Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Should Trayvon Martin’s Background Matter?

New information has come to light about Trayvon Martin’s background. As often happens in stories like this there are those who seek to shift the focus, moving us away from an examination of the shooter and of the law protecting the shooter to a point where we are making excuses for what happened. Yet with each new report I honestly find myself saying, “Really?”

It seems Trayvon was serving suspension from school when he was shot and killed in a Florida town. The suspension allegedly came about after Martin was accused of defacing school property. Looking for evidence, school authorities searched his belongings and found a bag containing trace amounts of marijuana. So we now know Trayvon was not the perfect citizen or student. Does this somehow justify his shooting? Really?

Geraldo Rivera tells us that somehow Trayvon brought this on himself by wearing a hoodie. To be fare to Mr. Revera, he does say there should be a full investigation of this incident. We also have to honestly agree with Rivera on how a black man wearing a hoodie invokes an unpleasant image. But to say that the hoodie was as much responsible for the death as was the shooter? Really?

Mr. Rivera says he would bet money that had Trayvon not been wearing a hoodie he would not have been shot. Truth is we do not know. Yes the person who admits to shooting Trayvon mentioned the hoodie in his phone call to 911 but he also mentions some other things that might have caused him to pursue Trayvon. Bottom line: we say guns don’t kill, people do. Guess what hoodies don’t kill…

As a society we have a choice in how we approach this matter. We can push for a full investigation of both the shooting and of the law protecting the admitted shooter or we can continue to look for reasons to justify what happened by attacking the rights and personhood of the victim. This story is not about a school suspension nor is it about the choices people make in what they will wear. This was a deadly shooting. In cases like these it is not up to the public to convict nor is it the job of the public to defend.

For a text of Geraldo Rivera’s comments see
See also “Trayvon Martin: Assessing Stand Your Ground”

No comments: