Sunday, April 1, 2012

Extremely low sales tag attached to the lives of young African American males

Trayvon Martin parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin
Family of Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain
Sometimes you have to exploit a high profile case to get justice for cases that are largely ignored by the media. It's common knowledge the media are not interested in the shooting deaths of Black males; the kidnappings, rapes and murders of Black children; the murders and rapes of Black women. The same "we are not interested" rule applies to Hispanics and others. Only White women are important and newsworthy to the major media. The prettier the White female victim, the more aggressive the coverage. Nonetheless, White children and men receive more attention than minorities.

The media, politicians and pundits, especially Fox mouthpieces, are stepping all over each other, rushing to voice their opinions about the sudden awakening in Black communities in the aftermath of  the shooting death of an unarmed 17-year-old African American male. The media are suggesting that Black people should stop protesting and let justice take its course in the shooting death of  17-year-old Travon Benjamin Martin, who was shot killed by an adult named George Zimmerman, 29, in Sanford, Florida, February 216, 2012.

The media and pundits are accusing Rev. Al Sharpton,  the NAACP and other Black leaders of stirring up racial animosity, putting innocent people in danger. They have sided with Zimmerman. They say Trayvon was apparently behaving  "suspiciously", drawing Zimmerman's attention. The media and pundits have readily accepted and believe the shooter's version of  what happened the night Trayvon was shot to death. He must have done something wrong, otherwise, he would be alive today, some of them say. Regrettably, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are the only witnesses to that February night of tragedy. One is dead and the other is. . . 

The next step in this calamity is to dehumanize Martin,  a common ruse employed by the media and police departments. The media complex desperately want Martin to be a high school dropout, a gang banger, a two-bit hoodlum with an arm-length record of arrests and convictions. They want his death to be irrelevant and counted as a Black male statistic. 

The media and pundits want Trayvon Martin to come from a single parent home, an absent father who is in prison, jobless or on drugs, rendering him incapable supporting his son financially and emotionally. They want Martin's mother to have several  children out of wedlock by different men, totally negligent in her parental duties, and a long time welfare recipient on crack, the media's drug of preference for African Americans.

Trayvon Martin did not fit the stereotype. He has two loving parents, neither of whom talks in slang or Ebonics. They are middle class, dress nicely and can talk intelligently in complete sentences! The media are unhappy with that. Knowing that Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton are divorced is not sensational enough to bother with. No scandal there. So the media scoured Trayvon's social accounts on Facebok and Twitter in search of reportable news. Scandalous news. They learned nothing that set him aside from other teenagers who post all kinds of photos, brag and tell all of their personal business on these sites.

As we all now know the head of  Madam Justice was twisted backwards in Stanford, Florida the late evening Martin was killed. The person who took Trayvon Martin’s life that rainy night was set free. The police chief saw no evil, heard no evil in George Zimmerman's actions. Zimmerman, the "White Hispanic" is free to make choices.  The dead teenager, Trayvon Martin, an African American, can no longer make choices. He is only free to lay silent and lifeless in a cold grave. His parents can no longer caress him. See his smile. Listen to him talk. Watch him be a silly teenager. However, Trayvon's thousands upon thousands of supporters of all hues, along with his grieving parents, are speaking for him. They are demanding that real justice be done.

Zimmerman was not been arrested after killing Trayvon due to Florida's free-to-kill law officially called Stand Your Ground. Gun lovers and the NRA applauded Zimmerman for standing his ground. The unarmed teenager did not get a chance to stand his ground. The mortician who prepared his body for burial said there were no tale-tale injuries or scars on Trayvon's body or hands to indicate that he had been in a life-and-death struggle with Zimmerman. He had a single shot to the heart.

Al Sharpton, MSNBC host of Politics Nation, and civil right activists, understands that drawing attention to a case like this can lead to judicial re-examination, and reopening of similar shootings that have gone unnoticed by the media. There are hundreds of these files stored in cold case files all across America. The number is increasing every day. 

One example is the police shooting death of former Marine Kenneth Chamberlain, November 19, 2011. The story's headline reads: Racially Motivated Killing the Media Missed? NY Police Called Out on Medical Alert Shooting Dead of 68 Year Old Black Veteran.

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now writes in AlterNet, March 29: “As the shooting death of Trayvon Martin continues to draw national attention, today we look at another controversial shooting of an African-American male that has received far less scrutiny. On the morning of November 19th, a 68-year-old former Marine named Kenneth Chamberlain, with a heart condition, accidentally pressed the button on his medical alert system while sleeping. Responding to the alert, police officers from the city of White Plains, New York arrived at Chamberlain’s apartment in a public housing complex shortly after 5 a.m. By the time the police left the apartment Kenneth Chamberlain was dead, shot twice in the chest by a police officer inside his home. 

"Police gained entry to Chamberlain’s apartment only after they took his front door off its hinges. Officers first shot him with a taser, then a beanbag shotgun, and then with live ammunition. Several months after his death, the name of the officer who killed Kenneth Chamberlain has yet to be released. The DA has vowed to convene a grand jury to determine if any of the officers should face charges,” writes Gonzalez and Goodman.

Another example among the many that I found is an article by Earl Ofari Hutchinson in The Grio, March 30. He wrote about the shooting death of 19-year-old Kendrec McDade in Pasadena, CA. 

