Why Should Latinos Support Justice for Trayvon Martin?

latinos support trayvon martinSometimes You Have to Shout to Be Heard

Why should Latinos support Justice for Trayvon Martin? It is not the first time that I have been asked that question about another group. Take care of the family first.

Through the years, people have questioned why I was against capital punishment and supported cases such as that of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black journalist originally sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

I got involved in the case through my friend attorney Elliot Grossman who enlisted me during his appeal of the conviction of Manuel Salazar, a young Chicano artist on death row in Illinois, who had been sentenced for the 1984 murder of a white Joliet police officer. Salazar was freed after Republican Governor of Illinois George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions in January 2000.

Ryan’s action led to the exoneration of 13 death-row inmates — the most prominent was Rolando Cruz, whom the state freed after 12 years on the Illinois death row for the 1983 murder and rape of a 10-year-old girl. A repeated sex offender and murderer named Brian Dugan confessed to the crime. It was collaborated by DNA testing that linked Dugan to the crime. Elliot for a time was Mumia’s attorney.

When people asked me why we were supporting a black instead of concentrating on Chicanas/os, my first reaction was flippant (porque me da la chingada gana) but after thinking my response changed and it was similar to that that I have toward the Trayman Martin case: “It is not only Trayvon Martin who was wronged, it was society. The law is bad and encourages this behavior toward people who look different. Look at the attacks and murders of undocumented immigrants.” In supporting Mumia or Trayvon Martin, we are insuring that this injustice will not spread.

I also reject the argument that George Zimmerman should be supported because he is Latino. Incidentally, he never identified as a Latino, and he obviously identified as white. The Huffington Post’s Gene Demby dug into his past and came up with an old MySpace page belonging to Zimmerman. In it, he made disparaging comments about Mexicans, and he bragged about a 2005 criminal case against him.

The prosecution was so afraid of the issue of race that to my knowledge it was not brought up.

trayvon justiceIn Myspace, Zimmerman discussed his hatred toward Mexicans, saying why he did not miss his former home in Manassas, Virginia:

“I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book. Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!”

In that same year, he was arrested and charged after an altercation with a police officer and his fiancé at the time got a restraining order against him.

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that Mexicans and other Latinos are also profiled by police agencies. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” gun laws encourage rampant racial profiling. The postings take on many levels. Even so Zimmerman’s supporters try portray him as the victim and a peace-loving citizen who was trying to protect his neighborhood, forgetting that Trayvon’s father was also a neighbor.

I feel almost certain if Trayvon did not look different he would be alive today.

Now the jurors will write their books and Zimmerman will turn whiter, and appear as a guest of honor at right-wing functions. His claim to fame is that he murdered a 17-year-old kid who looked different.

The facts say that Zimmerman was a racist before he killed and when he killed Trayvon Martin.

So why are people taking to the streets? It is too hot to be walking around in the sun. The simple answer is “Sometimes You Have to Shout To be Heard!”

Henry David Thoreau in Civil Disobedience and Other Essays wrote

Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?

Because of civil disobedience injustice such as slavery were kept in the public view and consciousness.

Just in my lifetime I have seen countless examples inter-racial solidarity and the effectiveness of civil disobedience: the civil rights movement, the anti-war movements, stopping the U.S. from the use of nuclear weapons, the movements for Chicana/o studies, the middle-eastern wars, the LBGT movements just to name a few. People were not quiet in those instances and we are a better society because people shouted.

Unfortunately, I think many of us are forgetting history. Nothing comes without struggle. As Henry Thoreau wrote:

rodolfo acunaMust the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old kid who is no more because Zimmerman saw him as different.

Rodolfo F. Acuña

Photos: Malcolm Ali/Finalimage

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

About Rodolfo F. Acuña

Rodolfo F. Acuña is the founding Chairperson of the Chicana/o Studies Department at California State University, Northridge and author of Occupied America.

Comments

  1. Nothing was forgotten. You simply aren’t reading.
    Who is killing who is not the subject. The subject is the REACTION to who is killing who.

    Blacks tend to be upset about blacks being killed, if the killer is not black. Otherwise, they remain silent.

    Whites are far more even-handed… they care (or don’t care) rather equally about skin color in such cases.

    The Miami-Dade article is outdated. New information came to light. Google it.

  2. Actually, the Associated Press did in fact report that Zimmerman identifies as Hispanic. Sorry.

    Also, a good reason NOT to support Martin, is that witnesses said he had Zimmerman… beating him “ground and pound” style.

    I hope Hispanics don’t support assaulting others. And I certainly hope they support the human right to self defense.

    Trayvon is portrayed as some young angel. Really he was more a young man and clearly was a local thief that robbed homes of jewelry (thanks to good investigative reporting). Search: “M-DSPD Cover Up”

    Latinos can decide which path they want to take… they can identify and behave like Black America has (as a whole), and end up with the same results (savagely broken families, insane rates of crime, murder and incarceration, drug use, the list goes on and on), OR they can choose another path, like the Asian minorities in the US, or even whites… and get very, very different results.

