Archive for George Zimmerman

Trayvon, Tragedy and Travesty

Posted in The Travon Martin Trial with tags , , on July 19, 2013 by playthell


Treyvon with his loving Dad
 Like many Americans my sleep was troubled last night, troubled by the ghosts of past injustices, a feeling given fresh currency by a late-hour not guilty verdict from Sanford, Florida that freed George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

Equally aroused, unfortunately, was the 800-pound gorilla called race and many of us were hoping and praying that justice would enter the hearts of the six women jurors, none of them African American like the slain Martin.  One of the defense attorneys for Zimmerman said he was glad the outcome did not turn a “tragedy into travesty,” and like much of his cross-examination he was wrong again.

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, nor is there justice in American courts—Supreme or otherwise—particularly when it comes to Black Americans.  Yes, my sleep was troubled and there came the jangling discords of all the cases of police brutality—and these were not “wanna be cops”—that I’ve covered in my years as a journalist.

I was barely in New York City to live for the third time when I was dispatched to cover the Howard Beach incident; then there was the outrage Tawana Brawley inspired; and the wanton shooting of several teenagers by Bernard Goetz in 1984, who claimed he was being robbed.  His later acquittal was my re-introduction to jury nullification, which I will discuss further in a moment.

Bernard Goetz: Killer Wimp! 

Bernie Goetz

The Subway Shootist

Even before scurrying to rallies and marches, and sitting hour after hour in the city’s courtrooms, the back stories of recent injustices, mainly by the NYPD, shaped my outlook, especially what I had heard of Eleanor Bumpurs, Michael Stewart, Clifford Glover and Randy Evans, all of them victims of overzealous police officers.

But last night’s visitations were more immediate and once again I saw families in tears after the acquittal of cops who killed Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham and savagely sodomized Abner Louima.  They tugged at my memory, most of them cases I had covered that often left me feeling like Digger O’Dell, fighting each time to ward off that scab of callousness that inures one’s sensitivity.

Beyond the precincts and journalism that have informed so much of my thinking about race and society, are the lessons I’ve gathered from history.  One would have to turn a blind eye to history to think that five white women and another of mixed-race would convict a white man of killing a Black boy.  Pages of American history weighed on my sleep last night and I thought of chapters of atrocities about the lynching of Black men in America, the senseless mayhem that has made living in this country a daily challenge for Black Americans.

A Southern Tradition
Crucifying African Americans for Sport

To date, there has been much talk about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the assassination of Medgar Evers and the insidious slaughter of four little girls in Birmingham, and even as far back as 150 years ago with the commemoration of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.  And to recall a moment in our nation’s history 150 years ago brings to mind the Draft Riots in New York City in the midst of the Civil War.

On July 13, 1863, the same day of Zimmerman’s emancipation, African Americans were set upon by whites in the city who were angry that they were being conscripted to fight in a war over slavery only to watch Blacks take their jobs once they were sent off to battle.  Without going into great detail, suffice it to say that 100 to a 1,000 people perished during the four days of rioting, most of them African Americans some of them strung up on lampposts or dragged through the city by white hooligans.  So vicious was the turmoil that some rioters were so full of hatred that they set fire to the Colored Orphan Asylum, but luckily none of the children there were killed.

The New York Draft Riots of 1863
 The Authentic History Center
An Artist Rendition of the Carnage
 Thinking about Trayvon, I recalled the words of President Obama—who stands as the poster boy for those who believe we now live in a post-racial society—when he said that if he had a son, he would look just like Trayvon.   I have a son who is an older version of Trayvon and is no less safe in a country where in an instance an innocent Black life can be snuffed out.

The miscarriage of justice—no, the abortion of justice, as one reverend might call it—was reminiscent of what happened to Emmett Till, another young teenager who ventured to the South and felt the full wrath of Mississippi menace and mendacity. Several years ago I had the opportunity to work on a book with Simeon Wright, Till’s first cousin who slept next to him that fateful morning when two white men snatched him from slumber, spirited him away, and later beat him mercilessly, so much so that his face was disfigured; there was a bullet hole through his head.   An all-white jury acquitted the two white men and nothing was done to them years later after they confessed to the murder.

    Emmitt Till


 Fourteen Year old Emmett Till Before and after he was lynched

 Earlier, I had mentioned jury nullification and the Till case is a good example of this in which jurors, having considered evidence that pointed overwhelmingly to the guilt of the accused, is circumvented.   A cursory glance back on American history and the instances of such practice are replete.  Take for example the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, when juries refused to convict slave owners and bounty hunters who had violated the law.  And the case of James Hickok in 1865 bears some similarity to what occurred in the Zimmerman/Trayvon case.

