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Trayvon Martin’s parents, supporters ‘devastated’

Published Apr 26, 2012 9:26 PM

Having a “heavy heart” and being “devastated” were the main words that Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin used when the killer of their 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, was released on a $150,000 bond from the Sanford, Fla., jail.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton

George Zimmerman — reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest under his jacket — was videotaped as he was escorted out of jail by rifle-toting police in a car caravan in the early morning hours of April 23. He only had to put $15,000 down in bail money. Trayvon Martin’s parents were hoping, like many others, that Zimmerman would remain in jail until his trial begins. As of April 23, no date has been set for the trial.

At his bond hearing on April 20, Zimmerman publicly “apologized” to Martin’s parents. Lawyers for the parents stated that the so-called apology was “self-serving” and “insulting.” (cnn.com, April 23) The prosecutor had sought a $1 million bond.

Union Square, NYC

Zimmerman’s release came only 12 days after Florida authorities were forced to arrest and charge him with second-degree murder of the unarmed African-American teenager on Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford. That arrest only happened because of mass protests around the U.S. that mushroomed for at least three weeks, especially by outraged Black youth demanding that Zimmerman be charged.

Martin, who lived in Miami, was visiting his father in Sanford when his young life was tragically cut short. Zimmerman stalked the youth as he was returning to his father’s home from a store with a can of iced tea and a bag of candy. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was armed with a 9-mm gun. He called 911 and claimed that Martin looked “suspicious” because the youth was wearing a hoodie.

On that 911 call, Zimmerman was told by the police not to pursue Martin, but he ignored them. Martin can be heard begging for help before Zimmerman shot him in the chest at point-blank range.

Racist police vs. youth of color

The police refused to arrest Zimmerman when they took him in for questioning, once Zimmerman invoked the “Stand Your Ground” law, which allegedly upholds the right to self-defense. Zimmerman claimed that he suffered a bloody nose and head injuries at the hand of Martin. Police videotape showed no signs of any injuries when Zimmerman was brought in for questioning.

Zimmerman has a known history of making 911 calls complaining about Black teenagers. A restraining order was imposed on him by a woman for alleged physical abuse.

Many have raised serious doubts that, had the roles been reversed, Martin would have been given treatment similar to Zimmerman. If Martin had shot and killed a white person invoking the same law, would he have been allowed to remain free for 45 days straight?

Sanford, especially its police department, has a heinous history of racist contempt for the Black community. Bill Lee, the Sanford police chief who temporarily resigned from his post when he came under initial criticism for his mishandling of the Martin case, officially resigned on April 23.

The release of Zimmerman is just another phase in the ongoing struggle to win justice for Trayvon Martin and his family. Short-term justice will only happen if Zimmerman is found guilty and put behind bars for the rest of his life. A conviction for second-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison with no chance of parole.

Long-term justice involves ending all racial profiling of youth of color like Martin by the police or racist vigilantes like Zimmerman.

April 26 has been designated another “Hoodie Day” of actions in honor of Trayvon Martin.