Race Matters

Trayvon-MartinRace matters. It is hard to see the events that have unfolded in Sanford, Florida, and not conclude that in this country, race still matters.

Race has become fodder in partisan political arenas, content for contentious bloggers, and sometimes, as in the case of Trayvon Martin’s shooting, race becomes a matter of life and death.

George Zimmerman’s actions on the day Travyon Martin was shot are still under investigation, but the facts of the case as reported touch on issues that have long been of concern to the Amnesty movement: a young man who is suspect not for what he did, but for how he looks; the automatic assumption that violence against a black man is probably justified; and gun laws – or more appropriately, the failure to adopt rational gun laws – that allow citizens to take fewer precautions than even the police.

The U.S. has ratified a number of human rights treaties, including most notably, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. These treaties enshrine the right to life and security of person, the right to be free from discrimination, the right to equal treatment before the law, and the right to effective protection and remedies from racial discrimination.

How then, can it be that a country with a long history of championing these treaties is still struggling with cases like Travyon Martin’s? From Troy Davis, to the Jena Six, to Trayvon Martin, communities of color across the South and throughout the United States continue to grapple with the prevalent impact of racism.

We commend both the state attorney in Seminole County and the Department of Justice for opening investigations and taking the steps to uncover the truth about Trayvon Martin’s case. Now it’s on all of us to stand up and make the changes – in our attitudes, in our conduct, in our institutions, and in our laws – to ensure that there are no more cases like Trayvon Martin’s.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

68 thoughts on “Race Matters

  1. I must first express my ignorance about what happened to this unfortunate young man. I do not know the facts on the situation, this is the first time that i am hearing about it. That in itself speaks volumes to me, because in this country, equal time is not even given to communities of color to report on what is happening, whether it is a missing child, a missing elder, or the shooting of a young man. I frequently preach against this notion of "race" – there is only one "race" on this earth, the "human race". We are all one family under God, and as far as we can tell, all of us have our origins in Mother Africa, as the oldest human remains still are found in Africa, and it appears that we all migrated outward from there. We are all related to each other, and under God, we are brothers and sisters, and if we would just begin to treat each other this way, so much would change in this nation, and in this world. Communities of color would no longer have to fear that they are isolated in a sea of white faces, because as we know, Caucasians are fast becoming the minority in the US, the color bar is changing, and they had better get used to that quickly. But it is a two-faced, fork-tongued presentation to preach to the world about freedom and ending oppression and discrimination, when we have so much to clean up in our own back yard. Women still are fighting for control over their own bodies. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people are still heavily discriminated against, and seem to be everyone's favorite group to openly hate. These things also must change. I have never read, not in anyone's holy books, that "thou may treat thy neighbor like a dog, to kick and revile him and hound him until he is no more". Every religious text I've ever read says something more like "love thy neighbor as thyself" and to "treat thy neighbor as you would be treated". So when do we live up to the challenge of our own religious teachings, instead of just attending our churches, temples, houses of worship one day a week, and act like uncivilized savages the other 6 and 1/2 days of the week?

  2. "…to make sure that are no more cases like Trayvon Marton's"?! You're missing a "there" between "that" and "are"! Grammar fail!

  3. Hello,

    As an active member of Amnesty International since I was a teenager at high school in London, I thank you for this timely and thoughtful statement. It is important at this moment in USA's turbulent history to make a stand against the racism of the past and encourage the diverse movement for equal human rights and justice. (Of course, this includes the LGBT community.) Your outspoken support for present and past victims of racism is invaluable, because it gives them comfort.

    However, it is crucial that there is parity between the human rights of all groups in our society. We must avoid adding new imbalances by introducing laws like the New Jersey "bias intimidation" law that seems to have placed any perceived LGBT discrimination above racial discrimination. We need calm, objective and clear laws that celebrate our differences by treating us all equally.

    Sincerely,
    Sheila Ali-Oston London/New York
    Twitter: SheilaAO

  4. Democracy Now (democracynow.org) gave intensive coverage about the case on the Tuesday show on 20 March. This is clearly racial.

  5. I must first express my ignorance about what happened to this unfortunate young man. I do not know the facts on the situation, this is the first time that i am hearing about it. That in itself speaks volumes to me, because in this country, equal time is not even given to communities of color to report on what is happening, whether it is a missing child, a missing elder, or the shooting of a young man. I frequently preach against this notion of “race” – there is only one “race” on this earth, the “human race”. We are all one family under God, and as far as we can tell, all of us have our origins in Mother Africa, as the oldest human remains still are found in Africa, and it appears that we all migrated outward from there. We are all related to each other, and under God, we are brothers and sisters, and if we would just begin to treat each other this way, so much would change in this nation, and in this world. Communities of color would no longer have to fear that they are isolated in a sea of white faces, because as we know, Caucasians are fast becoming the minority in the US, the color bar is changing, and they had better get used to that quickly. But it is a two-faced, fork-tongued presentation to preach to the world about freedom and ending oppression and discrimination, when we have so much to clean up in our own back yard. Women still are fighting for control over their own bodies. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people are still heavily discriminated against, and seem to be everyone’s favorite group to openly hate. These things also must change. I have never read, not in anyone’s holy books, that “thou may treat thy neighbor like a dog, to kick and revile him and hound him until he is no more”. Every religious text I’ve ever read says something more like “love thy neighbor as thyself” and to “treat thy neighbor as you would be treated”. So when do we live up to the challenge of our own religious teachings, instead of just attending our churches, temples, houses of worship one day a week, and act like uncivilized savages the other 6 and 1/2 days of the week?

