By Ronald Collins, Strategy Center and Fight for the Soul of the Cities Organizer
I have been working in the movement since I was 16 years old, only a year younger than Trayvon, I am now turning 24. In the last 8 years since I have been politically conscious I have seen some truly disturbing things that I must, at this point in my development as a leader in the movement, begin to address. Firstly I want to talk about Trayvon Martin and why this trial has impacted me on so many levels, and then I want to talk about how we are living in the most institutionally racist time since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.
I know almost nothing about who Trayvon Martin was or what kind of man he was destined to become, but I do know that he was innocent. The only crime that this young man committed was being young and Black near George Zimmerman and that cost him his life. No matter what way you slice and dice and dissect what happened a young Black life was taken and the human being responsible was allowed to walk free. This besets me with an inconsolable rage because it is the very same as saying that Trayvon Martin’s Black life was meaningless. Again I know nothing about this brotha, but I know that his life was worth more than an unfair trial and a media circus. This trial is representative of how the institution of U.S. Empire feels about me and every person who comes from the same ancestry as I do. Our lives are worthless to the U.S. Empire.
George Zimmerman was able to take a life and walk away while my brother, my own flesh and blood, has had to endure torture chambers called solitary confinement for “crimes” that amount to little more than him trying to make a living in this racist society. This trial wasn’t a trial of George Zimmerman it was a trial of justice in “Land of the Free” and this country was found guilty, guilty of racism, guilty hating black people, and guilty of imperialist war crimes against the Black Nation of the Americas. By allowing a child’s killer to walk away the U.S. has told us that they not only don’t care about our lives, but they don’t care about our continued existence in this country. We must as a people take this warning as an understanding that this is the moment to move the masses and take a stand.
When speaking about the Tragedy of Trayvon Martin we must take it into context of the political climate of the country. In Los Angeles working class Black people were robbed of 1 million hours of bus service, in Chicago 61 schools in Black communities are being shut down, in New Orleans black families are still displaced from Katrina, and all over the Southern United States black communities are being subjected to racist voting laws. These are not isolated incidents they represent an intentional attack by the Right in this country to disenfranchise and disempower the black community completely. It started with the COINTELPRO and it is continuing with the murder of innocent Black children in the streets. The political climate in this country has taken a turn for the worst and it has done so under the watch of a Black President.
Every single one of these travesties with the exception of the actual striking of Katrina has been under the watch of none other than America’s own First Black President, Barack Obama. While this man bailed out Wall Street and continues to give glorious sweet heart deals to weapons contractors to build the Drones of the Empire our children are dying in the streets. In his own state of Illinois where he was a Senator they have seen some the bloodiest urban violence since the 1980’s and all while they dismantle public education for Black youth. What has having a Black man in the oval office done for me? The same thing it did for Trayvon Martin, absolutely nothing.
It is necessary for the Movement and the survival of our communities that we begin to demand that President Obama intervene on behalf of Civil Rights. We demand that the U.S. Justice Department immediately bring a Civil Rights law suit against George Zimmerman. In addition we demand that every federal agency enforce civil rights law to the fullest extent possible through investigating and defunding government entities for violations of civil rights.
We must as Black organizers and Black people see this moment for what it is, a declaration by the State saying; black lives mean nothing in this racist, capitalist, imperialist country. It is our duty to fight and it is our duty to win. Do not let these words fall idly on your ears; let them inspire you to come to the movement and raise the hell that the complacent middle class has been waiting for. Now is the moment to move action, we did not get Justice for Trayvon Martin, but we can have Justice for the Future if we ban together against the Empire.
We call on President Obama to Enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act by mandating the Department of Justice to open an investigation and indict George Zimmerman, the Sanford Police, and the State of Florida for the Civil Rights violation of Trayvon Martin.
Join us in signing the NAACP petition.