W.A.T.E.R. 17 | 7/22/2013, 9:25 a.m. | Updated on 7/22/2013, 9:25 a.m.
“You can kill a dog—Michael Vick—and go to jail … kill a Black man, and you walk. Brother Plaxico Burress: You can shoot yourself, and they’ll send you to jail … but kill a Black man, and [if] you’re white, you walk,” boomed Councilman Charles Barron. “Fifty bullets for Sean Bell, 41 for Amadou Diallo … they walked. Timothy Stansbury, going to a party on the rooftop, bullet in the heart … they walked. We got to come together and say to this system that there must be consequences when you take our lives; we’re not animals!”
George Zimmerman smirked shortly after it was announced that he was acquitted on Saturday night of all murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of the unarmed Trayvon Martin.
And then, he was told he could get his gun back—the same weapon used on Feb. 26, 2012, to gun down Martin in an unprovoked attack initiated by Zimmerman, a self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman who was “stalking” the 17-year-old as he returned to his father’s home in a gated community in Sandford, Fla. Martin was armed with a can of iced tea and a packet of candy.
The racially polarizing case had the nation holding its breath for three weeks, but as people were glued to their TVs, computer monitors or radios for the 10 p.m. Saturday night verdict, the shocking result was revealed.
It was quickly replaced by cries of anger and calls for justice. Passions and tensions were high as millions of people turned out in dozens of states to protest the verdict. Freeways were shut down with marching protestors. Larry Hamm’s People’s Organization for Progress shut down one of the busiest intersections in Newark.
New York City was also buzzing with a series of loud marches in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.
The December 12th Movement held a rally on Sunday evening in front of Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building. Activists and the general public vented their frustrations, many echoing Malcolm X’s uncompromising advocacy for self-defense.
They chanted, “No justice, no peace!” and “Trayvon Martin, resist!” Coltrane Chimurenga, field marshal of the Black Men’s Movement Against Crack, stated, “There will be no peace today. The only thing we can express is rage. We will make sure that they will pay for what has happened to one of our children. We cannot ask them for justice anymore!”
Brother Karriem, a member of the Freedom Party, stepped up, stating: “Brother Malcolm X said, 50 years ago, if anyone comes in your community and attacks and kills your people, you have the right, as a human being, to do the same thing to those people.”
Barron expressed the sentiment of many who say the verdict was a foregone conclusion before the case even began—even before the selection of the jury of five white women and one Latina.
“We should’ve been angry from the beginning, before it even started, because you knew what the outcome was going to be. If the states and courts aren’t going to protect us, if the police murder us more than they protect us, then we’re going to have to protect ourselves … by any means necessary!”