  6. “…to make sure that are no more cases like Trayvon Marton’s”?! You’re missing a “there” between “that” and “are”! Grammar fail!

  7. Hello,

    As an active member of Amnesty International since I was a teenager at high school in London, I thank you for this timely and thoughtful statement. It is important at this moment in USA’s turbulent history to make a stand against the racism of the past and encourage the diverse movement for equal human rights and justice. (Of course, this includes the LGBT community.) Your outspoken support for present and past victims of racism is invaluable, because it gives them comfort.

    However, it is crucial that there is parity between the human rights of all groups in our society. We must avoid adding new imbalances by introducing laws like the New Jersey “bias intimidation” law that seems to have placed any perceived LGBT discrimination above racial discrimination. We need calm, objective and clear laws that celebrate our differences by treating us all equally.

    Sincerely,
    Sheila Ali-Oston London/New York
    Twitter: SheilaAO

  8. I share everyone's concerns about this case… however: Every major media outlet is all over this story. The person who shot him is described in the Wikipedia as a "multi-racial Hispanic man" not a member of some hyper conservative white-supremacists group. There are clearly going to extensive inquiries into why the local police department dropped the ball on this story. I'm a little uncomfortable with the way Amnesty US have jumped on this story. It feels like mission creep beyond Amnesty's constitution and frankly it smacks of opportunism, populism and vigilantism to rush to judgment, however blatant the case may appear to be, and to be pre-judging the outcome of legal investigations, acting as both judge and jury… which is not Amnesty's brief. One of these days this kind of grand-standing is going to bring Amnesty into disrepute and it's not the first time I've noticed Amnesty US being a little too zealous and quick to cash in on a topical American Media issue. Please try to be very circumspect about how you sound off, what you sound off about, and when. an Amnesty report used to carry serious gravitas that gave political leaders a major headache and drove their political agendas to redress their human rights record. This kind of scatter gun populism will ultimately give them a free pass.

  9. Democracy Now (democracynow.org) gave intensive coverage about the case on the Tuesday show on 20 March. This is clearly racial.

  10. Two comments. First, let me respectfully disagree with Trojan Horus. The relevant authorities in Sanford, Florida chose not to charge Mr. Zimmerman with a crime because the person he killed belonged to a long despised class in the US and in countless places around the world. The local police department did not "drop the ball." They willfully misused quoting of Florida law about self defense to try to mitigate their decision to use the law in one way for whites and another for blacks. Mr. Zimmerman is entitled under Florida law to attempt to prove self-defense. To take his word, with minimal if any evidence (and indeed much evidence contradicting him) is not "dropping the ball." It is state action in specific violation of at least Articles 3, 6, 7 and 12 of the UDHR. Second, my main criticism of the AI statement is precisely that it does not highlight the failure of government actors here to grant the protections required by the UDHR and indeed by US and federal law. Willful misuse or misunderstanding of their own law is not a defense. This case is about two things: the government refusal to bring charges b/c the person killed is deemed unworthy of the protection of law; and the problem of a society in which MILLIONS of people every day must live in fear of police searches, harassment or being harmed with impunity by private citizens because government authorities deem then unworthy of equal protection because of their "race" or perceived ethnic descent or past enslavement. State misconduct and the denial of fundamental human rights to an enormous class of people … sounds within a global HR mission to me.

  11. @Laura On a purely personal gut level, I'm inclined to agree with everything you say about this case though in the UK, we probably make finer distinctions between libeling someone, prejudicing possible future trials with prejudicial remarks and your First amendment right granting freedom of speech… A UK Police Department would probably issue a writ for libel if the same accusation was published against them.

    I think you make a good point about Amnesty US in this blog failing to address the apparent specific violations of law… that would indeed have been helpful in lending legitimacy to a call to action… however when I used the expression "dropped the ball" it wasn't intended to preclude those legal failings, if that is indeed what happened. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know whether your assertions about the police department failing to enforce State statutes is correct, but assuming it is, then absolutely that would have been the smarter way to approach this. The problem I'm having though is I wasn't aware that a judge and jury had determined that the local police department were, to use populist vernacular, 'a bunch of lying racists who should be strung up to the nearest tree' whatever the preponderance of information provided by media reports that might suggest this? If they were doing as you suggest then legal actions against the police Department for acting in this way absolutely should be filed and I'd suspect suspensions must be imminent

    The lack of due-process and trial by the court of public opinion is, with respect, not what Amnesty is about, however egregious the case may appear to be. 25 million people jumped on the Kony 2012 story uncritically and wound up with egg on their faces, including I might add, IMHO Amnesty US, who again sailed opportunistically a little too close to another populist news headline. I've always supported Amnesty International in all it's internationalist objectives… I just want to see it remaining as effective as it has been and as it can be.

    Generally it's been my experience with Amnesty that it's most effective when its reports remain emotionally neutral and they come from members not within the country being called out for human rights violations. None of which is to disagree with the points you validly raise.

