A Florida community is devastated over the death of seventeen year old beloved and model student Trayvon Martin of Sanford, and they are rallying that justice be served, but they’re not the only ones creating a buzz about the murder that happened last month.
In a case that has the media in an uproar over the words of the accused shooter, George Zimmerman, the self-proclaimed neighborhood watch captain, one of the biggest questions lingering is: Why did the police attempt to cover up the 911 tape with the Hispanic Zimmerman’s voice whispering a racial slur right before shooting Martin, who just so happens to be African American?
Protesters lined up outside of the Seminole County courthouse Monday, just north of Orlando, to demonstrate their anger over the incident and demand justice for young Trayvon Martin. “No justice for Trayvon. No peace for Sanford!” read one sign in the hands of a protestor, and another displayed a picture of Trayvon in his football uniform, “Gone but not forgotten.”
Right around nightfall on February 26, Zimmerman called police. He reported that he noticed a suspicious person in his neighborhood.
In the 911 call that was just released on Monday, Zimmerman told the dispatcher, “Something’s wrong with him. Yep. He’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands. I don’t know what his deal is. Send officers over here.”
Zimmerman also reported that the person started to run, however the dispatcher clearly told Zimmerman in the 911 call that the police had already been dispatched and told him, “We don’t need you to do that,” essentially telling Zimmerman there was no reason for him to pursue Martin. The police were on their way.
Neighbors began to call 911 to report that they heard a fight and a gunshot.
The police were too late. When they arrived at the scene, the unarmed Trayvon had been fatally shot, carrying only an ice tea and a bag of Skittles that he had just purchased from the local convenience store. He was innocently walking back to where his father’s fiancée lived.
To add insult to injury, the police did not arrest Zimmerman, and stood behind their lack of action by claiming that they had no evidence that refuted Zimmerman’s allegation that he shot Trayvon in self-defense. Zimmerman claimed in his statement to the police that Trayvon attacked him when he was returning to his truck to wait for the officers to arrive.
Trayvon’s father says he could hear his son’s voice screaming for help during the 911 calls from the neighbors, just before the gunshot is heard on the tape. He lamented, “It’s heartwrenching, because those actually were my son’s last words. And to hear his last words being cries of help is devastating. It tears me apart as a father.” He called Trayvon’s death “a matter of profiling”.
“I think that’s an issue that Mr. Zimmerman himself considers as someone suspicious — a black kid with a hoodie on, jeans, tennis shoes,” Trayvon’s father went on to say. “Thousands of people wear that outfit every day, so what was so suspicious about Trayvon that Zimmerman felt as though he had to confront him?”
“My son wasn’t doing anything but walking on the sidewalk, and I just don’t understand why this situation got out of control,” Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, said.
Race Played a Role
After hearing the 911 tapes that were just released over the weekend, it’s obvious that race played a role in the death of the Florida teen. In the publicly released tape of Zimmerman’s 911 call, he can be heard whispering, “f***ing coons“, shortly before shooting Trayvon. The Congressional Black Caucus even demanded a federal investigation, calling the lack of action on behalf of police “blatant disregard for justice.”
Officials Step In
The Justice Department is currently working on dispatching officials to Sanford to “conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation,” according to spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa’s written statement. However, her announcement of the federal investigation came with the warning: If this case is taken to court as a civil rights case, the government would have to prove “that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids — the highest level of intent in criminal law.” It seemed, from her perspective, that this would be a difficult undertaking, despite the evidence.
Monday evening, Florida Gov. Rick Scott admitted that the case “caused significant concern within the Sanford community and the state“. He also urged the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist local investigators with whatever they needed.
Florida Students Rally
While protestors rallied outside of the Seminole County courthouse Monday, many holding signs in remembrance of Trayvon, a Florida A&M University law professor and several student protesters convened with a state attorney general representative to discuss the investigation.
According to the students, the state attorney’s office planned to conduct a voice analysis on the 911 calls from the neighbors to determine whose voice was screaming for help. However, Assistant State Attorney Pat Whitaker told the FAMU students that the case would take several weeks to investigate completely.
So, back to the initial question: Why did the police attempt to cover up the 911 tape with the Hispanic Zimmerman’s voice whispering a racial slur right before shooting Martin, who just so happens to be African American?
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee’s answer came in the form of a letter written by City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte Jr., and can be found on Sanford’s city website:
“Many times, specific information is contained in those recordings which is vital to the integrity of the investigation. Should it be revealed, the information may compromise the integrity of the investigation prior to its completion.”
But, apparently, this isn’t enough for the civil rights leaders who want justice served for Trayvon Martin, because, from their perspective, Zimmerman should have been arrested immediately after officials listened to the tapes.
Furthermore, Zimmerman wasn’t tested for drugs or alcohol, which is normally procedure in homicide investigations, but for some reason, drug and alcohol tests were performed on Trayvon after his death.
Police also did not try to contact Trayvon’s girlfriend, who happened to be talking to Trayvon on their cell phones while he was walking home from the store. The last words that she heard him say were, “What are you following me for?”
This whole circus act leads us to wonder if Trayvon will get the justice that he deserves, in a country that takes pride in the strides it has taken since the days of segregation.
Zimmerman still walks free. Where’s the justice?