Three years later, the murder that brought about a national conversation on race the value placed on black lives in America has come full circle. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that there will be no federal charges brought against George Zimmerman for his killing of Trayvon Martin.
In the three years since Trayvon Martin was gunned down by a vigilante wannabe cop, we have learned a lot about this country and our justice system.
We have learned that a 17-year-old black boy followed and then murdered by a man who had no cause to pursue him other than the color of his skin, will be portrayed as a violent thug by news media, by the public and the police.
We have learned that a black man walking down the street can be shot by police for fitting the description of a suspect, his body left in the street for hours before being shoved in the back of an SUV like a sack of garbage. We have learned that after he is killed the police department will engage in an active campaign to destroy the dead man’s reputation (including leaking court information to the press) with eager help from conservative media. We have learned that this death is not even deemed worthy of a trial.
We have learned that being black and selling loose cigarettes in the street is a crime punishable by death in New York. We have learned that video of you being choked to death by police will only prove that you are fat, and would have survived the illegal chokehold if only you’d made better dietary decisions. We have learned here as well, that it is ludicrous to expect charges against anybody in this matter, except of course for the man who caused all this ruckus; the videographer of the killing. We have learned that for a mayor to even suggest that there is an issue with how many police treat people of color is an unforgivable betrayal. Doing this will force officers to go on strike, giving people of color a welcome respite from broken window policing, until the police department realizes they have to continue arresting brown people to keep those numbers up.
We have learned that a toy sword used in cosplay becomes a real sword in the hands of a young black man. And while not attacking anyone, it is so dangerous for a young black man to be carrying a toy sword in public that he must be shot in the street. This too, is so obvious that there is no need to bring charges against the shooters.
We have learned that when police raid the wrong apartment and shoot your sleeping child to death, nobody is to blame. The girl’s young age of 7 and the fact that she was sleeping are enough to consider charges against the officer who ended her life, but only briefly.
We have learned that 12-year-old boys playing with toy guns in the park will be shot within two seconds of encountering a police officer. We have also learned that if the boy who is shot is your brother, and you arrive on the scene, you will be slammed to the pavement, handcuffed and placed in a cop car to watch your brother bleed. We have learned that here is no need to trouble paramedics by calling them right away; instead it is better to stand over the fading body of the child, considering your options. This is all so obvious that there is, once again, no need to bring charges against the officer.
We have learned that three years of protests, three years of tears, three years of black people’s blood in the street have proved one unyielding fact: Black lives do not matter in this country.