Learning from the Trayvon Martin case – The lack of justice for young black men


Elle Love

Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

The Martin Family will not see any justice for their late son anytime soon. On Dec. 5, his murderer George Zimmerman is now suing the family and prosecutors for $100,000 for defamation and “malicious prosecution.”

Just when Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, is making light from the aftermath of her son’s case by running as a 2020 Democrat candidate for her representative district, Zimmerman refocuses the attention to himself.

This reopens feelings of anger and disbelief with many who learned about the case, including myself. Zimmerman has no remorse for his actions. In fact, he continues to make a spectacle of his victim in many unbelievable incidents that will make anyone’s stomach turn.

Zimmerman organized a meet and greet for supposed fans at a Florida gun show, he signed a Skittles bag that was a symbol for Trayvon’s innocence in his case, he tried to auction off the same gun he used to kill Trayvon in his own words, “a piece of American History,” and even threatened Beyonce over his portrayal in the docuseries, Trayvon Martin: Rest In Power, produced by her husband Jay-Z.

Zimmerman should’ve been sentenced for second-degree murder but because of many factors that happened in the Trayvon Martin’s case, he’s free to make a mockery of his victim and ride out his lengthy 15 minutes of fame.

Martin’s case is still very significant for many reasons including the erasure of race and age that plays a role in his innocence, the lack of representation in the six women jury with five white women and one Hispanic woman, the defamation of his girlfriend who witnessed his murder, and the infamous Florida “Stand Your Ground” law, where it allows people to respond to threats or force without fear of criminal prosecution.

Unfortunately, the Trayvon Martin case is one of the many countless incidents of young black men whose lives are cut short and their murderer receives little to no punishment for their actions.

On Aug. 9, 2014 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The grand jury decided not to indict him, resulting in one of the most infamous riots in American history.

On Nov. 22, 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by police officer Timothy Loehmann in Cleveland, Ohio after Loehmann mistaken his toy gun for as real. The officer was acquitted for his charges and was offered a part-time job with another Ohio police department in Bellaire.

On July 17, 2014, 27-year-old Eric Garner was choked to death by New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo. Garner’s case was delayed by the Department of Justice in 2015 until it was reopened on July 16, 2018 by the NYPD to pursue disciplinary charges against officers involved in his death.

Pantaleo was acquitted of his charges but faced termination from the New York police department.

One of the most recent tragedies that barely made news was the murder of 24-year-old Ryan Twyman, who was shot 34 times by unnamed Los Angeles police officers on August 15 of this year. His case never appeared in court.

The leading cause of death for black men aged 1-19 years and 20-44 years is homicide according to the Center for Disease Control. The percentages for the age group 1-19 years is 35.2 percent while for 20-44 years of age is 28.9 percent.

These percentages identify a significant problem that plagues this country which is the devaluation of black lives and the lack of repercussions that could prevent similar tragedies in the future.

There are a few solutions police departments adopted to new policies that can lower the rate of police brutality, but only a few departments have adopted them.

25 percent requires officers to use all other means before shooting, 25 percent requires all use of force to be reported, 22 percent bans chokeholds and strangleholds, 15 percent requires de-escalation, and 9 percent requires duty to intervene if another officer intervenes according to the Use of Force Project.

However, there is little done to correct the “stand your ground” laws that seem to gain momentum in many states. The National Rifle Association successfully campaigned to loosen the access of guns without legal repercussions with 30 states now enacting the “stand your ground laws”

In 2018, Gov. Pete Rickets was open for the idea of Nebraska to have their own “stand your ground” law after the idea was brought up by a caller during his monthly call-in show. “I’d be willing to work with any senator looking to protect your Second Amendment rights,” Ricketts said.

There isn’t a complete loss of hope for change to help prevent police brutality or unjustified homicide, but the change may not come anytime soon. I worry more for my little brother everyday because he’s a young black man in a country where his life means little to the justice system.

I advocate for change on behalf of him and countless other young black men whose society will put them in harm’s way.