Hickok was on trial for manslaughter, and the judge gave the jury two instructions. He instructed them that a conviction was its only recourse under the law; he then told them they could apply the unwritten law of the “fair fight” and acquit.  Hickok was acquitted and it caused a public outcry of injustice.  Fair fight can be compared here with Zimmerman’s so-called self-defense or the nefarious “Stand Your Ground” law.

Of course, when jury nullification was bandied about sometimes before and certainly following the O.J. Simpson trial, the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak, when Simpson was acquitted in 1995.   For many Black Americans this verdict was a form of payback and vindication in a racist criminal justice system that always rendered Black Americans as the victims.

Jury nullification may not get much attention after this case and it may go as unspoken as racial profiling, which the judge refused to allow in the courtroom.  Even so, race continues to plague our society, continues to be the 800-pound gorilla in practically every endeavor of social relations.

The recent monumental decisions by the Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action signals loudly the presence of race and the inability of some of our justices to speak its name.  Race is something that resonates in the highest realms of our government and in the lowest quarters of our cities, and certainly in the deepest sinews of citizens who swear they haven’t a racist bone in their body.

Yes, Virginia, racism is alive and well in America, and those who for a minute thought it was on life support only have to open their eyes and read tomorrow’s headlines and see again Trayvon’s tragedy and travesty that troubled my sleep—and yours should have been troubled too.

           Trayvon Martin


Murdered for being black and male in America!!!


By: Herb Boyd

Harlem, New York

July 18, 2013

The Real Lesson of Zimmerman Case

Posted in The Travon Martin Trial with tags , , on July 17, 2013 by playthell
         images        The Eyes of a Crazed Child Killer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                …..TrayvonShouHave Trayvon Should Have Killed Him!

There is a lesson arising from the George Zimmerman trial that must not be lost on Afro-Americans.  It is better to kill a white attacker than attempt to reason with them – especially in states with “stand your ground laws” like Florida.  If they step to you with any sign of aggression shoot first and ask questions later.  And if there are no witnesses just go on about your business.

For the two most valuable lessons we learned from the Zimmerman case is that white boys will shoot and kill you if you kick their asses in a fair fight, and not only will the judicial system exonerate them, they will scandalize your name and give the “creepy ass cracker” his gun back.  So you might as well take his ass out and take your chances.  The one thing we know for sure is that had Trayvon Martin Killed Zimmerman it is his narrative that would have dominated the discourse and not Zimmerman’s transparent lies during trial.

It is a cruel irony that the killer should be the author of the story relating the circumstances of the killing.  It is in the nature of things that the story will be self-serving, given the severity of the penalty for murder.  The extent to which Zimmerman’s version of events, recast in the hands of smart amoral lawyers who were totally ruthless in their courtroom tactics, influenced the way jurors saw the case was made clear in the testimony of one of the jurors.

Appearing behind a veil of darkness to conceal her identity the juror, known only as B37, provided us a peek into the mental process by which they arrived at the verdict that Zimmerman was not guilty on all counts.  The most revealing aspect of her testimony was the extent to which she bought Zimmerman’s version of events.  She kept referring to him affectionately as “George.”  She said his “heart was in the right place” but things got out of hand.  She held Trayvon equally responsible for his death, and said the issue of race never came up in their deliberations.  And to add grievous insult to fatal injury she said she felt equally sorry for both Trayvon and “George.”

It was a shocking revelation to most, but it confirmed my theory of how the case was decided.  I have argued all along that the most important factor influencing the way this case was adjudicated is the race question.  It was clearly apparent to me, as it was to everyone that is not totally clueless, that if the racial identity of killer and victim was switched – Zimmerman an angry black man and Trayvan a middle class white teenager going about his business in a gated community- the response of the police, the judge and the Jury would have been radically different.

To argue otherwise is a fool’s errand or an exercise for charlatans.  Who is naïve enough to believe that a black man could have stalked and killed a white teenager and be allowed to walk away from the scene instead of being arrested?  Who can believe they would have allowed him to go on about his business after the murder of the white teen without being arrested for over a month?

Is there anybody in America who believes that it would have required a mass movement just to secure an arrest?  And nobody believes that the black child killer would have been found not guilty on all counts!  Although white apologist try to confuse the conversation by arguing that the judge’s instruction – which was almost 30 pages – to the jury were too complex and therefore confusing, the fact remains they would have had no problem convicting the killer of Second Degree Murder if the Trayvon was white and Zimmerman Black!

Alas, if a white jury in Florida could find a white sleaze ball with a record of odious offenses like Zimmerman – who molested a child, battered his wife and assaulted a cop before murdering Trayvon – not guilty on all counts based on his word that he did nothing wrong, the chances that they would have found a black perp was justified in shooting down an unarmed and unoffending white kid is about equal to a snowflakes chances in a pizza oven!