  12. I share everyone’s concerns about this case… however: Every major media outlet is all over this story. The person who shot him is described in the Wikipedia as a “multi-racial Hispanic man” not a member of some hyper conservative white-supremacists group. There are clearly going to extensive inquiries into why the local police department dropped the ball on this story. I’m a little uncomfortable with the way Amnesty US have jumped on this story. It feels like mission creep beyond Amnesty’s constitution and frankly it smacks of opportunism, populism and vigilantism to rush to judgment, however blatant the case may appear to be, and to be pre-judging the outcome of legal investigations, acting as both judge and jury… which is not Amnesty’s brief. One of these days this kind of grand-standing is going to bring Amnesty into disrepute and it’s not the first time I’ve noticed Amnesty US being a little too zealous and quick to cash in on a topical American Media issue. Please try to be very circumspect about how you sound off, what you sound off about, and when. an Amnesty report used to carry serious gravitas that gave political leaders a major headache and drove their political agendas to redress their human rights record. This kind of scatter gun populism will ultimately give them a free pass.

  13. Two comments. First, let me respectfully disagree with Trojan Horus. The relevant authorities in Sanford, Florida chose not to charge Mr. Zimmerman with a crime because the person he killed belonged to a long despised class in the US and in countless places around the world. The local police department did not “drop the ball.” They willfully misused quoting of Florida law about self defense to try to mitigate their decision to use the law in one way for whites and another for blacks. Mr. Zimmerman is entitled under Florida law to attempt to prove self-defense. To take his word, with minimal if any evidence (and indeed much evidence contradicting him) is not “dropping the ball.” It is state action in specific violation of at least Articles 3, 6, 7 and 12 of the UDHR. Second, my main criticism of the AI statement is precisely that it does not highlight the failure of government actors here to grant the protections required by the UDHR and indeed by US and federal law. Willful misuse or misunderstanding of their own law is not a defense. This case is about two things: the government refusal to bring charges b/c the person killed is deemed unworthy of the protection of law; and the problem of a society in which MILLIONS of people every day must live in fear of police searches, harassment or being harmed with impunity by private citizens because government authorities deem then unworthy of equal protection because of their “race” or perceived ethnic descent or past enslavement. State misconduct and the denial of fundamental human rights to an enormous class of people … sounds within a global HR mission to me.

  14. @Laura On a purely personal gut level, I’m inclined to agree with everything you say about this case though in the UK, we probably make finer distinctions between libeling someone, prejudicing possible future trials with prejudicial remarks and your First amendment right granting freedom of speech… A UK Police Department would probably issue a writ for libel if the same accusation was published against them.

    I think you make a good point about Amnesty US in this blog failing to address the apparent specific violations of law… that would indeed have been helpful in lending legitimacy to a call to action… however when I used the expression “dropped the ball” it wasn’t intended to preclude those legal failings, if that is indeed what happened. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know whether your assertions about the police department failing to enforce State statutes is correct, but assuming it is, then absolutely that would have been the smarter way to approach this. The problem I’m having though is I wasn’t aware that a judge and jury had determined that the local police department were, to use populist vernacular, ‘a bunch of lying racists who should be strung up to the nearest tree’ whatever the preponderance of information provided by media reports that might suggest this? If they were doing as you suggest then legal actions against the police Department for acting in this way absolutely should be filed and I’d suspect suspensions must be imminent

    The lack of due-process and trial by the court of public opinion is, with respect, not what Amnesty is about, however egregious the case may appear to be. 25 million people jumped on the Kony 2012 story uncritically and wound up with egg on their faces, including I might add, IMHO Amnesty US, who again sailed opportunistically a little too close to another populist news headline. I’ve always supported Amnesty International in all it’s internationalist objectives… I just want to see it remaining as effective as it has been and as it can be.

    Generally it’s been my experience with Amnesty that it’s most effective when its reports remain emotionally neutral and they come from members not within the country being called out for human rights violations. None of which is to disagree with the points you validly raise.

  15. Excuse me, but this was a multiracial Hispanic man. Also, many blacks are racist toward whites. In addition, this was a case where a man felt threatened and fired, as is legal under the Florida "Stand Your Ground" law.

  16. The man had no reason to chase this person & then kill him.He murdered in cold blood an unarmed man who was walking on the street …not robbing or selling drugs or threatening anybody. This was a race issue ( it looks to be it is.)……it also reminds me of how "gangs" do their dirty deeds as far as when one person from an opposing gang goes into another "gangs territory" & then gets murdered for "crossing the line".If he does'nt get a murder charge…….then there is no justice in Florida.

