consciousness that will cover more topics as children grow. But there are challenges to teaching kids to live within racial injustices.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” said Bensonsmith, who also has another son, Akim Shklyaro, 2. “Sometimes I get really pissed off. Sometimes I don’t want to do it. I feel like I’m crushing some sort of potential in him.”

“The talk” is one of several tips parents of all races hope will prepare and protect their children from danger, according to Gerald Koocher, a psychology professor at Simmons College.

“The talk is probably going to be surprising to white Americans,” he said. “The one that most closely aligns is don’t take candy from a stranger or don’t go anywhere with a stranger.”

When Steve Baker, who is white, decided to talk to his two half-black sons, now 25 and 20, he admits he struggled to understand their place in society. He relied on his black wife, Pamela, and friends he made through an interracial family group to learn about what his sons may encounter.

“There are certainly instances where they were identified by simply what they look like and perceived as a threat and ran into negative behavior based on that,” said Baker, a university administrator who lives in Minneapolis. “There’s real danger for young men of color in our society. … As a white person, I didn’t grow up having to think about that.”

Others also struggled. Trayvon’s case led Melinda Anderson to talk to her son Colin, 11. Both are black.

Anderson had focused on making sure her son was successful in school and exposed to various cultures. Race wasn’t at the forefront of her mind until Trayvon’s case made her see her son as a potential victim. She took Colin to a Trayvon rally in Washington, D.C., and explained how she believes race played a part in Trayvon being deemed “suspicious.”

But, she’s not teaching him to fear the police or expect racism at every step in his life, said Anderson, 48, a writer who lives in Silver Spring, Md.

“I don’t want to raise him to feel like he has to get out his 20 item checklist on how to be a black teenager,” she said. “That’s not the way I want him to live.”

Still, she said, there is a sense of hopelessness as she learns more about Trayvon’s death.

“I don’t think I could prevent him from being another Trayvon Martin,” she said.

Tracy Martin, who maintains that his son was targeted because of his race, said he told the teen prejudices could lead to danger.

“He knew that this type of thing did happen,” Martin said of his son. “He knew to be aware of this type of atmosphere and that this atmosphere did exist.”

Prosecutor Corey Announce Charges Against Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin Death


On Wednesday afternoon, special prosecutor Angela Corey announced the charges against George Zimmerman, 28, in the Feb. 26 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Corey would not discuss how she arrived at the charges or disclose other details of her investigation, saying: “That’s why we try cases in court.”

The neighborhood watch volunteer was arrested and charged with second-degree murder after months of mounting tensions and protests. Zimmerman, 28, could face life in prison if convicted in the unarmed black teenager’s death.

Racist Trayvon Martin sign spotted outside of Detroit



DEARBORN, Mich. – Michigan State Police and Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials are trying to determine how an electronic road was changed to display a racist message about Trayvon Martin. The sign, which was located along I-94, at the border of Detroit and Dearborn, said “Trayvon is a Ni**er” and was discovered just before 1 a.m. on Monday morning.

“We were first notified at about 12:05 a.m. of the inappropriate message,” said Rob Morosi, an MDOT spokesman, “Immediately, we dispatched crews to verify that the message had been changed, and it was removed by 12:45 a.m. and replaced with the proper message.

Morosi said that someone hacked into a portable electronic sign that was attached to a trailer and was able to change the message. He said that the person who changed it was able to access the password controls to make the quick change.

“The sign is there as part of a big project we have at the I-94/M-39 interchange,” Morosi said. “Calls were coming in from motorists who were shocked, disturbed and every emotion you can imagine. The portable sign has a panel that was broken into. The message was changed and the keyboard was actually stolen.”

There is an investigation pending, and Michigan State Police will check surveillance footage to see how the sign was hacked and by who. Sign pranks like this are often common at this time of year, with many of them harmlessly referencing aliens, UFOs, or Santa Claus. This was a case where a “computer savvy” individual was able to spread a hate-filled message.

“We’ve had instances before where we’ve had some quirky messages regarding aliens and goblins,” Morosi said. “But rarely anything to this level of hatred that was depicted.”
This is the second such incident involving racial slurs on a digital MDOT sign in a year.

On April 8, 2011, an MDOT sign in Ypsilanti, near Eastern Michigan University, was hacked and the message “God Hates Ni**ers” was displayed for hours before authorities removed it.

This incident also comes days after someone spray-painted “Long Live Zimmerman” on the Hale Black Cultural Center at Ohio State University. That incident led to demonstrations by black students at Ohio State over the weekend.

Morosi applauded the efforts of MDOT workers and their quick response to remove the slur from the sign considering the time of night and that most workers were off for the Easter holiday. He noted that better safeguards will be put in place to prevent things like this from happening in the future.

“We hope that people understand that message boards are meant to be a public service warning drivers about upcoming work zones, closed ramps and things of that nature,” Morosi said. “We hope people are as offended by it as we were.”

Trayvon racial divide: Three out of four black Americans believe Zimmerman would have been arrested if victim was white

link to article


A poll has revealed Americans are sharply divided by race over the killing of black teen Trayvon Martin by a Hispanic neighbourhood watchman.

Nearly three-quarters of black Americans (73 per cent) think shooter George Zimmerman would have been arrested if the teen had been white.

Yet just a third of non-Hispanic white people agreed, according to the poll conducted by Gallup and USA Today this week.


More than half of black people said Zimmerman is ‘definitely guilty’ based on the information available, compared to only 10 per cent of whites.

The divide comes as questions remain over Zimmerman’s actions against Trayvon in Sanford, Florida where the teen was visiting family.

The neighbourhood watchman, 28, claims he followed the youngster as he looked suspicious and was forced to used his gun in self-defense.

But Trayvon’s defenders claim he was hounded by Zimmerman, who killed him in an incident of racially-motivated vigilante policing.

Sandford police released Zimmerman without charges under the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law which allows the use of a deadly force when there appears to be a threat to one’s life. Trayvon had been unarmed.

In the poll, 21 per cent of both white and black people said Zimmerman was ‘probably guilty’.

Black people have been paying closer attention to the case, which many believe signals the racial bias within the police.

More than half (52 per cent) of blacks have been following the story ‘very closely’, compared to 19 per cent of non-blacks.

Forty-nine per cent of non-blacks believe the youth’s race did not play a factor in the shooting, compared to just 20 per cent of black respondents.

In addition, nearly three-quarters of black people said race played a ‘major role’ in the shooting compared to 31 per cent of non-blacks.

Just eight per cent of black people said race played no role, compared to a quarter of white people.

The survey results were taken from the USA Today/Gallop poll which was conducted between April 2 and April 4.

It quizzed 3,006 Americans, including 242 black people.

The results matched earlier findings by the Pew Research Center which found opinions on the media coverage of the case were sharply divided.

Sixteen per cent of people who said there was too much coverage of the death were black, while 43 per cent were white.


