Tag Archives: Trayvon Martin

Another point of view

The New York Times posted an article today that contains information from George Zimmerman who shot Trayvon Martin:

In an account given to Sanford police that was passed on to the state attorney’s office, George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, said that Trayvon had punched him and then repeatedly slammed his head into the sidewalk in the moments leading up to the shooting.

It is a reminder that there is at least one other point of view in this story. And a reminder of why a full, fair, transparent investigation is needed so that justice can be done for all who are involved.

See you along the Trail.

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Not the answer

Vigilante justice is not the answer.

The Boston-Herald reports that, “Members of the New Black Panther Party are offering a $10,000 reward for the ‘capture’ of George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin … The bounty announcement came moments after members of the group called for the mobilization of 10,000 black men to capture Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon in a gated Sanford community on Feb. 26.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Vigilante justice is not the answer.

This way of vengeance fails to honor Trayvon Martin. It further tears at a wounded community. It fuels the cycle of violence.

A fair, full, transparent investigation of the events that led to Trayvon’s death is needed. Such an investigation can determine what steps should be taken to seek justice for all. Justice is the answer.

On the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s website the New Black Panther Party is identified as a black-separatist group founded in 1989, that is “virulently racist and anti-Semitic” and whose leaders have “encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law officers.”

Vigilante justice is not the answer.

 

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An action, a liturgical reflection – Trayvon Martin

The NAACP offers an opportunity to sign an open letter to Florida Prosecutor Angela Corey who will handle the case of the death of Trayvon Martin. The letter asks her to “to pursue this case with the energy and gravity that it warrants.”

Michael W. Waters acknowledges that:

Symbols have long been important for religious and spiritual reflection. These symbols have been employed to provide greater understanding to transcendent truths, to provide comfort amid chaos, and to inspire the faithful to put their faith to action towards the common good. Many times, these symbols have emerged from rather mundane objects closely associated with a historical event

He goes on to reflect about the symbols contained in Trayvon’s death: Skittles, iced tea, and a hoodie.

Let Skittles, iced tea, and the hoodie become symbols of truth, inspiration and comfort for a new generation of protesters against the on-going crucifixion of innocent flesh at the hands of a corrupt system of oppression and marginalization that has for too long tortured the masses and tainted our country’s legacy.

See you along the Trail.

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I prayed for Trayvon

I prayed for Trayvon Martin today during the Training Day sponsored by the Presbyterian Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries.

I had called my friend and colleague J. Herbert Nelson, the director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness on Wednesday saying that we should remember Trayvon’s death in some way. He agreed. I said I would bring one of my hoodies.

I arrived in D.C. on Thursday and J. Herbert asked if I would pray and include a prayer for Trayvon. After some reflection and prayer, I came up with an idea.

I put my hoodie in my backpack and carried it with me to New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. After J. Herbert preached, we sang A Mighty Fortress. During the next to the last verse, I went up to the chair beside J. Herbert, put down my backpack, and got the wireless mic. When the hymn ended and the congregation sat down, I moved into the pulpit and began.

“Sometimes we pray with words. Sometimes we pray in silence. Sometimes we pray through symbolic actions. Today we will pray in all three ways.”

I left the pulpit, picked up my backpack, and moved to a table set up in the center of the pulpit area. The table would later be used for a panel presentation.

In silence, I opened my backpack, and removed my hoodie. I deliberately shook it out so all could see. I then held it as high above my head as I could and slowly rotated it so that it faced each part of the congregation. It also prevented me from making eye contact with anyone and bursting completely into tears.

After I had shown the hoodie to the whole congregation, I snapped the hood back and showed it to everyone again.

Then I put on the hoodie and slowly rotated so everyone could see me.

Finally, I raised the hood to cover my head and moved back to the pulpit.

There I prayed with words for Trayvon and for all children who are victims of overt violence – children whose names are known and whose stories are told, children who are known only to the family and friends who love them.

I prayed for all children who are victims of structural violence – economic injustice, racism, homophobia – the systemic realities that shape our lives and too often stunt and snuff out the lives of children.

I prayed for those who gathered in Washington, D.C. to engage in advocacy for justice in Jesus’ name. May we have the grace to move from a love of power and the wisdom and courage to continue our ministry of speaking truth in love to power – this weekend and always. May it be so.

I uncovered my head and stepped down from the pulpit. As I moved back to my seat I again made sure not to make eye contact.

I am grateful to J. Herbert for this opportunity. I wish I could do more. I will.

See you along the Trail.

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I wish I had made a sign like that

It isn’t the best photo, but her sign conveys a powerful message. I wish I had thought to make such a sign for the Million Hoodie March that started on New York City’s Union Square. I thanked her.

Hoodies were not required – I went straight from work.

Check out #millionhoodiemarch for more about the evening.

See you along the Trail.

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All our sons, all our daughters

Trayvon Martin

Our position of privilege tells me that what happened to Trayvon Martin is less likely to happen to my sons than it is to the sons or daughters of many of my friends. Less likely than it is to happen to the sons or daughters of people I do not know. Less likely than it is to happen to children of color.

I grieve for Trayvon and for his family and for every family that has had to endure such a heartbreaking experience. I grieve for all who have been victimized by violence. I grieve for our society in which such acts occur.

I grieve that there have been calls for a bounty on George Zimmerman. Vigilante justice is wrong. It is not the answer.

I grieve that for all our efforts to dismantle racism and overcome racial prejudice – for the significant progress we have made on the journey toward the Beloved Community – so far remains to go.

