The Trayvon Martin tragedy: Social justice has been ignored in the murder of an innocent victim

Kharissa Forte

If you are not yet familiar with the injustice surrounding the murder of the 17-year-old Florida native Trayvon Martin, here are the basics: On the night of Feb. 26, Martin was walking home from 7-11. He was wearing a black hoodie and carrying a pack of skittles and a can of iced tea.

The self-appointed neighborhood watch leader, George Zimmerman, was following Martin home.

His reason for following Martin supposedly stemmed from the many alleged recent break-ins in that area. Zimmerman called 911 and made alarming assumptions, saying that Martin looked up to no good and stated that he may be on drugs.

The 911 call also quotes Zimmerman stating, “These a******s always get away” and referred to Martin as a “f***ing c**n.” The dispatcher asked Zimmerman if he was following the boy; Zimmerman told the truth. The dispatcher ordered Zimmerman to stop following him. However, he continued. His disobedience allegedly resulted in Martin’s murder.

Witnesses reported hearing cries of a boy screaming for help, which can be heard on a 911 call made by another witness. Yet Zimmerman is still free. He has not been charged with any crime nor has he been arrested.

Florida has a “stand your ground” law, which gives citizens permission to fight in life threatening situations versus fleeing the scene. Though Zimmerman may try to use this to justify allegedly murdering Martin, there are two key factors that throw it out of the window.

First, Zimmerman was in his car following Martin. This makes him the aggressor. The call he made to police is very calm, controlled and non-threatening.

Secondly, the dispatcher ordered Zimmerman to stop following Martin. Zimmerman did not. Does this type of disobedience warrant some kind of arrest?

This case opened the flood gates for other cases of racial injustice to come to light. One ongoing cry for justice is the story of Pittsburgh teenager Jordan Miles. On Jan. 12, 2010, the 18-year-old black male was brutally assaulted by three white officers: Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak.

While walking in his hometown, the officers came upon Miles and jumped out of the car, yelling, “Where’s your gun? Where’s your drugs? Where’s your money?” Not once did they identify themselves.

Acting on instinct and believing he was about to be robbed, Miles ran. When the cops caught him, they beat him ruthlessly, causing facial damage with a haunting resemblance to Emmett Till.

In questioning, the officers said that they thought Jordan Miles had a gun, but it was just a bottle of Mountain Dew. Miles doesn’t even drink pop. Two years later, the officers are still free, practicing lawenforcement.

Living in the heart of Kansas City, racial injustice is something many are too familiar with.

This familiarity has caused desensitization, since similar experiences take place. Yet the time has come for change. Instead of waiting for the next Malcolm X or tomorrow’s Martin Luther King, Jr., it is time that we realize that tomorrow is here and we are its leaders. Instead of allowing these crimes to build up hatred in our hearts and cause counter-racism, let us stand together to truly be the change America needs.

On Saturday, April 7 there will be a march and keynote address to define what it means for us, as students, to be the change. Those participating in the march will meet at the culture house on 53rd and Rockhill at 10:30 a.m. The march, kicking off at 11 a.m., will be a one-mile demonstration from the culture house to the Student Union. At 11:30 a.m., there will be a keynote address by Rev.

Stan Archie, the vice president of the Missouri School Board of Education. Archie will address the issues surrounding racial injustice, what can be done, and answer any questions. All members of the university are encouraged to attend.

For more information, including a map of the march, search UMKC MARCH FOR TRAYVON MARTIN on Facebook.

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