How closely are you following the news about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin?

Very closely: 52 per cent blacks; 19 per cent non-blacks

Not too closely/Not at all: 19 per cent blacks; 40 per cent non-blacks

Is George Zimmerman guilty of a crime?

Definitely guilty: 51 per cent blacks; 11 per cent non-blacks

Probably guilty: 21 per cent blacks; 21 per cent non-blacks

How much of a factor did racial bias play in the shooting and the lead up to the shooting?

Major factor: 72 per cent blacks; 31 per cent non-blacks

Minor factor: 13 per cent blacks; 26 per cent non-blacks

Not a factor: 8 per cent blacks; 25 per cent non-blacks

Would Zimmerman have been arrested if person he shot was white?

Yes: 73 per cent blacks; 35 per cent non-blacks

Race did not make a difference: 20 per cent blacks; 49 per cent non-blacks

Source: Gallup/USA Today

Californian Trayvon: Cops gun down unarmed black teen

link to article



A second shooting of an unarmed African American youth by US police is fueling suspicion of institutionalized prejudice in the force and threatening social unrest across American suburbs.

A 9-11 call claiming an armed robbery had taken place sent Pasadena police in chase of armed suspects. They followed two young men without deploying their police sirens. Two officers eventually opened fire on the youths, killing Kendrec McDade, a 19-year year-old Citrus College student, who cops claim had moved his hand towards his waistband.

McDade, a stand-out football player for the Azusa High School Aztecs, was unarmed yet died in hospital of multiple police gunshot wounds.

Local man Oscar Carillo, who placed the 9-11 call, admitted under questioning he had lied to police that the suspects were armed to generate a faster response, after McDade’s 17-yr old companion had broken into his car. The 17-yr-old has a criminal record of burglary, grand theft and failing to register as a gang member. Carillo is now charged with involuntary manslaughter by the trigger happy police.


‘Black men become targets of violence’

The Trayvon Martin affair , following the killing of an unarmed 17 yr old African American by a neighborhood watch coordinator, has put the conduct of US security forces and laws supporting them under intense scrutiny.

Civil activists and McDade’s family and supporters have been calling for a thorough investigation and justice for the teen.

Some have drawn parallels with the Trayvon Martin case.

They were young black men who are, when the situation comes up, targets of violence,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles policeroundtable, was quoted by The Daily Beast as saying.

Hutchinson also noted that the responsibility for McDade’s death should lie on Carillo, as he overstated the possible danger the two teens posed.

I think Carrillo owns a great deal of culpability,” Hutchinson said. “If he hadn’t lied, Kendrec McDade would most likely be alive. They should throw the book at him.

Others also blame the police officers who did not give warning shots or flash lights at McDade.

There’s just no way I can fathom the police not telling him ‘Stop, halt, you’re under arrest’” said Michael A. Gordon, leader of the Pasadena Community Coalition.

Neighborhood activist William Greer said the community was ready to go up in smoke because of the actions of the police officers.

The police department’s job is to serve and protect,” he noted. “They just can’t go around shooting people. It is the wild wild west here in northwest Pasadena.

Top officials and activists: Don’t jump to conclusions

Top Pasadena officials and some civil rights groups activists have called on the public not to jump to conclusions, and to the let the investigation take its course.

I ask everyone to be patient as we go out and get the facts,” said Pasadena council member Victor Gordo. He was seconded by Mayor Bill Bogaard, who also asked the public not to jump to conclusions.

Insisting on justice is different than doing a rush to judgment,” said Los Angeles civil rights activist Connie Rice. “You don’t want a rush to judgment. You want the facts collected first. Let justice speak.”

Although the cases of Trayvon Martin and Kendrec McDade appear to be similar on the surface, there are significant differences between the two. What does make them similar is the fact that both victims were black teenagers suspected of being involved in criminal activity.

Pasadena police lieutenant Phlunte Riddle notes that in Martin’s case, the teen was shot by a neighborhood watch captain on his way back home, while in McDade’s case he was killed by the police after allegedly committing a crime with his accomplice.

This wasn’t any type of profile, looking for someone of color,” Riddle said. “This was a response to an armed robbery that had just occurred with a full description. That is significantly different than the Florida case. The officers are extremely upset. They believed their lives were in danger.

Trayvon Martin case: Screams on 911 tape aren’t George Zimmerman’s: experts

2 Forensic experts say screams captured on neighbor’s 911 call don’t match Zimmerman’s voice: report

The panicked cries for help caught on a 911 call the night Trayvon Martin was killed were not coming from shooter George Zimmerman, forensic experts say.

Two leading forensic voice identification experts who listened to a 911 call from a neighbor at the Sanford, Fla., gated community where Martin was gunned down told the Orlando Sentinel that the screams didn’t match Zimmerman’s voice.

Using sophisticated voice match software, Tom Owen, forensic consultant for Owen Forensic Services LLC and chair emeritus for the American Board of Recorded Evidence, told the Sentinel that there was only a 48% chance that it was Zimmerman crying for help on the tape.

Usually, a positive match rates higher than 90%.

“As a result of that, you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it’s not Zimmerman,” Owen said.


Owen, the former chief engineer for the New York Public Library’s Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, also said he couldn’t be sure that the voice was Martin’s because he didn’t have a sample of the teen’s voice.

But a second audio sleuth said he heard the teen screaming for his life.

“I believe that’s Trayvon Martin in the background, without a doubt,” Ed Primeau, an audio engineer and forensics expert from Michigan, told the Sentinel.


Primeau didn’t use Owen’s CSI-style voice analysis software, but instead relied on audio enhancement and his own well-trained ear to compare the screams to Zimmerman’s voice on a 911 call he made shortly before the killing.

“That’s a young man screaming,” Primeau said.


The experts’ analyses were the latest blow to claims from Zimmerman’s camp that he shot Trayvon in self-defense during a life-and-death struggle on Feb. 26.

Last week, a Miami funeral director said Marin’s body showed no signs of a brawl, and EMS documents obtained by the Daily News suggested the 28-year-old insurance agent didn’t sustain any injuries either in the alleged dust-up.

Zimmerman’s friends have said that the volunteer watchman suffered a broken nose and wounds on the back of his head during a fight with Trayvon.

But police station video shot shortly after the killing appeared to show Zimmerman without any bruises, cuts or blood stains on his clothes.

Zimmerman has not been arrested and has gone into hiding.

On Saturday, thousands of people marched through Sanford to protest his freedom.

New police video casts doubt on George Zimmerman injuries

George Zimmerman appears uninjured in a police video taken after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s attorney said that his client had a broken nose and an injury to the back of his head.

By Associated Press / March 29, 2012


A security video that shows neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman being led in handcuffs from a police car after he fatally shot Trayvon Martin is adding to the debate over whether the shooting was a case of self-defense.