  17. @Phillip regardless of Mr. Zimmerman's race, his actions were still unjustified. He was advised not to follow Mr. Martin nor get out of his vehicle. What makes this case so explosive are the 911 tapes where he received specific instruction and not to mention it is Mr. Zimmerman who injected racial overtures by stating "they always get away". Many of us have been around long enough to surmise who "they" are. If I am following someone than I would think I would be the aggressor. If these were two white, two black or two asians I would still find the inaction of the FL police department deplorable. Again, the 911 tapes are so damning not only to Mr. Zimmerman but to the police department as well. I don't own a gun nor do I feel a need to, I get the "Stand Your Ground" law but clearly Mr. Zimmerman crossed the line and the police turned a blind eye. The purpose of Neighborhood Watch is to be the eyes and ears of the community, not gun-toting vigilantes. Even if I give Mr. Zimmerman the benefit of doubt and say he is in no way racist, he is still clearly culpable in the death of an unarmed kid who was walking away and not to Mr. Zimmerman. If there is doubt among anyone, please listen to the 911 tapes, at no time does Mr. Zimmerman state that Travon posed a threat to "his person". My sincere condolences to Travon's loved ones.

  18. @Trojan Horus. I never nor have I ever heard anyone suggest "stringing anyone up to the nearest tree." I find the use of that language and the claim that it is a language widely used or attitudes widely held about this case problematic, inflammatory, and not useful in a human rights blog discussion. (Also, I am not a lawyer but am reasonably familiar with libel law in the US, UK, Canada and some parts of the Commonwealth Caribbean. I am pretty confident I have committed no libel, and would win that case.)

    Regarding the lack of due process, what lawyers, hr and civil liberties activists and Trayvon's Martin's parents and attorneys have precisely asked for is that the matter be brought before the courts. The work of activists has motivated authorities in FL to reconsider their initial decision to refuse to do this. This is why we are activists.

    I would urge people commenting to read the undisputed facts of the case, which are extensively covered in various English–language media available in print and online. A wide range of damning facts that the police themselves do not dispute. While there has been much either superficial or inaccurate discussions of Florida law in the media, there have been a good number of lawyers and academic legal experts explaining the choices in the hands of Florida authorities. Their choices reflect discriminatory choices made daily by police and government authorities in this country and around the world. It's clear what Florida authorities must do for specific remedy in this case. What our duty as HR activists is to make the HR standards for how authorities use their discretion more widely understood.

  19. Excuse me, but this was a multiracial Hispanic man. Also, many blacks are racist toward whites. In addition, this was a case where a man felt threatened and fired, as is legal under the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law.

  20. The man had no reason to chase this person & then kill him.He murdered in cold blood an unarmed man who was walking on the street …not robbing or selling drugs or threatening anybody. This was a race issue ( it looks to be it is.)……it also reminds me of how “gangs” do their dirty deeds as far as when one person from an opposing gang goes into another “gangs territory” & then gets murdered for “crossing the line”.If he does’nt get a murder charge…….then there is no justice in Florida.

  21. I don't see the letter that I want to sign requesting the prosecution of all of those involved in the murder; the criminal and all those who have covered up this crime. Please let me know if anything will be posted.
    thanks

  22. @Phillip regardless of Mr. Zimmerman’s race, his actions were still unjustified. He was advised not to follow Mr. Martin nor get out of his vehicle. What makes this case so explosive are the 911 tapes where he received specific instruction and not to mention it is Mr. Zimmerman who injected racial overtures by stating “they always get away”. Many of us have been around long enough to surmise who “they” are. If I am following someone than I would think I would be the aggressor. If these were two white, two black or two asians I would still find the inaction of the FL police department deplorable. Again, the 911 tapes are so damning not only to Mr. Zimmerman but to the police department as well. I don’t own a gun nor do I feel a need to, I get the “Stand Your Ground” law but clearly Mr. Zimmerman crossed the line and the police turned a blind eye. The purpose of Neighborhood Watch is to be the eyes and ears of the community, not gun-toting vigilantes. Even if I give Mr. Zimmerman the benefit of doubt and say he is in no way racist, he is still clearly culpable in the death of an unarmed kid who was walking away and not to Mr. Zimmerman. If there is doubt among anyone, please listen to the 911 tapes, at no time does Mr. Zimmerman state that Travon posed a threat to “his person”. My sincere condolences to Travon’s loved ones.

  23. Someone who kills someone simply because they are black is an irrational person and likely to kill again. Thusly, a longer sentence or, preferably, some effective rehabilitation is indeed warranted.

  24. @Trojan Horus. I never nor have I ever heard anyone suggest “stringing anyone up to the nearest tree.” I find the use of that language and the claim that it is a language widely used or attitudes widely held about this case problematic, inflammatory, and not useful in a human rights blog discussion. (Also, I am not a lawyer but am reasonably familiar with libel law in the US, UK, Canada and some parts of the Commonwealth Caribbean. I am pretty confident I have committed no libel, and would win that case.)

    Regarding the lack of due process, what lawyers, hr and civil liberties activists and Trayvon’s Martin’s parents and attorneys have precisely asked for is that the matter be brought before the courts. The work of activists has motivated authorities in FL to reconsider their initial decision to refuse to do this. This is why we are activists.

    I would urge people commenting to read the undisputed facts of the case, which are extensively covered in various English–language media available in print and online. A wide range of damning facts that the police themselves do not dispute. While there has been much either superficial or inaccurate discussions of Florida law in the media, there have been a good number of lawyers and academic legal experts explaining the choices in the hands of Florida authorities. Their choices reflect discriminatory choices made daily by police and government authorities in this country and around the world. It’s clear what Florida authorities must do for specific remedy in this case. What our duty as HR activists is to make the HR standards for how authorities use their discretion more widely understood.

