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Indignation Grows Over Trayvon Martin Case PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia, Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 29 March 2012 02:58

Valley's African American Community Speaks Out

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

They Will Not Forget -- A garment bearing the photo of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin is displayed prominantly during a protest rally in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 27. Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, despite a 9-1-1 dispatcher telling Zimmerman to wait until police had arrived to investigate Zimmerman's call of a suspicious person.

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

Signs and placards speaking out against the Sanford, Fla. shooting are displayed by protestors in Los Angeles.

MIKE TERRY/SFVS

Leroy Chase, president/CEO of the San Fernando Valley Boys & Girls Club in Pacoima, said Martin's death "is not a black or brown case," but one where police didn't even follow their own procedures.

As time passes without an arrest in the death of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, indignation grows in the African American community – not only in that state, but also across the country.

In the San Fernando Valley, African American community leaders here expressed dismay over what they say is the failure of police to follow their own rules, and a lack of justice in the case.

"The handling of the case by the police is not proper. The decision on the case, whether he's (Zimmerman) guilty or not guilty, should have been left up to the courts," said Herbert Thompson, a member of the San Fernando Valley chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

"The police is taking his word without investigating. The police, by handling it this way, has created this problem with the community," Thompson added.

Beverly J. Miller, founder of MASEED (Mothers Against Social Economic and Educational Decline), and also a Valley NAACP member, said that as a mother of sons, and a mother who has lost a love one to gang violence, "Trayvon's death, as tragic as it is, has brought national attention to an age long problem."

"It's sad to say he will go down in history as young man who lost his life far too soon by the hands of another who decided to take the law in his own hands. This type of violence in our Country must stop! We won't take it anymore!" she said.

Miller went on to say, "A cry for justice for one man is not enough; we need justice across the board. We need laws to change; we need guns off our streets, we need economic change, jobs to keep people employed. We need to build more social outlets and fewer prisons. We need education to instill morality in the minds of our youth. We need spirituality to instill justice in our hearts. We need to stop protesting in the streets about our rights and start lobbying in congress to enforce our rights."

For Leroy Chase, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley, this is not "black or brown" case, but a case where the police haven't followed their own procedures when it comes to shootings.

"Based on the sheer fact that (Zimmerman) was told to remain in his car after calling the police to report (Martin walking in the neighborhood), he became the perpetrator by getting out," Chase said. "He had done his duty as a citizen. That's what he should have done.

"When he got out of the car, he became the agent for violence to take place. This is not a black or brown thing. It has to do with an individual taking his revolver and killing someone," Chase noted.

Martin, 17, was killed on the night of Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, 28, who told Sanford, Florida police that he shot the teenager in self defense. Zimmerman is a neighborhood watch volunteer who called police to report what he said was a suspicious person. The dispatch operator told Zimmerman to stand down while police investigated, according to 9-1-1 tapes of the call released by police.

Martin's family and supporters have argued that Zimmerman's failure to stay away from Martin led to the confrontation between him and the teenager, which ended with Zimmerman shooting the unarmed Martin at close range.

This week, hundreds of people have attended protests and marches in Los Angeles over Martin's death. Many of them were wearing a "hoodie," just like Martin did on the night he was killed.

The piece of clothing has become a point of contention.

Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt when he was shot coming back from a store. Protesters have seized on Zimmerman's call to a 911 operator, in which he describes Martin's hoodie and dubs him "real suspicious," as a method of racial profiling.

At a protest in South Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 27, many demonstrators wore hoodies in solidarity with Martin.

"We want America to know that we are demanding that there is respect and value in black life," said Los Angeles Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell. "The justice system has proven that is broken. There have been countless times when black life has been taken senselessly."

"We are trying to keep the peace, but you're making it hard," he said, as the crowd around him nodded and shouted support for his words.

Bakewell urged people to call their congressmen and Florida's Attorney General to complain and demand Zimmerman be arrested.

A leaked report published by the Orlando Sentinel this week, however, seemed to favor Zimmerman's testimony that he acted in self-defense. The report claims there was an exchange of words between victim and shooter before Martin allegedly punched Zimmerman in the face, and beat his head on the ground.

Leon Jenkins of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP dismissed those claims.

"You don't have the right to self-defense if you are the aggressor," Jenkins said. "We are demanding he be arrested, have a trial and be found guilty as he should."

"This is a hate crime," said Ron Hassan, also of the L.A. NAACP, who encouraged people to keep protesting. "We should continue to let society know we aren't taking it anymore."

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Last Updated on Friday, 30 March 2012 03:10