By JULIANNE MALVEAUX
George Zimmerman, the Florida man who killed Trayvon Martin, told Fox News personality Sean Hannity that the events that occurred on Feb. 26, 2012 were “God’s will.” What a cynical manipulation of our Creator, to suggest that the massacre of an African-American teenager by a crazed vigilante is the will of God. Actually, if one wants to know about God’s will, one might simply to go to the Ten Commandments, the sixth of which is quite explicit: Thou shall not kill.
George Zimmerman has proven himself to be a multiple liar. He called himself destitute while collecting tens of thousands of dollars from a website that was formed to fund his defense. A judge put him back in jail for that lie. He declined medical attention the night he killed Trayvon, and then showed up the next day with bumps on his head, but no evidence of who put them there. This is the equivalent of a drunk driver fleeing the scene of an accident and turning himself in sober the next day. Now, Zimmerman faces a camera from an undisclosed location because he fears death threats, faking sincerity and regrets but saying that Trayvon’s death is God’s will.
Trayvon Martin’s death is not God’s will but Zimmerman’s, and the will of those legislative vigilantes who have passed “Stand Your Ground” laws in many states. Trayvon’s death is the will of those who have peddled these vigilante laws all over the nation. Just as Zimmerman has manipulated God’s word, he has also manipulated the truth, and he ought to be ashamed.
Note that “Stand Your Ground” laws are different from the “Castle Laws” that allow residents to use force against those who unlawfully enter their property. These laws have their own downside – witness the case of a man who shot Halloween trick-or-treaters. But these laws allow folks to shoot people (as opposed to formerly held laws where one was required to retreat) if they are in a place where a defendant is allowed to be. Using such laws, had Trayvon had a weapon he might have justifiably used it on Zimmerman, since he had the same right to be on the streets as Zimmerman. But does anyone have any doubt that if the shoe were on the other foot, Trayvon would have been allowed to leave jail without being charged?
George Zimmerman says this case has divided our nation, and he is, perhaps right. How else could an admitted killer garner more than $200,000 via the Internet unless some rabid souls choose to support the wanton massacre of young African-American men? At the same time, he has had hubris enough to provoke the New Black Panther Party to make him the target of incendiary rhetoric. But the New Black Panther Party, a small organization that is more bark than bite, may have offered a death threat. Zimmerman, who was told not to follow Trayvon Martin, actually committed one, and were it not for the national attention this case has garnered, might have never been charged with the evil he committed.
I had the opportunity to meet Sybrina Hudson, Trayvon’s mother, and attorney Benjamin Crump at the recent Rainbow/PUSH conference. Sybrina is soft spoken but determined, a woman who would not have sought the limelight but for her commitment that her son, and other young Black men targeted by racists, should have justice. She has started a website, www.justicetm.org, that will promote justice for Trayvon and the many other young Black men whose lives are placed in jeopardy by “Stand Your Ground” laws. She is to be commended for turning her pain into passion and power. The rest of us who love young hoodie-wearing Black men who have every right to stop at stores to buy iced tea and Skittles, to hang out at bus stops, as other teens do, to play basketball on courts at night, now must tell them the racist rules of the game.
A friend told me that she tells her sons never to look a White policeman or a threatening-looking White man in the eye. She says she hates the Reconstruction-inspired instructions but embraces it if it will keep her sons alive. Another has banned evening excursions, choosing to drive her sons to get snacks. Still another, who lives in a tony suburb in Maryland, has instructed her son to turn on the microphone embedded in his phone so that, in case of confrontation, she has a record of what happened.
George Zimmerman evokes memories of Amadou Diallo whose wallet was perceived to be a gun, of the mentally disturbed New York grandmother whose scissors in her own hand and no threat to anyone, caused her death, of Michael Griffith who found himself in the wrong neighborhood (Howard Beach) in Brooklyn and paid for it with his life, and of countless other deaths, some of which never get media attention. He evokes memories of those juries who let Whites kill without penalty in the Civil Rights Movement. He reminds us that, for all the talk of post racialism, in some cases African- Americans have no rights that Whites are bound to respect.
George Zimmerman says the murder of Trayvon Martin was “God’s will.” He knows another God than most of us do. But then this gross manipulation of our Savior’s word is not the first manipulation Zimmerman has attempted. Shame on him, and shame on those ministers who do not immediately denounce this blasphemy.
Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.