“…the USA experiences over thirty-one gun killings every single day of the year!”
The U.S. news media is now in a frenzy over a shooting case in Florida. This story is bigger than the Republican presidential campaign, the war in Afghanistan or the centennial of the Titanic.
The irony is that this super media event is actually a simple though tragic story that is all too common in America today.
George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white man, shot Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black boy on Sunday, February 26th.
Zimmerman was a volunteer security guard¹ and was patrolling his gated community² neighborhood. There had been several robberies in the community in recent months and Zimmerman had been asked by his neighbors to head up a residents’ watch group.It is also important to note that residents had identified the burglars as being young black men.
That Sunday evening, Zimmerman saw an unknown man walking along the sidewalk inside the community, around 7pm. He thought it was strange that the man was walking so casually even though it was raining lightly.
He called the police and told them, “This guy looks like he is up to no good or he’s on drugs or something,” and he continued to follow the man.
Martin was walking from a convenience store back to the house where he was visiting his father³. He was carrying a pack of Skittles candies and a can of Arizona ice tea.
He was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone, which may explain why he was in no hurry to get out of the rain. He told her someone was following him and that he would put up his hoodie¹´. His girlfriend heard him say, “What are you following me for?” and someone answer, “What are you doing here?”
She and other witnesses heard someone crying out for help and then a gun shot.The police and medics arrived a few minutes later.
Martin was taken to the hospital but he was dead on arrival. Zimmerman was brought in for questioning and released. He said Martin attacked and beat him and he shot him in self defense.
Florida has a special law, that says you can kill somebody if you think you have to, to protect your life.” The law doesn’t say if the other person needs to be carrying a weapon, or be doing something dangerous.
People all over the country are marching and protesting that someone could kill an innocent boy and not be arrested. Others are saying that Zimmerman was within his rights and should not be arrested.
After a month of protests, Florida prosecutors finally charged Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder. Zimmerman turned himself in but the trial will not begin for at least a month. Maybe then the real facts of this tragedy will replace the endless rumors that are now flooding he media.
This is now a huge national controversy and media circus with lots of gossip and few facts. Newsmen, politicians and celebrities are all getting involved and even President Obama said, “If I had a son, he’d probably look like Trayvon.”
The first news photos showed Martin as a cute 13-year-old boy, and Zimmerman as a mean looking, heavy set guy. Later pictures showed Martin as an older teenager with gold tooth jewelry²´ and tattoos and Zimmerman as a short, skinny guy.
One commentator said the hoodie was to blame, so now the hoodie is a symbol of support and some national news reporters even went on camera wearing hoodies. Actually, the hoodie is very common, but it is also the favorite of black gangs. We can only guess that maybe Martin put his hoodie up so that he’d look tough in order to scare off whoever was following him.
This summer, if Zimmerman is acquitted, there may be major riots around the nation with many more people getting hurt or killed. It could even have some impact on the national elections in November. Violent riots could encourage most white people in Florida to vote for the Republicans who say they are “tough on crime”. Since they say that whoever wins Florida wins the election, this sensationalized story could deny Obama a second term.
“The Trayvon Tragedy” is a good example of some of the problems America faces these days:
…crime, the War on Drugs, and too much security
…paranoia and gated communities
…poor education and high unemployment
…raising children in divorced families
…the black, white, and Latino racial problems
…reactionary state governments and strange gun laws
…and, most of all, the ‘Trayvon Tragedy’ demonstrates America’s irrational over-reaction to select media hyped scenarios, when in fact, the USA experiences over thirty-one gun killings every single day of the year!³´”
1 – volunteer security guard Like Japan America has volunteer firefighters and school patrols, but over the last 50 years, volunteer security patrols have become more and more common.
2 – gated community neighborhoods that are fenced or walled in with restricted access. This is a growing trend in many countries including the US.
3 – visiting his father Trayvon’s parents are divorced and Trayvon lived with his mother. His father was staying with his fiancee who has an apartment in the community. In 2010, 34% of American children lived in a single parent home. The rate for African-American children was 66%. (Kidscount.org)
1′ – hoodie a hood attached to trainer, shirt or jacket
2′ – gold tooth jewelry a fashion trend popularized by black hip-hop rappers and gangsters
3′ – over thirty-one gun killings every single day of the year 2009 data from the US CDC