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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Trayvon Martin’s Fate Is Still Too Many Parents’ Fear

Ten years ago, I was a newspaper reporter spending a lot of my days with Michael Green, a 36-year-old African-American man who had recently been released from prison.

Green had served 13 years for a rape he did not commit. His accuser was a white woman from West Virginia in treatment for cancer at the Cleveland Clinic. As photos unearthed more than a decade later proved, Green bore little facial resemblance to the rapist, but the victim never had met black people until she came to Cleveland. Plenty of studies on eyewitness identification have shown that if you don’t know members of a race different from yours, you’re likelier to think they all look the same.

This proved to be Green’s undoing. Police repeatedly showed the rape victim Green’s picture in a variety of photo lineups of black men. Eventually, she identified Green as her attacker. His trial took place during the same month the infamous Willie Horton ad ran against Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Green was convicted at the age of 23.

The Innocence Project won Green’s release in the fall of 2011. I chronicled his ordeal in a 2002 series for The Plain Dealer, titled “Burden of Innocence.”

I’ve been thinking of Michael Green a lot lately because of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager who was killed in Sanford, Fla. More specifically, I’m haunted by the promise Green extracted from me 10 years ago.

The facts of Trayvon’s murder continue to unfold, and misinformation is rampant.

Some things we know.

–George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain with a penchant for calling police, placed a call on the night of Feb. 26 to report Trayvon as a suspicious person.

–Zimmerman continued to pursue Trayvon after the police told him to stop, and he shot the boy, who carried a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea but no weapon.

–Zimmerman invoked Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, claiming he shot Trayvon in self-defense.

–Trayvon’s parents had to fill out a missing person’s report to find out his body lay in a morgue.

–Police did not arrest or charge Zimmerman, but public outrage has led to a new investigation.

–Geraldo Rivera ignited another firestorm after saying in an interview on Fox News Channel, “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” Rivera apologized for making the comment but did not retreat from his theory.

–Proving there’s enough poor judgment to go around, director Spike Lee retweeted to more than 240,000 followers a home address for the wrong George Zimmerman. The elderly couple living there fled in fear for their safety, and a number of racist tweets responded to Lee’s.

  • Diogenes67

    Has Gloria Allred shown up representing Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend?

    • Why would she need legal representation? If she did that would be an excellent choice.

  • jimackermann

    Racial Attacks in Denver… why no National outcry?
    32 African American gang members have been arrested in a series of racial attacks on primarily Whites (and a few Latino’s) They would go out, antagonize young men and then punch them in the face and video tape their knees buckling underneath them as they fall- knocked out. They would then sell the video tapes as entertainment. Where is the National outcry against this??? If it were any other group besides white men being targeted- would it be handled different in the media?

    • There probably would be a national outcry if, Blacks had a centuries long history of mistreating Whites, if Blacks were a majority, if Blacks had a knack for writing and enforcing laws that only benefit Blacks, if the criminal justice system favored Blacks, if the job market favored Blacks, and finally if the NAACP were the WAACP and The Rev Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were White.

      • jimackermann

        I live in the present. I can’ t fix what happened decades ago. To me it sounds like you feel Blacks should be given preferential treatment. When someone believes that one group of people should be treated better than another, the word “bigot” comes up.

        • Janyce Lovello

          why no national outcry when james taylor was dragged behind a truck in texas by three white man or the 5 white boys just this january in chicago ran over steven coleman and killed him, because they did not have anything else to do..WE all carry the burdens of others…..lEt’s stop blaming others

          • jimackermann

            I totally agree

        • RANDY SMALLS

          When the past is no different than the present and not acknowledged, Who is the Bigot? Who is in denial? Who refuses to look at the facts? The truth often hurts. Nothing hurts a white person more than to be called a raciest. They cry bloody murder. The ones who are truly not raciest are only saddened by the miss judgement. They never defend something they know their not. That’s one way to tell a raciest, by their level of defending what they want you to only believe is a accusation and no more. They tend to throw words that describe them at the other, meanwhile unconsciously revealing themselves and bringing others like them to the forefront. When this whole country begin mixing down and up like us out here in Ca. are doing, these two faced people will have to go, for that is the living present. Anyone can fix their heart, mind and soul. Don’t attempt to empower what you know is wrong.

          • jimackermann

            I feel that the left is looking anywhere it can to find racism. Perhaps, because they need something to divert attention away from the poor performance of the current president.

            As for me, I don’t go looking for it. And if someone were to refer to me as a racist, I will be angery at them because I know it is not true. Should I just set back and smile while the lie goes forward.

            It’s time to stop using the race card at every juncture and start focusing on FACTS. If Bush had done exactly the same things as Obama, the left would be screaming bloody murder, and rightfully so.

    • There probably would be a national outcry if, Blacks had a centuries long history of mistreating Whites, if Blacks were a majority, if Blacks had a knack for writing and enforcing laws that only benefit Blacks, if the criminal justice system favored Blacks, if the job market favored Blacks, and finally if the NAACP were the WAACP and The Rev Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were White.

