TRAYVON DIED FOR OUR SINS
By Tom Hayden
This article appeared at The Huffington Post on July 19, 2013.
For Trayvon Martin and his family I feel a sadness that will not lift. For America, I feel a dread that certain horrors repeat again and again, chief among them the murder of young men of color, not only with impunity for their killers but under the cover of judicial sanction. A re-armed George Zimmerman walks free, after a trial in which references to racism were forbidden by the judge. The unarmed Trayvon Martin, under the interpretation of the law, had no right to stand his ground against an armed vigilante. The “incident” considered by the jury, according to the instructions given by the judge, began with a physical confrontation between Trayvon and Zimmerman, not when Zimmerman launched his armed pursuit, muttering, “Fucking punks. These assholes, they always get away.”
Trayvon died bravely. But is that the only option for the many who are targeted deliberately and gunned down from the Arizona border to the boroughs of New York? The norms are broken, the laws are futile and the Black Panther Party no longer exists to serve notice of vengeance.
The evidence of a violently divided America can be understood in the failure of the criminal justice system, where rationality and objectivity are supposed to prevail. In the case of Trayvon and countless others, however, the courts are where objectivity comes to an end.