“The two Pasadena police officers who shot and killed 19-year-old Kendrec McDade Saturday night did not have their patrol car lights or sirens on when they approached the unarmed teenager. Police were responding to an armed robbery call that turned out to be false. The 911 caller, 26-year-old Oscar Felipe Carrillo, admitted to police that he lied about two suspects having a gun. He has been arrested and is awaiting potential charges of involuntary manslaughter.

“Pasadena police spokesperson Phlanté Riddle said the department does not allow officers to turn on patrol car lights or sirens if the emergency has no imminent danger. Carrillo told the dispatcher two African-American men pointed a gun at him and stole his backpack," writes Hutchinson.

Another related story in Pasadena Star News, March 27, written by Brian Charles, revealed that, “The lawyer for slain teenager Kendrec McDade's family on Tuesday described the shooting of the former Azusa High School football standout as a drive-by conducted by a member of the Pasadena Police Department.

"Attorney Caree Harper said an unidentified officer rolled down the window of his patrol car and fired at least one shot at the 19-year-old, while a second officer chasing on foot opened fire as well. The volley of as many as 10 shots killed McDade. Both officers said McDade was grabbing at his waistband, which led them to believe he was reaching for a weapon. The officers believed McDade to be a suspect in an armed robbery.”

McDade was unarmed. He was innocent. He was black.

Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman quickly resorted to the excuses made by police when they shot and kill black males:

(a) I feared for my life.
(b) I thought he was reaching for a weapon.
(c) He reached for something in his waistband. 
(d) I saw something in his hand.

These hackneyed excuses have worked well  for police officers for decades. Zimmerman reached into the same old grab bag and pulled them out to justify his murderous rage against Trayvon Martin.

Martin was talking on his cell phone to a female friend at the time Zimmerman began stalking him. You know. . . the cloak and dagger stuff  you see in the movies and on TV. Martin had gone to a nearby 7-Eleven during an NBA halftime to buy a package of  Skittles and a can of Arizona Ice Tea. He did not return to the complex running, looking over his  shoulders, searching for a hiding place. No police was chasing him. He had not committed a crime. He had not robbed the 7-Eleven. Notwithstanding, armed with these dangerous items on his person: Skittles, a can of tea, a cell phone, and wearing a hoodie made this youngster look like a threat to society, a gang banger, who was out on a rainy night scouting apartments and cars to burglarize.

Without evidence or a personal knowledge of Martin's history, Zimmerman knew immediately that this Black teenage male "looks like he's on drugs", and “up to no good.” By God, the wannabe cop was going to eradicate this gated neighborhood of these Black thugs and criminals! After all, he said in his call to 9-1-1-, "These assholes always get away!" 

According to local news stories Zimmerman cooperated with the police on the night of the shooting.He told them his side of the story. It was decided there was no probable cause to arrest him. As noted in a recent video of him getting out of a police patrol car, Zimmerman was clearly handcuffed.  Everyone assumed that he had been arrested, as the lead investigator suggested. 

The Miami Herald reported: "On at least two prior occasions, the Stanford Police Department was accused of turning their heads when  officers  are involved in violent encounters with blacks. In 2010 police waited seven weeks to arrest a lieutenant's son who was caught on video sucker-punching a homeless black man."

As we all have heard, the police dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin. "We don't need you to do that" he was told. The dispatcher said she was sending an officer. Zimmerman disregarded her suggestion. He was the cop on the beat, and he was not going to let his Black criminal to get away!

Police volunteer program coordinator Wendy Dorival said she met Zimmerman in September at a community neighborhood watch presentation.

 Miami Herald reported Dorival as saying, "If it’s someone you don’t recognize, call us. We’ll figure it out."

She told those in attendance to “Observe from a safe location. There’s even a slide about not being a vigilante police. I don’t know how many more times I can repeat it.”

"Police Chief Bill Lee said that although police do not encourage watch program volunteers to carry weapons, he recognizes a citizen’s constitutional right to do so."

For the critics who are asking where was Rev. Sharpton in the police shootings, I think they should ask themselves: "Where was I?" It is easy to quarterback and criticize while sitting in the safety of  one's living rooms, watching these horrific events dramatized in living color on national TV. Sharpton cannot be everywhere. Communities, relatives of the victims have to help draw attention to deaths of their sons by cops.

The Grio also wrote a piece on McDade. “. . .the other is Kendrec McDade. He was also a Black teen, a former high school football star at Azusa High School in a suburb of Los Angeles, and had no criminal record. When the dust settled, McDade also lay dead.

“In his case, he was slain by Pasadena, California police officers. McDade, like Martin, was unarmed. Police, acting on a bogus tip about a robbery, allegedly confronted McDade and a friend on March 24th, and then opened fire when they claimed they saw him reach for something in his pants.

“The shooting happened at night. Police claimed a surveillance videotape showed McDade as a 'lookout' in a petty theft attempt, but refused demands to produce the tape. Police and city officials, the NAACP and the California Legislative Black Caucus branded the shooting a tragedy, and official's promised an independent investigation. However, as with Trayvon Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, Pasadena police did not say what action, if any, they took against the officers that killed McDade."
"Am I next?" A simple but profound question.
George Zimmerman
Trayvon Martin
Kendrec McDade

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