Leave your gun at the door

Those who know me know how deeply sensitive I am about racial issues. I have been the victim of misconceived notions from time to time and I have been guilty of misconceived notions of my own. I am not one to rush to judgement when it comes to this subject, so it is with fear and trepidation that I enter the fray with respect to the tragic shooting and death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

First of all, everyone would have to agree that this is a tragic death that could have been avoided. In many places, a young man walking the streets in the middle of the night would not arouse suspicions. In an urban setting where people are already uptight about crime, it is a different story. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. If troublemakers were not entering into people’s homes to steal and conceal, there would be no problem; and if citizens with no law enforcement training were not assigned to “protect” neighborhoods, there would be no story to speak of.

With that in mind, here are the things I found odd about news coverage of this story:

1. I heard one lady who has been saying that she heard someone crying out for help and that it appeared to be the sound of the voice of a young person. How many times, I ask, even during normal circumstances, have you talked to someone on the phone and thought you were talking to a young person until you had a chance to meet the person face-to-face and to your shock realized that the person was much older than you thought? I immediately tagged that lady as unreliable in her telling of the story. But she has helped shape the opinion of thousands of people regarding this story.

2. Yes, the 911 dispatcher told Mr. Zimmerman, the shooter, not to follow the “suspect.” I have always had my doubts whether he did stop following him or not. The media coverage of the story had, until today, led us to believe that he continued pursuing the young man. Now we hear that he may have turned around and may have been attacked from behind. So where is the truth? And does it make a difference whether he stopped pursuing the young man and was indeed attacked from the back?

3. The fact that the police didn’t arrest Mr. Zimmerman right away… what does that mean? In these racially charged days of our lives, wouldn’t the police be aware that not arresting Mr. Zimmerman could lead to chaos? Wouldn’t they immediately arrest him if they had even scanty evidence that he may have committed a crime? You would have to believe that the entire police department, starting at the top, had conspired against law and order or that they were totally racially biased to let the accused go back home, or that are totally stupid… if they had evidence against him and didn’t arrest him. More than likely, they didn’t have the evidence and were afraid that Mr. Zimmerman’s rights would be violated and that a lawsuit would ensue in the future. Ah, the fear of lawsuits… the phantom constitution in this new America!

4. No matter how the evidence shakes out, in the end, Trayvon’s parents, friends, and relatives will never feel like justice was done. Their son has vanished. They will never enjoy his company again. He will not be able to tell his side of the story. His reputation, his short life, his last moments here, will now rest with lawyers who may or may not be concerned with the truth, and tapes that instead of clarifying will only confuse more. My heart goes out to his parents. Once their faces dry from the tears, their hearts will continue to bleed for the son who is no more. May God be gracious to them.

My son, who is only a year older than Trayvon was, and who has been the victim of racial discrimination in the past, told me this morning that he doesn’t know who to believe anymore. He said he doesn’t want to think about this and will try to block any thoughts related to this story from his mind. The possibility that an innocent boy was killed by someone whose motivation deep down was hatred for another race is deeply revolting, but the thought that someone could offer a bounty for the arrest of Mr. Zimmerman, and has already “tried” him and found him guilty in the court of public opinion, is equally outrageous. Re-twitting Mr. Zimmerman’s supposed address, like Spike Lee and others have done? Insane!

Welcome to the old West. Leave your gun at the door.

Ivanildo C. Trindade