Socialist Worker

Anger at racism explodes after Trayvon Martin verdict

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2362

Protests across the US

Protests across the US (Pic: The Eyes of New York on flickr.com)


Protests have spread across the US following the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case last Saturday. 

George Zimmerman has admitted gunning down the unarmed black 17 year old in Florida in February last year. 

Yet an all-white jury acquitted him of murder.

Trayvon had popped out from where he was staying temporarily in a gated community to buy a packet of skittles sweets and a soft drink. 

He was walking back when Zimmerman, the “community’s” neighbourhood watch coordinator, started to follow him.

Zimmerman stopped to get his gun and call the police—who told him to stop. But Zimmerman continued and approached Trayvon. 

He claims Trayvon assaulted him, though this wasn’t backed up by forensic evidence.

The police waited weeks before arresting Zimmerman.

Zimmerman used Florida’s notorious Stand Your Ground law in his defence. This shifts the burden of proof to those arguing that a killing was not carried out in self defence.

Some 30 other US states have now passed similar laws.

Threatened

Last year Marissa Alexander, a black woman in Florida, also used the Stand Your Ground defence. 

She said she fired warning shots into a wall when threatened by her abusive husband. 

But she was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Florida law says that any crime involving a gun carries an automatic jail sentence of ten years. If the gun is fired that rises to 20 years. 

Police, security guards or other self appointed security forces in the US shot dead at least 160 black people in the first six months of last year.Thirteen were under 18 years old. 

One 13 year old black boy in north London who had joined a protest over the killing said, “I felt confused when I heard this verdict. 

“What kind of society do we live in if you can shoot someone and just get away with it?”

This is the last nail in the coffin of the idea that the US under Barack Obama is in some way post-racial. Racism in endemic to the system.

Some 10,000 people protested in New York and there have been smaller protests across the country and around the world.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said, “The one thing the 1960s taught us is you’ve got to stay on an issue. You can’t just get mad and go home. 

“You’ve got to stay on it, and we’re going to stay on this until we get some justice.”

President Obama said of the verdict, “We are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”

Yet the level of anger is such that he is considering bringing federal charges against Zimmerman, using hate crime legislation.

March Against Racism In Support Of Trayvon Martin, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and against police spying—Saturday 27 July, assemble 2pm US embassy. March to Downing Street

If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Article information

International
Tue 16 Jul 2013, 17:51 BST
Issue No. 2362
Share this article


Tags



Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.