One Year Since the Murder of Trayvon Martin

We Need to Stop This—Once and For All

February 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Trayvon MartinFebruary 26—
One Year Since
the Racist Murder
of Trayvon Martin
A Day of Remembrance,
Defiance and Determination
A Modern
American Lynching
We Say “NO MORE!”


February 26 will mark one year since racist vigilante, George Zimmerman, gunned down 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

Protests, demanding justice, have been called for that day. They are needed. The only reason Zimmerman is even facing criminal charges today is that a year ago, people all over took to the streets, wore hoodies, carried signs “I am Trayvon,” and forced the system to do something it so rarely does: put the racist killer of a young Black man on trial.

But still there is no justice. And again, people need to be in the streets.

Lynchings Past and Present

A Statement by Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, issued last year, said:

“[T]he fact that yet another Emmett Till moment can arise—that yet another outrage of this kind can take place—today, more than 50 years after the original Emmett Till lynching, and that this murder of Trayvon Martin, shows very powerfully that, this time around, we must not settle for anything less than stopping this, once and for all—we must build a movement to really and finally put an end to these and countless other outrages that spew forth from this system, by sweeping away this system through revolution. This is deadly serious and we must take this up very seriously.” [go to for the full statement]

Who was Emmett Till? In 1955, he was beaten and shot to death—beaten so badly he could barely be recognized, even by his mother. A 14-year-old boy lynched for whistling at a white woman (see “Emmett Till and Lynchings, Past and Present” by Bob Avakian at

Now here we are, over fifty years later. And Trayvon Martin, a young man minding his own business, coming back from buying some Skittles, is stalked, hunted down and murdered by a racist vigilante. And the murderer is still out of jail.

What kind of a system is this!?

Think about what the world has been like in the past year—since Trayvon Martin was murdered. This system has continued to destroy lives here and around the world. There is the continuing genocide that goes on with the murders of Black and Latino youth and the imprisonment of millions…there are U.S. drones killing people around the world…there is the destruction of the environment…the war on women rages on. One more year under this system. There’s been no justice, and there has been continuous escalation of great crimes against humanity.

Nothing less than revolution is what’s needed to put an end to this. And it is in that light that we must demand justice for Trayvon, and wage that struggle as part of building a movement for revolution.

Two things that the lynching of Emmett Till and the murder of Trayvon Martin have in common: One, they were part of an endless all-American tradition of lynching Black people. And two, because people refused to be silent, refused to be intimidated, refused to listen to the “voices of reason” (so-called) who preached faith in the (in)justice system… and only because of that… the powers-that-be felt forced to bring criminal charges against the killers.

But even, in those rare cases, when those who kill Black and Latino people—wearing a badge, a Klan robe, or racist vigilantes—face trial, they almost always walk free. Or, as in the case of the pig who murdered Oscar Grant on an Oakland, California, subway station platform, where the killing was captured on video, these killers do only a short stint in jail. And a signal is sent to others that there is a green light on killing young Blacks and Latinos.

The System Moves
to Let Zimmerman Walk

There is a danger now that the legal system will let the killer of Trayvon Martin walk. His killer has invoked Florida’s notorious “Stand Your Ground” law. That law says that a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if “He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

In fact, before all the protests, police and prosecutors in Florida were saying that Zimmerman had a right to kill Trayvon Martin under that law. Under pressure of protests, Florida prosecutors changed their position—at least formally and officially—and are now arguing that the law does not apply.

In a society stamped from top to bottom with white supremacy, these Stand Your Ground laws embolden racists to kill Black and Latino people.

But beyond that, by no stretch of the imagination can George Zimmerman—who got out of his vehicle against the advice of a 911 operator and stalked, confronted and killed Trayvon Martin make a reasonable claim that doing all that was necessary to prevent imminent death or a forcible felony. Zimmerman could have avoided any danger to himself—if he perceived there was any—by simply driving away. And he had no reasonable basis to believe Trayvon Martin was about to commit a forcible felony.

And finally, nobody should comfort themselves thinking that these same prosecutors, who were so quick to justify the killing of Trayvon under this Stand Your Ground law, and who serve the same system that sends youth like Trayvon to prison by the hundreds of thousands, are going to do much of anything to make the case that the law does not apply and Trayvon’s killer should face trial. At least that is going to be the case if there is not enough public outcry—and not just from Black and Latino youth, but from all kinds of people!

But just because this Stand Your Ground law is unjust, and shouldn’t apply here, doesn’t mean the system won’t use it to let Zimmerman go free. Think of all the lame excuses that have been used to justify the murder of Black people in America. Police in New York City shot Amadou Diallo 41 times for having a cell phone in the lobby of his apartment building. They shot at Sean Bell and his companions in NYC 31 times for pulling out of a parking space at a night club. And on and on. And the killers go free.

Again, in the very rare instances when racist killers are even brought to court, the whole system—from the prosecutors who are supposedly prosecuting them to the judges, to jury selection and the kind of media coverage that sets the tone for the trial—all work to deny justice.

That’s happening now, with Trayvon Martin.

In October, a court ruled that Zimmerman’s legal team could see Trayvon Martin’s school and Facebook records saying that Zimmerman has a right to “investigate the victim’s propensity for violence.” The court also gave them the right to subpoena Martin’s girlfriend’s Facebook and other social media records. Zimmerman’s attorney has said there is evidence that Martin engaged in mixed martial arts—which he says supposedly shows Trayvon’s “violence.”

And then the media has played its part—pumping out stories that are either lies or should be completely irrelevant to the facts of this case—that Trayvon was suspended from school, that he wrote graffiti on a locker, that he skipped school and was late for class. As if those things—if they happened—justified some racist killing him on the way home from buying some Skittles!

If anyone tries to tell you that the time for protest is over, and it is time to “let the justice system work,” you tell them that it is working—the way it is supposed to work—to enforce a global system of exploitation and oppression that has, as a big part of its foundation—the oppression of Black people.

The only reason, again, that Trayvon’s killer is even facing charges in the first place is that people came into the streets. On campuses and in the neighborhoods, people wore hoodies and said “I am Trayvon.” Mostly, but not only Black and Latino youth. The courageous protests challenged others in society to speak out—like some of the NBA players and others who tweeted or posted messages of support for the struggle.

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution

There must be justice for Trayvon Martin. It would be very bad news, in this system of police murder, racism, poverty and mass incarceration if a message got sent out that every racist with a gun can go shoot any young Black man wearing a hoodie.

And the struggle for justice—if we are really going to change anything—has to be connected with the movement for revolution. So that 50 years from now, our children or their children are not, once again, having to deal with this murderous madness.

Fight the Power, and Transform the People,
for Revolution!

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