Justice !!!Zimmerman charged with second-degree murder in Trayvon Martin shooting

By Dylan Stableford |

George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old neighborhood watchman who shot and killed Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., has been charged with second-degree murder in the 17-year-old’s death. Zimmerman is being held without bail.

“Just moments ago that we spoke with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the sweet parents of Trayvon,” Angela Corey, the special prosecutor investigating the case, said at a news conference in Jacksonville. “They now know charges have been filed, and that George Zimmerman is in custody.”

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” she said, declining to discuss specifics of the investigation. “We’re law enforcement. We enforce the law.”

Zimmerman turned himself in and is in police custody in Florida, Corey said, but would not disclose where he is being held.

According to CNN, Zimmerman had left the state of Florida, but returned when he learned he would be charged. Zimmerman will now be transferred to the Seminole County Jail, Corey said.

The announcement comes a day after Zimmerman’s attorneys said that they were dropping the case because their client had stopped communicating with them. (On Sunday, Zimmerman launched a website seeking donations for his legal and living expenses.) According to Corey, Zimmerman had retained new legal counsel “within the last hour.”

Zimmerman shot and killed Martin on Feb. 26  in Sanford, Fla., a gated community outside of Orlando. He told police he was attacked by Martin and was acting in self-defense.

Earlier this week, Corey announced the case would not go to a grand jury.

“There’s been an overwhelming amount of publicity,” Corey said, expressing concern about damage to a potential jury pool. “It’s regrettable that so many facts got released and misconstrued.”

“Forty-five days ago, Trayvon Martin was murdered,” Rev. Al Sharpton said at a separate press conference in Washington, flanked by Martin’s parents. “No arrest was made. The chief of police announced after his review of the evidence there would be no arrest. His parents refused to leave it there.”

“Tonight,” Sharpton continued. “Maybe America can come together and say only the facts should matter, when dealing with a loss of life.

“This is not a night for celebration,” he added. “This is a night that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

“It’s about justice, justice, justice,” Ben Crump, the Martin family’s attorney, said. “If we just stand our ground, we can make a difference.”

Martin’s parents spoke briefly at the press conference.

“We simply wanted an arrest, and we got it,” Fulton said. “Thank you Lord. Thank you Jesus … A heart has no color. It’s not white, it’s not black–it’s red. And I just want to thank you from my heart to your heart.”

“We will continue to walk by faith,” Tracy Martin said. “And we will march and march and march until the right thing is done.”

Decision in Trayvon Martin case expected by Friday; Zimmerman goes AWOL from lawyers


McClatchy Newspapers

SANFORD, Fla. —         With prosecutors saying they will announce a decision in the Trayvon Martin case by Friday, George Zimmerman appears to have struck out on his own.

     He launched a website without telling his two attorneys, spoke to a talk show host and put in a call to the special prosecutor investigating him for the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin. After Zimmerman went AWOL from his lawyers for two days, the attorneys held a news conference late Tuesday afternoon and quit.

     Hours later, special prosecutor Angela Corey announced she would make an important announcement in the case in the next 72 hours.

     “I’d have to count how many text messages I sent saying: ‘Please call me. Please call me collect. Please text me. Please email me. Please, so we can go forward,’ ” one of Zimmerman’s lawyers, Craig Sonner, said about his former client. “After I started getting calls from different people saying that he was giving statements to the media, calling the prosecutor’s office and not calling me, that’s when it started dawning on me that I wasn’t the attorney of record anymore.”

     Now, the parents of the Miami Gardens teenager Zimmerman shot say they fear the man their lawyers call the “neighborhood watch loose cannon” will run. For the first time, Sonner and co-counsel Hal Uhrig acknowledged that Zimmerman is “far from Florida,” but still inside the United States.

     “He is well hidden,” Sonner said.

     They stressed that they never considered Zimmerman a flight risk, because he always cooperated with law enforcement and was easily reachable by phone. Even now, the attorneys say that a man who is poised to flee the country to avoid possible criminal charges would not check in with the prosecutors who appear poised to arrest him.

     “We were a bit astounded,” Uhrig said, stressing that he always tells clients not to talk to prosecutors, cops, reporters or anybody else. “Now he is telling people: ‘I don’t have an attorney. Those guys were just my legal advisers.’ I’m not sure what the difference is.”

