Trayvon Martin's Killer Can't Walk Free
Act now! Demand Justice!

by Li Onesto | June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


February 2012. One minute 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is walking home from the 7-Eleven. The next minute he's dead because some racist neighborhood watch captain considers a Black youth wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles "suspicious."

On the night of February 26, George Zimmerman called 911 and reported seeing a "real suspicious guy" who "looks like he's up to no good." He told the 911 operator, "These assholes, they always get away." After being clearly told by the 911 operator not to pursue him, Zimmerman then stalked and confronted Trayvon Martin and gunned him down in cold blood.

Following the murder, the cops walked Zimmerman in one door of the police station and out another. Police and prosecutors insisted there was no basis to prosecute Zimmerman, saying this killing was justified as self-defense because of Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

That would have been that. But people around the country weren't having it. Tens of thousands ACTED to not let this go down!

All this was very important and made a crucial difference. The system was working the way it always works—and until people came into the streets, Trayvon Martin's killer was on his way to literally getting away with murder—with no charges. But after massive protests of thousands of Black people joined by people of all nationalities and from a wide swath of society, the 911 tape was released, further revealing that Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon. As the audiotape got out on the news, protests grew in anger and drew in more people.

For many thousands this hit deep: This could have been me... This could have been my son.... This could have been my brother. And many others who don't on a daily basis face the threat of racist vigilante and police terror, but who see the injustice of what is happening to Black and Latino youth in this society, also took to the streets saying, "We are all Trayvon Martin."

Forces in positions of power moved to do "damage control." On April 11, almost a month and a half after the murder, Zimmerman was finally arrested.

Now George Zimmerman's trial is scheduled to begin on June 10. And once again, and in an even more intense way, what people do will be decisive in whether or not there will be justice for Trayvon.

This is bound to be a very sharp struggle. Already George Zimmerman and his whole defense team have been VERY active in not only working on his legal defense but working to build public opinion that would defend this cold-blooded murder.

Leading up to the trial, Zimmerman's defense is working to completely turn things upside down—trying to put Trayvon Martin on trial in an attempt to justify the attack and murder. Abetted by the mainstream media, Zimmerman's legal team is trying to reverse the basic issue of right and wrong—saying he acted in self-defense, saying he feared for his life. They are attempting to focus the whole trial on what happened after Zimmerman got out of his car and stalked Trayvon. But whatever happened that led to Zimmerman killing Trayvon Martin, it happened after Zimmerman disregarded the instructions of the 911 operator, then got out of his car and followed Trayvon.

Slander in the Media

Zimmerman's side is trying to paint Trayvon Martin as the criminal in this trial before it even starts. This youth—who had never been arrested and had no criminal record—is being depicted as a dangerous criminal. The evidence? Trayvon was suspended from school, smoked marijuana, listened to gangsta rap, his cell phone had a picture of a Black hand holding a gun, and so forth. These so-called incriminating pictures from Trayvon Martin's cell phone are being plastered all over the media. This is exactly the kind of thing that's happening to millions of Black and Latino youth who are being criminalized in high schools around the country—where everything from being tardy to talking back to a teacher can end up putting you on a fast track pipeline, not to the principal's office, but to prison.

To all these accusations we can only say… First of all, George Zimmerman had no knowledge of any of this when he killed Trayvon. As the Martin's family lawyer, Ben Crump, said, "[T]hey attempt to posthumously judge a dead teenager by his tweets and his social media. And that is the problem here. You cannot know what is in a person's heart by reading a tweet, and it's irrelevant because George Zimmerman did not know what Trayvon Martin's Twitter persona was when he got out of the car, profiled, pursued, and shot him in the heart."

And second, NONE of this justifies cold-blooded murder.

The effect of this whole media campaign by Zimmerman's defense team is to both poison the jury pool and contribute to the overall atmosphere in society where Black youth have been criminalized through decades of the system's "war on drugs"—which has led to a situation of mass incarceration with almost 2.4 million in prison, mostly Black and Latino people.

The defamation of Trayvon plays on and bolsters the images of Black youth widely propagated in society over the last few decades to justify intense repression and the destruction of the lives of hundreds of thousands who have been incarcerated. And these attacks on Trayvon also serve to build sympathy and a defense for Zimmerman in the public eye and to rally his supporters.

And whether this so-called evidence gets into the trial or not, broadly putting all this out into the world can "taint" or prejudice potential jurors. That is, even if all this does not get into evidence (and this is far from determined and Zimmerman's lawyers will no doubt continue to fight to bring it into the courtroom), many people, including people who will be on the jury, will have heard these stories.

