barbara-howard_web.jpgBarbara Howard, chairwoman of the Florida Chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), issued the following statement on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The Florida Chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) condemns the Sanford police for negligence in the murder of the 17-year-old black Miami Gardens youth, Trayvon Martin, who was killed as he visited family in Sanford.

Self-proclaimed Neighborhood Crime Watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed Martin as he walked from a store in the rain carrying no more than a bag of Skittles and ice tea.

The fact that the Sanford police failed to arrest Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin has caused an unnecessary strain in race relations, not only in Sanford, but across the nation and CORE maintains that the temporary resignation of the Sanford police chief, Bill Lee, does little to mitigate that strain.

We support Sanford’s only black Commissioner, Ms. Velma Williams, in her effort over the past 15 years to bring racial harmony to one of Florida’s oldest incorporated cities. This close-knit community of just 53,000 citizens, of whom 57 percent are white and 30 percent are black, is now being torn apart with racial discord due to what thousands, both black and white, see as a severe miscarriage of justice.

It is our sincere hope that the grand jury that will be convened to review this case will correct this gross miscarriage and find that Zimmerman overstepped his perceived authority based on what appears to have been a preconceived and prejudiced notion that this hoodie-wearing man was a danger just because he was black.

The fact that Zimmerman killed Trayvon was a travesty that caused pain and heartache to his family.  The fact that Zimmerman was not arrested for this murder caused a travesty to the larger community and has caused a racial divide that may be hard to heal.

Racial equality means that a young black man should be able to walk down the street in a hoodie without being considered a threat.  It also means that a white or Hispanic man should not be able to get away with murdering a black man simply because of his race.

The CORE family will keep the family of Trayvon Martin in our prayers as we pray for all innocent children who are victims of violence, including a 1-year old who was shot on a recent weekend, as well as 41 other black persons, in Chicago, eight of whom died from their wounds, including a 6-year old girl.  All these children deserve the right to live in peace and without fear.

Photo: Barbara Howard