  25. I came here looking for a sample petition to help me and friends create one to send to the Florida governor, the Florida state legislature and the office of tourism.We want to tell them that we do not feel that our children will be safe should we decide to travel the state of Florida for any reason including spending our vacations there,sending them on high school trips in Florida, or sending them to college in that state. Laws that allow people, police, or the judiciary to ignore the human rights of those they believe are undeserving of human rights must be changed. Change comes from pressure of one kind or another. The most efficient way to effect change in this country today is through exerting economic pressure. I believe that if millions of people let the state of Florida know that we will not do business in a state, travel there, or spend money there someone will decide that police departments and state and local judiciaries should and will protect the rights of all people to walk down the street, any street without fear of being accosted and certainly not murdered. Laws like "Stand Your Ground" give racists, vigalantes and cowards a blank check if they decide to 'get rid' of anyone they decide is undesirable. There should be penalties for violating the civil and human rights of others no matter who they are and they should be imposed on all who violate the laws. if you are a parent, business traveler, or spend money in Florida you can make a difference. We should let them know that lip service will not suffice and until the laws are changed so that our children are safe there are forty nine other states we can explore.

  26. I don’t see the letter that I want to sign requesting the prosecution of all of those involved in the murder; the criminal and all those who have covered up this crime. Please let me know if anything will be posted.
    thanks

  27. Someone who kills someone simply because they are black is an irrational person and likely to kill again. Thusly, a longer sentence or, preferably, some effective rehabilitation is indeed warranted.

  28. @Naive_Cynic I sincerely doubt the man killed him “simply because he was black”.

  29. The "Stand Your Ground" law was intended to allow people to protect themselves from aggressors. I read a quote from the people who passed the law who themselves stated that the law does not give people the right to go in pursuit of someone and shoot them. This child was trying to get away and no self defense law will hold up when a person is attempting to leave the situation. Even if this child was in my front yard trying to steal my car, I don't think that makes it ok to shoot him. In gun control classes they teach that it is not worth the loss of a life to protect an inanimate object. If they are breaking into the house and come through the door then I would consider that self defense. This child was not doing either of these things, he was minding his own business. If Mr. Zimmerman would have gone in his house like he should have when the 911 operator advised him to do so, this wouldn't have happened. And what makes this even more unbelievably wrong is that he shot the boy in the chest, which anyone with a concealed weapons permit should know is almost always a fatal wound, which in this case should be considered murder. My sympathy and prayers to this young man and his family. What a perfect world this would be if we all had love and reverence for all of life, as all life should be considered a gift from God.

  30. I came here looking for a sample petition to help me and friends create one to send to the Florida governor, the Florida state legislature and the office of tourism.We want to tell them that we do not feel that our children will be safe should we decide to travel the state of Florida for any reason including spending our vacations there,sending them on high school trips in Florida, or sending them to college in that state. Laws that allow people, police, or the judiciary to ignore the human rights of those they believe are undeserving of human rights must be changed. Change comes from pressure of one kind or another. The most efficient way to effect change in this country today is through exerting economic pressure. I believe that if millions of people let the state of Florida know that we will not do business in a state, travel there, or spend money there someone will decide that police departments and state and local judiciaries should and will protect the rights of all people to walk down the street, any street without fear of being accosted and certainly not murdered. Laws like “Stand Your Ground” give racists, vigalantes and cowards a blank check if they decide to ‘get rid’ of anyone they decide is undesirable. There should be penalties for violating the civil and human rights of others no matter who they are and they should be imposed on all who violate the laws. if you are a parent, business traveler, or spend money in Florida you can make a difference. We should let them know that lip service will not suffice and until the laws are changed so that our children are safe there are forty nine other states we can explore.

  31. The “Stand Your Ground” law was intended to allow people to protect themselves from aggressors. I read a quote from the people who passed the law who themselves stated that the law does not give people the right to go in pursuit of someone and shoot them. This child was trying to get away and no self defense law will hold up when a person is attempting to leave the situation. Even if this child was in my front yard trying to steal my car, I don’t think that makes it ok to shoot him. In gun control classes they teach that it is not worth the loss of a life to protect an inanimate object. If they are breaking into the house and come through the door then I would consider that self defense. This child was not doing either of these things, he was minding his own business. If Mr. Zimmerman would have gone in his house like he should have when the 911 operator advised him to do so, this wouldn’t have happened. And what makes this even more unbelievably wrong is that he shot the boy in the chest, which anyone with a concealed weapons permit should know is almost always a fatal wound, which in this case should be considered murder. My sympathy and prayers to this young man and his family. What a perfect world this would be if we all had love and reverence for all of life, as all life should be considered a gift from God.

  32. Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald wrote a piece on this in Sunday's paper. He referenced Ralph Ellison's "The Invisible Man." It was an interesting choice of a title. I think most white people would concede that black people are more than visible–their presence is duly noted. What Ellison was getting at was that their essence of who they are as individuals may as well be invisible. Many of us don't see them as people we can relate to, we see them from the stained lenses of our experience–perceived or real–it doesn't really matter.

