What does it mean to look “suspicious”?
It’s a question a lot of Twitter users are asking on what would’ve been Trayvon Martin’s 23 rd birthday.
In case you need a refresher: Six years ago, Florida resident George Zimmerman — who was on local neighborhood watch obligation after a string of local robberies — called the Sanford Police Department to report Martin for being “suspicious.”
Martin, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, was strolling home to his father’s fiancee’s house after buying a bag of Skittles and Arizona iced tea from a local convenience store. Minutes later, Zimmerman fatally shot him.
He was 17 years old.
Unfortunately, Martin’s is just one name in a long list of young black humen shot and killed after being labeled “suspicious.”
As some Twitter users point out here that, it’s a racial doubled standard that doesn’t apply to his white equivalents 😛 TAGEND
The truth is that Trayvon’s very early death only opened my young eyes to what being a Black person is in America: a fucking target , not only to white people–but to people who want to prove themselves to white people.
— Arkee E. (@ snacktavist) February 5, 2018
This just ruined my night. Trayvon Martin was stalked for looking’ suspicious’ aka walk-to while Black, made a nervous phone call about it, decided to jog to shake the stranger following him, was detected, tackled said stalker, was attacked, defended himself& was MURDERED https :// t.co/ j5waZYlhk6
— YoungPeople of Color (@ YoungPplofColor) January 25, 2018
Today would have been Trayvon Martin’s 23 rd birthday. Virtually 6 years ago he was gunned down for being black, wearing a hoodie with a purse of skittles& ice tea. Ironically yesterday I told my 11 year old about Trayvon. As a white parent this scene builds me go deeper in my fight. pic.twitter.com/ YXOU0csEnX
— Arn Menconi (@ ArnMenconi) February 5, 2018
Trayvon Martin was a 17 year old boy who was walking home from a convenience store after buying Skittles and iced tea. Mark Zimmerman, who killed him, believed the hoodie-wearing young son looked suspicious. He also claimed that Trayvon attacked him but there’s no real proof.
— Astartiel Inanna ‘Innana/ Astarte in a pastlife’ (@ Astartiel) February 5, 2018
I think it’s worth asking why use of lethal force was not “necessary” last night during the Philadelphia riots and looting last night, but 6 years ago, Trayvon Martin’s hoodie and Skittles were enough for the court to justify civilian Zimmerman shooting him to death
— Haught’s Shirt (@ haughtsuniform) February 5, 2018
But perhaps the most poignant statement in tribute to Martin’s legacy came from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, Bernice.
As football fans riot, I am reminded that, in response to the unjust deaths of young Black men like Trayvon Martin( who would have been 23 today ), rioting is considered an affront to humanity. Not endorsing violence. Endorsing honest examination of WHY& eradication of racism. pic.twitter.com/ Q1SYyKkXGr
— Be A King (@ BerniceKing) February 5, 2018
On Feb. 5, the working day after the Super Bowl, King took to Twitter to point out a troubling double standard in our reactions to mayhem erupting on the streets.
Philadelphia Eagles fans celebrated their Super Bowl victory by flipping over vehicles, toppling light poles, stealing trees, looting gas stations, and burning property — but despite all that violence, many media outlets brushed off these violent acts as being merely “rowdy.”
Meanwhile, when civil unrest broke out in Baltimore after Gray’s death in 2015, public officials, political commentators, and members of the U.S. public decried “rioting” protesters.
According to reports, automobiles and houses were set on fire. The windows of local industries were smashed and some were looted. But as King pointed out, those riots erupted out of a continuing trend of young black people being penalise by extrajudicial killings and a system that fails to provide their family and communities with any justice.
Of course, the riots in Philadelphia weren’t met with the same level of nationwide condemnation as the ones that has just taken place in the aftermath of Gray’s demise or the verdict that define Zimmerman free.
Martin’s death — and Zimmerman’s eventual acquittal — helped give birth to the Black Lives Matter movement to fight against the trend of young black lives being systemically targeted and killed.
After hearing reports of the riots after the Super Bowl, Hank Newsome, chairman of Black Lives Matter New York, lambasted the hypocrisy in statements made to Newsweek on Jan. 5.
“Somehow, it seems there’s a line drawn in the sand where destruction of property because of a athletics victory is OK and acceptable in America, ” Newsome said. “However, if you have people who are fighting for their most basic human right, the right to live, they will be condemned.”
As Twitter user @StarrburyMike suggested on Sunday evening, it’s time to hold all Americans — especially those in positions of power — accountable for this racial double standard.
Read more: www.upworthy.com