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In the wake of the tragic shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, I am thinking about how I am to keep my sons safe.  How do I prepare them for what they are to face in the world outside of our bubble of a perfect little community with next-to-no crime?  How do I make sure that they fully understand the dangers of meeting up with a George Zimmerman?  How do I get them to recognize that the ignorance that incriminates them with no just cause, no evidence, no doubt is the same that will excuse their killer; ignoring evidence, overlooking probable cause, casting prejudicial doubt?  How do I teach my son to protect himself from assailants, seek assistance from those who are charged with his protection, and then be sure to protect himself against his protector?  And above and beyond all of this, how do I prepare my son to live amidst this insanity without killing his spirit and fostering hate?

I was not there.  I was not on the phone and did not hear the fear/frustration of the last moments.  I pray that I will never have to live with the witness of this kind of last moments of my loved one’s life.  My thoughts and prayers are with the family and the girlfriend who may find it difficult to find peace with her thoughts/feelings in the days/weeks to come. 

I was not there but, there is not a doubt in my mind that this would have played out completely differently if this Zimmerman had pursued, approached, attacked, and shot a different child; one of a heritage more liking his own.  It would have played out drastically differently if this was a pursuit-approach-attack-shooting of a white child by a black man.  And trust that, in the precise moment that the police arrived to the scene of a dying/dead white child with the weapon of death in the hand of the self-proclaimed neighborhood watch captain (a black man), there would have been an arrest and conviction prior to an investigation.  A claim of self-defense would have been met with handcuffs and the backseat of a squad car. The headlines would have been “NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH MURDERS INNOCENT CHILD”.

The headlines should be NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH MURDERS INNOCENT CHILD.

I was not there but, that could have been my son.  That could have been my neighborhood watch.  I could have sent him to the store to get me a drink and allowed him to buy himself something too.  I could have been wondering, as I sometimes do, why he is taking so long to get back; the store is right across the street.  That could have been my precious.

And again, how do I protect mine?

A few years ago, my son was hanging out and scheduled to spend the night at a friend’s home on a Friday night.  His friend had invited others over and, by the end of the night, there were four boys with liquor from the mom’s stash hanging out at the pool and drinking.  They were 15 years old.

The boys, two of which already had juvenile records, began to talk about a neighbor who they accused of stealing some of their things.  When the talk turned to threats of “let’s go kick his ass”, my son decided to be the peace maker and go talk to the kid to get the things returned.  So, he went to the door to knock.  Only, he had been drinking and his knocking sounded more like pounding and there were four of them and the poor kid was scared and what does a scared kid do when he is home alone. He called the police.  This is a good neighborhood; the police come to help scared kids who say someone is trying to break in.

With my son at the top of the steps and the police car headed up the driveway, the other boys took off running.  When my son finally saw the police car, he took off running.  The police gave chase.  And in the dark of the night (approximately 10 p.m.) but for the grace of God, my son stopped when they yelled, “Stop or I will shoot!”

They cuffed my son, put him in the police car, took him to the police station and at midnight, I woke to a call from the Sheriff.  “I have your son here. You need to come pick him up.”

Trust that I had no problem with the police handling of the situation, my son was clearly wrong, until I went back to the home of the family where this all took place and there were officers in the living room talking to the other boys who had been involved.  They ran; they were not chased.  They were not cuffed.  They were not taken to the police station.  Their parents did not have to come and get them in the middle of the night.  They were talked to in the comforts of the living room of the mother who should have had a better watch on them in the first place.  They were not black.

How do I protect mine.  How do I keep them safe from the world while simultaneously keeping them safe within themselves?

 There has to be justice served in the case of Trayvon Martin.  Without it, the George Zimmermans are given right to execute in the name of “Neighborhood Watch”.

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