     Sonner said Zimmerman was eager to tell the state attorney his side of the story. “He wanted to give his statement, and I was going to let him,” Sonner said. “But he was supposed to call me. Let me make the call. I hope he has found someone else to represent him.”

     Zimmerman went into hiding after Sanford Police declined to arrest him for Martin’s shooting, sparking nationwide outrage.

     Martin, 17, a junior at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School, went for a walk to the store on a rainy Sunday night in Sanford, where he was visiting his father and his father’s girlfriend. Zimmerman called police, saying there was something suspicious about someone who walked too slowly in the rain, seemed high on drugs and appeared to be “looking about.”

     About six minutes later, Martin was dead.

     The neighborhood watch captain told police that Martin approached him from behind, that the two exchanged harsh words and that the boy allegedly hit him hard enough to break his nose. He said Martin slammed his head on the concrete, forcing Zimmerman to fire once with the semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry on a holster on his waist.

     But the investigation that followed was so fraught with problems that it was not long before the case caught the attention of civil rights figures such as the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Intense pressure from around the country grew until Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor and the Sanford police chief took a leave of absence.

     The FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division are investigating the case.

     Now that the probe is in the hands of the Jacksonville-based special prosecutor, Marin’s family attorneys believe an arrest is imminent, but they were concerned by the defense lawyers’ decision to withdraw from the case.

     “The family is deeply concerned that George Zimmerman could pose a flight risk if he does indeed face charges in the murder of Trayvon Martin,” family spokesman Ryan Julison said in a statement. “All the family has asked for from the very beginning is simple justice. It is their hope that George Zimmerman will face his legal responsibilities if arrested and charged.”

     Zimmerman’s former lawyers said things started going wrong when they heard through the media that their client had launched a website called “The Real George Zimmerman.” The site had a PayPal account to process donations, even though the attorneys were working with Zimmerman’s father to start a legal defense fund in the father’s name.

     “On Sunday February 26th, I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage,” Zimmerman wrote on his website. “As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life. This website’s sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.”

     Martin’s parents scoffed at the wording, noting that Trayvon suffered not a “life-altering” event, but “a life-ending one,” his father, Tracy Martin, said.

     Zimmerman had to leave his home and job, but Martin won’t get to attend prom, graduate from high school or achieve any of his dreams, he said.

     Zimmernman’s website features philosophical quotes from Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke and other historical figures.

     A link marked “My race” leads to this quotation by Paine: “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” From University of Vermont historian James W. Loewen, he posted: “Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight.”

     At first, Sonner said he was fine with Zimmerman launching his own website, even with a different fundraising account that went directly to his former client.

     “That money is for George,” Sonner said. “It’s not for me, and I don’t want my hands on it.”

     But then the attorneys found out Zimmerman had also reached out to Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity. Hannity had recently interviewed Zimmerman’s dad and asked sympathetic questions such as “Is it true George mentored a black teenager?”

     Late Tuesday morning, Zimmerman called the office of special prosecutor Corey, the state attorney for Duval, Nassau and Clay counties. Her office refused his call, because prosecutors are not allowed to speak to suspects without their lawyers present, the lawyers said. The attorneys described a man who appears to be unraveling from the stress, the bounty put on his head by extremists and from more than 40 days hiding in a room.

     “George Zimmerman is not doing well emotionally,” Uhrig, one of his two former lawyers, said. “He probably has post traumatic stress disorder, and we understand from other people that he has lost a lot of weight. By him doing this, he may not be in control of what’s going on. We’re concerned.”

     Both lawyers made clear that if Zimmerman reaches out to them, they would be happy to take the case back: They believe in his innocence, they said. They stressed that Zimmerman owes them no money, because they had agreed to work for free until charges were filed.

     “This is the last thing I want to do,” Sonner said. “I am invested in this case. I put a lot of work into this case.”

     Even after publicly resigning, Uhrig proceeded to emphatically represent Zimmerman’s position, insisting that the media, members of Congress, activists and others had made an unfair rush to judgment.

     He insisted that Martin “slinked along the back of buildings” in the gated community where the shooting occurred, and ultimately threw the first punch. The crime committed, he said, was battery against Zimmerman.

     He mimicked the voice of U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla. – who has advocated for Zimmerman’s arrest – and railed against the people who came to Sanford “pumping their fists.”

     “There are people who came to town who are only relevant in situations of racial strife,” Uhrig said. “Their business model is racial division.”

