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Vigilante Justice Downs Another Black Youth

Askia Muhammad | 3/22/2012, 4:31 p.m.

Where do we begin this conversation about another innocent black youth murdered by vigilante justice run amok? This latest victim's name is Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old killed by a neighborhood watch patroller in Sanford, Florida.

Do we start with Emmett Till? He was killed in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman. Or maybe we ought to begin with Sean Bell? Or Amadou Diallo? Both killed in separate hails of bullets by cops in New York City. Or maybe it's 14-year-old DeOnte Rawlings? He was blown away by a D.C. cop who said the child stole his mini-bike.

Or how about Ali Ahmed Mohammed? He died after a savage beating by a mob of white bouncers outside a D.C. nightclub where they worked.

In each incident, black folks were rightly outraged, because in each case the perpetrators literally got away with murder. It's happening again in Florida. Police declined to arrest the shooter, who followed young Trayvon, after calling 9-1-1 and being told not to follow the person he accused of being "up to no good."

Well, the 17-year-old had a bag of Skittles candy, and everyone knows all that sugar could kill somebody, so that's grounds for "justifiable homicide," right? Never mind that the kid was walking to his father's house in the gated community where the self-appointed cop, judge, jury, and executioner performed his neighborhood mission.

I don't want to forget about another group which is famous for wiping out the lives of young (and old) black people indiscriminately--they are other black youth. These silly, misguided, menaces-2-society often get caught, however, and they find no mercy from the police, or from the courts.

This latter group will murder someone, and the pals of the victim will often retaliate and murder someone among the offender's companions. The only problem is their murder-revenge-reprisal method is too often a drive-by-shooting where a fusillade of bullets is unloaded from a speeding car as it races past a suspect group, thus killing innocent bystanders, children, parents, grandparent, anybody unfortunate enough to have been in the vicinity.

I wonder what is going through the minds of people who would kill somebody over a cheap, stolen FAKE, gold-colored bracelet? I think I understand what the vigilantes think because they express their views in Congress, in the courts, in the news media. Their views are well known and considered acceptable, after all the laws always favor them, which is why the cops and the vigilantes are never punished.

But I can't imagine what's in the mind of a young person when his friend says, "Come on man. We've got some work to do. Someone stole my bracelet." Or "Come with me man. Someone disrespected my baby-mama on the bus, and we need to go teach those Bamas a lesson." Okay, it's emotional. But how can two or three other people co-sign that madness and say, "Okay. I'm with you man." How can anyone go along with such madness?

That's exactly what fuels the hatred in some of these cops and these vigilantes. They see any male black person and they are reminded of the pants-sagging, insolent thugs who jump in front of everybody in lines to go to the movies or concerts. They curse openly and wantonly at anything and everything they see, and if you ask them to please show some respect to the elderly ladies or the children present, then you become the next target for meddling. That's the kind of behavior that fuels the hatred of black folks in the minds of many cops and vigilantes.

They think that black people are "getting away" with something they themselves are held accountable for. They think black people are producing nothing of value in America but are being spoon-fed by the "welfare society," while they and their hard working friends and family are doing without the necessities of life.

They want their country "back." Back where? Back the way it was before the Civil War, that's where!

The murder of Trayvon Martin will continue to boil over until his shooter is made to face some sort of justice, even if it's a federal Civil Rights prosecution or simply an expensive civil suit for wrongful death. But that killing is simply a symptom. Rectifying that situation will do nothing to rid the country of the multiple diseases which wantonly take the lives of black people.