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Stand up for Trayvon Martin and against racial injustice
Justice and Equality now
Stand for Justice
I will be at the Los Angeles version of the Million Hoodie March to honor and protest the death of Trayvon Martin on March on Monday just as I was on the streets the first night of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. I will be there because I am angry. I am angry that this keeps happening over and over again because Americans seem to never learn. How many more black men must we bury before we deal with the inequality in our justice system.
I worked for the Los Angeles Times in 1992 as a copy-editor for the Calendar Section. The day of the Rodney King verdicts, I sensed that something was in the air. I told my boss that if they were acquitted, I was going home. When the verdicts were announced that morning, I drove home to Redondo Beach only to find out that all hell had broken lose. I called Ed Boyer on the City Desk and asked if he needed help and he told me yes. I went down and he asked me to go out and be eyes and ears on the street. I was on the street from 7:30 pm until 4:00 am the next morning.
Most people remember the Rodney King incident, but they forget about another incident that was also the impetus for those riots—the killing of Latasha Harlins. Young blacks have been killed to many times in America because of the assumption that they are dangerous. Below is a list of those cases, including Harlins:
Latasha Harlins: 15-year-old Harlins followed her usual routine on March 16, 1991. She went to the local store to buy some juice. She put the juice in her bag and went to the counter to pay with money in hand. What she did not know was that the men who normally worked in the store were not there. They were so over-worked that they were sleeping. Soon Ja Du, the owner’s wife was manning the store and she did not know Harlin’s routine. When she saw Harlins put the juice in her bag she thought she was stealing. Du confronted Harlins. The video shows Harlins trying to leave. However, Du persisted and grabbed the backpack. Harlins punched her. Harlins put the juice on the counter and tried to leave. Du pulled a .357 magnum from under the counter that had been altered and pointed it at Harlins. The gun went off and the bullet struck the teen in the back of the head. Du was prosecuted and found guilty of manslaughter but Judge Joyce Karlin gave her probation.
Amadou Diallo: Diallo was coming from a meal in the early hours of February 4, 1999. Four plain clothes New York Police officers saw him and thought he looked like a rape suspect. They claim to have identified themselves as officers. Diallo ran into a doorway and pulled out his wallet. One of the officers yelled gun and Diallo was fired at 41 times. He died instantly. The cops were indicted but the judge granted a change of venue. The officers were acquitted of any wrong doing.
Sean Bell: Bell was leaving a Jamaica Queens club after his bachelor party on November 25, 2006, the morning of his wedding. He and his friends were confronted by an undercover police officer as they left the club. The officer reported hearing one of the men say, “Yo, go get my gun.” He called for backup. The officers say they identified themselves as the police but bell drove away brushing one officer with his car and slamming into another vehicle. Witnesses say the officers never identified themselves and started shooting at Bell and his passengers without warning. Whatever the case, Bell was killed and his passengers wounded. The cops were never convicted.
Oscar Grant: Grant was coming home in the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2009 in Oakland, CA. There was a fight on the subway platform and police were called. Grant and others were detained. Hundreds of people were there and many of them videotaped what happened next. Officer Johannes Mehserle said that Grant was resisting arrest. Mehserle claims that he only intended to tase grant, however the videos show Mehserle pulling his service revolver and shooting grant in the back. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served 7 months in prison.
The list can go on and on, but there have been some victories:
One of the killers of James Byrd, a former convict who was killed and dragged behind a pickup truck in East Texas was recently put to death. The officer who sodomized Abner Louima in a police bathroom was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The officers who shot unarmed black men on the Danziner Bridge in New Orleans were convicted and sentenced and three men recently plead guilty to hate crimes in the death of James Anderson whom they beat and then ran over after a night of hunting blacks in Jackson, Mississippi.
However, with the death of Trayvon Martin, old wounds have been re-opened and we need to again seek justice for an unjust death. I will be at the Million Hoodie March on Monday because it will be historic and it is time to stand up to racial injustice in America. I am Trayvon Martin.