Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lessons from Trayvon Martin’s Murder

April 12, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi

Trayvon Martin versus Zimmerman case has further sharpened the divide of the American nation along the ethnic or racial contours. The fragile nature of this ethnic cleavage can be gauged from the ballooning outrage being vigorously vented by the African-Americans against the murder of a juvenile member of their community that merits to be thoroughly investigated in order to find the truth.

On February 26 when Martin was walking to a home in a gated community, Zimmerman, a Hispanic American community watch coordinator followed him suspecting his movements. Reportedly, there was a confrontation between the two and as a result Zimmerman shot Martin dead. The police arrested Zimmerman and questioned who took the plea that he shot Martin in self defense. Although the lead homicide investigator did not believe the self-defense stance of Zimmerman and wanted to charge him with manslaughter, the state attorney's office announced that there was insufficient evidence to convict Zimmerman.

Thereafter, Zimmerman was released without being charged. Of late, in the wake of countrywide uproar, State Attorney Angela Corey announced on April 11, 2012 that she has filed charges of second degree murder against Zimmerman. That seems to be too late and too little for the African- American populace.

In all cases of premeditated or spontaneous murders, the suspect is apprehended and then the law takes its own course to establish the nature and culpability of the crime. The prosecution endeavors to prove the bona- fides of the cases while the defense tries to nullify those bona-fides or at least mitigate the severity of the crime.
In the beginning, Zimmerman was not arrested until the time the supporters of the slain young man, rocked America with their earth shaking protests and mammoth agitation rallies. Even thereafter, there seemed to be a kind of deliberate effort by the concerned authorities to shelter Zimmerman under the perfunctory pretext of lack of concrete evidence to establish that it was a deliberate murder.

Broadly speaking the Law should be equal and applied across the board for all the citizens. Notwithstanding the claims by Zimmerman and the family of Martin, the bare fact cannot be overlooked that a murder was committed by a custodian of law even though under the yet to be proven compelling reasons at the time of shooting the juvenile individual.

But to hide the assassination of a citizen of United States under flimsy and implausible cover-up and to justify the daring yet inexplicable brutal action of a community watchdog is what has enraged the black population of this great nation. The task of finding the truth should be left to the justice system of our country.

Understandably, this magnificent country United States belongs to the white or Caucasian race because their ancestors came here and brought with them a profound and advanced culture and astounding civilization to this neglected or hidden part of the world. But when it comes to the dispensation of justice, provision of the socio-economic benefits like jobs, education and healthcare, all races and ethnic communities should be treated alike at par, and on a leveled turf.

Unfortunately the courts from district to the Supreme Court level are predominantly manned by white judges. This predominance could be rated between 90 to 95 per cent. Their proportion in police, law enforcement agencies and in high profile or white collar jobs is also high. That understandably is due to the white population’s demographic lead in the United States. But despite this ascendency in numbers, the presence of non-whites in high positions is still below the required level or so to say is disproportionate.

The Asian, black, Hispanic, yellow race immigrant communities and even the native African-American population do not have even a fraction of their presence in the judiciary or in prominent executive positions. The progenies of the bygone non-white generations, who now after centuries of time passage, look like a local American by virtue of their accent or turnout, are occasionally accommodated in coveted jobs.

Therefore, there is a dire and overdue need to overhaul this imbalance. It is imperative that all sections of the society, irrespective of their color, creed or ethnic background should be given fair and equal opportunities to compete for the exalted positions.

Rather there should be fixed quotas for the African-American, Asian, Hispanic and other communities in judiciary, executive and other branches of the administrations and even in Congress (senate and house). Thus there would emerge a homogeneous, racially integrated and ethnically balanced society in that the minority races would not suffer from the sense of deprivation or being lesser equals as they nurse now.

The election of Barack Obama, a non-white American as the president of the United States, is a unique and historic phenomenon that speaks for the cosmopolitan, liberal, deeply democratic and secular image of the United States. But factually in the first instance Barack Obama is not wholly black as his mother was a white woman.

There might not be another black president for a long time to come. But his ascension to the highest office in this country opens the possibility and hope that in due course the ethnic dissentions, racial and communal disharmony could be channeled into an all encompassing goodwill, accommodation, amicability and equality between all Americans irrespective of their ethnicity, color or regional background.

Secondly, it is the civil society where the smaller ethnic groups should be given proportional representations so that the prevailing sentiment of being marginalized or neglected on the part of African- American and other communities could be quashed and a veritable sense of belonging to this great country could be entrenched.

That is perhaps the most daunting and compelling task to be taken into consideration, in tandem with the community leaders, by the leaders and policy makers of United States.

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