Trayvon Martin: Guns escalate conflicts

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OPINION The tragedy of Trayvon Martin's death is not merely the loss an innocent young boy's life, nor the criminal justice system's failure to provide justice, though those are wounds we struggle to bear. The tragedy is that these wounds are not unique. We have felt this pain before. Trayvon is but one of thousands of young African American men who have lost their lives to gun violence. And George Zimmerman's acquittal represents the dismissive attitude our country seems to have about those lives.

People from all walks of life are angry about Trayvon's death and George Zimmerman's acquittal. Our anger in the face of such tragedy is understandable. I share it. But I also believe that even in our darkest hours, there is hope. There is something to be learned here.

Let this be the start of a greater debate on gun laws, racism, and our national climate of fear for our own personal safety and the safety of our children.

We have to do something about the prevalence of guns in our society. If not for the introduction of a gun into the situation, Mr. Zimmerman likely would have been beaten up—something he probably deserved—and that would have been the end of it. His firearm needlessly escalated the situation far beyond where it needed to go.

This case is a very real example of a nation that puts someone's right to carry a handgun over someone's right to not be pointlessly murdered. Let me add my voice to the multitudes calling for greater firearm accountability.

And why did the situation that night begin in the first place? "Neighborhood Watch" means "watch" and "report suspicious activity," not "chase" or "pursue." What is so suspicious about walking, wearing a hoodie, and talking on a cell phone? Nothing. Unless you are black.

Although the African American community is, sadly, used to being profiled, used to grieving the loss of our young boys and men to gun violence, Trayvon's case has opened the eyes of others who are finally as outraged as we are. For the first time, I feel that something has changed. The outpouring of support from non-African Americans for Trayvon Martin and his family has given me hope that our cries for boys and men in our community are finally being heard.

Anger is a great motivator. And progress is often borne from tragedy. I hope for the African American community and for our country that this tragedy is more than just a passing media spectacle. I hope it's the beginning of something meaningful, a reevaluation of gun laws, of the violence young black men face every day, and of the way we empower our communities.

London Breed represents the Western Addition and the Haight on the Board of Supervisors

 

Comments

Thank you Supervisor Breed for your article and for speaking out tonight, Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 at the candle light rally for Trayvon Martin at San Francisco City Hall.

I see how our out of control and overly permissive gun culture clearly contributes to our nation's high gun homicide rate - accounting for around ten thousand gun related homicides annually. Guns just make it too easy to express anger or fear with deadly force. They help convert a situation that might just result in a bloody nose into a homicide.

In this case of the teenage boy, Trayvon Martin, if there was no gun present, he would still be alive. The six person jury verdict in Florida is an outrage and an insult to compassionate and thinking people everywhere.

It is time to stand up to the NRA, to ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and other related pro gun advocacy groups.

It is time to say no and to put a stop to this lethal madness. If not now, then when?

David Elliott Lewis, Ph.D.
Co-Chair, Mental Health Board of the City and County of San Francisco

Posted by David Elliott Lewis on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

And if Zimmerman had carried no gun, he might be dead now.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

Dear anonymous "Guest", If Zimmerman had not carried a gun he most likely would not have felt so emboldened to leave his car and give chase on foot. The deadly confrontation would have most likely never happened. Both would still be alive.

Posted by David Elliott Lewis on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 12:08 am

It was his job to monitor intruders and loiterers, and it was his job to ensure that suspicious people felt deterred from committing crimes.

And given that some criminals react badly to being monitored, then NW guys are prudent to carry deterrance. In this case, Trayvon attacked Zimmerman and his gun prevented what might have been a deadly assault.

The rest is just race card playing.

Posted by anon on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 12:41 am

Zimmerman stalked and killed Martin. The fact that you disregard Martin's death as a deadly assault says all anyone needs to know about your bigotry and racism.

What crime was Martin committing? Walking down the street?

Maybe the Castro vigilantes will misidentify you as you eyeball real estate speculation possibilities in their neighborhood.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 7:34 am

Trayvon was within a gated community altho he did not live there. He was a young black male with a hoodie which probably accounts for 90% of the crime in most places. A Neighborhood watch officer was quite rightly monitoring him - that's his job - and Trayvon assaulted him when he could just have gone home.

Trayvon also has a history of drug use, truancy and at least two assaults previously. He perhaps wasn't as bad as Grant, but he could have avoided this situation.

Posted by anon on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 7:52 am

Trayvon Martin, along with his father, were staying as guests in that gated community with his father's fiancee, who was a resident. Martin had no criminal record and NO ASSAULT CHARGES, nor any "history" of drug use. He had just been suspended from school for an empty baggy that was said to have pot residue in it, this is the first and only incident on record. Don't make stuff up anonymous loser.