An attorney for the teen’s family said it looks to him that Zimmerman doesn’t have injuries to his face and head in the video as Zimmerman’s supporters have described.

Zimmerman told police he fired in self-defense and he was not arrested, touching off widespread public outrage and protests across the country. Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner, has said in more than one interview that his client’s nose was broken during the fight with Martin.

Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern on Wednesday confirmed that the video being shown by ABC News is of Zimmerman. The 28-year-old’s head and face are visible throughout and he is dressed in a red and black fleece jacket. Police are shown frisking Zimmerman whose hands were handcuffed behind his back. They then lead him into a police station.

“This certainly doesn’t look like a man who police said had his nose broken and his head repeatedly smashed into the sidewalk,” Ben Crump, an attorney for Martin’s family, said in a statement. “George Zimmerman has no apparent injuries in this video, which dramatically contradicts his version of the events of February 26.”

Zimmerman said that on Feb. 26, he was pursuing the 17-year-old Martin, who was not armed, because the teen was acting suspiciously. He said he lost sight of the black teenager and Martin attacked him as he headed back to his sport utility vehicle. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Hispanic.

n an interview with Orlando station WOFL FOX 35 that aired Wednesday night, Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, said that despite dispatchers telling his son to stop following Martin, he kept going so he could get an address for police to check. He said his son was suspicious because of several break-ins and thought it was strange for someone to be walking between the town homes on a rainy night.

The Orlando Sentinel, citing anonymous sources, has reported that Martin grabbed Zimmerman’s head and banged it several times against the sidewalk. A statement from Sanford police said the newspaper’s story was “consistent” with evidence turned over to prosecutors.

Sonner said the gash on the back of Zimmerman’s head probably was serious enough for stitches, but he waited too long for treatment so the wound was already healing. Miguel Meza, who identified himself as Zimmerman’s cousin, said Zimmerman was in “the fight of his life.”

Sonner did not immediately return an after-hours call to his office Wednesday.

Crump called the video “riveting” and “icing on the cake” that Zimmerman should be held accountable for what happened.

Since the shooting, Zimmerman’s supporters say he’s gone into hiding and that he and his family have gotten death threats.

Martin’s supporters, including a host of outspoken celebrities and civil rights leaders who have appeared on television for the past two weeks, don’t believe Zimmerman’s story. They want him arrested and prosecuted.

link to article

A Sanford, Fla., police video shows George Zimmerman, apparently uninjured, a few hours he was taken into custody following the Feb. 26, 2012 fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin.


What Everyone Needs To Know About The Smear Campaign Against Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)

By Judd Legum on Mar 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm


Over the last 48 hours, there has been a sustained effort to smear Trayvon Martin, the 17-year old African-American who was shot dead by George Zimmerman a month ago. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said, “They killed my son, now they’re trying to kill his reputation.”

Thus far these attacks have fallen into two categories: false and irrelevant. Much of this leaked information seems intended to play into stereotypes about young African-American males. Here’s what everyone should know:

1. Prominent conservative websites published fake photos of Martin. Twitchy, a new website run by prominent conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, promoted a photo — purportedly from Martin’s Facebook page — that shows Martin in saggy pants and flipping the bird. The photo, which spread quickly on conservative websites and Twitter, is intended to paint Martin as a thug. As Twitchy later acknowledged, it is not a photo of Trayvon Martin. [Examiner]

2. The Sanford Police selectively leaked irrelevant, negative information about Martin. The authorities told the Orlando Sentinel this morning that Trayvon was suspended from school for ten days “after being found with an empty marijuana baggie.” There is no evidence that Martin was under the influence of drugs at the time of his death, nor would prior possession of marijuana be a reason for killing him. It’s unclear what the relevance of the leak was, other than to smear Martin. [Orlando Sentinel]

3. On Fox News, Geraldo said that Martin was dressed “like a wannabe gangster.” Bill O’Reilly agreed with him. The sole evidence is that Martin was wearing a hoodie. Geraldo added that “everyone that ever stuck up a convenience store” was wearing a hoodie. [ThinkProgress; The Blaze]

4. Without any evidence, prominent right-wing bloggers suggested that Martin was a drug dealer. Right-wing blogger Dan Riehl advances the theory, also advanced in a widely linked peice on a site called Wagist. There does not appear to be any evidence to support this claim whatsoever. [Riehl World View]

5. Without any evidence, a right-wing columnist alleged that Martin assaulted a bus driver. Unlike Zimmerman, Trayvon has no documented history of violence. This allegation continues to be advanced by a blogger on the Examiner even after the real reason was leaked to the police and confirmed by the family. [Miami Herald; Examiner]

6. Zimmerman’s friend says Martin was to blame because he was disrespectful to Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s friend Joe Oliver said that Martin would not have been shot to death if Trayvon had just said “I’m staying with my parents.” Of course, Zimmerman was not a police officer, and Trayvon had no duty to tell him who he was or where he was going. [NBC News]

The final part of the effort to smear Trayvon Martin is to link him and his supporters to irresponsible fringe groups like the New Black Panthers and marginal provocateurs like Louis Farrakhan. Threats by these groups are serious and should be investigated, but they have nothing to do with Martin or his supporters. The leader of the effort to associate Martin with these groups is Matt Drudge. You can see how he is framing the story today here.

Ultimately, whether Martin was a perfect person is irrelevant to whether Zimmerman’s conduct that night was justified. Clearly, there are two different versions of the events that transpired on February 26, the night Trayvon was killed. There are conflicting statements by witnesses and conflicting evidence as to who was the aggressor. Zimmerman has the right to tell his side of the story. But his opportunity to do this will come in a court of law after he is charged and arrested. In the meantime, Zimmerman’s supporters should stop trying to smear the reputation of a dead, 17-year-old boy.


NOPD officer suspended over Trayvon Martin comments on WWLTV.com

looks like racists are showing thier colours in reaction to the murder of unarmed black teenage Trayvon Martin

link to article


Mike Perlstein and Web Staff / Eyewitness News
Email: mperlstein@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mperlstein

The New Orleans Police Department has launched an investigation of an officer and suspended him without pay for comments he posted online in response to a WWLTV.com story.

Jason Giroir is the subject of a new probe by the Public Integrity Bureau after a person who identifies himself as an NOPD  employee by that name made online comments about the killing of Trayvon Martin.

“A little over two hours ago I learned about internet comments attributed to Officer Jason Giroir, including in those comments was that he was a member of the NOPD, which have caused me great concern concerning his fitness for duty,” said Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

Giroir was suspended indefinitely and without pay, according to Superintendent Ronal Serpas, who added that he asked Chief Arlinda Westbrook of the Public Integrity Bureau to conduct an internal investigation.

Serpas said he was “furious” about the allegations and he said that Giroir has embarrassed the police department. He called the comments “hurtful” and “insensitive.”

“To say that I’m angry is an understatement,” said Serpas. “Let me be clear: the hardworking men and women of the NOPD do not condone such statements.”

