The haunting lyrics of Billie Holiday's song Strange Fruit is a poignant reminder of our past when black Americans were lynched for the smallest transgression against a system of segregated subservience to white supremacy.
Today, we still witness vestiges of a virulent racism as reflected in Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” legislation and similar legislation in 20 other states. Florida’s statute is a license to kill as it embraces the concept that if a citizen feels threatened he/she has a right to use deadly force.
A vigilante mentality is being legally sanctioned.
Trayvon Martin (140 lbs.) was a 17-year-old black child visiting his father in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. He was sent to the store on an errand. Trayvon had no record or gang affiliation.
A self appointed white 28-year-old male neighborhood watch person (250 lbs.) was, it appears, a zealous guardian of the neighborhood. George Zimmerman had called the police 46 times since 2011. He packed a 9mm weapon and Trayvon had a bottled drink and packages of Skittles in his possession.
A witness claimed that she “heard the crying of a little boy,” followed by a shot and an eerie silence. Trayvon was dead, a modern day lynching.
The witness said that the police did not want to listen to her. Also, according to Jasmine Rand, (attorney for the Martin family) audio tapes revealed that Zimmerman used a racial slur and actively pursued Trayvon in order to met out vigilante justice—death.
The police have refused to arrest Zimmerman on the basis that he acted in self defense. Such a claim is absurd and reflects a racial climate in which African American lives are not granted equal protection under the law.
A firestorm has been ignited and the “self defense” laws being promulgated in various states must be rolled back by an enlightened citizenry as these laws create a climate of vigilante justice that will result in the destruction of innocent lives.