  33. Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald wrote a piece on this in Sunday’s paper. He referenced Ralph Ellison’s “The Invisible Man.” It was an interesting choice of a title. I think most white people would concede that black people are more than visible–their presence is duly noted. What Ellison was getting at was that their essence of who they are as individuals may as well be invisible. Many of us don’t see them as people we can relate to, we see them from the stained lenses of our experience–perceived or real–it doesn’t really matter.

  34. This nation has a long way to go on race relations. I call on the Rev AL Sharpton to cease and desist his race baiting. This young man's death is a tragedy and shouldn't be used to advanced a warped ideology. Where is the SAME attention to the SEVERAL HUNDRED people killed each and every year in the streets of cities like Chicago alone? But here is an opportunity to paint the nation racist cause one kind-of-white looking guy appears to have been super trigger happy – and the victim is black. My heart is broken for the family of Trayvon Martin and all the thousands and thousands of deaths (white, black, hispanic, asian, etc…) by the hands of (whites, blacks, hispanics, asians, etc…) I will not be selectively outraged and I will not fall for this attempt to paint this nation with this broad brush and false narative.

  35. Rachel The media can not help itself. How many people know that the popular photo being paraded around of Travyon is when he was 12 years old? 17 year old Trayvon was about 6' 2". How many people know that at least one witness so far has come forward and said that Trayvon attacked George? Anyone know that George's nose was broken, he had cuts/lacerations and it was Trayvon on top of George when the gun was fired? How many people have seen Trayvon's shirtless pants below his ass gangsta photo flippin' the bird on his facebook page? Some of these things matter LEGALLY some don't but the media loves to get people into a frenzy telling half truths and painting a false and worse case scenario picture. I have a feeling this is going to end similar to Al Sharpton's Duke Lacrosse team scandal or the Tawana Brawley fiasco. People like Sharpton don't want to repair race relations. He wants to stay relevant and create a national crisis. Thanks Rev Sharpton! Keep up the "good" work.

  36. This nation has a long way to go on race relations. I call on the Rev AL Sharpton to cease and desist his race baiting. This young man’s death is a tragedy and shouldn’t be used to advanced a warped ideology. Where is the SAME attention to the SEVERAL HUNDRED people killed each and every year in the streets of cities like Chicago alone? But here is an opportunity to paint the nation racist cause one kind-of-white looking guy appears to have been super trigger happy – and the victim is black. My heart is broken for the family of Trayvon Martin and all the thousands and thousands of deaths (white, black, hispanic, asian, etc…) by the hands of (whites, blacks, hispanics, asians, etc…) I will not be selectively outraged and I will not fall for this attempt to paint this nation with this broad brush and false narative.

  37. Rachel The media can not help itself. How many people know that the popular photo being paraded around of Travyon is when he was 12 years old? 17 year old Trayvon was about 6′ 2″. How many people know that at least one witness so far has come forward and said that Trayvon attacked George? Anyone know that George’s nose was broken, he had cuts/lacerations and it was Trayvon on top of George when the gun was fired? How many people have seen Trayvon’s shirtless pants below his ass gangsta photo flippin’ the bird on his facebook page? Some of these things matter LEGALLY some don’t but the media loves to get people into a frenzy telling half truths and painting a false and worse case scenario picture. I have a feeling this is going to end similar to Al Sharpton’s Duke Lacrosse team scandal or the Tawana Brawley fiasco. People like Sharpton don’t want to repair race relations. He wants to stay relevant and create a national crisis. Thanks Rev Sharpton! Keep up the “good” work.

  38. @Media- such conjecture without reliable sources cited is just that, conjecture. Unless you can cite sources- reputable, nameable sources, it is best not to speculate on such matters.

  39. @Media- such conjecture without reliable sources cited is just that, conjecture. Unless you can cite sources- reputable, nameable sources, it is best not to speculate on such matters.

  40. Just for starters – WTVT-TV in Tampa Florida. You are preaching to the choir when you say it is best not to speculate on such matters. That is exactly what is going on (injecting race and speculating). What so many are doing concerning this incident. Duke Lacrosse and Tawana Brawley all over again. When all the facts are layed out it might tell another story.

  41. Just for starters – WTVT-TV in Tampa Florida. You are preaching to the choir when you say it is best not to speculate on such matters. That is exactly what is going on (injecting race and speculating). What so many are doing concerning this incident. Duke Lacrosse and Tawana Brawley all over again. When all the facts are layed out it might tell another story.

  42. All the facts have not been laid out. The police have yet to interrogate key witnesses that could prove George Zimmerman was in the fault.

  43. All the facts have not been laid out. The police have yet to interrogate key witnesses that could prove George Zimmerman was in the fault.

  44. Who among you are ready to admit you jumped to conclusions and were played for a fool?

  45. Who among you are ready to admit you jumped to conclusions and were played for a fool?

  46. The media lies and sensationalizes. Period. I wouldn't trust anything you see on the news or read in the paper. I'd do my own research, look at video. This is mostly directed at Media says.

  47. The media lies and sensationalizes. Period. I wouldn’t trust anything you see on the news or read in the paper. I’d do my own research, look at video. This is mostly directed at Media says.

  48. Add amnesty international to the long list of those sensationalizing this issue. Very irresponsible of an organization that should be striving to be genuios an honest.