Giroir was already assigned to desk duty for a previous investigation of the traffic stop that led to a fatal shootout which left Justin Sipp dead and two officers wounded on Mar. 1 in Mid-City. Giroir  pulled over brothers Justin and Earl Sipp for a traffic violation on March 1, and a shootout erupted after two officers were called to the scene to back up Giroir.

The WWLTV.com story about local reaction to the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida at the hands of a neighborhood watchman sparked several incendiary comments – including remarks from a Facebook commenter who is named Jason Giroir.

“Act like a Thug Die like one!” says the comment under name Jason Giroir.  The comment refers to the controversy surrounding the hooded sweatshirt Martin was reportedly wearing when he was gunned down.  Activists across the nation have taken to wearing hoodies as a sign of solidarity with Martin’s family and against racial profiling.

Jason Giroir’s Facebook profile says that he is from Chalmette, went to Chalmette High School and lives in Covington.

Jason Giroir’s “thug” comment sparked a strong reaction from another commenter, Eddie Johnson, in the story.  Johnson tells Giroir: “How the hell you know how he acted? That boy went to school, talked to his girl friend and it was raining so he had his hood over his head… OH YEA He’s Black so he’s automatically a Thug huh? Low down racist always show their true colors.”

Several hours later, Jason Giroir responded to Johnson: “Eddie come on down to our town with a ‘Hoodie’ and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories!:-P”

The NOPD has a policy on Internet posts, adopted several years ago, which states:

“Employees shall not post any material on the Internet — including but not limited to photos, videos, word documents etc. — that violates any local, state or federal law and/or embarrasses , humiliates, discredits, or harms the operation and reputation of the police department or any of its members.”

Unarmed and dangerous?

link to article

Columbus, Ohio – In 2005, when Florida was considering its insane stand-your-ground-or-perhaps-chase-down-an-innocent-black-teenager-and-shoot-him law, state senator Dan Gelber was a voice of reason. Gelber, when asked what he thought of legislation that would transmogrify many a heat-packing Floridian into a juiced-up Judge Dredd, posed some questions of his own.

When you think someone “looks at your wife” the wrong way or “spills coffee on you”, should the message be “to walk away, or do we tell them that you’re supposed to stand your ground and fight to the death?” According to NRA troll/super-lobbyist Marion Hammer, the supposedly smart Bush who was governor at the time (Jeb) and state senator Dennis Baxley – a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who likes racial slurs in state songs and wants to remember the great Lost Cause on licence plates – the answer was, of course, shoot – to kill.

But the bigger story here is the alliance of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – a secretive, corporate-sponsored clearinghouse for ideas that are dopey enough to be purchased by the pound – and the National Rifle Association (NRA). It’s a marriage made in Hades to pass legislation that seemingly anyone with any background in law enforcement or understanding of this nation’s history knew would lead to a predictable outcome: “racially motivated killings”.

Because, you see, this is not a bug, but a feature. Both ALEC and the NRA exist to support the whims and wants of privileged and largely white members of society, while disenfranchising, impoverishing and even allowing people like 17-year-old Trayvon Martin – who was shot and killed last month by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer – to be gunned down in cold blood. Racism is at their very core.

ALEC is behind a nationwide push to take voting rights away from African Americans and any other group that doesn’t largely vote for creepily religious, corporate Republicans advocating wish-list items such as a creationist, Halliburton-constructed lunar colony or the deregulation of melamine and morphine-based infant formula.

As writer Ari Berman pointed out in a piece called “The GOP’s War On Voting“, there has been “a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states… this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process”. Who are we talking about here? “Millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly,” according to Berman, or people you might hesitate to call the “Santorum demographic”.

These very same ALECites have been (coincidentally, of course), pushing for tort reform bills in states throughout the country, which have been proven again and again to disproportionately hurt the poor and minorities while protecting corporate bottom lines. Meanwhile, “racial issues” and stereotyping have been used by ALEC to push for tort reform, the very same play on white fear that is the pitch of the NRA to convince anyone, no matter how unstable or criminally inclined, to buy more guns.

Part of this pitch has used the first black President (“Communist-trained!”) to inform their most ardent and paranoid members of secret plots (“massive Obama conspiracy!”) to take away their guns (the ones they can now take into national parks and in luggage on Amtrak, because of bills President Obama signed into law). Their day-to-day coded language about protecting “your way of life” or property from invading hordes has obvious connotations to anyone with a few neurons still firing.

Meanwhile, the NRA’s Board of Directors is filled with people who have made troubling comments on race. There’s intellectual wretch Ted Nugent, who has problems with the “Dark Continent” of Africa because no country there “truly respects freedom or the rule of law”. Then there’s Wayne Anthony Ross, who published an editorial saying an art student who made a statue of a Ku Klux Klan figure deserved an “‘A’ for courage”.

And in September 2011, NRA board member John Sigler spoke at a rally hosted by radio personality Bill Colley, who three days earlier had accused President Obama’s mother of travelling the world “to meet up with ‘savages’ and civilising them in the sack! Her efforts even created a President of the United States”.

These are not the exception, as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has made abundantly clear on their “Who Is The NRA Leadership” website.

Nor is Trayvon Martin the exception. He is the rule: collateral damage of a quite open and obvious agenda for anyone willing to take a look.

Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, and the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain.

Follow him on Twitter: @Cliffschecter

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.





Stop Using Trayvon Martin’s Murder to Discuss Black-on-Black Crime

Op-Ed: Stop Using Trayvon Martin’s Murder to Discuss Black-on-Black Crime

Wednesday Mar 21, 2012 – by
In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s horrific murder, there has been a palpable outrage similar to the electric emotions that were generated by the state-sanctioned slaying of Troy Davis.Though the two cases are polar opposites in certain aspects, one commonality weaves through both narratives that illuminate the underlying racist structure of this country. By the very virtue of their differences and the vast disparities in the situations, what becomes resoundingly clear is that it doesn’t matter if they’re criminals; it doesn’t matter if they’re young or old, carrying a gun or carrying a pack of Skittles.

Our boys and men are guilty on sight because they are Black.

Unfortunately, as the Sanford Police Department, spearheaded by Chief Bill Lee, continues to make excuses for murderer George Zimmerman, the chorus has taken an ugly turn that needs to be addressed.

Why are self-righteous Black folks using this opportunity to shift the blame to the issues plaguing the African-American community?

For every post of support for Trayvon, there are two that read:

“Well, I’m tired of us killing each other!”

“I don’t know why y’all worried about what the white man is doing, you need to be worrying about what’s going on every day in the hood!”

