Sybrina Fulton knows what she will be doing tomorrow. It is the same thing she did yesterday. And the same thing she will do today. “I cry every day,” she said Sunday on TV One’s Washington Watch with Roland Martin. “I just don’t understand. My son’s gone and this guy has never been arrested.” Her son, Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year old high school junior with no record of trouble, was killed in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain.
Zimmerman was questioned by police and released after authorities took his word that he was acting in self-defense, a version of events contradicted by witnesses and calls to 911.
Martin, an honor student who lived in Miami with his parents, was visiting in the gated community of Twin Lakes in Sanford, 20 miles northeast of Orlando, with his father when the incident took place. He had gone to a nearby 7-Eleven store to pick up a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea during halftime of a televised NBA game.
Walking back, he was spotted by Zimmerman, who was driving a SUV. Zimmerman, a wannabe cop, dialed 911 to report seeing a “very suspicious” Black male in the neighborhood.
Under pressure, Sanford police released 911 tapes that clearly show that Zimmerman disobeyed police instructions that he avoid making contact with Martin.
Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher, “This guy looks like he is up to no good. He is on drugs or something.” He also claimed Martin had his hand in his waistband and was looking at homes as he walked.
“These —holes. They always get away,” Zimmerman told the dispatcher. When the 911 dispatcher asked Zimmerman if he were following Martin, he replied yes.
“OK, we don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher told Zimmerman. Not only did he disobey, Zimmerman got out of this SUV, confronted Martin, and fired the deadly bullet into his chest.
Benjamin Crump, the family’s lawyer, also appeared on Roland Martin’s show with the parents.
“He [Zimmerman] gets out of that car with a 9 millimeter gun, weighing 200 pounds and confronts this kid, weighing soaking wet 140-150 pounds, who has only a bag of Skittles. George Zimmerman has a red sweat shirt and jeans on. We believe Trayvon Martin went to his grave not knowing who was this strange White man confronting him.”
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has defended his department’s decision not to charge Zimmerman.
“We are taking a beating over this,” he said. “This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too.”
Several witnesses have disputed the idea that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.
“I heard someone crying – not boo-hoo crying, but scared or terrified or hurt maybe,” Mary Cutcher told the Miami Herald. “To me, it was a child.” She explained, “This was not self-defense. We heard no fighting, no wrestling, no punching. We heard a boy crying. As soon as the shot went off, it stopped, which tells me it was the child crying. If it had been Zimmerman crying, it wouldn’t have stopped. If you’re hurting, you’re hurting.”
Sanford, Fla. has a checkered race relations record.
In 2005, two parking lot security guards, one the son of a Sanford police officer, fatally shot a Black teenager, Travares McGill, in the back. They, too, claimed self-defense and had their case dismissed in court.
Last year, Police Chief Brian Tooley was forced from office after the son of a lieutenant was caught on camera beating a defenseless homeless Black man. The department refused to prosecute the officer, Justin Collison, until after the footage was posted on YouTube.
Tracy Martin told Roland Martin that his son saved his life in 2004.
“At the time, he was 9 years old,” the father recounted. “We had just came from the Little League football park. We fell asleep while the stove was on. A grease fire started. I went into the kitchen to try to put the grease fire out. The grease splattered all over my leg. My body went into shock and by me and him being in the house, I started calling out his name.
“He finally woke up and, at 9 years old, he pulled me from out of the kitchen, where the kitchen cabinets were on fire. He pulled me out of the kitchen onto the balcony. He actually went back into the house and got the cell phone and called 911.”
An emotional Tracy Martin said, “He was my hero – he was actually my best friend. He saved my life. And for me not to be there to be able to save his life is very upsetting.”
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge. •