Sting of Trayvon Martin Shooting Evokes Questions on Racism, Vigilantism, Gun Laws
Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 4/4/2012, 12:15 p.m.
Fenton, a federal employee and father of a 24-year-old son, said Americans' attention span is too short.
"If we don't make an effort to keep this in the public eye, if we don't keep it visible, it will disappear," he said. "They are going to purposely drag out the trial until things die down. We're not taking it anymore. We're not going to take it and shut up."
Fenton and his family emigrated from Jamaica to South Florida in the 1970s and he lived, worked and studied there for almost two decades.
"Florida just has a history of racism which is one of the reasons I'm not there," he said. "I had to get out of there with my family. The racism is just blatant and there's no shame."
"There has been very little change in race relations since the 1970s. It's still very southern, including the Miami metropolitan area. A white man feels he can do anything to a black man and get away."
Fenton said that it's a lack of respect for black people that makes others feel that they can take advantage with impunity.
"The police chief stepped down temporarily. Temporarily? I just found out that the acting police chief is black. Is that a coincidence? It's so typical, like we can't see through their ploy."
Last week, the police department released a videotape showing a handcuffed Zimmerman alighting from a police car, unaided. Although the videotape is grainy, there appears to be no evidence of a broken nose, or the types of injuries associated with someone who claims to have had his head pounded on the pavement by Trayvon.
The case has dredged up the always volatile issues of race, class and color.
The past week could best be characterized as 'death by a thousand leaks', as George Zimmerman's friends and family - aided by right-wing publications, media outlets and pundits - seek to air their side of the story and paint the 17-year-old as a thug and contributor to his own demise.
By their descriptions, Zimmerman's brother and father said their relative was one step away from death.
Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, appeared before a House panel last week and at demonstrations in Sanford and Miami, as participants elsewhere around the country continued to demand Zimmerman's arrest. A series of protests around the District highlight the desire for District residents to see justice done. A vocal group marched in front of the White House and another gathered at the Justice Department. A number of students from area high schools and universities have also participated in civil actions in support of the slain teenager.
Former Howard University Law School student Kevin Cunningham is credited with being among the first to bring the case to public attention.
"I have been working on this since March 8," said Cunningham, 31, a Kentucky native. "I fell in love with social media during the Egyptian revolution and I had been working and studying social media and decided to jump in."