I tremble as I ponder the trust and friendship that I receive from people of color. Trust and friendship that provide continuing definitions of grace.

I confess that I have spoken too late and too timidly on behalf of Trayvon and his family.

I acknowledge that I have failed to work as faithfully or diligently as I should have done to address the racism upon which our society is structured.

I grieve. I tremble. I confess. I acknowledge. I will do more.

I will sign a petition started by Trayvon’s family. I hope that the investigations that have been announced will be fair, full, and transparent. Only in that way can justice be done for everyone involved.

I will be on Union Square for the Million Hoodie March this evening.

I will look for additional opportunities to speak and act.

I will place a hoodie at the front of the workshop I will lead at a Presbyterian gathering on peace and social justice on Friday.

I will pray for Trayvon Martin’s family and friends; for George Zimmerman and his family and friends; for those who investigate this event; for the people of Sanford, Florida; for our country; for peace, for justice.

For in the end, our lives intertwine in this country and on this small rock hurtling around the sun.

In the end we are made, not for ourselves alone but for each other.

In the end, is not Trayvon my son? Is not George my son?

We are brothers and sisters. We are all each other’s sons – all each other’s daughters

See you along the Trail.

This post has been revised in response to comments and observations made on Facebook and in other places. Some language has been edited; other material has been added. I am grateful to all those who took the time to read and comment.

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Trayvon Martin

From ColorOfChange.org. I took the action. Will you?

Read this moments ago from the Huffington Post: The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI have opened an investigation into the “facts and circumstances” surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager shot and killed last month by a neighborhood watch captain in an Orlando suburb.

I think the action remains important as a way of reminding the Department of Justice that we are watching.

Three weeks ago, 17-year old Trayvon Martin was gunned down by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Despite Zimmerman admitting to following, confronting, and killing Trayvon, he has yet to be arrested or charged with any crime.[1]

Just minutes before Trayvon was killed, Zimmerman had called police stating that Trayvon looked “suspicious.” Trayvon was unarmed and walking back to his father’s home in Sanford, Florida when Zimmerman accosted him.

At the crime scene, Sanford police botched their questioning of Zimmerman, refused to take the full statements of witnesses, and pressured neighbors to side with the shooter’s claim of self-defense.[2] As it turns out, Sanford’s police department has a history of failing to hold perpetrators accountable for violent acts against Black victims and the police misconduct in Trayvon’s case exemplifies the department’s systemic mishandling of such investigations.[3] And now, the State Attorney’s office has rubber-stamped the Sanford police’s non-investigation, claiming that there is not enough evidence to support even a manslaughter conviction.[4]

Trayvon’s family and hundreds of thousands of people around the country are demanding justice.[5] Please join us in calling on the Department of Justice to take over the case, arrest Trayvon’s killer, and launch an independent investigation into the Sanford police department’s unwillingness to protect Trayvon’s civil rights. It takes just a moment:

http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/Trayvon

Walking home from the store shouldn’t cost you your life, but when Black youth are routinely assumed to be violent criminals, being randomly killed is a constant danger.[6] Before Zimmerman decided to get out of his parked car — gun in tow — to pursue Trayvon on foot that night, he called the police to identify Trayvon as a “suspicious person” — apparently because he was wearing a hoodie and walking too slowly in the rain for Zimmerman’s liking. Despite being instructed not to follow Trayvon, Zimmerman proceeded to confront and fatally shoot the boy in the chest within a matter of minutes.[7]

The case has been compromised from the beginning. When Sanford police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman was first approached by a narcotics detective — not a homicide investigator — who “peppered him with questions” rather than allowing him to tell his story without prompting. Another officer “corrected” a witness giving a statement that she’d heard Trayvon cry for help before he was shot, telling her she had heard Zimmerman instead.[8] And beyond the questions of professional competence or even the police’s disregard for the facts, Florida’s notorious “Shoot First” law takes a shooter’s self-defense claim at face value — incentivizing law enforcement not to make arrests in shooting deaths that would lead to murder charges in other states.[9]

Sanford has a history of not prosecuting when the victim is Black. In 2010, the white son of a Sanford police lieutenant was let go by police after assaulting a homeless Black man outside a downtown bar. And, in 2005, a Black teenager was killed by two white security guards, one the son of a Sanford Police officer. The pair was arrested and charged, but a judge later cited lack of evidence and dismissed both cases.[10]

Please join us in calling on the Department of Justice to arrest Trayvon’s killer and launch an investigation into the Sanford police department’s mishandling of the case and when you do, ask your friends and family to do the same:

http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/Trayvon

Thanks.

References

1. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/15/2696446/trayvon-martin-case.html
2. http://abcnews.go.com/US/neighborhood-watch-shooting-trayvon-martin-probe-reveals-questionable/story?id=15907136#.T2QwBWJWrQI
3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/trayvon-martin-sanford-florida_n_1345868.html
4. http://www.wesh.com/news/30692415/detail.html
5. http://abcnews.go.com/US/trayvon-martin-family-seeks-fbi-investigation-killing/story?id=15949879#.T2aTkZggugE
6. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/2/8/ramarley_graham_nypd_slays_unarmed_black
7. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-14/news/os-trayvon-martin-beth-kassab-031512-20120314_1_orlando-police-block-captains-zimmerman
8. See reference 2.
9. http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20120316/OPINION05/203160343/Teen-s-death-suggests-review-Stand-Your-Ground-Law-needed?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|frontpage|s
10. http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/article1128317.ece

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