Jsais: Wow, Zimmerman should have thought twice before he cornered an innocent man and killed him.  If indeed Trayvon did hit him first it was warranted, he was protecting himself.  He didn’t shoot Zimmerman, he didn’t even have a gun.  These events are unfortunate on both sides.  But as I’ve always said, hate never wins………Zimmerman has not yet been convicted yet he has already lost………(Lost his mind apparently, lmao!)

Prosecutor rules out grand jury in Trayvon Martin case

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – The special prosecutor investigating the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin on Monday ruled out using a grand jury in the case, meaning her office alone will decide whether to charge shooter George Zimmerman with a crime.

              The case has captured national attention because of race and Florida’s controversial self-defense laws, prompting demonstrations across the country including one on Monday that temporarily shut down the Sanford Police Department in the town where the shooting took place.

              Martin, 17, was black and Zimmerman, 28, who has not been charged, is white and Hispanic.

              Sanford police declined to arrest Zimmerman after the shooting, saying they found no evidence to contradict his account that he acted in self-defense. Police cited Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force against adversaries when they fear great bodily harm or death.

But defense lawyers with experience litigating “Stand Your Ground” cases say Zimmerman, if he is charged, faces significant challenges in order to assert immunity under that law.

              Zimmerman has created a website to raise money for his legal defense and living expenses while he awaits the decision over possible charges against him.

              The website, called therealgeorgezimmerman.com, offers one of the first publicly available comments from Zimmerman since he went into hiding after the shooting on February 26.

              “I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage,” Zimmerman says on the home page.

“As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life.”

The state attorney who initially investigated the shooting, Norm Wolfinger, had said the case would go to a grand jury on April 10. The panel, a group of citizens who meet in secret to hear evidence without defense witnesses or cross-examination, would have decided whether to charge Zimmerman.

But Wolfinger, facing withering criticism, removed himself from the case on March 22. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, also under fire for his handling of the investigation, stepped aside the same day.

Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed Angela Corey, a seasoned state attorney in Jacksonville, to take over the case as special prosecutor.

“State Attorney Angela Corey has decided not to use a grand jury in the Trayvon Martin shooting death investigation,” her office said in a statement on Monday. “At this time, the investigation continues and there will be no further comment from this office.”


Corey’s decision appeared to confirm her reputation as a prosecutor who does not shy away from deciding how to handle difficult cases.

Lawyers for the Martin family and for Zimmerman called Corey’s decision unsurprising.

“We are not surprised by this announcement and, in fact, are hopeful that a decision will be reached very soon to arrest George Zimmerman and give Trayvon Martin’s family the simple justice they have been seeking all along,” Benjamin Crump, a Martin family attorney, said in a statement.

“Courageous move on her part,” one of the lawyers representing the Zimmerman family, Hal Uhrig, told CNN. He also said the decision was expected.

Unlike some states, Florida law gives prosecutors the option of allowing charges to be decided by a grand jury except in cases involving a possible death penalty.

“It’s very bold on her part,” said David Weinstein, a former Florida state and federal prosecutor now in private practice in Miami. “She has no qualms about whatever decision she is going to make. She is not going to let it be passed off on somebody else.”

Relatives and supporters of Zimmerman say he was attacked by Martin and feared for his life when he fired his 9mm handgun, which he was licensed to carry.

Should Zimmerman face charges and attempt to claim immunity under “Stand Your Ground,” he would face legal challenges, experts say.


The first hurdle would be a special evidentiary hearing in front of a judge, where Zimmerman would have the opportunity to argue he deserves immunity. But to convince the judge, Zimmerman would have to present a “preponderance of evidence” that he acted in self-defense, which under the law means he has to show he had “reasonable belief” that such force was necessary.

That is a high bar, and difficult to prove, criminal defense attorneys said.

In cases where the facts are even remotely in dispute the judge is likely to deny the “Stand Your Ground” immunity motion, said Ralph Behr, a Florida criminal defense attorney who has filed eight motions for immunity, all of which have been denied.

More typically, a judge will choose to have the case go to trial, where the defendants must take their chances with a jury, he said.

“Judges do not readily grant these (immunity) motions because they know they can pass it on to the jury,” said Carey Haughwout, the elected public defender for Palm Beach County.