    • rustacus21

      … this is the legacy of a nation that STILL has NOT apologized, nor extended any compensation to a specific segment of AMERICAN society, for nearly 300 years of free labor (& another 100 years as ‘sub-citizen’ status) & making this nation into the super power it would become. This in no ways justifies the Denver attacks. But the attackers, once arrested, will face the full, unbridled furry of the law. Thus far, the law seems disinterested in seeking, finding or applying justice in the case of Trayvon Martin – in spite of the fact that Zimmerman stalked & murdered him, even while leaving a trail of evidence 10 miles wide!!! Both show, however, we need to all join, engage, become determined & eliminate racism once & for all!!! R U w/me/us? Then LETS ALL DO IT NOW!!!


      There’s a need for national outcry when nothing is done by those who are paid to protect us. You state they have been arrested and I’m sure charged. You stated documented evidence. Now are you trying to say these thugs are going to walk. I’m surprised you don’t embarrass your self. One would wonder how many generations have your family been in this country. What country did you escape from, like so many who have came here running from the evil that was perpetrated on them in their home land, and like those who seem to be mad they came to late to make the enormous profits others did from slavery so now their fighting for the scraps the big money slavers left behind, holding up equality as long as they can. I got competent, educated white relatives who don’t need that and shut these kind down. They often say these are white folks who didn’t pick themselves up by the bootstraps when they have the advantage and want to blame the less advantage for their own short comings. Latino’s, Hispanics etc people of color including whites who say they are one of color don’t agree with you. Trash come in all shapes, forms, colors, races and what ever else. You want to put gangsters, trash and everything else in one pot on one race. Hispanics are not allowed in the KKK yet, unless they look white and hide their identity. Hispanics don’t like walos either. I don’t speak for hispanics, they have a strong voice. Oops, My children are Bermudez and Dela Torre too. I forget we are everything and aboriginal Yahoodi from the line of Shem, Eber with a mix of Ham. No Yaphetie here, they ran us off several of our homelands stealing out birthright. Seams to still be going on under many different covers. That should be the worlds biggest outcry.

  • Many vicious by blacks & minorities on whites & nothing is mentioned by the liberal media. Let’s MSNBC do some reporting on that, but it would hurt their cause! The Liberals ignoring this just creates more divisiveness and problems, that they like to claim they are against.

    • It amazes me how you people can get on the internet and whine about the few incidents of Black on White viciousness, while totally ignoring the CENTURIES of White on Black viciousness.

      • nojusticenopeace23

        You exactly right about white’s attacks on black people which has been going on for centuries. Emmett Till. The four little girls at the 16th street baptist church . Black people have always been victims of white hate crimes and it continues today .Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. to name a few and their are others who have been lynched just because people wanted their land. Look up the history of Tulsa Oklahoma, where the citizens of that town were murdered by whites. Black people have been lynched for just looking a white person in the eye . Black men have benn accused of molesting white women and lynched for it but white men raped black women for centuries and it was unless to report it to the authorities because it was the white man’s God given right ot molest black women.

  • quasm

    Ms. Shultz;

    I wonder if black parents sit their children down and tell them what to do if confronted by the hoodlums in their own neighborhood.

    Dik Thurston
    Colorado Springs

    • ALL PARENTS, warn their children of dangers they’re likely to face in life, but only minority parents have to warn their children about what to do when confronted with racists.

  • diane0308

    Are we really surprise what is going in Flordia. What did they do to JESUS!!!! Do you not think they would WORSE TO US Africian Americans . Now everyone is saying lets get along but their child is not DEAD. This should have been a TOPIC along time ago THIS STILL HAPPEN ON OUR JOBS,COMMUNITIES WHERE WE LIVE . GOD PLEASE BLESS THE MARTIN FAMILY.

  • As a black man, I wonder if you see the point of the article. No one is talking about media coverage of racial crimes. The argument here is the attitude of constituted authorities towards crimes involving minorities. It talks about the impact of stereotyping on justice with crimes involving minorities. When black men commit hate crimes, there is no argument that they deserve to be punished. If you see a hate crime on whites where justice is not served, then we can have an argument

  • This is exactly Gandhi’s theory was to rebel through peace not through violence. There was holocaust in India and to this date English has acknowledged of discrimination and race.

  • Stephanie Teeling

    I’m white, but my daughter’s boyfriend of 9yrs is african-american…he is also 6’4″ and has been since he was 15 when they started dating. Since I first had the pleasure of getting to know this lovely young man who will become my son-in-law, I have been terrified that he would be shot one day simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every time he runs to the convenient store to grab Doritos and an energy drink, every time he works late and walks home from the bus, every time he gets out of his late college class and again gets off the later bus…he’s at risk from the drug dealers in his neighborhood, from the police in his neighborhood who may stop him at random just because he’s a big black man in a hoodie out at night. And if he does get shot, he’ll just be another black man shot in the “hood”. His mother will cry and say he was a good boy and everyone watching the news — if it makes the news — will just assume he was up to no good. No one will know that he worked full time and was going to college, that he’d never done drugs in his life, that he worked to help pay the bills because his mother is severely disabled! It makes me crazy. My son is white, I don’t have those same fears. I don’t know how his mother lets him leave the house every day and lives with the terror…I don’t know how any mother of an african-american young man does. When will this nation wake up?