Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, gave a speech Friday at the National Urban League meeting in Philadelphia, asking for their support in changing the law that prevented the man who killed her son from being convicted of murder. In an emotional speech, she said, “Wrap your mind around no prom for Trayvon, no high school graduation for Trayvon, no college… no grandkids coming from Trayvon, all because of a law…a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable, and to pay for this awful crime.” She called on the attendees to join her in making sure there will “never be another Trayvon Martin.”
Ms. Fulton, I am sorry for your loss. No one should have to lose a child; that is a horrible experience no matter how it happens. I’m sorry that George Zimmerman’s bullet took Trayvon’s life. I wish that Mr. Zimmerman could have stopped the attack in some other way; Trayvon did not deserve to die.
That being said, I have to wonder what would have been the result if Trayvon had merely been wounded? What would have happened if George Zimmerman had not been armed that night? What if Zimmerman had survived the attack and identified Trayvon as his attacker? What then? Would there have been a prom, graduation or college? Sadly, probably not. Assault and battery charges would have been most likely, or murder charges had Zimmerman died with Trayvon identified as his attacker. Instead of going to prom, Trayvon probably would have joined so many other young Black men in prison.
Ms. Fulton, if you are going to try George Zimmerman and our right to self-defense in the court of public opinion, you must admit all the evidence, including the evidence the jury was not allowed to see at trial. You cannot continue to pretend that Trayvon was that cute twelve-year-old we saw in the pictures the media first showed us when this story hit the news. Trayvon was taking the path that many urban youth take – street fighting, petty theft, experimenting with drugs.
While the jury was not allowed to see the tweets and photos from his phone regarding street fighting, drug use, and discussing a gun, they are freely available on the Internet for anyone interested enough to look beyond the mainstream media narrative. While the jury did not get to hear about his suspensions, burglary tools and stolen items found in his backpack, and what Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail is used for among many urban youth, again, an interested person can find numerous articles with this information online. Even the autopsy evidence that showed liver and brain damage consistent with the abuse of DXM (active ingredient of Robitussin, the missing ingredient to go with the “tea” and skittles) is there.
Sadly, Ms. Fulton, Trayvon was making bad choices. He was buying into the urban thug culture (which is in no way limited to Black teens). He made a bad choice on the night he died by choosing to attack an armed man. During the Zimmerman trial, the judge did a good job of keeping the case about Zimmerman’s actions and not putting Trayvon on trial. But outside of the trial, we all know the evidence about what path his life was taking. And yet your solution to keeping young men from dying while committing violent crime is to disarm the victims. And you also claim that a man who is pinned to the ground getting his head beaten into the sidewalk has a duty to retreat rather than to shoot his aggressor. Is that what you want for all of us, whatever race, to live with the fear that we have no way to defend ourselves from someone (of whatever race) who decides that we look like an easy victim?
As you would hope for there to be no more Zimmermans, I am daring to say that I would hope there be no more misguided Trayvons, either; no more young men of any color who are looking for unsuspecting victims to rob, punch or beat down. But then again, I’m just a “creepy-a** cracka” who has no idea what being Black is all about. But you do, and the Black community does. Instead of blaming “racism” and laws permitting all people to defend themselves for Trayvon’s death, why don’t you join these brave people and address the problem of the thug culture? Speak out and make criminals pay for their crimes instead of protecting them, because I don’t want my children (or me!) to be responsible for the death of anyone’s children. I also don’t want my kids to be afraid of your kids. But the key to preventing these things is not taking away our ability to defend ourselves; that hurts everyone no matter what their race, and we all need to know that we are allowed to defend ourselves from a violent attack. I would suggest that is just as important to people in the Black community as it is to those of other races, considering that the main victims of violence from Black teenagers are other Blacks.
The real truth is that the Zimmerman case showed the value of our current self-defense laws. In fact, if this case had been allowed to follow its logical course, there would never have been a trial. The Sanford Police Department determined that Zimmerman shot Trayvon in self-defense and chose not to file charges. When an appointed prosecutor filed charges, bypassing the grand jury, the jury still found this tragedy to be a clear case of self-defense. It affirmed, at least for me, the fact that concealed carry laws and the right to self-defense are important features of a free society that benefit all law-abiding citizens.
I wish, for your sake, that Trayvon had not died. I wish that he and Mr. Zimmerman had not had that fateful encounter a year and a half ago. I know your grief must be almost unendurable, but please do not use that grief to deny others the right to defend themselves from violence. The old adage, “Hard cases make bad law,” is especially true in this sad case, so please don’t use this hard case to lobby for bad laws that will make us all less safe from the violent among us, even when they are people we love.