Monday’s demonstration, which followed protests around the country and prominent figures demanding Zimmerman’s arrest, took place outside the Sanford Police Department.

              The crowd forced police to temporarily close the station to the public, suspend some services such as fingerprinting and move routine business to the city clerk’s office.

              (Additional reporting by Andrew Longstreth and Daniel Trotta in New York and David Adams and Kevin Gray in Miami; Editing by Xavier Briand and Lisa Shumaker)

Armed Neo-Nazis Now Patrolling Sanford, Say They Are “Prepared” For Post-Trayvon Martin Violence

By Michael MillerFri., Apr. 6 2012 at 7:00 AM

Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are “prepared” for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”

Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community. Schoep, whose neo-Nazi group is based in Detroit, tells Riptide the patrols are a response to white residents’ fears of a race riot.

A group called the New Black Panther Party recently offered $10,000 for a citizens’ arrest of George Zimmerman, Martin’s shooter. Schoep said the bounty is a sign that “the possibility of further racial violence… is brimming over like a powder keg ready to explode into the streets.”
The patrols are comprised of between 10 and 20 locals and “volunteers” from across the state, including some from Miami, he added. He couldn’t go into specifics on what kind of firepower, exactly, the patrols had with them.”In Arizona the guys can walk around with assault weapons and that’s totally legal,” Schoep said, referring to the group’s patrols of the US-Mexico border. “What I can tell you is that any patrols that we are doing now in Florida are totally within the law.” Asked if the patrols wouldn’t just make things worse — spark a race riot, for instance — Schoep insisted they were simply a “show of solidarity with the white community down there” and “wouldn’t intimidate anybody.”

“Whenever there is one of these racially charged events, Al Sharpton goes wherever blacks need him,” Schoep said. “We do similar things. We are a white civil rights organization.”
He went to great lengths to contrast his organization with the New Black Panther Party, who he blamed for scaring local whites and spurring the need for NSM patrols. Schoep admits that the NSM and the Black Panthers are actually alike in that they are both racial separatists. But he sees a double-standard in the government’s treatment of the two groups.”The Black Panthers have been offering bounties and all that,” he says. “But if we called for a bounty on someone’s head, I guarantee we’d be locked up as quick as I could walk out of my house.”  Schoep was also quick to clarify that he isn’t taking sides in Trayvon Martin’s controversial shooting. “That’s for the courts to decide,” he says. Besides, Schoep says, Zimmerman’s not even white.

“I think there is some confusion going on,” Schoep says. “A lot of people think that this guy who shot Trayvon was white… but he’s half Hispanic or Cuban or something. He certainly doesn’t look white to me.” To some, sending in the storm troops seems like a sure way to incite — not prevent — a race riot. But Schoep says that’s way off base. “We don’t wish for things like that,” he says. “But there have been race riots in Detroit and L.A… So we know those types of things happen.”

“You can either be prepared or you can be blindsided,” he adds. “This way, if something were to touch off a race riot, we’d already be in the area.”
How reassuring.

JSAIS:  A  Young black man was shot down, cold blooded in the streets of Sanford, Fla. and the law protects his killer.  Since this story has come out, resident’s of this community says this is nothing new these things happen often, but they have not been publicised………Hum, but the White folk of Sanford, Fla needs to be protected…………….WoW.  It’s crazy to me that the law protects these guys, allow them to patrol there armed, self appointed patrol men, sounds familiar. ….. I wonder if the New black panther party did the same thing would the laws of Sanford, Fla protect them………. because obviously its the black community of Samford that needs to be protected.   Family, hate kills…….period, it eats you from the inside out.  We all know the real reason these guys are down there, and its going to eat them from the inside out. 

Trayvon Martin Resolution Introduced By Congressional Black Caucus

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Black Caucus unveiled a resolution on Wednesday that honors the life of Trayvon Martin and calls for the repeal of “Stand Your Ground” gun laws in every state that has one, including Florida, where Martin was killed.

“Florida’s misguided ‘Stand Your Ground’ law does not make our streets safer, rather it turns our streets into a showdown at the OK Corral,” Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), a sponsor of the resolution, said in a statement. “But this is not the Wild West. We are supposed to be a civilized society. Let Trayvon’s death not be for naught. Let us honor his life by righting this wrong, and seeing that justice is served for Trayvon and his family. George Zimmerman must be prosecuted for his admitted shooting of Trayvon Martin and the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law must be repealed.”Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who represents Martin’s district, said Congress should pass the resolution because his death “speaks to the reality that racial profiling still exists in America.”

