Statement on the Murder of Trayvon Martin and the Aquittal of George Zimmerman

Sep 14, 2013

For immediate release, July 15, 2013

For follow-up or more information contact Clarice Durham or Ted Pearson, 312-939-2750, or [email protected]

The following statement was released this morning by Clarice Durham and Ted Pearson, Co-Chairs of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression:

The murder of Trayvon Martin and acquittal of George Zimmerman is another dagger in the heart of democracy

Two things have occurred in the past month which indicate that African Americans have no rights that white law makers, police and racist vigilantes are bound to respect. The first was the U.S. Supreme Court gutting of the Voting Rights Act,

characterizing it as “perpetual racial entitlements” and thereby perpetually entitling white representatives of ruling elites to disenfranchise African Americans in an effort to bring back Jim Crow. The second was the acquittal Saturday of George Zimmerman, murderer of Trayvon Martin.

The acquittal of Zimmerman is another Rodney King case. A child was stalked and murdered by a wannabe cop. The jury of 5 white women and one Afro-Latina woman ignored this. There were no African Americans on that jury, no one who has experienced the racism and brutality delivered to Black people in the U.S., especially in Florida, for 500 years.

Every African American mother and father has profound and new worries about the safety of their children. The acquittal of Zimmerman combined with the annulment of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court late in June amount to a legal and political declaration that Black people have no rights that U. S. society is obliged to respect. Not only does the Zimmerman verdict endanger every African American, it is a fundamental challenge to democracy and the foundational principles of the Declaration of Independence.

This is the betrayal of Reconstruction and Civil Rights all over again. All people in the United States, regardless of race, have a stake in preventing a second roll-back of African American rights. The first rollback, the betrayal of Reconstruction in 1877, resulted in undoing the most progressive legislation the country has seen in education and basic rights. It re-entrenched the most reactionary, anti-labor, racist, slave-holding elements in the South and in the United States Congress. In this time in which the far right is campaigning to crush Organized Labor, destroy the social safety net, and further enrich the already super-rich, the fight against these latest racist atrocities must unite us all, Black, white, Latino, Asian, women, youth, and LGBT people – everyone who values democracy.

Gerald Horne, the noted historian, recently noted at the Chicago Alliance 2013 Human Rights Awards, that the Jim Crow South was “the place where slavery was most persistent was also the place where lynching was most prevalent and where today anti-union sentiment is the strongest… [No] progress nationally is secure unless we break the back of reaction in Dixie.”

The state of Florida charged Zimmerman only after mass protests in the streets, and even when the state proceeded it did so faint-heartedly. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi declared on national television following the verdict, “This case was never about race.” But that was precisely what the case was about.

For one we know that prosecutors get the kind of juries they want, especially in the South and they usually get all white ones. This is like stacking the deck and announcing that the game is fair.

The message of the verdict is that you can profile, stalk and kill an unarmed Black child in Florida and call it self-defense. This law was designed for white vigilante violence against African Americans. Historically, white racists have always claimed self- defense when murdering or lynching African Americans. George Zimmerman was never in danger of his life.

We unequivocally support the demands for justice for the family of Trayvon Martin and all families throughout these United States that are victims of racist injustice and repression. We stand in solidarity with the NAACP demand that the Department of Justice investigate this case. It’’s time for Federal intervention because Trayvon Martin was murdered by an individual who was racially profiling him and acting under the color of state law.

We have the same problem here in Chicago where our youth is being murdered on a daily basis by the police and gangs they refuse to control. The state will not prosecute in the absence of mass protests. Rekia Boyd, Flint Farmer, Dakota Bright, Antwon Johnson, Christian Green – these are only five of the 70 Black people and Latinos killed by police in Chicago since the start of 2009. Every 36 hours another Black person is killed by police somewhere in the U. S. No police officer has ever been prosecuted or convicted of any of these crimes.

What does this mean for us, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression? It means that if we are to avoid moving toward a police state, racism and xenophobia – the weapons being used to blunt the resistance of the people – must be beaten back. The only response can be united struggle and organization for change:

Demand Federal intervention in the South and the arrest of George Zimmerman on charges that he has violated Federal Civil Rights law.
•Demand that Congress re-enact a stronger Voting Rights Act that applies to all states and counties.
•Invalidate through Federal legislation local laws that enable racist vigilantes to gun down innocent Black people or any people.
•Place all local police under the control of elected Civilian Police Accountability Councils, such as that proposed in legislation put forward by the Organizing Committee to Stop Police Crimes of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
We are at a turning point in the struggle to preserve and expand democracy. We cannot ignore the fact that this is the heart of what is going on in our country and the world. Will we have the open terrorist rule of huge multi-national corporations, or a world in which the human rights of all people are recognized and protected by law and the might of the state? The struggle for the rights of African Americans and immigrants is the front line of the struggle to answer this question, along with the rights of workers to organize.

If you are angry about the acquittal of George Zimmerman, if you are tired of Chicago police racially profiling and murdering people with impunity then JOIN THE MOVEMENT, and come out and protest when we rally at the Federal Plaza and march on City Hall this August 28, 2013. Help mobilize our communities so we can stop being victims and become fighters for justice and freedom. Venting our anger alone will not do it – the rulers will wait a few days till “things calm down,” and then go on escalating their campaign of terror against African Americans. Call the Alliance at 312-939-2750 to become part of this movement, or email [email protected] Racist repression is unacceptable. We must protest and we will be heard!