  49. Add amnesty international to the long list of those sensationalizing this issue. Very irresponsible of an organization that should be striving to be genuios an honest.

  50. The problem is far greater than George Zimmerman. The problem is the institutional and societal racism that allowed Mr. Zimmerman to feel that it was okay to pursue this young man, interrogate him and violate his physical space based on his race and his clothing. It's called stereotyping. When and if there was an altercation prior to the shooting Mr. Zimmerman felt that he was within his rights to shoot the young man he had pursued and created this conflict with because he felt that the law was on his side. His confidence that he could walk away from shooting someone in that circumstance was based on the young man's race. And no matter what Mr. Zimmerman's heritage he did not identify racially with Mr. Martin. He communicated that in his conversation with the operator. Then there is the local police chief and state and local justice officials that felt no need to detain Mr. Zimmerman for further questioning. Particularly interesting was the fact that officials exempted him from any scrutiny or even considered that his rendition of what happened might be anything except true even though the only real eye witness was left dead on the ground. If anyone is wondering why African Americans are so enraged by this situation consider these few things and then multiply them by the thousands of times a year they happen to someone we know. Then sit down for a few minutes and ask yourself why. Could it be possible that it's not always their fault? Could there be something else at play here? Could I be part of the problem?

  51. I wish to apologize for all of my shortcomings with use of the English language. It is not my first language, not my primary language, and so please excuse me if I did not live up to some of your readers expectations on what constitutes good grammar. However, I would hope that we would be grown up enough to read for content and not to grade my grammar. I am an old man, not a school boy, and your focus on my grammatical errors makes it clear that your interest does not lie in finding solutions to the problem. I have to agree with the writer Michael who expressed his concerns about how anyone would feel entitled to approach someone in the street and essentially set up the conflict that lead to this young man's death. None of us have the right to do this. A neighborhood watch is set up to do exactly that, WATCH. And if something does not look right, we should be calling the authorities, who's job it is to come and check out what may be wrong with the overall picture. It may be nothing. But the neighborhood watch is to be alert, so that neighbors help neighbors, not neighbors shoot neighbors, or passerby's who's appearance they do not like. All of this focus on someone being Hispanic or not Hispanic is also ridiculous. You can be black and Hispanic, brown and Hispanic, red and Hispanic or white and Hispanic. Being Hispanic does not determine skin color. Many Hispanics, depending upon where they are from, identify themselves as Caucasian. So do not split hairs over this distinction. Michael is most correct when he points out that what came across most clearly is that Mr. Zimmerman did not identify with this young man, Tryvon, who was, in his view, black. Which is preciously why I said: we have got to begin to move away from all of these racial biases that seem to continue to permeate our culture. I can well understand what Michael has written, as many of my friends are expressing the same viewpoint. Too many shootings are happening, around the country, not just in one area or place, and the victims are primarily people of color. It is not inappropriate for Amnesty International to step up to the plate to take a look at this issue, just because it is happening here in the US. They have looked at the same type of issue when it has happened in many other countries, whether it is inter-tribal conflict, inter-cultural conflict, whatever the source where one group oppresses or persecutes the other, or at least there is the appearance of same, to see if there is a basis for finding that it is so. I applaud them for continuing to demand that things change, for we cannot allow this type of situation to continue, where an average citizen can just randomly challenge someone walking down the street, especially armed and feeling self-confident about the ability to pull the trigger, kill them dead and not pay the consequences for murder. This in unjust, in what is otherwise considered to be a just society. I am praying for all of you to see your ways clearly to examine your feelings, examine your own thoughts, and see how your own thoughts, opinions, feelings, may be prejudiced, may be biased against others, and find ways to deal with those feelings. We cannot go on like this. And the sniping and arguing between citizens after a major event, just makes it that much clearer how much racism still exists in this country. Where will it all end? And if I have made further grammatical errors in my typing or in my sentence construction, please be kind enough to keep it to yourself. Read for content, not for English literature. I am not writing a book, and certainly not for entertainment. I am appealing to your heart. As was said in the 60's, be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Let us return to that attitude, we could go a long way toward cleaning up our society, that plus the help of the Good Lord above.

  52. The problem is far greater than George Zimmerman. The problem is the institutional and societal racism that allowed Mr. Zimmerman to feel that it was okay to pursue this young man, interrogate him and violate his physical space based on his race and his clothing. It’s called stereotyping. When and if there was an altercation prior to the shooting Mr. Zimmerman felt that he was within his rights to shoot the young man he had pursued and created this conflict with because he felt that the law was on his side. His confidence that he could walk away from shooting someone in that circumstance was based on the young man’s race. And no matter what Mr. Zimmerman’s heritage he did not identify racially with Mr. Martin. He communicated that in his conversation with the operator. Then there is the local police chief and state and local justice officials that felt no need to detain Mr. Zimmerman for further questioning. Particularly interesting was the fact that officials exempted him from any scrutiny or even considered that his rendition of what happened might be anything except true even though the only real eye witness was left dead on the ground. If anyone is wondering why African Americans are so enraged by this situation consider these few things and then multiply them by the thousands of times a year they happen to someone we know. Then sit down for a few minutes and ask yourself why. Could it be possible that it’s not always their fault? Could there be something else at play here? Could I be part of the problem?

