On the Murder of Trayvon Martin
<table><tr><td>The story is by now a familiar one. A young black male has been gunned down in cold blood by a person in a position of authority. It seems like a fresh outrage like this happens almost every week. And yet nothing changes, despite the numbers that swell the sidewalks at rallies denouncing the murders. Cries for justice ring out from every corner of the city, the state, the country, even the world. And yet the murders continue unabated. Each time the tragedy rips at our hearts, opening old wounds over the lives of those lost before, while carving new ones as details of the killing come out.
Except this time it was a little different. The shooter was not a cop in a uniform. He was an unlicensed neighborhood watch captain, a self-appointed cop in civilian clothes. Make no mistake, although Zimmerman was not a badged member of the local police department, he was nonetheless a police. He clearly wanted to imitate the murdering racists he saw around him, playing out a fantasy in his own neighborhood.</td><td><img title="Isn't it enough to call him a murderer & racist?" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2008/hoodedgang.jpg"></td></tr><...
A dark-skinned boy is seen walking along the streets of a mostly white neighborhood. Zimmerman sees the boy as an outsider, and pursues the youth through his neighborhood. The boy speaks to his girlfriend on the phone about a strange man following him. Zimmerman speaks on the phone with the police, using a racial slur as he tells the cops he is trailing a “suspicious person.”
Screams ring out through the neighborhood. A gunshot goes off. The screams stop. A kid lies dead, shot once through the chest. Cops arrive on the scene and Zimmerman reveals to them he was the murderer. The uniformed police immediately accept Zimmerman’s false claim of self-defense, and begin to cover up the murder. The police choose to shield the murderer from persecution because he acts in accordance with their own interests, showing, as always, the police never “serve and protect” the true interests of a community. They treat Zimmerman as if he was a brother in arms. The cops act as a state-backed gang, beating back those who do not fit the plans for their master’s greed driven world, and aiding those who do.
Another unprovoked lynching in the south. This time it’s setting off a panic. It’s supposed to be a new era; did we not get rid of lynching? Many believed we were in a sort of post-race America. Trayvon Martin’s murder has smashed apart this myth. Outrage over the killing has spread rapidly through various social networks, and is beginning to spread into the streets across the country. We can no longer pretend that we have erased the old lines of color that divide our society.
Anger is mostly being focused on George Zimmerman at the moment, but only punishing the murderer will not bring justice. The murder of Trayvon was not just a result of one “bad apple” want-to-be cop acting out on his prejudiced and stereotyping beliefs. It was rather the result of a doomed institution, which grants power to murdering, racist thugs with badges, and to those who chose to act like them, even if they don’t have a badge and a government issued weapon. Attacks should not just be made on an individual, but on the system which perpetuates murders like Trayvon’s, Ariston Waiter’s, Joe Stafford’s, and many, many others.
This is not the first the first time there has been race-driven killing by an “authority figure” in Sanford, Florida. Nor will it be the last if the protests are limited to staged rallies, with a set list of speakers who speak vaguely of the need for “justice” and “accountability.” A focus on just punishing the committer of a murder fails to look at the overall conditions which lead to the murder. We cannot expect the murders of young black males by police to stop while the institution of policing remains. While Zimmerman himself is not sworn in as a police officer, he has served in the same “role” as one in this case. The Sanford Police Department has also helped to cover up the murder, treating Zimmerman as if he did have a badge. The police have released conflicting witness statements to create a murkier picture of the killing. They also failed to conduct any immediate investigation of Zimmerman, allowing facts to disappear before they became public.
While the system is horribly and fatally fucked, we also cannot ignore the actions of the individual. Clearly Zimmerman’s act was terrible, and has damaged all those involved. This deed must elicit a response, but to what degree is tough to decide. Judging the community dynamics and appropriate conflict response from so far away is difficult. Most across the country are demanding the legal prosecution of the Zimmerman, as the proper way to attain justice. Already a police commissioner has resigned, under community pressure for failing to arrest Zimmerman. We cannot ignore the appalling killing Zimmerman has committed. But to send someone into the prison-industrial complex is never justice. This may seem an extreme stance for some, but it is clear to others that while what Zimmerman did was despicable, sentencing him to serve time in prison only places him under the rule of those who commit racist acts of violence every day. Punishing one individual through prison only perpetuates the terrible system.
Some may attempt to defend Zimmerman’s intentions, even as his actions are universally accepted as deplorable. “He was just trying to protect his neighborhood, without relying on the police, isn’t that commendable?” they’ll say. Certainly communities that do not rely on the police to resolve conflicts are desirable. But this was not what Zimmerman was after. He was still heavily dependent on the police, as evidenced by the forty-six calls he made to police in just over a year. Zimmerman instead was attempting to emulate police behavior, giving himself a false position of authority by anointing himself the head of the neighborhood watch. He was not interested in creating a welcoming community, but rather a space free of “outsiders”. To Zimmerman all black men were automatically suspicious outsiders. Racism like this cannot be accepted, and Zimmerman should not escape without consequences. The consequences provided by the state are not adequate; they do nothing to prevent atrocities like these from happening once again.
Protesters have begun to take to the streets in many communities in outrage over Trayvon Martin’s murder. So far much of the rage has been focused on just this specific case, but we should encourage an expansion of the anger to include the entire racist policing institution. Trayvon’s murder is a result of the same apparatus that has given Atlanta the killings of Ariston Waiters and Joetavius Stafford in just the last six months. Their names, and the countless others who are victims of police violence, should not be forgotten as Trayvon is mourned. The collective anger everyone has felt over Trayvon’s death should not just be directed towards the legal punishment of one person, nor should it be limited to desperate pleas to authority figures to stop the violence. A victory in this battle is not a prison sentence for George Zimmerman, or a new piece of legislation. Rise up and strike back against the pigs who attempt to control our lives.
Against (A)LL Police
Fire to the Prisons