“I Don’t Hear Him Yelling Anymore”

I heard someone crying — not boo-hoo crying, but scared or terrified or hurt maybe. To me, it was a child.”

Mary Cutcher, a resident in the Florida community where 17-year old Trayvon Martin was killed as he cried for help

y youngest son is almost seventeen years old.

I have followed the case of Trayvon Martin since it first broke. He was a seventeen-year-old African-American who during halftime of the NBA All-Star game reportedly went to the store to get his brother some candy. Armed with nothing more than a bag of Skittles, he was shot dead—just yards from his father’s home—by a “neighborhood watch” freak with a gun, a freak who is free to carry his 9 millimeter pistol legally here in twenty-first century America, blessed as we are to have a conservative Supreme Court majority with its feet firmly planted in the Old West.

And, so far, the gun-toting 250-pound faux-vigilante who shot and killed 140-pound Trayvon Martin is being partially protected by a bizarre state law—”Stand Your Ground“—in an increasingly bizarre state—Florida.

This case is hard for me to write about, and honestly I have been thinking, since the story became national news, that there would be some facts come out that would make it more understandable, more digestible.

But the more I learn about the case the more incomprehensible it becomes.

My  teenage son, who is as white as snow, may eventually find fate an unkind companion, but he will never face the fate that awaited Trayvon Martin—who was guilty of nothing but being black.  And although there are pathologies strewn throughout American communities of all colors and persuasions, a persistent pathology has plagued America since its founding, a pathology of racism rooted in our history of slavery, the demons of which torment us to this day.

Thankfully,  Lawrence O’Donnell did two excellent segments Monday night on the issue, and I implore all to watch the segments below, especially those comfortable whites* who think that the America white people see is one and the same America that black people see:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

* George Zimmerman, the faux-vigilante who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, was apparently described by police as “white,” even though his family “says he is Hispanic and is not racist.” The point here, though, is that many white people believe that all is right with America on the racial front, especially since 53% of us voted for Barack Obama. But all is not right—not yet.



  1. ansonburlingame

     /  March 20, 2012

    A provacative story for sure and one that deserves a balanced and fair investigation by any authorities.

    Actually there are two issues here. The first is was this in fact a “hate crime”. You, Duane said, “who was guilty of nothing but being black.” Based on the videos and 911 tapes, I say that is yet to be determined. First, it was a Hispanic vs Black interaction, not White vs Black. Could it have been a Black vs Black situation. Maybe it could have been so with a “viglilant” Black man keeping an eye on his neighborhood.

    The 911 tape told the “state of mind” of the shooter far beyond the victim “maybe being black”. The shooter was concerned about being “starred down”, expressed suspicions about the victim being “on drugs”, concerned about his own safety, “he is reaching into his pockets”, etc.

    WHY was the shooter conducting a neighborhood watch “patrol” in the first place. I know nothing about the neighborhood in which the shooting took place. Was a neighborhood watch patrol by anyone justified based on crime statistics, etc.

    The commentators and guests seem to me to LEAP to the conclusion that this was a hate crime. But I have not yet seen anything to show real evidence of racial hatred on the part of the shooter. What is his background, had he been racially angered in the past or taken actions harmful to other races in the past, etc., etc.

    Maybe this was a hate crime. But again, we have a thing called presumption of innocence in America. The burden of proof is not simply that a Hispanic man shot a black 17 year old. The Hispanic must be shown, proven, to have actted out of racial hatred, it would seem to me.

    Of course the other major, but very separate point is a debate over the Florida law itself. The simple fact that the shooter has NOT yet been arrested (22 days after the shooting) seems to show some difficulty in building a case that he acted outside that law. Is there a coverup going on here? I don’t know for sure nor do I think anyone not “on the ground” doing the investigation can determine such, yet.

    All I am saying so far is more is needed to be known for now for me to reach any firm conclusions. I do not defend the shooter, I do not know if the victims action’s were as “pure” as angry parents and the “black caucus” members alleging a hate crime, I do not know the background of “habits” of the shooter, etc., etc.

    But as well I see for now no basis for the accusation that the victim died “only because he was black”. Based on the “evidence” shown, to me that is only a presumption at this point with more, hopefully, to be revealed.

    But one point where we agree, Duane, is we need to change the 2nd Amendment to bring the Constitution up to date for today’s America.



  2. AB , have you listened to the 911 calls? The man wast told by dispatch that he need not follow the young man. Police were on the way. He should have just stayed back a safe distance and observed and not escalate the situation.It is being reported that this man did have some training in Law Enforcement, he should have known better. He also has a history of calling 911 in his pursuit of African Americans. It appears to me that Mr. Zimmerman was on a hunting trip for young African Americans.

    I will be curious to learn why Mr. Zimmerman did not achieve a law enforcement position as well as the environment of that neighborhood.


    Please note that I do have training in Law Enforcement from the USAF and Dept of Defense. PEOPLE NEED TO BE TRAINED BEFORE LOADING UP WITH WEAPONS! I do not understand why the NRA is not front and center promoting extensive training for gun ownership. There is a huge difference in self defense and 2nd degree murder, it is about 20 years in prison. I strongly encourage anyone caught up in their 2nd amendment right crusade to get training and I would bet that JPD would support this.



