Parents in San Francisco: we want justice for Trayvon Martin

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Denika Chatman, mother of Kenneth Harding, 19, who was killed July 16 over a muni fare, holds up a transfer from that date
PHOTO BY WENDY KENIN

"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," President Obama reflected today. In the wake of Trayvon Martin's death, said Obama, “I can only imagine what these parents are going through.”

Martin, a black 17-year-old walking back to a family friend’s home in a gated community in Sanford, Florida was killed Feb. 26. His killer shot him after pursuing him in his car, and then on foot. 911 tapes and a confession from the killer, George Zimmerman, confirm his guilt. But no jury has had the chance to decide the case, as police have refused to so much as arrest him.

This remains true, even after Sanford police chief Bill Lee Jr stepped down temporarily in response to a nationwide outcry.

Police say that, at the scene, Zimmerman told them he was acting in self-defense. 

“Mr. Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self defense which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time,” (emphasis theirs) said the chief in a statement yesterday. 

The killing, which has been called a case of “walking while black,” has ignited a call for justice throughout the country.

This call was made March 21 in San Francisco, when hundreds gathered downtown after a protest organized just two days earlier.

At  6 p.m. in Justin Herman Plaza, 500 held candles and listened as parents of black sons murdered in the Bay Area spoke.

Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, whose nephew, Oscar Grant, was killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in 2009, expressed his support to Martin’s family.

“He was only 17. His life was taken away from him. This murder of Trayvon is very personal to me,” said Johnson. “It’s another baby gone.”

He added that, if Zimmerman is not arrested by Sunday, he plans to fly to Florida. 

“My wife and I will be on a plane to support the community.”

“It’s our kids who are going through this thing. If we don’t stand up for them, who will,” said Denika Chatman. Her son, Kenneth Harding Jr, was killed by police in July 2011. He was 19 years old.

The parents of James Rivera, Jr, who was 16 when he was killed by police in July 2010 in Stockton, also spoke to the crowd. 

“The pain still feels like it was yesterday,” said Rivera’s mother, Dionne Smith-Downs. “It’s been almost two years and we’ve received nothing. They didn’t even tell us why they shot our son.”

Many speakers asserted that, had the races been switched in the Martin case, law enforcement would likely have immediately arrested the perpetrator and he would likely be charged by now. Both first degree murder and felony murder are punishable by death in Florida.

In the United States, persons convicted of killing whites are four times more likely to be sentenced to death than persons convicted of killing African Americans. 

Hundreds then marched up Market Street. Many held signs reading “In loving memory, Trayvon Martin: 1995-2012.” Many wore hoodies, the garment that apparently made Martin appear “suspicious” to Zimmerman. 

Chants included “we are all Trayvon Martin,” “protect and serve, that’s a lie, they don’t care when black kids die,” and ‘Zimmerman: guilty. The system: guilty.”

The group then marched to UN Plaza, gaining supporters, including handfuls of passers-by and shoppers on every block. By Sixth Street the group was 700-strong.

Mourners then created a memorial for Martin at the foot of a pillar in UN plaza inscribed with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thousands in New York City also marched to the UN March 21, and the national call coincides with the UN’s International Day to End Racial Discrimination.

At the memorial, silence fell over the crowd when organizers called for participants to speak the name of anyone killed by the racism. In a chilling ceremony, many spoke, naming Sean Bell, Emmett Till, Nat Turner, Ramarley Graham, Fred Hampton, Troy Davis, Tookie Williams, and dozens of other black men killed in the United States spanning slavery, Jim Crow, the civil rights era and today.

Speakers demanded the immediate arrest of Zimmerman. But many maintained that arresting the killer in this case may not prevent “the next Trayvon Martin.”

“When Oscar was killed we said, we must work, because we cannot have another Oscar Grant. Now, we have another Oscar Grant. And there will be another one,” said Johnson.

Several mothers, many of whom did not give their names, spoke of the fear they feel for their children when they walk the streets, not knowing whether they will be the next victim of a racist crime.

“They don’t care when people kill our babies. We have to fight and stand up for our own people and for our children,” said one mother. 