    To choose to identify, and head down the path of black Americans (again, as a whole) would be the worst possible choice.

    I’d rather side with a person that stands, as a man, to defend his home and community, and if attacked (as Zimmerman apparently was, according to witnesses), is able to defend himself.

    Perhaps Zimmerman and Martin were both losers that crossed paths one night. It happens. But the truth is, the Zimmermans of the world, are a very, very, very small part of what is killing black youth. A shockingly small part.

    The honest truth is, blacks are killing other black kids. Nobody wants to admit it. Everyone wants to sweep it under the rug… so when the opportunity comes up to talk about another race… ANY other race… that chance is seized upon as a welcomed distraction from the horrific rates of black on black crime that few dare to even mention. It’s called denial.

    Our failure to speak truth to these far more real issues, is part of the immaturity of America today.

  3. Why shouldn’t I? I’m a Latina, but it’s about justice. Feeling kinship for Zimmerman is like feeling kinship for Pablo Escobar. I don’t care that they are Latinos– they are both murderers. I didn’t know Trayvon, and I am not black, but he was unarmed, and had a legal right to be where he was. He was no thief; he was a kid going to his father’s apartment, where he was staying. And it breaks my heart that he died. 1995 – 2012

    • Apparently he was a jewel thief, and so far as we know, he was heading to his fathers apartment between robberies. You and I can’t really know.

      But you can’t honestly support the notion that just because someone has a “right” to be somewhere, that they also have the right to assault people while they are there.

      It makes no sense.

      Zimmerman ALSO had the right to be there. You seem to be forgetting that. Zimmerman ALSO had the right to talk to anyone he wishes in his community. Yes, you DO have the right to free speech in America, last I checked. You CAN ask people that they are doing… and why they are where they are. You have no right to an answer, however, but you can always ask the questions.

      You don’t deserve to be beaten because of it.

      Is it your opinion, that if someone is beating you, you have no right to defend yourself? You are supposed to just lay there and take it?

      Progressive women the world over, have made it very clear, that they have the right to self defense, if a man is raping them. Do you not agree with this? What makes a beating all that different from rape? Are they not both acts of violence?

    • Apparently he was a jewel thief, and so far as we know, he was heading to his fathers apartment between robberies. You and I can’t really know.

      But you can’t honestly support the notion that just because someone has a “right” to be somewhere, that they also have the right to assault people while they are there.

      It makes no sense.

      Zimmerman ALSO had the right to be there. You seem to be forgetting that. Zimmerman ALSO had the right to talk to anyone he wishes in his community. Yes, you DO have the right to free speech in America, last I checked. You CAN ask people that they are doing… and why they are where they are. You have no right to an answer, however, but you can always ask the questions.

      You don’t deserve to be beaten because of it.

      Is it your opinion, that if someone is beating you, you have no right to defend yourself? You are supposed to just lay there and take it?

      Progressive women the world over, have made it very clear, that they have the right to self defense, if a man is raping them. Do you not agree with this? What makes a beating all that different from rape? Are they not both acts of violence?

      • You make the the accusation that:

        “Apparently he [Trayvon]was a jewel thief, and so far as we know, he was heading to his fathers apartment between robberies.”

        Do you just pull stuff out of your butt and hope that it sticks to the wall? And that nobody is going to check on the veracity of your claim that “Trayvon was a jewel thief”

        Then you have the gall –and stupidity– to add THIS: “and so far as we know, he was heading to his fathers apartment between robberies.”

        Yea, and–as far as we know– Trayvon was returning from the planet Mars, or from visiting an alternate universe or any other baseless inference anyone wants to put imagine without a single speck of evidence.

        WHERE IS YOUR EVIDENCE? YOU ARE A LIAR WITH AN AGENDA

        The reality is that there WAS no evidence that Trayvon was a “jewel thief” according to the article below.
        Mar. 27, 2012 SANFORD, Fla. (AP/The Blaze) —
        Women’s jewelry and a watch found in Trayvon Martin’s school backpack last fall could NOT be tied to any reported thefts, the Miami-Dade Police Department said Tuesday.

        • It’s actually documented rather well.. I told you where to search. You can see photo copies of the documents.Search: “M-DSPD Cover Up”

          You can pretend these documents don’t exist. You can pretend these events never happened… but then, it’s nothing more than pretend, a fantasy.

          If you can *show* that these documents are without merit, then please help us all by *showing* so.

          Ignoring them, and being insulting, does not substitute well for actual fact.

          The fact that the owners of the jewelry have now come to claim their property, pretty much ends all debate.

          You are only confused, I think, because *as of march 2012* the ties had not been made (the long outdated headline you used).

          They are now.

          Regards

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