And I completely agree, but the problem with that train of thought is simple: Shifting blame to crimes that have been committed brother against brother, sister against sister, in a time when we need to come together to foster a sense of solidarity is counter-productive and broadcasts the disconnect that fractures our community to the world. It screams that we don’t care about racism; we don’t care about gun toting white bastards with superiority complexes menacing young Black boys and girls. Shifting the blame away from the racism and focusing the microscope squarely on the evil that is perpetuated in our own communities does nothing but allow racist, violent criminals like George Zimmerman to get away with murder – literally – and allows the Sanford Police Department to be accessory to murder after the fact with no discernible consequences.

Yes, we need to stop killing our own; we needed to stop killing our own long before Trayvon’s death and will need to stop killing our own long after. Where was the outcry, the mobilization efforts to curtail violence in urban slums across the United States the day before Trayvon was murdered?

I’ll wait.

I’m the first to say that we need to hold ourselves responsible for the state of Black America. By default, we are often our own worst enemy. That does not mitigate the fact that the root of the state of Black America is not of our own making.  Pay close attention. I didn’t say the branches of poverty, the un-nurtured flowers of children living in broken homes, nor the weeds of crime.

I said the root.

Racism, classism, bigotry, psychological and physical slavery, still holds power over our communities.  Should that fact be minimized because we have picked up the mantle and turned against ourselves? Does one evil outweigh the other?  Should we ignore the fact that we can do everything “right” by society’s rules and still be moving targets?

We can stress education, we can move to a predominantly white gated community, but our children can still be lynched while walking to the convenience store. That is the tragedy of Travyon Martin.

More importantly, isn’t there a time for a level of basic respect? Do you think Trayvon’s family is walking around saying, “Yeah, a White man killed our son, but Black men kill each other every day, so what?”

(Sidenote: I couldn’t care less that his mother is Hispanic, he was White until he gunned down a Black child in cold-blood. Now the mainstream media wants to shift this scum-bag to the Hispanic community, which in all actuality doesn’t prevent Zimmerman from being white; people can be both white and Hispanic. As most know, Hispanic is not a race, but nice try media, now tell it to someone stupid.)

The mentality of those who feel that way diminishes the life of a 17-year-old child simply to make a socio-political point that should’ve, could’ve, would’vebeen made on any other day of the year if they weren’t too busy waiting on a crime such as this to come along so they could talk about how it pales in comparison to what we do to each other.

To those people who think they are showing how conscious, how powerful, how pro-Black they are by attempting to commandeer the conversation away from George Zimmerman’s crime and the systemic racism that encapsulates the Sanford Police Department, I say this:

You are a part of the problem and just as guilty of brainwashing and servitude as you claim the people are who wait on White America to commit crime against us before they act.

As Ancestor El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X) said in his “Message to the Grassroots”:

“You bleed when the white man says bleed; you bite when the white man says bite; and you bark when the white man says bark. I hate to say this about us, but it’s true.”

Whether they admit it to themselves or not, these very people who are complaining are waiting on White America to act before they let their voices be heard. George Zimmerman executes a child in a vigilante-style killing and is still walking free, and for some reason, instead of mobilizing behind that effort, they want to talk about the crime that happens up the block.

Is Trayvon’s death less tragic because another Black man didn’t pull the trigger?

Or are we taking a playbook from this country that says that Black men by nature are animals, while White America’s crimes can be overlooked?

It’s expected for a White man to kill a Black child, right? So we should just brush past it. What’s not acceptable is for us to murder each other?

I get it – but that’s an extremely flawed, narrow philosophy.

As long as we are willing to turn on each other without a real plan of action, then all we’re doing is adding our voices to the litany of charges against the Black community and contributing to its downfall.  They know by this point, that in three weeks’ time, this fervor will have died down. They know that the picket signs will be put away and the outrage will have dwindled down to a few head shakes and maybe some tears. They know that if they just hold on, Black America will go back to the business of destroying itself.

I say we surprise them.

Let’s recreate movements like the Detroit 300 to save our communities and still focus, organize and demand justice for Trayvon Martin – by any means necessary. Our children need to understand that they have been placed in a maze, spoon-fed misery and degradation until they look into the eyes of their brothers and see strangers.

We should use these incidents of violent racism as teachable moments, reflective moments, not deflective moments. Now is not the time to point fingers back at the Black community, but to harness our power and solidarity. If it’s open season on Black men in America, then we need to gather our young men together and show them who the real enemy is – and it’s not each other.  If we’re going to carry guns, then there needs to be guns trained at strange White men who follow little Black boys on dark, rainy nights just so they can gun them down with 9 millimeter handguns.  George Zimmerman should have known that he was being watched and any false move would be to his detriment.

Yes, I said it and I’m not advocating violence, I’m advocating justice.

The next Trayvon Martin’s life depends on it.


New Black Panther Party offers $10,000 reward for killer

link to article

The New Black Panther Party has called for the mobilization of 5,000 black men to capture George Zimmerman

Sanford, Florida, March 24, 2012 (AFP) – A black political group offered a $10,000 reward Saturday for the killer of an African-American teenager, amid a nationwide uproar which has prompted a rethink of America’s race issues.

The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) displayed a wanted poster on its website with a picture of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, 17, last month.

“WANTED!!! For the murder of Trayvon Martin… ALIVE, not dead or harmed,” the poster read.

Several dozen supporters of the group, which is unrelated to the revolutionary Black Panther Party that was active in the 1960s-1980s, protested for the third time this week at the police headquarters in Sanford, Florida.

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” leader Mikhail Muhammad told the Orlando Sentinel. “We don’t hate anyone, we hate injustice.”

The NBPP group has called for the mobilization of 5,000 black men to capture Zimmerman. Muhammad said the organization was receiving donations from black entertainers and athletes, with a goal to collect $1 million by next week.

Sanford police told AFP they were ignoring the NBPP’s call to capture Zimmerman, a white Hispanic.

Thousands of demonstrators have marched in at least 10 US cities to express their outrage over the attack, with some of the anger directed at local authorities handling the murder investigation.

They have not arrested or charged Zimmerman because he claimed self-defense, which allowed him to benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law that lets state residents use lethal force when they are at risk of being killed or seriously injured by an assailant. Zimmerman had a permit to carry a gun.

Meanwhile, in a separate event in Washington Saturday unrelated to the New Black Panther Party protest, at least 1,000 protesters — many in black hoodies, some with bags of Skittles candy like the one Martin bought before he was shot — gathered Saturday in the heart of the US capital to demand justice.

“This is bigger than you think it is,” said comedian Dick Gregory, an icon of the Civil Rights movement, who said he suspected that the full story of Martin’s death has yet to come to light.

“Don’t waste your time with anger until you get the whole truth… Stop being emotional and start demanding answers,” he said.

“We must fight to change the notion in this country that simply being a black man is a problem,” said Rashawn Davis of the Georgetown University chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“When I see all these angry faces, I want you to take this energy and put it in your heart and use it for fuel to change the country. All of us has to change the racist paradigm in the country,” he told AFP, adding that his group is in no way affiliated with the NBPP.