The resolution, symbolic but not legally binding, indirectly criticizes the National Rifle Association for pushing Stand Your Ground state laws around the country. It also calls on state legislatures to reject similar legislation and “urges the repeal of the Stand Your Ground law in every applicable state, including Florida.”

Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., has avoided arrest under the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which allows a person who feels threatened to “stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.” More than half of U.S. states have similar laws. Martin’s shooting has infuriated the black community, among others, because Martin, who was black, was unarmed and doesn’t appear to have been doing anything wrong when Zimmerman pursued him.

Congress wouldn’t be able to consider the resolution until at least the week of April 16, when lawmakers return from recess. But a senior GOP aide said Wednesday that House Republican leaders don’t plan to bring it to a vote at all.

The aide said there are concerns that the resolution could raise jurisdictional issues since local and federal law enforcement agencies are already investigating Martin’s killing.

Justice in New Orleans: New Orleans police officers convicted in post-Katrina shootings face sentencing

CNN) — Five former New Orleans police officers who were found guilty of shooting unarmed civilians on New Orleans’ Danziger Bridge in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will be sentenced Wednesday.

The shootings occurred on Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005, six days after much of New Orleans went underwater after the powerful hurricane slammed into the Gulf Coast.

Prosecutors contend the officers opened fire on an unarmed family, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others.

Minutes later, one of the officers shot and killed Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man described by Justice Department officials as having severe mental disabilities.

Madison was trying to flee the scene when he was shot, according to a Justice Department statement. One of the officers allegedly “stomped and kicked” Madison before he died, the statement noted.

in August, Officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso were convicted along with a fifth defendant, former detective Arthur Kaufman, on a combined 25 counts of civil rights violations.

Bowen, Gisevius, Villavaso and Faulcon left the police department after the shooting.

“The citizens of this country will not, should not, and we intend that they will never have to fear the individuals who are called upon to protect them,” U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said at the time.

During the trial, the defense asked the jury to consider the stressful circumstances the officers were operating under following Katrina.

The shootings took place during a week of dire flooding, rampant looting and death by drowning. Police were strained, beset by suicides and desertion.

Local prosecutors filed similar charges, but no one was convicted. Federal prosecutors then moved in and launched an investigation.

Other officers have already been convicted in connection with the shootings. They include Michael Hunter, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to conspiracy to obstruct justice. Hunter was sentenced to eight years in prison.

According to court documents, Hunter drove in a rental truck to Danziger Bridge with other officers to respond to a radio call about gunshots and reports that officers on the nearby Interstate 10 bridge had come under fire.

At the time, New Orleans police said they got into a running gun battle with several people.

That’s when officers encountered the Madison brothers, Ronald and Lance.

Lance Madison told CNN he and his brother had left their flooded home and were crossing the bridge to find shelter. They were unwittingly headed to an area where armed looters were marauding, he said.

He said police officers were the only ones shooting as he and his brother ran for safety. A witness told CNN in 2006 that police shot Ronald Madison in the back as he ran toward a motel at the bottom of the bridge.

“Hunter … admitted that he was present on the west side of the Danziger Bridge when an officer, identified as Officer A, shot and killed Ronald Madison, a civilian who was running away from officers with his hands in view, and did not have a weapon or pose a threat,” the Justice Department said.

Hunter admitted that officers on the east side of the Danziger Bridge fired at civilians, even though the same civilians did not appear to have any weapons, the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division launched an investigation into what it called “patterns or practices” of alleged misconduct by New Orleans police in the aftermath of Katrina.

In 2010, three former officers were convicted in the case of 31-year-old Henry Glover, who was shot to death and his body burned. One former officer was convicted of shooting Glover and the others convicted of attempting to cover up the crime.

Last year, the Justice Department said a federal investigation found New Orleans police engaged in patterns of misconduct, including using excessive force, conducting unconstitutional stops and searches and illegally profiling people based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Authorities pledged to establish a consent decree involving federal oversight of the police force, including benchmarks to measure improvement.

Voice Experts Claim Cries Heard On 911 Call Were Not George Zimmerman’s

Before George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on February 26, a 911 call recorded the voice of someone screaming. Whether that person was Martin or Zimmerman — who police say claimed he was attacked by Martin before the fatal incident — has been an open question since the calls were released by the Sanford, Florida police department.

