Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy in Sanford, Florida who was walking back from the store talking to his girlfriend on his phone, was seen as “a real suspicious guy” by George Zimmerman, who was following him in his car. Zimmerman’s proof:
This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. He’s just staring, looking at all the houses. Now he’s coming toward me. He’s got his hand in his waistband. Something’s wrong with him. He’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands. I don’t know what his deal is. Can we get an officer over here?
Send the police? Is he serious? Yes. He gets out of his car, follows Trayvon, gets in a fight and winds up shooting the unarmed Trayvon dead.
And now, a month later, others are painting Trayvon as bad and threatening too. Not just right-wing bloggers and the talking heads of Fox News but even the Sanford police!
As Trayvon’s mother put it:
They killed my son, now they’re trying to kill his reputation.
Some of what they say:
- Trayvon had thug pictures of himself on Facebook. Wrong. These came from Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy.com to show that the press was hiding the True Trayvon. Except that they were not: the Facebook pictures were of another Trayvon Martin, from Georgia, one that fit all too nicely into right-wing ideas of black males and “thugs”. Twitchy admitted its mistake.
- Trayvon dressed “like a wannabe gangster”. Wrong. According the Geraldo Rivera, “everyone that ever stuck up a convenience store” wore a hoodie. He needs to get out more. Tons of people wear hooded sweatshirts. Most are unarmed.
- Trayvon swung at a bus driver. Wrong. Based on Wagist’s analysis of tweets made to a different Trayvon Martin.
- Trayvon was a drug dealer. Wrong. Made up as a reason for Trayvon’s school suspension. Pushed by right-wing blogs Riehl World and Wagist. No proof given.
- Trayvon was suspended from school for drugs. Maybe true, but beside the point. This comes from the Sanford police. They say he was suspended “after being found with an empty marijuana baggie.” Hardly against the law, but apparently against the school’s zero-tolerance drug policy. Even if true it has nothing to do with the case and the Sanford police know it: they tested Trayvon’s body for drugs.
- Trayvon was disrespectful to Mr. Zimmerman. Maybe true, but beside the point. According to Zimmerman’s black friend Joe Oliver, Zimmerman would have spared Trayvon’s life had he said the magic words: “I’m staying with my parents.” It is unclear why Trayvon should say anything like that to a strange man following him at night.
Even if all of these were true they still do not excuse the shooting. So why do people say this stuff? Because American society has trained them to stereotype and demonize and lie about blacks to maintain their own image as good people and a good and fair society.