Being here in the UK, some of you may have missed the Trayvon Martin furore. This would be because there’s been essentially zero coverage of the whole thing. You’d be shocked at the date that the actual shooting occurred (26th of February) given that only now are we hearing about it.
Others have explained far better than I the facts of the case (here‘s a good starting point), but I wish to begin with a brief talk of the UK media’s reaction.
None of the mainstream UK media covered the case until mass protests began.
The first BBC News TV article, as far as I can tell, was on the day of the protests. First, that proves that protests do work, and that protests have value beyond making lots of noise. I didn’t see a newspaper article on the subject until the day after. Granted, I only read the Guardian, the Times and the free commuter papers, but surely at least one of these would cover it…
Every article is repeating the lie that Zimmerman was a neighbourhood watch volunteer.
Read James Fenton’s article, the relevant BBC article on the subject. The truth is that Zimmerman wasn’t a member of any neighbourhood watch scheme – he was a self-appointed neighbourhood watch volunteer. And he’s made massive numbers of calls to 911 pointing out suspicious (i.e. black) characters. He was also carrying a weapon, which he’s not supposed to do if he’s in the neighbourhood watch, and he followed the guy. That’s not just something neighbourhood watch officers aren’t supposed to do, it’s the thing he was explicitly told not to do by the 911 operator.
Zimmerman’s actions have been condemned by the National Sheriffs’ Association which sponsors the US’s nationwide neighbourhood watch programme, a crime prevention scheme that allows local volunteers to patrol the streets.
It said it had no record that the community involved was registered with the NSA programme, calling Zimmerman a “self-appointed neighbourhood watchman”.
“The alleged participant ignored everything the Neighborhood Watch Program stands for and it resulted in a young man losing his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Trayvon Martin during this terrible time,” said Aaron D Kennard, the NSA’s executive director.
The far-right wing seem to think Obama’s involvement made this falsely about race.
This is an America article which the far-right blogosphere in the UK is currently circulating. There’s a couple of things in here which are just wrong, and I found it pretty instructional to understand them – it helps me understand the mindset of the far right a little better.
A Hispanic man shoots a black kid where no one knows the exact circumstances in which the shooting occurred and where we are likely never to know what happened. Instead of waiting for the facts, narratives have replaced truth and we have a full blown racial incident when it isn’t even clear that race was a factor.
Again – this kid was armed and ready. With a bag of skittles and a drink. He was 17. He was alone. He was followed by a man with a track record of making 911 calls to police of other suspicious (once again, i.e. black) characters.
He was followed by a man who was carrying a 9mm handgun (or as I call it, a “magic death button”), and shot dead. He put up the hood of his hoodie because he was scared he was being stalked. We have that from a tape of him with his girlfriend.
How will he look if it comes out that the shooter was justified in defending himself?
We know better – besides, what could he possibly be defending himself from – are the red ones in a Skittles packet particularly dangerous? Obama has weighed in because of the massive outcry that justice has not been done. Nobody has even tried. Obama came down on the correct side, because a man has shot an unarmed child, and has not even been investigated by the police. This is sick. This is exactly the institutionalised racism that we in the UK think has gone away now we’ve convicted Stephen Lawrence’s killers.
It has not.