The Orlando Sentinel consulted two voice experts to try to settle the debate, and both came to the same conclusion: The cries could not have come from George Zimmerman.

Posted ByJonathan PerriSenior Campaigner

April 03, 2012

America has given up on young black men, like Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin is more valuable to America as a dead young Black man than he ever was alive!  As a dead symbol, the president can claim  him as a son he never had, but as a living Black man, the American criminal justice system claims one out of three young Black men born after 2001.   As a dead symbol, Republican presidential candidates can claim that Trayvon deserves his right to live as an American; but many living young Black men, like Trayvon, are stripped of their rights every day because of harsh, racially-targeted and overly-punitive laws created by and pushed by Republicans.

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, reminds us that more Black men are in prison today than there were Blacks enslaved in America in 1850.  She suggests that we have not really ended Jim Crow, but have just given it another name – the criminal justice system.  We can also call it the education system or the economic system, but they all equate to a new system of racial control of Black Americans just like Jim Crow.

America knows how to use the symbol of a dead young Black man to achieve its objectives.  When symbols are used correctly sweatshirt companies profit, candy companies profit and iced-tea companies profit, for-profit prisons flourish and America cleanses its conscience while the deplorable plight of young Black men in America remains the same.  America has given up on young Black men, like Trayvon Martin.  As a dead symbol, Trayvon might spark a national conversation on race, but as a living young Black man, Trayvon probably couldn’t get a job at a fast-food restaurant.

No place in America is this stark contradiction of symbol versus reality for young Black men more evident than in Chicago, Illinois.  While hundreds of people in Chicago protested the death of Trayvon Martin, few people protested the violent murders of more than 100 mostly young Black males in Chicago in the past year, mostly at the hands of other young Black males. Chicago media, foundations and elected officials have ignored the blood of Black children running in Chicago streets while they congratulate those who speak in symbolic terms about race in America.

Chicago is ground-zero for the destruction of young Black men in America!  In Chicago, only three out of 100 Black high-school freshmen will graduate from college by age 25 (Consortium for School Research at U of Chicago).  Only 44% of Black males in Chicago graduate from high school (Schott Foundation for Public Education).  Last summer, approximately 90% of Chicago’s young Black males 16 to 19 years old were unemployed (Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University).  Black boys are arrested in Chicago at two to six times the rates of other populations (Project Nia). Young Black men who submit resumes with Black-sounding or Africanized names, like Trayvon or Barack, even with college degrees and the exact same academic credentials as persons “perceived to be White males,” are one-half as likely to be called back for a job interview (University of Chicago Study).  Chicago has no plan or good intentions to address this silent, devastating catastrophe!

As dire as this crisis is, there are solutions, but they are not in symbols or soul-searching.  They are comprehensive and substantial efforts and actions to ameliorate this stain on America’s reputation for fairness and equality.   Government, foundations, civic,  faith and community organizations must:

  • Help rebuild Black families with fathers as an essential, prominent and functional component of the family structure.
  • Provide mentors, positive role models and viable paths for young Black men.
  • Ensure that all young Black men are supported to value education and to experience a globally-competitive education.
  • Teach young Black men about how to succeed in entrepreneurship, small business, cooperative economics and in the work world.
  • Encourage young Black men to be spiritually sound and to be of good character.
  • Establish rigorous efforts in the largest 300 cities in America that address the issues of education, family, imprisonment and employment for young Black men.
  • Establish a national commission to manage a comprehensive, coordinated campaign for Black male achievement, similar to the one created by Open Society Foundations.

The death of Trayvon Martin is a symbol of the plight of young Black men in America.  As a symbol, his senseless murder is something to which most Americans can relate.  But the realities of Black men’s lives in Chicago and across America are the realities to which most Americans do not want to relate.  The truth is that America is comfortable with young Black men as symbols, being where they are in society, being like they are, hoodie and all, violence and all!

Addressing symbols is quite useful and practical when a society lacks the courage and integrity to deal with its disturbing realities.  America loves Black men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and even Trayvon Martin after they are dead.  It is the strong, vocal, positive Black men that they have trouble with while they are alive.  If America continues on its present course, the symbols for Black men in America might change, but the realities will remain the same or become worse!  And America will be lesser for it!

By Phillip Jackson