Emmit Till. Arthur McDuffie. Rodney King. Amadou Diallo. Sean Bell. Martin Anderson. Trayvon Martin.
In the last 57 years, these black men were victims of a white man’s hostility, or in Martin’s case, a white Hispanic man. And in all but Till’s and Martin’s cases, their aggressors have been acquitted in court.
In March, protests followed the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Across the country, people who were shocked by this tragedy signed petitions, protested and rallied, to demand the arrest of his killer, George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch officer, shot and killed Martin in a gated community in Stanford, Fla. on Feb. 26.
He was not immediately arrested because he claimed self-defense. And under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law, which allows residents to use lethal force to protect themselves from harm, he was in the right.
Activists, lawyers and politicians said that this law does not apply to Zimmerman because he ignored a 911 dispatcher’s order to leave Martin to authorities. Instead, he pursued him, a confrontation happened, and then he shot Martin. The details remain sketchy.
After 46 days of protests and back-and-forth in the media, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. It would be the first of two times he has been held for the Martin killing.
Unfortunately, history shows that whenever black males are the victims of white male’s aggression, black males do not receive the justice they deserve.
The question then becomes how much does Zimmerman’s arrests really matter?
Consider that in five of six similar cases, the killers were acquitted. It’s not the first time that people have protested killings they say were racially motivated, and most times, the victims don’t get justice.
Riots broke out in Miami after McDuffie was beaten by police officers following a high-speed chase on his motorcycle on Dec. 17, 1979.
“For 20 minutes, according to reports, they beat him with nightsticks and flashlights,” said Patrice Gaines-Carter of Southern Changes, a journal for the Southern regional council.
Initially, the police said in an accident report that McDuffie “sustained injuries when his motorcycle hit a curb.” However, medical examiners found that his skull was cracked in half, nullifying the police reports.
Riots continued when all four officers charged with his murder were acquitted. In Diallo’s and Bell’s cases, both men were killed in New York City by police officers who presumed they were armed with a gun.
Officers in these cases fired more than 40 bullets before realizing they were wrong. Diallo’s killing was a case of mistaken identity.
“All four officers, who were in plain clothes said they approached Diallo because they thought he fit the description of a man wanted in a rape case,” said the New York Times in reporting the story. ”They contended that he when he pulled out his wallets to show identification they mistook it for a gun.”
Again, these officers were charged with murder and manslaughter, and all were acquitted.
King’s and Anderson’s brutalities were videotaped and each sparked outrage and was covered heavily by the media.
“The dramatic video of the episode appeared on national TV two days later,” CNN said. “One officer’s swing slows down as he appears worn out by his nonstop flailing.”
Recently, Zimmerman faced even more problems after his arrest on April 11. After paying 10 percent of his $150,000 bond, he was released from jail and was free to leave the state.
It was later discovered that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, lied to the judge about how much money they had. The couple had concealed over $130,000 that was donated to them through a website his defense team created.
Zimmerman’s bond was set to $1 million and was released after paying $85,000 to add to the $15,000 he spent for his first release, according to the Miami Herald.
Now that Zimmerman has been arrested, twice, will he be convicted especially now that character comes into play?
Will history repeat itself?
Only time will tell. Like the novelist George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”