Mobilizing the Lynch Mob

An integral part of this media campaign is the effort to whip up all manner of racist and fascist elements in this society against Trayvon and all Blacks and Latinos. On March 21, Robert Zimmerman Jr., George Zimmerman's brother, tweeted side-by-side pictures of Trayvon Martin and another Black 17-year-old who has no connection whatsoever to Trayvon Martin but who allegedly shot a one-year-old baby during a botched robbery in March 2013. The post then says: "A picture speaks a thousand words. Any questions?" Then, in another tweet, Robert Zimmerman says: "Lib media shld ask if what these2 black teens did 2 a woman&baby is the reason ppl think blacks mightB risky."

According to Robert Zimmerman, Trayvon—and apparently every other Black youth in this society—is somehow to blame for the alleged crimes of another Black youth a little over a year after Trayvon was killed. And ALL Black youth are to be considered "risky." This is nothing but tweets for a lynch mob!

After these racist tweets, George Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, responded by saying that Zimmerman's brother "has his own opinions about things. He does not represent the defense, and he does not represent George." At the same time, when shown an interview with Piers Morgan in which Robert Zimmerman defended his photo comparison, O'Mara said, "I think what he was suggesting was that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor." And in any case, the damage was done in terms of criminalizing the victim in this case, and Black youth as a whole.

And Robert Zimmerman isn't the only one actively trying to create public opinion in defense of Trayvon's killer. There is a lot of shit being put out in social media trying to defame Trayvon Martin. For example one image sent around has a real photo of Trayvon Martin with an arrow pointing to it with the words, "The Trayvon Martin photo used by the hysterical race baiters, 12 year old boy." Then there is a fake photo of Trayvon, showing someone with a skull cap, shirtless, in a gangster pose, with the words, "Trayvon Martin, 17 years old, 6' 2", FU photo from his Facebook page."

The INjustice System

Thousands now have to ask themselves—now that George Zimmerman is going to trial, what are you going to do?

Most definitely, the people can't sit back and "let the justice system work." We already saw how the INjustice system worked when it let George Zimmerman go free. He was not arrested on the spot. His victim, Trayvon Martin, was treated like the perpetrator while Zimmerman was let go after questioning. The police told Trayvon's father one reason Zimmerman wasn't arrested was because they respected his educational background in criminal justice and he had a "squeaky clean" record… even though Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for "battery on a law enforcement officer." The police did a background check on Trayvon Martin as he lay dead, but not on Zimmerman, the murderer. They tested Trayvon Martin's blood for alcohol and drugs but not Zimmerman's.

Recently, tapes of the police interrogation of George Zimmerman a day after the murder were made public. An article in the Miami Herald reported that detectives who interviewed Zimmerman did not believe his story, but that "Sanford Police Det. Chris Serino told Zimmerman in a series of interviews that day that he was a 'good guy.'" And no charges were brought—until weeks of struggle created a situation where the powers-that-be felt they needed to do something to diffuse people's anger.

The Struggle Must Intensify

With the trial of George Zimmerman the struggle for justice for Trayvon must intensify. Remember, the prosecution, which is now supposed to be making the case against Zimmerman in court, refused to even charge him for weeks—accepting his claim that he acted in self-defense… even though Zimmerman had a gun and Trayvon Martin was "armed" with Skittles and an iced tea; even though Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds and Trayvon Martin weighed 140 pounds.

And we've seen time and time again how prosecutors routinely forget how to prosecute and judges go along with this—when it comes to police gunning down Black and Latino youth. Just last month, the indictment of the NYPD pig who murdered Ramarley Graham was thrown out by a judge on a technicality—that the prosecutors gave faulty instructions to the grand jury. People's rights are trampled on left and right in the courtroom, but when it comes to the rights of a cop or a racist vigilante who kills a Black or Latino youth, all of a sudden, the courts are very concerned about their rights.

This trial should NOT be about what happened after George Zimmerman left his car and followed Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman—who was the only one with a gun that night—was the aggressor as soon as he got out of his car. Whatever the truth is about the possible confrontation that occurred (though many might think that Trayvon himself was justified in defending himself against the aggressor if that is what happened) is not relevant.

The stage is set for an intense back-and-forth between those fighting for justice and those who would set back this struggle. People poured into the streets after the murder of Trayvon Martin because they saw that this was NOT an isolated incident, that it was yet another killing in a long history of Black youth gunned down by racist vigilantes or brutal police. And people were determined that this time, the killer would NOT go free. After this, George Zimmerman was arrested and is now going to trial. But now, the people need to get in the street, once again to demand real justice.


* * * * *

Tremaine and Trayvon: What this System does to the Youth

We received the following correspondence from a reader:

In Miami, 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian visited the beach with his family and his new puppy. A trip to the beach over Memorial Day weekend is not unusual for many Florida families. In typical 14-year-old fashion, Tremaine and his friends jokingly roughhoused on the beach, pushing and shoving each other playfully. The skirmish ended without injury when Tremaine tackled his friend, knocking him onto the sand.

