My opening statement: Trayvon and the Fight For Justice

re-blogged from:   Dr  David J Leonard

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trayvon

“Ladies of the Jury,

I am angry; I am angry at how Trayvon Martin is being portrayed in this court; I am outraged by the disrespect directed at him within the news.  I am saddened that the defense seems based on racial stereotypes and racist appeals rather than facts.  I am outraged that the defense seems to be: he’s black.  Not surprising given that facts we know.

Can you imagine a defense attorney standing before the court and showing pictures of your white child in an effort to demonize and victim blame?  What do you think the reaction would be if an attorney or a news station consistently put out images of guns, smoke, marijuana and other photos that sought to turn your child into a “thug” who deserved it.  What do you think the reaction would be from white America?

Can you imagine the outcry if dozens of white youths were being gunned down by police and security guards in a matter of months?

Can you imagine the extensive political discussions; the media stories that would saturate the airwaves?

If a white youth was killed on the way to buying skittles for a friend, would he be recast as the assailant; as a person to hate

Can you imagine Fox News or any number of newspapers reporting about a school suspension for one of the victims or doctoring pictures in an attempt to make these victims less sympathetic?

Can you imagine a person holding up a sign calling these victims “thugs” and “hoodlums.” Just think about the media frenzy, the concern from politicians, and the national horror every time a school shooting happens in suburbia or every time a White woman goes missing…can you imagine if women routinely went missing from your community and the news and police department simply couldn’t be bothered?

This isn’t simply a trial about George Zimmerman and justice for Trayvon; it is trial about who’s life matters; who is entitled to justice. It’s a trial about race in America

I want you to close your eyes for a second, and imagine that your son or daughter, sister or brother, granddaughter or grandson, ventured to the corner store for some Skittles and tea but never returned? Can you imagine if Peter or Jan was gunned down right around the corner from your house and the police didn’t notify you right away? Can you imagine if little Cindy or Bobby sat in the morgue for days as you searched to find out what happened them? Can you even imagine the police letting the perpetrator go or the news media remaining silent? Can you even fathom learning about background and drug tests on your child? Can you imagine the news media demonizing your child, blaming your child for his own death?

I have listened to Don West for many hours (or many minutes) and have to say I am not surprised.  In the 4 long hours, he continued the defense strategy to dehumanize, mock, and disrespect Trayvon Martin, and his family.   With this statement he showed little concern for the black community and the nation as a whole, playing the racism card with precision.

Trayvon Martin was killed; he lost his life. His parents, family, and friends are devastated. Their lives have been changed forever.

Yet, he starts with a joke: “Knock knock. Who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? Good, you’re on the jury,” Really, levity? Can you imagine the outrage had he made a joke at a trial involving the killing of a white youth; probably not which tell us everything we need to know about this case and a society that consistently doesn’t show itself not to value black life.

Can you imagine of Johnnie Cochran opened America’s last trial of century with a knock knock joke? In a country where racial profiling, stop and frisk, and#every28hours are almost daily realities; your attempt at levity is yet another moment of disrespect.  His “joke” is causing a lot of anger and pain.   It is yet another example where black life is pushed into the background; where black pain and trauma is neither seen nor felt. Can you feel his parents pain; is it “legible.”

But that is no concern of the defense since it thinks George is the true victim.  That is what we have been told today; that George was victim of Trayvon, armed with “sidewalk,” on that fateful night.  While Trayvon lost his life, the defense wants to paint POOR Georgie as the victim. This version seems to be as much of a fantasy as other nursery rhymes.

While Trayvon parents lost their child, their future, they want us to feel sorry for George because he is depressed, because he gained weight, and because his life has forever changed.  Trayvon life was ended; George Zimmerman is not a victim, he is the defendant.

I have heard that “we are all Trayvon Martin,” yet we are not Trayvon Martin – and we never could be. White America is never suspicious. White America can walk to the store without fear of being hunted down. White America can count on justice and a nation grieving at the loss of White life. We aren’t Trayvon Martin, we are George Zimmerman: presumed innocent until proven innocent.  If we were all Trayvon Martin, if the jury and the judge, the media and society as a whole, was Trayvon Martin, we wouldn’t have been subjected to the joke, forced to listen to more lamenting of George the victim, and most certain forced to sit through another effort turn Trayvon into the assailant.  I hope that you, a jury, clearly not of Trayvon’s peers, can see behind the white colored glasses to see this vicious defense strategy in our march toward justice.

The defense strategy to dehumanize Trayvon, to paint him as a gangsta who deserved to be killed, is reprehensible.  It is beyond the pale.  I hope we see that; I hope we denounce that here and everywhere.  The decision to make a joke at this trial is sad reminder of what’s a stake here: justice and saying Trayvon’s life matters.  If it does, lets take a stand for justice.  Let us stand together to life up Trayvon in the name of equal justice building toward the fulfillment of our freedom dreams.

In a week where the Supreme Court of the United States concluded that diversity isn’t a compelling issue, where this same group of justices decided that voting discrimination was no longer an issue worthy of governmental oversight, you have the potential to say “no.”

No to the perpetuation of racist stereotypes;

No to the pandering to white racism;

No to a society that rarely sees or hears black suffering.

Yes to justice;

No to hatred;

Yes to a future, no to a racist past.

With  disenfranchisement making a sad return, spaces of change and justice are becoming and more scarce within these halls.  The power to lead us on a different path sits not just with you but those of us who must organize, who must demand justice for Tryavon, for Rekia, for Jordan, for those being pushed out of school and into prisons, and for those being denied the right to vote from D.C. to Mississippi.  Yes, this is 1 case but it is a moment where we can open up the windows justice toward a new tomorrow.”

More about the author

DR DAVID J LEONARD

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