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Central Valley | Racial Justice

Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman Verdict- a Socialist Perspective
by Stewart A. Alexander
Thursday Jul 25th, 2013 8:38 AM
Should it have been a surprise that a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, should it have been a surprise that a jury acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam in the death of Emmett Till, or should it have been a surprise that a jury acquitted four Los Angeles police officers in the brutal beating of Rodney King during a traffic stop? No, because that’s the way the system works.
What can be learned from the tragic events of Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till and Rodney King, injustice in America runs deep and is rooted in racism. However, it is important to understand, it is the system and how the system works.

Blacks learn from an early age that being black in America, you are born as a victim in a criminal justice system; when you encounter a cop on the street, when you appear in courtroom, when you are locked up in jail or prison. As a black person in America, you are racially profiled in public by the color of your skin.

Should it have been a surprise that a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin, should it have been a surprise that a jury acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam in the death of Emmett Till, or should it have been a surprise that a jury acquitted four Los Angeles police officers in the brutal beating of Rodney King during a traffic stop? No, because that’s the way the system works.

There must be an examination of how laws are unfairly enforced in a capitalist society and recognize that there is an intimate link between racism and capitalism. Very often, laws are created to establish domination and exploitation. Laws that apply to one group in society are unequally applied to another.

Florida is the first state to legislate the Stand Your Ground Law; today, a total of 23 states have adopted similar SYG laws. Under the Stand Your Ground Law, George Zimmerman claimed to have taken the life of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self defense. Trayvon Martin was unarmed and walking home from a convenient store when he was confronted by George Zimmerman.

The law that permitted George Zimmerman to stand his ground being armed does not apply to blacks in society and did not apply to Trayvon Martin. If the law had been equally applied, the outcome of events could have been considerably different; Travon Martin could have been armed with a weapon to warn off his stalker. However, in the reality as a black man, Martin would have been subject to arrest for carrying a firearm and possibly spending years in prison on assault charges for defending himself with a deadly weapon.

It is apparent that the SYG law is based upon discrimination. When Marissa Alexander fired a warning shot to defend herself against an abusive husband, the Florida SYG law offered this young black mother no protection. As a result, Marissa Alexander received 20 years in a Florida State prison. Alexander’s appeal for justice, under the SYG law has gone ignored by the courts, Florida state leaders, and the governor.

The foundation of laws, such as SYG are racist by design to protect one class against another, to make one class dominant over another; whereby, working people lose focus, through fear and discrimination, that we are one class, the working class.

As working people increase the dissension among ourselves, we lose focus that the nation has a failing economic system that benefits only the wealthy few; we lose focus that our human rights and civil rights are under attack; we lose focus that we are fighting unjust wars; we lose focus that our children and seniors are living in poverty; we lose focus that many of our veterans are living homeless on the streets; we lose focus that we have a national health care system that remains broken; we lose focus that education in America is only a commodity to be sold. Being divided by class, working people do not hold the capitalist bosses accountable and the capitalists understand that working people can be controlled when they are divided not united.

Socialists believe we must begin by uniting against and challenging unjust laws such as Stand Your Ground. Trayvon Martin and the family he leaves behind deserve justice. Marissa Alexander deserves her freedom. The U.S. judicial system needs to be overhauled from top to bottom to end the practice of discrimination, prejudice and the age old practice of apartheid.

Socialists recognizes the rights of all people to equal treatment under the law, and to a humane criminal sanction system based on prevention, mediation, restitution, and rehabilitation rather than on vengeance, force labor, and profits for the prison-industrial complex.

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