Police at the scene estimated the crowd at 1,000, while organizers put the figure at around 3,000, a day after a vigil for Martin in the capital’s low-income Anacostia district.

Despite the racially charged nature of the case, Zimmerman’s lawyer insisted his client was not racist.

“I asked him, ‘Are you a racist? Do you have anything against black people?’ and he said ‘No,’” Zimmerman’s legal adviser Craig Sonner told CNN on Friday. “I don’t see anything that indicates to me that he’s a racist.”

Sonner said Zimmerman and his wife acted as mentors to two teenaged African Americans, even after funding was cut for the program.

They have also helped at a fundraiser for an African-American church, according to the lawyer.

President Barack Obama has called for nationwide “soul searching” in the wake of the tragedy.

© Copyright (c) AFP

Trayvon Martin And The Black Male Code

Written by Associated Press on March 24, 2012 11:14 am


link to article

PHILADELPHIA — I thought my son would be much older before I had to tell him about the Black Male Code. He’s only 12, still sleeping with stuffed animals, still afraid of the dark. But after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I needed to explain to my child that soon people might be afraid of him.

We were in the car on the way to school when a story about Martin came on the radio. “The guy who killed him should get arrested. The dead guy was unarmed!” my son said after hearing that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman had claimed self-defense in the shooting in Sanford, Fla.

We listened to the rest of the story, describing how Zimmerman had spotted Martin, who was 17, walking home from the store on a rainy night, the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head. When it was over, I turned off the radio and told my son about the rules he needs to follow to avoid becoming another Trayvon Martin – a black male who Zimmerman assumed was “suspicious” and “up to no good.”

As I explained it, the Code goes like this:

Always pay close attention to your surroundings, son, especially if you are in an affluent neighborhood where black folks are few. Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.

Never argue with police, but protect your dignity and take pride in humility. When confronted by someone with a badge or a gun, do not flee, fight, or put your hands anywhere other than up.

Please don’t assume, son, that all white people view you as a threat. America is better than that. Suspicion and bitterness can imprison you. But as a black male, you must go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are.

I was far from alone in laying out these instructions. Across the country this week, parents were talking to their children, especially their black sons, about the Code. It’s a talk the black community has passed down for generations, an evolving oral tradition from the days when an errant remark could easily cost black people their job, their freedom, or sometimes their life.

After Trayvon Martin was killed, Al Dotson Jr., a lawyer in Miami and chairman of the 100 Black Men of America organization, told his 14-year-old son that he should always be aware of his surroundings, and of the fact that people might view him differently “because he’s blessed to be an African-American.”

“It requires a sixth sense that not everyone needs to have,” Dotson said.

Dotson, 51, remembers receiving his own instructions as a youth, and hearing those instructions evolve over time.

His grandparents told Dotson that when dealing with authority figures, make it clear you are no threat at all – an attitude verging on submissive. Later, Dotson’s parents told him to respond with respect and not be combative.

Today, Dotson tells his children that they should always be respectful, but should not tolerate being disrespected – which would have been recklessly bold in his grandparents’ era.

Yet Dotson still has fears about the safety of his children, “about them understanding who they are and where they are, and how to respond to the environment they are in.”

Bill Stephney, a media executive who lives in a New Jersey suburb that is mostly white and Asian, has two sons, ages 18 and 13. The Martin killing was an opportunity for him to repeat a longtime lesson: Black men can get singled out, “so please conduct yourself accordingly.”

Like Dotson, Stephney mentioned an ultra-awareness – “a racial Spidey sense, a tingling” – that his sons should heed when stereotyping might place them in danger.

One night in the early 1980s, while a student at Adelphi University on Long Island, Stephney and about a dozen other hip-hop aficionados went to White Castle after their late-night DJ gig. They were gathered in the parking lot, eating and talking, when a squadron of police cars swooped in and a helicopter rumbled overhead.

“We got a report that a riot was going on,” police told them.

Stephney and his crew used to talk late into the night about how black men in New York were besieged by violence – graffiti artist Michael Stewart’s death after a rough arrest in 1983; Bernhard Goetz shooting four young black men who allegedly tried to mug him on the subway in 1984; Michael Griffith killed by a car while being chased by a white mob in 1986; the crack epidemic that rained black-on-black violence on the city. They felt under attack, as if society considered them the enemy.

This is how the legendary rap group Public Enemy was born. Their logo: A young black man in the crosshairs of a gun sight.

“Fast forward 25 years later,” Stephney said. “We’ve come a long way to get nowhere.”

But what about that long road traveled, which took a black man all the way to the White House? I can hear some of my white friends now: What evidence is there that Trayvon Martin caught George Zimmerman’s attention – and his bullet – because of his race? Lynching is a relic of the past, so why are you teaching your son to be so paranoid?

There is a difference between paranoia and protection. Much evidence shows that black males face unique risks: Psychological studies indicate they are often perceived as threatening; here in Philadelphia, police stop-and-frisk tactics overwhelmingly target African-Americans, according to a lawsuit settled by the city; research suggests that people are more likely to believe a poorly seen object is a gun if it’s held by a black person.

Yes, it was way back in 1955 when 14-year-old Emmitt Till was murdered in Mississippi for flirting with a white woman. But it was last Wednesday when a white Mississippi teenager pleaded guilty to murder for seeking out a black victim, coming across a man named James Craig Anderson, and running him over with his pickup truck.

Faced with this information, I’m doing what any responsible parent would do: Teaching my son how to protect himself.

Still, it requires a delicate balance. Steve Bumbaugh, a foundation director in Los Angeles, encourages his 8- and 5-year-old sons to talk to police officers, “and to otherwise develop a good relationship with the people and institutions that have the potential to give them trouble. I think this is the best defense.”

“I don’t want them to actually think that they are viewed suspiciously or treated differently,” Bumbaugh said. “I think that realization breeds resentment and anger. And that can contribute to dangerous situations.”

His sons are large for their age, however.

“I’m probably naive to think that they won’t realize they’re viewed differently when they’re 6-4 and 200 pounds,” Bumbaugh said, “but I’m going to try anyway.”

I am 6-4 and more than 200 pounds, son. You probably will be too. Depending on how we dress, act and speak, people might make negative assumptions about us. That doesn’t mean they must be racist; it means they must be human.

Let me tell you a story, son, about a time when I forgot about the Black Male Code.

One morning I left our car at the shop for repairs. I was walking home through our quiet suburban neighborhood, in a cold drizzle, wearing an all-black sweatsuit with the hood pulled over my head.

From two blocks away, I saw your mother pull out of our driveway and roll towards me. When she stopped next to me and rolled down the window, her brown face was full of laughter.

“When I saw you from up the street,” your mother told me, “I said to myself, what is that guy doing in our neighborhood?”