  3. Having watched Joe Scarborough this morning on MSNBC I find this story even more appalling than yesterday. It was reported that the body of the young man was tested for drugs and the family was not even notified of his whereabouts for 3 days. His phone was on his person and was not used to contact the family, who had no idea where he was. Joe Scarborough, a former republican congressman from Florida, even calls for investigation of the local police department



    • Kabe,

      Appalling is right.

      On the 911 tapes you can clearly here Zimmerman running (or walking briskly) to catch up with the teenager, which prompts the 911 operator to ask Zimmerman if he is following him. It is hard to plead self-defense if you were running toward the danger you claimed was eminent, right?

      Next to the screams, the obvious heavy breathing from trying to catch up to the kid is the most damning piece of evidence. And if the police, who are obviously compromised in this case, don’t arrest him soon and charge him with something, then the Justice Department should not only take over the case completely, but should go after the police department, too.

      This is a sickening case, as I said, especially hearing those screams.



  4. This interesting and sad case says a lot about what is wrong with American society. Here in the twenty-first century we still have an inadequate structure of laws and social norms to deal with endemic problems like crime and racism. The NRA likes to tout the occasional example of a homeowner or bystander using a firearm to foil a criminal, but this case is just the opposite and my sense is that this kind is far more frequent than the other.

    Kabe is correct about Zimmerman’s lack of training, but I would go even farther. People given jobs involving firearms need to be evaluated psychologically for appropriate emotional stability and judgement. This guy seems to be a poor-man’s Barney Phyfe who should never have been given even a single bullet. He should be held fully accountable for second-degree murder and the Florida law needs to be amended.


    • People given jobs involving firearms need to be evaluated psychologically for appropriate emotional stability and judgement.

      Haha… if this were the case, we wouldn’t even have armed police. Probably wouldn’t be a bad situation!


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  March 21, 2012


    Legitimate questions that must be addressed as the investigation(s) proceed. And YES, I watched the entire clips posted by Duane. My reaction after watching the tapes raised the questions posed above that remain unanswered, for now. Thus I remain “open” to what might later be revealed, but not ready to convict anyone of anything for now.

    The ONE thing that struck me, if true, is the shooter still apparently has custody of his gun and liscence to carry such a gun. As the black congresswoman pointed out, any cop involved in such a shooting would have his weapons taken away and assigned a “desk job”. Why the shooter, again if true, remains authorized to “carry” is strange and “dumb”. It also makes me “suspicious”.

    As for did the shooter “pursue” the victim after being warned off by the 911 operator, not a police officer, I say we don’t know for sure and certainly not the details. It “seems” like the shooting occured in some woman’s backyard. If the kid was only walking home, what was he doing in the backyard of a home at the time of the shooting?

    My point of course is the Black Caucus, black reporters, black pundits, are now all over the “air” screaming “hate crime”. MSNBC certainly allowed such rants to be made very public.

    Contrast such exposure to how O’Reilly handled it last night. He asked the same sort of questions that I did, urged a full investigation but withheld any judgment before all the facts are made public.

    This blog raised the issue and was correct in doing so. BUT as well with words such a “faux vigilante”, 250lbs vs 140 lbs, etc. contributed to forming judgments of guilt or innocence (“… one thing he did wrong was being black”), this blog seems to make judgments before anyone publicly really knows boths sides of the event.

    One other point. Today “people are screaming for justice” against this shooter and the one in Afghanistan (a much clearer case thus far based on reporting). Yesterday, three years after the crime Collins was FINALLY found guilty of the murder of a 4′ 4″ young girl, a brutal murder. As well we still await the trial of the girl;s step father for justice to be rendered.

    Justice today in America seems to NOT be very speedy. But eventually justice still seems to be rendered. In this Florida case, I await the course of a legal investigation and eventually justice. But I am NOT ready to judge anything yet.



    • AB, I have been away and was unable to respond. As far as Hate Crimes go, aren’t they all hateful? Over the years I have seen this applied to many crimes and I think it sort of gets people riled up unnecessarily. It does not seem to be used when whites are harmed very often. As far as this case, my first reaction to photos of Mr. Zimmerman was that he was not 100% Caucasian, perhaps Hispanic? But to me it does not matter. In this case I think he was out looking for trouble. Also, I support the 2nd amendment, as I have said before in previous conversations.



  6. Only thing that really bothers me about this is the suggestion that the right to bear arms is somehow at fault here. I agree that there are plenty of nutjobs out there that probably shouldn’t be carrying a gun around… and a lot of them just happen to be police officers… and others happen to be criminals. As Duane points out, our constitution allows even those unbalanced individuals the right to own a gun, up until they prove themselves unworthy. I think though, considering the huge number of gun owners, and even gun carriers in the USA, we do a pretty responsible job of controlling ourselves. The occasional incident like this is going to pop up, but that’s no excuse for the government to come along and say the average American can’t be trusted with a firearm. Call the guy an overzealous freak all you want, but leave the 2nd Amendment out of it.

    I’ll reserve judgment on whether or not this was a “Hate crime” as I have not reviewed the recordings.


%d bloggers like this: