Kim Moore: No Matter How the Zimmerman Trial Ends, We Must Not Riot
by Kim Moore
I so desperately want justice for Trayvon Martin. Like many of you, I sat and watched this trial whether by TV or online, I sat and watched as witness upon witness was called to the stand, I sat and watched as both the state and the defense entered and presented evidence, I sat and watched objection after objection, and sadly, I sat and watched as they showed pictures of Trayvon Martin’s body lying in the grass with a bullet hole in his chest. I then watched as Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon’s mom), refused to look at the pictures of her dead sons body in court. I watched as she turned away every time pictures of Trayvon’s lifeless body were shown on screen in that courtroom, not wanting that to be the last image of her son forever stained in her mind. I watched! And many times I watched with tears in my eyes.
The trial has now come to an end as we heard closing arguments from the prosecution today, tomorrow we will hear the defense’s closing and then the jury decides the fate of George Zimmerman. Will he be found guilty of manslaughter? Will he be found guilty of second-degree murder or will he walk away a free man? All of these questions linger as we wait to hear the verdict.
As the world watches and waits with anticipation, Florida police departments have begun training with horses, batons and riot gear in preparation for the fallout from the Zimmerman trial verdict. Yesterday, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department issued a PSA asking people not to riot and remain peaceful. I wanted to believe that this PSA was unnecessary, but, because of the tweets and Facebook posts I’ve seen from people stating that they will riot and there will be no peace if Zimmerman walks, I see why this PSA (although I don’t agree with the messaging per se) is necessary.
Rioting, in most cases, as terrible as it is, is an emotional outpouring, typically from a specific group of people who have just become tired; tired of their cries for justice falling on deaf ears, tired of social inequalities, tired of oppression, tired of racism. Tired, period. Many of us are angry, we are hurt, and we have pain. I get it, I do. But we have to learn to constructively channel our anger.
Rioting cannot be an option for us. Why? Because it’s the easy way out. It is the road most traveled. I submit to you that if we do this, if we riot, we will be doing exactly what they expect us to do. If the justice we’re looking for is not served, it’s time to try a new approach, let’s catch them off guard. Do something they would never expect.
Instead of rioting we need to challenge some of these unjust laws like ‘Stand Your Ground’, the law that allowed George Zimmerman to go home after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. We need to challenge the fact that Trayvon was given a toxicology screening post-mortem but Zimmerman was not. The very notion that men of color walking down the street are “suspicious” needs to be challenged. Every system that institutional racism thrives in MUST be challenged by us. But in order for us to challenge the very system that oppresses us, we must discard thoughts of rioting and replace them with tools to educate ourselves. We must know the laws as well as they do. THAT is how we get our justice. If the verdict is unfavorable and we want to strike back, we do it strategically, not haphazardly.
Don’t allow history to repeat itself.
In the aftermath of the LA riots, more than 1,000 buildings were destroyed equating to $1 billion worth of property damage, 2,300 people were hurt, including a woman who was shot in the stomach while she was 7 months pregnant, 53 people (ages 15-80) were killed and more than 8,000 people were arrested. The LA riots left behind a path of destruction and pain; INNOCENT people lost their lives. Justice was not served on either end.
If we can’t remove our own selfish motives out of the way when we talk about “rioting”, then we need to consider who this is truly about. This is about Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin’s son and since their son was murdered they have longed for and demanded justice in the most peaceful way possible. Let us not mar the standard that they have set for seeking out justice. In memory of their son, the very least we can do is follow their lead.
What message do we send if we try to combat injustice with violence? We cannot use the very technique that led us up to this point, to prove our point. One life was already taken, Zimmerman could have prevented that, he didn’t. Let’s not make the same mistake.
As Albert Einstein once said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it”.
Kim Moore is an award winning activist and public speaker who works to raise the collective consciousness of the people. Kim serves as a consultant to various non-profits teaching them how to start grass-roots movements and works to empower the next generation of leaders.
Powered by Facebook Comments