Geraldo Rivera: Hoodie ‘allowed’ Zimmerman to kill Martin

link to article

By David Edwards
Friday, March 23, 2012 9:21 EDT

Fox News host Geraldo Rivera thinks he knows who or what is to blame for the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin: the hoodie did it.

Appearing on Fox News early Friday morning, Rivera conceded that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who shot Martin, should be investigated, but he urged black and Latino parents to not allow their children to wear hooded sweatshirts.

“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” the host ranted. “You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta — you’re going to be a gangsta wannabe, well people are going to perceive you as a menace. That’s what happens. It is an instant, reflexive action.”

Rivera compared the situation to NPR firing Fox News contributor Juan Williams for saying he was scared of Muslims at the airport because of the way they dressed.

“That’s an automatic reflex,” Rivera explained. “When you see a black or Latino youngster, particularly on the street, you walk to the other side of the street. You try to avoid that confrontation. Trayvon Martin, God bless him. He’s an innocent kid, a wonderful kid, a box of Skittles in his hand, he didn’t deserve to die, but I’ll bet you money if he didn’t have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way.”

Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy noted that New Yorkers on Wednesday had held a “Million Hoodie March” in support of Martin.

“You cannot rehabilitate the hoodie,” Rivera insisted. “I understand that the reaction might be overzealous or even irrational in some extent. You are not going to rehabilitate the hoodie. Stop wearing it!”

“There are some things that are almost inevitable. I’m not suggesting that Trayvon Martin had any kind of weapon or anything. He wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way. And if he had been dressed more appropriately — I think unless it is raining out or you are at a track meet, leave the hoodie home.”

“Perception is reality,” guest co-host Juliet Huddy agreed.

In fact, Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher that it was raining as he was pursuing Martin.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something,” the neighborhood watch enthusiast said. “It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about. … These assholes always get away.”





History of racial tension for Sanford and blacks

History of racial tension for Sanford and blacks

By theGrio

8:31 AM on 03/23/2012

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Before the charges that police botched the investigation of the shooting of an unarmed black teen, there were complaints that police went easy on an officer’s son who beat a black homeless man, or that police pull over black kids for wearing the wrong color hat because they suspect gang associations.

The furor over the failure to charge a neighborhood watch captain for shooting Trayvon Martin to death is the latest episode to inflame racial tensions that have simmered between police and blacks in this Orlando suburb for years.

“There is no trust,” said Turner Clayton Jr., president of the Seminole County’s NAACP. “There is no confidence.”

Clayton spoke before Sanford’s police chief and a local prosecutor stepped aside Thursday. The chief was accused by critics of mishandling the investigation of 17-year-old Martin’s death.

“I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks,” Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. said.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights probe and a special prosecutor appointed by the governor is examining the February shooting by watch captain George Zimmerman, 28. Police questioned but never charged Zimmerman after the Feb. 26 shooting of the teen who had gone to a convenience store for Skittles and an iced tea.

The failure to arrest Zimmerman — who said he shot in self-defense after Martin attacked him — and a delay in releasing 911 calls related to the shooting outraged Sanford residents who called it the latest example of bias against blacks.

“They’re as crooked as a barrel of fishhooks,” said black resident Lula King. She told a town hall meeting this week that her teenage grandson is regularly pulled over by police officers who think he is in a gang because of the red-and-black hats he wears.

“There are two sides to every story, but they don’t get but one side,” said King, 75.

Lee said he would step aside temporarily to let passions cool, saying he had become a “distraction” in the investigation. Hours later, the prosecutor recused himself from the case. Norman Wolfinger said in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott that his departure was aimed at “toning down the rhetoric” in the case.

Residents had demanded that Lee be fired before he stepped down; afterward, protesters gathering early for a rally chanted “The chief is gone. Zimmerman is next.” Others sold T-shirts that read, “Arrest Zimmerman.” Lee has said police officers didn’t arrest Zimmerman immediately after the Feb. 26 shooting because he claimed self-defense and there was no evidence to contradict his claims. Florida’s self-defense law gives people wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat during a fight.

Lee has been on the job for less than a year. His predecessor, Brian Tooley, retired early in wake of criticism that Sanford police dragged its feet in arresting Justin Collison on charges of knocking out a homeless black man.

It took a month for Collison, the son of a police lieutenant, to be arrested and charged in 2010 with battery, even though the attack was captured on video. Collison eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to probation late last year.

The department was also criticized for delaying the arrest of two security guards with close ties to the department who shot a 16-year-old teen to death in 2005. The guards were arrested several months after the shooting and were eventually cleared.

One of the two guards who shot Travares McGill was a police volunteer and the other was the son of a former police officer. Bryan Ansley and William Swofford claimed they feared for their lives when they shot the teen through a car window.

Of Sanford’s 53,000 residents, 57 percent are white and 30 percent are black.

Some residents have proposed boycotting the Sanford Police Department by asking 911 dispatchers to send county sheriff’s officers rather than the Sanford police.

And Martin’s family said the resignations don’t’ go nearly far enough. They repeated demands Thursday that Zimmerman be charged.

“We want an arrest, we want a conviction and we want him sentenced for the murder of my son,” Martin’s father, Tracy, said.


Associated Press writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Trayvon Martin: The myth of US post-racialism

link to article

Washington, DC – Trayvon Martin was just beginning his life. Trayvon Martin was a son. He was a high school junior, with college to look forward to, a career and perhaps a family of his own.

Trayvon Martin was many things, but for George Zimmerman, he was just Black.

The teenager’s race was enough to raise “suspicion” and trigger the neighbourhood watchman – who possessed no training or authority, except for his racist prerogatives – to murder an unarmed and frightened teenager running for his life.

On November 28, 2011, no other colour but his Blackness mattered – and his rush for safe haven was intercepted by Zimmerman, and the structurally entrenched demonisation of Black men codified in our laws, perpetuated by our police forces and subscribed to by our friends and colleagues, classmates and family members.

Trayvon Martin is not, as many writers and pundits commented following his death, “a reminder of American racism”. For Africans Americans and most people of colour, racism, xenophobia and religious animus are common, if not expected, parts of their daily lives.

In the case of Trayvon Martin, a twin set of correlated racisms prematurely ended his life: Zimmerman’s view that a young Black male must be engaged in criminal or thuggish activity by virtue of his race alone; and the neighbourhood watchmen and police alike who execute the structural racism embedded in police departments and penal systems nationwide in the name of the law.

The myth of the Obama era

The election of President Barack Obama, for white America, signalled the shift away from America’s racially charged past. After 2008, white Americans have contended that the United States is experiencing the embryonic stages of a post-racial moment; Martin’s murder is a reminder of the fatal consequences of racism that makes the headlines. Yet, the intermediary steps – the institutional racism and empowering of people like Zimmerman – to police our communities either formally or informally are not deemed newsworthy.