Tremaine picked up Polo, his six-week-old puppy, when he heard the sound of an ATV approaching. The ATV swerved in front of McMillian. The cop riding the ATV jumped off and demanded to know where Tremaine's parents were. Tremaine continued to walk with Polo in his arms licking the bottle Tremaine was using to feed him. As Tremaine approached the roadway, the officer slapped the puppy out of Tremaine's arms and tackled him onto the concrete. Tremaine's face cringes in pain as the officer tightens the chokehold on his neck. Tremaine's mother watches through the screen of her cell phone; recording her son shirtless, wearing a bathing suit, his face pressed against the pavement while two officers force handcuffs around his thin wrists.

McMillian is facing felony charges of resisting arrest with violence. The judge has refused to drop the charges and is sending the case to trial. What did Tremaine do to deserve being brutally assaulted, arrested, and charged with a felony? Well, if you haven't already guessed, Tremaine was Black and male and in the United States of America. According to the police, Tremaine appeared to be a threat because he gave the officer "dehumanizing stares." Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta spoke to CBS Miami in defense of the officer's actions, explaining that Tremaine's "body language" posed a threat to the officer.

This sounds so familiar. Let's rewind history to February 26, 2012 and travel about 300 miles north to Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin, just three years older than Tremaine, purchases an Arizona Iced Tea and a pack of Skittles from a convenience store and begins the walk back to his family's home. Wannabe cop George Zimmerman spots Trayvon, assumes he's up to no good, and follows him. Why was Trayvon a threat? George Zimmerman describes Trayvon's dehumanizing stare and his body language in his call to 911, just minutes before Zimmerman fired the shot that fatally pierced Trayvon Martin's chest.

Zimmerman: Hey we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there's a real suspicious guy, uh, [near] Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.


Dispatcher: OK, he's just walking around the area...

Zimmerman: ...looking at all the houses.

Dispatcher: OK...

Zimmerman: Now he's just staring at me.

Zimmerman: He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male.

Trayvon was carrying candy and a drink. Tremaine was armed with a puppy and a bottle. Both young men looked ("stared") at their assailant, both were young and Black, and both were considered a threat, thus deeming them worthy of brutality and death.

Killing Trayvon Twice

Last week George Zimmerman's defense team unleashed a trove of pictures and text messages taken from Trayvon Martin's cell phone. The defense claims that these photos and texts prove that Trayvon Martin had a history of violence and marijuana use, thus justifying Zimmerman in killing him.

The Martin family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, responded to the photos saying, "Trayvon Martin did not have a gun. Trayvon Martin did not get out of the car to chase anybody. Trayvon Martin did not shoot and kill anybody. Trayvon Martin is not on trial." Catherine Poe, in her May 30 Washington Times article, "Trying Trayvon in Court of Public Opinion," very correctly pointed out the malicious intent and irony of the defense's posthumous smear campaign against Trayvon: "His tactics, which only serve to pollute the jury, are as old as the hills. Women in rape cases are too often exposed to such tactics as revealing any prior personal history from their sexual conduct to a criminal record, none of which has anything to do with the actual crime of their being raped."

The outcome of this trail is not predetermined. Judge Nelson has denied a trial delay and refused to allow the defense to use Trayvon's photos and text messages in the trial, at this point. What does this mean? If at any point the court deems the photos and texts relevant to the case, they can be used as evidence to incriminate Trayvon. Trayvon cannot defend himself, he's dead, but the damage has already been done and this is just the beginning.

The system has only started revving up its campaign to allow Zimmerman to walk. Between the montages of Trayvon Martin photos, the media has started to draw parallels between the 1992 LA Rebellion and the potential of violence stemming from "outsiders" in the wake of Zimmerman's verdict. Simultaneously, Sanford police, in coordination with state and federal authorities (including the Department of Justice) have cordoned off protest zones and prepared militarized "incident command centers" to deal with anyone stepping outside the bounds of acceptable outrage. The police have initiated community outreach campaigns, "walk and talks" with the police chief going door-to-door in the mostly Black neighborhood of Goldsboro (which for decades has endured racism, often at the hands of the police). The city has also called on local preachers in an attempt to pacify residents in the event of a not guilty verdict.

Whether it's Tremaine or Trayvon or the countless others who are beaten, humiliated, incarcerated, and murdered at the hands of law enforcement and other enforcers of white supremacy, we say NO MORE! If you sit back and wait for the system to "work," it WILL work. It IS working when it lets off the killers and brutalizers of Black and brown youth around the country and it will work if it lets Trayvon Martin's murderer walk free.

It is up to you. What you do now matters. Last year thousands of us stepped out into the streets outraged at the system's refusal to arrest Zimmerman and the blatant racism linked to this murder. But it is not just about Trayvon Martin or Tremaine McMillian. It is about refusing to allow this system to deny the humanity of a whole section of humanity. It is about straightening our backs, standing up, and raising the sights of others to demand: NO MORE!


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