Stop and think about it. On February 26, a young life was lost at 7:16 pm in one split second. That is all it took for that fateful shot to be fired changing the lives of Trayvon Martin’s loved ones forever. This nation was brought to its feet as communities all over the country have woken up in the aftermath of this tragic death. Fear, racism and gun violence, all issues in this case, have been with us for a very long time. I hope this wakeup call causes all of us to stop and think about these three issues for longer than one split second.
Trayvon Martin was a young African American male walking home in a neighborhood he thought was safe. He lived there. We can try to deny that this case is not about race, but all we have to do is look at the record. There are thousands of African Americans just like Trayvon Martin who fear for their safety every day in neighborhoods across this country. There are thousands of stories in our work places, schools, cities, shopping malls, and streets that have not been told because they simply don’t make the news. Take the time to ask someone who has been watched, stalked, and followed simply because of the color their skin. Then stop and think about it.
As predicted, this story is unfolding day by day in the media and not in the court of law. Depending on which media outlet we patronize, we can get almost any story we chose to believe. Some say that Trayvon Martin was much larger than George Zimmerman and some say quite the opposite. Some say Martin was running and screaming for help, some say quite the opposite. Regardless of which account we believe, what is clear is that George Zimmerman was on his way to the store with a loaded handgun on his belt and Trayvon Martin on his way back home from the store with a can of ice tea and package of skittles in his pocket. Stop and think about it.
Zimmerman has not been charged for this crime because he claims he was defending himself, therefore protected under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which gives him the right to act if he is in “imminent peril of death or great bodily harm.” The official record of Zimmerman’s call to the police indicates that Zimmerman was in pursuit of Martin even against police advice. Trayvon Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend telling her he was scared of this guy who was following him so he started running. Trayvon Martin will never be able to tell us how afraid he was; but, the result is clear. Trayvon Martin was in “imminent peril of death or great bodily harm.” Stop and think about it.
Fear – racism -- gun violence. It took one split second for this deadly trio to converge. It took George Zimmerman one split second to take that gun out and pull the trigger. I wish he would have stopped to think about it.
The United Church of Christ has more than 5,277 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.