  53. I wish to apologize for all of my shortcomings with use of the English language. It is not my first language, not my primary language, and so please excuse me if I did not live up to some of your readers expectations on what constitutes good grammar. However, I would hope that we would be grown up enough to read for content and not to grade my grammar. I am an old man, not a school boy, and your focus on my grammatical errors makes it clear that your interest does not lie in finding solutions to the problem. I have to agree with the writer Michael who expressed his concerns about how anyone would feel entitled to approach someone in the street and essentially set up the conflict that lead to this young man’s death. None of us have the right to do this. A neighborhood watch is set up to do exactly that, WATCH. And if something does not look right, we should be calling the authorities, who’s job it is to come and check out what may be wrong with the overall picture. It may be nothing. But the neighborhood watch is to be alert, so that neighbors help neighbors, not neighbors shoot neighbors, or passerby’s who’s appearance they do not like. All of this focus on someone being Hispanic or not Hispanic is also ridiculous. You can be black and Hispanic, brown and Hispanic, red and Hispanic or white and Hispanic. Being Hispanic does not determine skin color. Many Hispanics, depending upon where they are from, identify themselves as Caucasian. So do not split hairs over this distinction. Michael is most correct when he points out that what came across most clearly is that Mr. Zimmerman did not identify with this young man, Tryvon, who was, in his view, black. Which is preciously why I said: we have got to begin to move away from all of these racial biases that seem to continue to permeate our culture. I can well understand what Michael has written, as many of my friends are expressing the same viewpoint. Too many shootings are happening, around the country, not just in one area or place, and the victims are primarily people of color. It is not inappropriate for Amnesty International to step up to the plate to take a look at this issue, just because it is happening here in the US. They have looked at the same type of issue when it has happened in many other countries, whether it is inter-tribal conflict, inter-cultural conflict, whatever the source where one group oppresses or persecutes the other, or at least there is the appearance of same, to see if there is a basis for finding that it is so. I applaud them for continuing to demand that things change, for we cannot allow this type of situation to continue, where an average citizen can just randomly challenge someone walking down the street, especially armed and feeling self-confident about the ability to pull the trigger, kill them dead and not pay the consequences for murder. This in unjust, in what is otherwise considered to be a just society. I am praying for all of you to see your ways clearly to examine your feelings, examine your own thoughts, and see how your own thoughts, opinions, feelings, may be prejudiced, may be biased against others, and find ways to deal with those feelings. We cannot go on like this. And the sniping and arguing between citizens after a major event, just makes it that much clearer how much racism still exists in this country. Where will it all end? And if I have made further grammatical errors in my typing or in my sentence construction, please be kind enough to keep it to yourself. Read for content, not for English literature. I am not writing a book, and certainly not for entertainment. I am appealing to your heart. As was said in the 60′s, be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Let us return to that attitude, we could go a long way toward cleaning up our society, that plus the help of the Good Lord above.

  54. If we did not have the 'carry concealed weapons' and 'stand your ground' laws in the state of Florida, Trayvon would probably not be dead. Let's get these laws off the books in this country. — Heide

  55. If we did not have the ‘carry concealed weapons’ and ‘stand your ground’ laws in the state of Florida, Trayvon would probably not be dead. Let’s get these laws off the books in this country. — Heide

  56. Personally – i dont care if your white, black, asian, filipino, hispanic, older or younger, larger or smaller, fat or skinny, gay or straight, methodist, catholic, jewish, muslim, buddhist, male or female, good looking or ugly, tall or short, … If you punch me in my face, knock me to the ground, pound me head repeatedly into the concrete — threatening my life and my health — leaving me with no option and i have a loaded gun? If i'm lucky enough to get a shot off – you are going to end up with a bullet lodged somewhere in your body!

  57. Personally – i dont care if your white, black, asian, filipino, hispanic, older or younger, larger or smaller, fat or skinny, gay or straight, methodist, catholic, jewish, muslim, buddhist, male or female, good looking or ugly, tall or short, … If you punch me in my face, knock me to the ground, pound me head repeatedly into the concrete — threatening my life and my health — leaving me with no option and i have a loaded gun? If i’m lucky enough to get a shot off – you are going to end up with a bullet lodged somewhere in your body!

  58. What's more cruel and inhumane than to judge a young man just because of how he looks and of his skin color. This has been a major issue not only in the US but worldwide. I hope that there will be no more cases like this. We all have the right to live, black or white.

    • Zimmerman did not know Trayvon was black when he first saw him. When the dispatcher asked his skin color, Zimmerman said he LOOKS black. He didn't know for sure he was black until after the chaos. Please do not rely on the edited NBC clip. Instead, listen to the 911 transcript in full context.

      Zimmerman did not "follow Trayvon even though police told him not to".
      1. He was following Trayvon BEFORE he was told "we don't need you to do that".
      2. The person who said "we don't need you to do that" was a dispatcher, NOT a police officer.
      3. After being told "we don't need you to do that", Zimmerman returned to his car.

      If you're freaked out that some "creepy @$$ Cr@cker" was following you, and you lose him, why would you turn around and accost him? If I'm being stalked by a tiger, and I see it walk away, I would use the opportunity to get the heck out of there, not turn around and confront it.