Comments

1) Cops need "probably cause" to make an arrest, while the DA's need a much stronger case to go to a Grand Jury, let alone a trial. As long as the only witnesses to the incident are saying that Zimmerman was attacked and used reasonable force in his own defense, then neither standard is met.

2) Zimmerman otherwise should not have any of his civil rights taken away from him - that's in the Constitution. And in fact he has remained in touch with the cops who know where he is.

If Zimmerman is in hiding, it isn't from the cops. It's from the militant blacks who have put a $10,000 bounty on his head. You want to talk about pre-meditated murder - look no further.

But of course you are looking no further than skin color here.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 25, 2012 @ 11:39 am

Not anymore militant than himself - a fat man who fancied himself a cop and who had a long record of calling the police on kids as young as 7 years old - if they were "black." No word on whether they needed to be "militant" or not.

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 3:19 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

Zimmerman may have had the odd rant here and there, but had no motive to kill any specific black.

Huge difference.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

George Zimmerman showed us all how to take care of it!

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

Scrawny kid kicks ass on adult much bigger than him, adult having just followed kid around for sometime for no good reason is losing and pulls gun and kills kid.

This may be "justified" but what a complete pussy Zimmerman is.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

reaching for his gun.

Kid was suspended from school for pot possession.

Kid was acting suspisciously.

Hmmm . .

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

I see that connection. Thanks for making it. Perhaps school principals should now have the power to order on-the-spot executions since it's clear anyone suspended from school is a potential serial killer? Oh and the possession of pot too - clearly that makes one a dangerous character.

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

He's following kid in his car, gets out to fuck with kid, things go bad, he gets his starts getting his ass beat and shoots kid.

1. Don't get yourself into that position in the first place because you are an asshole.
2. Take it like a man if you do get your self in that position due to your stupidity, total pussy move.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

Lots of crazy people follow me and yell at me. In San Francisco, it's almost a local pastime.

Difference is - I don't start hitting them and try and grab their weapon.

The only question here is whether deadly force is justified if someone physically attacks you. And I would say that that is justified.

The rest is all circumstantial hooey, including skin color.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 7:29 am

That cracks me up.

Also identifies it seems as a Latino, the race and political affiliation theories of the left get a boot in the ass, again.

We will have to agree to disagree on the ass beating.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

I loved "Gucci, Gucci..." and feel deep sadness as another flower of African womanhood is cut down in her prime.

So I will leave you with a small bit of her profound lyrics...

"Bitch, you ain't no Barbie, I see you work at Arby's
Number 2, super-sized, hurry up I'm starving"

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

America has a long and sordid history of slavery and racism, San Francisco is no exception. San Francisco's racist policies of segregation, discrimination and neglect have been institutional, covert and largely unheeded by the vast majority of residents who either didn't know or chose to ignore. Those effected have had ineffective representation, their voices have not been heard, they have been sold out by a succession of co-opted and corrupt leaders (haven't we all). The changing demographics of this town are making it increasingly difficult for women and men of good faith, of all colors, creeds and persuasions, to advance the struggle for justice and equality. The recent spate of ignorant hateful comments on this and other threads illustrates this. The emboldened racists have crawled out from under their rocks and shown their true colors.
Two recent articles express uncomfortable truths.
"America: Tailor Made To Destroy Black People". by; Kai Wright.
"Face It: Trayvon Martin Is Dead Because Many White People Are Afraid Of Black People". by; Chauncey De Vega.
These stereotypes are constantly reinforced by the Press, politicians and local officials with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and further demonizing those who have already been subjugated and have few resources to defend themselves. For example, below is evidence of the 'brutal beating' an unarmed boy inflicted on an armed vigilante.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5OiLQjUcOU
PS. Update on "JUSTICE 4 GEORGE".
It is rumored that this group is the first action of a newly formed branch of 'The Knights Of The White Camelia', many of whose members are suspected of posting on this site. It may be difficult for those interested in joining up as they rarely show their faces in the light of day, however in light of the many fellow travelers they seem to have here, maybe one of them will crawl out of the woodwork and the shadows.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 9:00 am
Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 9:11 am

Any of you Klansmen/Women got a response. Bring it on.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

....if you wanna look like a punk-ass thug, than you're gonna shot, end of story.

Posted by Concerned Parent on Apr. 04, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

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