Posted by Simono on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 11:48 am

Trayvon was caught at school with a bag of women's jewelry and a screwdriver. In texts, he discussed his love of "lean," a mixture of soda, candy, and cough syrup with PCP-like effects in large doses that causes liver damage when used habitually. His autopsy revealed liver damage consistent with heavy lean use. In texts, he tells a friend that he plans to quit smoking weed and only drink lean because weed is too easily detected. His texts also reveal his repeated attempts to purchase an illegal pistol and his having participated in fights and his desire to fight more. He posted videos to YouTube of fights in which he participated as a referee.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 11:59 am

Your sources are hysterical blogs full of fabrications without a single reputable source, oh wait, one of the sources was Zimmerman's brother! I can feel only pity for the kind of problems you must have with your limited cognitive, critical thinking and reasoning skills.

Posted by Simono on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/23/justice/florida-zimmerman-defense

You know that you can look at the pictures and read the texts yourself, right?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

The jury wasn't allowed to hear about them but they were publicized enough for the jury to have probably taken them into account anyway, just like with Grant.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:26 am

A young black male with a hoodie accounts for 90% of crime in most places? Where did you get those statistics? Oh yes, from your bigoted, idiotic brain. You can't prove that erroneous statistic so you fall into the category of an idiot for making it. RETARD, go shoot yourself.

Posted by NZ4298 on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

frequently than white-on-black crime. Most crime is caused by young black males who dress a certain way, so it is reasonable to profile given that compelling correlation.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:27 am

You guys are all making a statistical fallacy. I don't know where your numbers are all coming from, but, even if I assume they are true, just because demographic X commits most crimes, does not mean that most X people are criminals. Example: Let's assume most white supremacists are white southerners who like fast cars. Does that mean that most white southerners who like fast cars are white supremacists? NO. NO. NO. I guess I learned sommmmething in statistics.

I would also like to point out that recreational drug possession is not a violent crime, and that not all who commit crimes get caught. I can think of quite a few white friends who have drugs on hand all the time and just don't get caught. They are not profiled. Who knows why. Some might guess...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

Of the total number of homicides over the last 4 years (check wikipedia) - in the USA, 37,605 were committed by african americans and 3,284 were committed by whites. There are on average more than twice as many whites killed by blacks than blacks killed by whites; this should be considered with the statistic that blacks are on 12% of the population. If it were a race thing, why doesn't anyone speak out that more whites are killed by blacks than the reverse for a population that is 80% white and 12% black.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/gun-deaths/

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-...

Posted by Guest on Aug. 06, 2013 @ 10:19 am

Violent black-on-white crime occurs at 41 times the rate, per capita, as white-on-black crime.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 06, 2013 @ 10:31 am

Trayvon Martin was visiting his father that's why he was in that gated community...

Posted by StevenTorrey on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:15 am

The defense claimed his father knew someone who lived there but then they also claimed Trayvon was on his way back from the store. His movements do not square with that account and the jury didn't buy it. Neither do I. He was trouble.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:28 am

how do you define "suspicious"? And what do you mean "criminals react badly to being monitored", was Trayvon a criminal? No.

"Suspicious" means to walk around "leisurely" in the rain according to Zimmerman. That means you agree with him, since you agree that Trayvon fit the suspicious category which means you are a retard.

Posted by NZ4298 on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

Young black men had been spotted running from a burglarized house in the neighborhood just weeks before Trayvon's death.

Blacks are eight times more likely to commit the crime of burglary than other races.

These are facts not racism. How does a rational person respond to such facts?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

But your answer is clear: kill the niggers.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

If young black men have been spotted burglarizing houses in your neighborhood, you might keep an eye on unfamiliar young black men in your neighborhood. You're making it into a racial victimization story. Zimmerman tutored black children for Pete's sake. He was being rational. Trayvon attacking and beating him brought about his own death.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

Notice no one can dispute that fact. If young Asian (or White or Black or Latino) males were responsible for a rash of burglaries in your neighborhood (and no one was arrested), of course you would keep an eye on any males of that ethnicity that you didn't know.

But it's much easier to call you a racist so we're gonna go that route.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

The dispatcher directed Zimmerman to stand down and cede Martin's civil rights. Zimmerman disobeyed the order, picked a fight and shot Martin when he began to lose. That's SYG for you.

Posted by anon on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

Trayvon Martin did not engage Zimmerman. Zimmerman pursued him, with a gun. Wouldn't you be scared if a stranger was pursuing you with a gun? How is the self defense of Trayvon Martin, who was not pursuing Zimmerman and not threatening him with a gun, less valid?

Posted by Simono on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 11:28 am

Trayvon never had a chance to defend himself. George approached, pulled Trayvon to the ground on top of him, repeatedly struck Trayvon's knuckles with his face while Trayvon screamed for help, and finished the child off with a carefully aimed shot to the heart.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 11:40 am

Travon did defend himself - against an unidentified stalker. He was shot defending himself.

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

I agree. Trayvon's only injuries were to his knuckles and his chest (bullet wound). Clearly Zimmerman was using the unorthodox tactic of pounding his face against poor Trayvon's knuckles.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

So Trayvon died because Zimmerman was so inept at being a watcher he wanted to take this kid down. Except the kid took a position of Defending himself, which he didn't expect. Trayvon didn't chase down Zimmerman to beat him up. Zimmerman walked up to him and got his ass kicked by a kid - so he shot him.

