Tag Archives: Emmett Till

Trayvon Martin: When “Suspicion” Leads to (Wrongful) Death


On the evening of February 26th, Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old high schooler who was visiting family in Sanford, Fla., was returning back from a trip to 7-11 to the residence he was visiting in a gated neighborhood.

He was a young, Black man who looked “suspicious” to self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman – a man who had a violent past, himself, according to other neighborhood witnesses.

Zimmerman follows Martin in his SUV. He calls the local police dispatch for back-up because Martin looks “suspicious.” Dispatch assures Zimmerman that they would be sending someone to handle the young man and instruct him to remain in his vehicle. Zimmerman ignores orders and exits the vehicle, armed with a 9 mm gun. There is an altercation. Someone screams for help just before one single gunshot is fired. That someone was Trayvon Martin, shot to death approximately 70 feet from his father and step-mother’s home.

It was dark.

He was wearing a hoodie.

He was armed with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles. 

Trayvon Martin suffered one fatal gunshot wound to his chest. He was listed as a John Doe and his body is transported to the coroner’s office, while his family reported him missing.

Once Zimmerman was in police custody, he admits to shooting Martin, claims self defense during questioning, and is released.

Meanwhile, it’s March 17th. There is no one charged with Trayvon Martin’s murder – 3 and a half weeks later.

The State’s Attorney has taken up the case – but only after public outrage of the incident. Still, no one – not even Zimmerman – has been arrested in connection with Martin’s murder.

I just wonder: what was Trayvon Martin doing that made him seem so “suspicious” to George Zimmerman? Was it his attire? Was it the questionable way he was carrying his ba g of Skittles and bottle of tea? Was it because he was a young man of color strolling around in a gated neighborhood?

Furthermore, what was it that made George Zimmerman ignore orders from dispatchers and exit his vehicle with his gun in tow? I mean, Zimmerman had an over 100 lb. advantage on 17-year old Trayvon Martin. It’s not like he was approaching a posse of young Black men loitering, or “posted up” in the gated neighborhood. No. Trayvon was by himself and was headed back to the place where he was staying. He was supposed to be in the neighborhood.

If you think that’s unbelievable, just think about the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other instances of young Black men and other men of color gunned down innocently by police, or those falsely believing they have the same power as law enforcement and seeking vigilante justice – much like George Zimmerman.

A few of those young men come to mind:  Oscar Grant III (2009), Sean Bell (2006), and Emmett Till (1955). The list goes on.

What’s sad is that it took a couple of weeks for mainstream news outlets to headline this case of wrongful death. What’s even more tragic is that I live in a society where suspicion justifies excessive force, unwarranted searches, and wrongful deaths of too many other nameless and faceless men of color. What’s deplorable is the fact historically in America, Black men and boys (and other men of color) have been viewed as public enemy number one and have been treated as such.

It pains me to hear the haunting 911 tapes recording Trayvon’s last stand with Zimmerman. Warning: it entails an innocent, unarmed child screaming for help.

In 1955, it was the way that Emmett Till allegedly winked/cat-called/spoke to a white woman in Mississippi. Today it was the suspicious looking clothing Trayvon was apparently wearing: a hoodie and sweatpants/jeans.

Is that all it takes to get murdered as a young man of color?

I thought it was just drugs, neighborhood/turf violence, HIV/AIDS, and incarceration that was taking them away from us. Turns out its police brutality and vigilante justice that also makes that list.

As a sister of a young Black man and hopefully, as a mother of one in the future, this grieves my very soul. Trayvon Martin could have been my cousin. He could have been my brother. He could have been my son. It saddens me that I have to warn my brother about the dangers of looking “suspicious” and make sure he’s mindful of these things to save his life. It angers me that one day in the future, I’m going to have to have the same talk to educate my sons.

Who knows what Trayvon Martin would have become? His life was cut short because of a wrongful assumption and it seems like justice is dragging its feet.

But what a lot of people neglect to realize is that what happened to Trayvon Martin is not a “Black issue.” It’s a Human Rights issue. Everyone should be outraged.

But for those of us who are filled to the brim with righteous indignation, it’s time to DO something. Today, I called the State’s attorney’s office (who is now handling the case because apparently the Sanford, FL police department can’t be trusted to do an appropriate investigation) to express my concern and disappointment at the fact that no has been charged for this murder. I urge any and everyone who feels the same way I do to not only sign the online petition going around, but to also call and express your concerns [407.665.6410 or 407.665.6000]. This is an issue too big not to make a move on.

Trayvon Martin and his family deserve justice.

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” -Frederick Douglass

What do you think about this entire shebacle? Weigh in the comments section!