Racism, generally understood as a conscious perspective, action or decision, is a salient core of the US’ history and present. American racism is interwoven into the country’s narrative, codified in its law and entrenched in its institutions. Its authors and gatekeepers were, and are, still largely white.

Whites seldom experience racism, either in its fatal, frequent, or latent form. This constructs the political ideology that the rest of the US has entered this racism-free utopia. Citizenship to this colour-blind state, however, is denied to African Americans, Muslim Americans and Latinos by virtue of a triumvirate of suspicions: crime, terrorism and illegal immigration.

However, whites are not the only culprits of racism. On March 10, an Arab American gas station clerk on the Westside of Detroit gunned down and killed a 24-year-old African American customer after a dispute over the high-price of condoms. Racially charged crimes and murders between Latinos and Blacks are all too frequent, and the sometimes-explosive tension between Asian American and Arab American storeowners is well documented.

Institutional and structural racism is still robust in the US. This is evidenced by the disparate incarceration rates of brown and Black Americans, the decimation of affirmative action and race-conscious legislation in the US, the crumbling public education systems in minority-populated communities and the all too common cold blooded murders of people of colour – both in the US and beyond its boundaries, whether by policemen, neighbourhood patrolmen or soldiers.

The ‘worst of a national psychosis

Kumar Rao, a defence lawyer for the Bronx Defenders in New York City, stated that: “Martin’s killing reflects the absolute worst of a national psychosis: The view that Black males – young and old alike – are inherently threatening and unworthy of personal security; and that the state’s commitment to enduring that belief is perpetuated and institutionalised.”

Trayvon Martin’s murder was avoidable, but yet perversely justified through the cold silence of the state.

Zimmerman was a neighbourhood patrolman – not a police officer – but the distinction is thin in this instance. Some police officers, from Miami to Oakland, exhibit the same reckless and cavalier behaviour as Zimmerman. What is more troubling is that police officers and entire departments routinely cover up racially charged arrests, the roughing up of individuals under custody and operate with impunity under the cover of the law.

Yet, for Zimmerman, he had no such cover. This makes this case more absurd and baffling, particularly because he was given police orders to “discontinue his chase of Martin”, as revealed by 9/11 tapes released on March 19. If Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watchman – a volunteer with no training – had obeyed the policeman’s order, Martin would still be alive today.

Zimmerman ignored those order, and took the law into his own hands; he has still not been arrested.

The importance of Trayvon Martin’s is also based on the urgency of the current socio-political moment. The New York Police Department makes every Muslim in the City, whether Black or Arab, South Asian or Latino, targets of illegal spying or worse – unjust convictions of terrorism based solely on their religion and ethnicity. The fact that the NYPD so far as to label Black American Muslims as an “ancestry of interest” shows how far law enforcement would go to justify religious and ethnic profiling.

Connecting the dots

Arab and Muslim Americans in New York are connecting the dots – whether it is the stopping and frisking of young Black and Latino men or the illegal spying on the everyday aspects of Muslims, people of colour are being targeted by the largest police force in the country. In order to defeat the institutionalised racism of the NYPD and set a precedent for the rest of the country, we must build coalitions, connect our struggles and in unison demand accountability for our communities. None of us will win alone.

In June 2009, a Miami policeman shot and killed Husein Shehada, a 29-year-old Arab American, after an evening club-hopping with his brother and girlfriend. Shehada, like Martin, was unarmed and posed no threat. Yet, the white policeman, Adam Tavss, believed that Shehada’s ethnicity substantiated the suspicion to shoot and kill.

The value of Arab life – whether nameless Palestinian children bombed by American-funded fighter jets or American youth profiled, questioned and incarcerated for frequenting a particular mosque – is spiralling downwards rapidly in the US and at a more accelerated rate in the Arab World.

Trayvon Martin is not a martyr or a symbol of racial injustice. Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Malice Green or Ramaley Graham, are all other young African American men shot down and killed because of the colour of their skin and countless others that remain unnamed. Most recently, Troy Davis shook the nation as another victim of a broken justice system that continues to fail people of colour not one person at a time but through mass incarceration and mass conviction rates.

Trayvon Martin was his own person and an archetype of our brothers, our sons, our nephews, grandsons. Trayvon is Mohammed walking down Atlantic Avenue, vulnerable to patrolmen wary of his beard. Trayvon is Carlos, donning Dodger Blue in Pico Rivera, mistaken by the LAPD Gang Squad as a gangbanger because of the colour of his skin.

Linda Sarsour is Palestinian Muslim American, non-profit leader, public speaker and community organiser.

Follow her on Twitter: @Lsarsour

Khaled A Beydoun is a Washington, DC-based attorney and author.

Follow him on Twitter: @Legyptian

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

What Everyone Should Know About Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)

link to article

On February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white man. Zimmerman admits killing Martin, but claims he was acting in self-defense. Three weeks after Martin’s death, no arrests have been made and Zimmerman remains free.

Here is what everyone should know about the case:

1. Zimmerman called the police to report Martin’s “suspicious” behavior, which he described as “just walking around looking about.” Zimmerman was in his car when he saw Martin walking on the street. He called the police and said: “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 a**holes always get away” [Orlando Sentinel]

2. Zimmerman pursued Martin against the explicit instructions of the police dispatcher:

Dispatcher: “Are you following him?”
Zimmerman: “Yeah”
Dispatcher: “OK, we don’t need you to do that.”

[Orlando Sentinel]

3. Prior to the release of the 911 tapes, Zimmerman’s father released a statement claiming “[a]t no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin.” [Sun Sentinel]

4. Zimmerman was carrying a a 9 millimeter handgun. Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. [ABC News]

5. Martin weighed 140 pounds. Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds. [Orlando Sentinel; WDBO]

6. Martin’s English teacher described him as “as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” [Orlando Sentinel]

7. Martin had no criminal record. [New York Times]

8. Zimmerman “was charged in July 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer. The charges appear to have been dropped.” [Huffington Post]

9. Zimmerman called the police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011. [Miami Herald]

10. According to neighbors, Zimmerman was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.” [Miami Herald]

11. Zimmerman “had been the subject of complaints by neighbors in his gated community for aggressive tactics” [Huffington Post]

12. A police officer “corrected” a key witness. “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.” [ABC News]

13. Three witnesses say they heard a boy cry for help before a shot was fired. “Three witnesses contacted by The Miami Herald say they saw or heard the moments before and after the Miami Gardens teenager’s killing. All three said they heard the last howl for help from a despondent boy.” [Miami Herald]

14. The officer in charge of the crime scene also received criticism in 2010 when he initially failed to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man. [New York Times]

15. The police did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol. A law enforcement expert told ABC that Zimmerman sounds intoxicated on the 911 tapes. Drug and alcohol testing is “standard procedure in most homicide investigations.” [ABC News]

The Martin case had been turned over to the Seminole County State Attorney’s Office. Martin’s family has asked for the FBI to investigate.