Posted by Richnmondman on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

The facts: Trayvon, a troubled teen with a history of theft, drug abuse, and violence, beat up Zimmerman.

Your insane speculation: Zimmerman tried to "get" Trayvon instead of merely watching and drawing police to the location as he had done in every other instance.

Or do you claim that by merely watching Trayvon, Zimmerman "asked for" a beating?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

Trayvon Martin was killed for defending himself against an unidentified stalker in the middle of the night. If Zimmerman had no gun, he would have stayed in the car like the 911 operator told him to, and no one would be dead.

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

If Trayvon hadn't viciously assaulted George, he'd still be alive.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

If he had killed Zimmerman, would he have received the same not guilty verdict? Trayvon was the one defending himself, not Zimmerman. Zimmerman was guilty from the moment he opened the car door, armed with a loaded gun. Trayvon is dead because he defended himself from a stalker.

Posted by Richnmondman on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

Thank you for fully revealing the insanity of your position.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

Justice has been done. The blacks do not always have to win by playing the race card.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:29 am

"The blacks"?? You've said everything with that statement.. And by the way this isn't a sport to be won or lost. A young human life was taken senselessly. Everyone loses in this situation.... Everyone!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

"Yes, the blacks" Having done the least research but showing the most annoying response. Indignation!-"Look at picture, he used to be 10!" "Someone looks at you, punch him in the face!" "You have the right to be attacked, but not defend your self."
"Let's prove we're reasonable people, by looting and robbing and comitting assualt to prove stereotypes and profiling (the right people) are wrong!" And the best:

'Anyone who disagrees with me or uses FACTS to question my uninformed opinion is RACIST.'

Posted by Guestnumber7 on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

but on this issue, he is right on.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

I will need to rethink my position, based on your agreement with me....(this is a joke, for those who are humourously challenged).

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

Thanks for mentioning ALEC and the NRA. They have been so successful in their campaign to make more money at the expense of our nation that although this case is a hallmark of their doing, their names are rarely mention. They have done such a fantastic job at pitting us against one another that we don't think about the fact that right now they are working on dismantling public schools in many more states and installing Stand Your Ground laws in just as many. We simply must smarten up and stand up against this virus by shaming and voting out any politician that takes money from them, no matter how local or small the elected official.

I maintain that even with its very deep pockets, the NRA could never have afforded pro-gun advertisement on the scale of attention this case received. Knowing this and the perpetual distinction of the state of Florida, I really don't believe that the NRA would have done nothing to ensure no guilty verdict. Something about there being only six jurors, the errors committed by the prosecution AND George Zimmerman's disinterested blank reaction when the verdict was read (not to mention his father's connection as a judge) all makes me think that a whole lot more happened behind the scenes of this case than we will ever know.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

Are you in possession of evidence that the jury did not consider? If so, why didn't you submit that to the DA?

Just because the defendant was white and the victim was black, doesn't mean the defendant should be found guilty. It's appalling to play a race card like that. Shame on you.

And why do you say nothing about the far larger number of blacks killed by other blacks? Nor the fact that black-on-white crime happens at 41 times the rate of white-on-black crime?

You sound at least as racist as the whites you are trying to smear here.\, if not more so.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

The same groups protesting this verdict were the ones cheering for OJ 20 years ago. Neither are racial issues, just human emotional and psychological issues that society has dealt with forever. Stop trying to put race and political overtones into basic social disorder.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

acquitted. Why wasn't Mill Valley burned to the ground by angry white hedge fund managers?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

society from their parasitic, exploitative economic activities. Why riot when you have a license to steal?

Sad to see anti-Black bigotry on a "progessive" website.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 7:28 am

anti-crime viewpoints. And sadly the black community has a massive inherent problem with their out-of-control crimes.

You need to worry about that and not about when the odd white victim fights back.

Posted by anon on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 11:30 am

A defender of vigilante murder. 50 years ago you would have been a defender of lynching and Jim Crow. 150 years ago, you would have been a defender of slavery.

I'll decide for myself about what I'll worry. I don't need a loser internet troll to tell me my concerns.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

How do you feel about the fact that Trayvon was on top of George beating the crap out of him?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

witnesses to that story. It's odd that Zimmerman doesn't look injured in his videotaped interview with police right after the incident, but looks banged up in subsequent photos.

If Zimmerman had followed the instructions from the police dispatcher who was in essence his supervisor, the general public would never have heard of Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman.

Apart from racism, one reason internet trolls defend Zimmerman so strongly is that they relate to him. He is a loser wannabe cop. You are loser wannabe thinkers.

And if Martin were "beating the crap" out of Zimmerman, that's what happens when you stalk and confront strangers. It's called self-defense. Martin was standing his ground. But that shit don't apply to black youth because the purpose of the law is to allow vigilantes to kill black people without consequence.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

You have the facts wrong. The police took pictures of Zimmerman covered in blood at the scene. He was subsequently cleaned up. Trayvon had no wounds aside from his knuckles and his bullet hole.

It's very racist of you to say that you can't speak to a young black man without expecting a fight.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

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