Monday, March 26, marks the one month anniversary of the shooting death of unarmed 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida allegedly by George Zimmerman, 28, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, though Martin was carrying only ice tea, a bag of Skittles and his cell phone – messages from which reportedly indicate cries for help before a gunshot is heard. Zimmerman was not arrested and remains free – which has riled many nationwide who claim the police department failed to do their job. Even if Zimmerman is arrested, however, MSNBC News reports his prosecution could be “difficult” because of Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law.
Openly gay African American Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart is among those who decry the “suspicion of others” African Americans continue to endure and feels that what happened to Trayvon Martin could have happened to him.
Several rallies have already been held in Los Angeles and another one is planned for today at 4:00pm at LA City Hall.
I attended the Haas Jr/NLGJA reporters and bloggers convening in Houston, Texas over the weekend and on Friday night, March 23, we had dinner with lesbian Mayor Annise Parker. The mayor of America’s fourth largest city and Kathy Hubbard, her life partner for more than 21 years, have three adopted African American children.
I asked Parker for comment on the tragedy, noting that President Obama had just said: “If I had a son he would have looked like Treyvon.” Without hesitation, Parker said: “I have a son who looks like Trayvon Martin.”
Parker then pulled back from responding in a more personal manner. She noted that she met that afternoon with the city’s police chief, a meeting they have once a week, and therefore wanted to respond as the mayor of a city with a 5,000-person police force which has had it’s “share of police incidents:”
I cannot understand why the police chief could not understand why this guy wasn’t arrested. And why he wasn’t before a grand jury almost immediately. You can’t be in a neighborhood watch in Houston without pledging not to be armed. And if you’re in a neighborhood watch and you legally carry a weapon – for the dispatcher to say, ‘Don’t get out of your car, don’t get out of your car’ – and you jump out – you’re an aggressor.
And I’m not privy to all the information but I think there’s somehow been a miscarriage of justice and it needs to be rectified. The way that should work is if the local justice system fails, the federal justice system steps in – and apparently the Justice Department is going to do just that.