Given the history of how white men treat young black men in this country, it should come as no surprise that there is growing outrage over the shooting death of a Miami-Dade teenager at the hands of a volunteer crime watch captain while he was visiting his father in a gated community in Sanford, an Orlando suburb.
According to reports, Trayvon Martin, 17, left the home on the evening of Feb. 23 to get a snack at a convenience store. On his way back, he was apparently confronted by the neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, and ended up shot in the chest. Mr. Zimmerman has told Sanford police that he fired in self-defense and the police believe him — they have concluded there are no grounds to charge him with any crime.
However, there are enough unanswered questions to warrant a thorough investigation into what exactly happened that caused this promising student-athlete to lose his life. For instance, news reports indicate Mr. Zimmerman reported Mr. Martin’s presence as being suspicious to police and police instructed him to back off while an officer was dispatched. If, as it seems, an altercation ensued, it is necessary to find out what caused it and particularly what could have led to the use of deadly force. Yet, Sanford police have refused to release tapes of Mr. Zimmerman’s call.
Also, there is no evidence that Mr. Martin was armed. When his body was found eight houses from his father’s home, all he had with him were $22, candy and a can of iced tea.
It is understandable, therefore, that his parents and a growing number of leaders, including Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan and NAACP state president Adora Obi Nweze, have joined the call for an investigation. The authorities cannot let Trayvon Martin become just another statistic.