One does not have to be clairvoyant in order to predict that in a violent encounter between a white and black American Mighty Whitey will get the nod in court.  Both history and present circumstance tells us so.  Hence the conclusion reached by Robert Williams in Monroe North Carolina in 1960, over a half century ago, is true in Florida today: “We must judge and convict our white attackers on the spot!

For Afro-Americans living in the big cities of the north, Midwest and the pacific coast, it is hard to get firearms legally.  But in the south it is relatively easy to get a gun, and every law abiding black person should own a few: a shotgun, a rifle and a side arm.  Let me make it clear that I am not a gun freak, and I do not share the National Rifle Association’s fetish for guns or their ambition to put a gun in the hand of every American.

In fact I have written a persuasive historically based essay arguing for repeal of the Second Amendment, the constitutional basis upon which laws conferring the right to own guns is based.  Alas, it did not convince the princes and powers who rule the nation to correct the error of their ways.  So I have arrived at this decision that black Americans must take up guns and shoot white aggressors by the logic of events.

As Abraham Lincoln said when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, although he had not been an abolitionist when he assumed the presidency but had been converted by the blood and fire of southern succession and Civil War: “clearly I have not controlled events…but events have controlled me.”  It is unreasonable, indeed an invitation to disaster, foe Afro-Americans to stand idly by while whites buy guns by the tons.

Although Trayvon Martin was too young to get a gun permit, if he had a legal gun, or managed to take Zimmerman’s gun and shot the pig through his fat head, he would be alive today, and even if convicted we could mount a movement for a presidential pardon. Black men have as much right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as white men, despite the fact that many whites still swear by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s opinion in the 1857 Dread Scott Decision: “Black men have no rights that white me are bound to respect.”

Alas, in Florida today it seems with some belligerent whites respect only comes from the barrel of a gun.  If that’s the price of the ticket so be it. When in Rome do as the Romans, and when in “The Land of the Flowers,” my ancestral home, get you some guns!

Southern Black Folks Set the Precedent

Robert Williams and Friends II

Monroe North Carolina 1960


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 17, 2013

Special Prosecutor Indicts Child Killer!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on April 13, 2012 by playthell
  Ms. Corey Speaking to the Press

Angela Corey Lays Down the Law

The Announcement of a second degree murder charge against child killer George Zimmerman by Special Prosecutor Angela Cory in Sanford Florida yesterday, and the response of victim Trayvon Martin’s family and supporters, provided some remarkable examples of grace, courage, splendid oratory and legal erudition.  The amazing grace of the parents of slain youth Trayvon Martin borders on saintly.

The fathers comment that he bore no hatred for the man who murdered his innocent son, and the mother’s impassioned thanks to the Lord that there has been an arrest…yet stating that she would accept an acquittal of Zimmerman without rancor, strike me as bordering on Christ like.  Since I am not a Christian I’m not nearly so charitable.

If it was my son and I could get my hands on a gun, the safest place for George Zimmerman would be jail.  I despise the murderous clown and would love to bust a cap in his butt; yet Travyon Martin is no relation to me.  Their’s is a special graciousness.  Unlike the fake Christianity of the Christian Right – those racist bullies who know neither charity nor justice – Trayvon’s parents clearly take the teachings of Jesus Christ seriously.

The bible thumping right wing “Evangelicals” could learn a lot about how to be a good Christian from them.   It doesn’t take much rummaging about in those archives of ancient prudence, our great libraries, to discover that black Americans have always been better Christians than white Americans: A people who built a civilization based on genocide, massive land theft, chattel slavery, and a legal caste system based on race, while incessantly praising the virtues of freedom.  Their worse sin is transforming Jesus Christ from the Savior of the poor and downtrodden, to the God of heartless billionaires who would crush the poor underfoot. It is an unspeakable blasphemy masquerading as the message of Jesus.

The positions taken by Special Prosecutor, Angela Corey, provide a striking profile in courage.  Her decision to not impanel a Grand Jury demonstrates her willingness to take full responsibility for the decision of whether to indict George Zimmerman.  A less courageous, politically opportunistic, prosecutor would have passed this decision off to a Grand Jury; that way they could also deflect the blame if the decision proved unpopular.

After assuming full responsibility for the decision Ms. Corey showed additional courage charging Zimmerman with Second Degree Murder, a charge that carries a 25 year minimum sentence and a maximum sentence of life in Prison.  She explained that her decision is based not only on the probable cause standard, but on the more demanding standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the case must meet to prevail in court.

And she pledged to fight any attempt to invoke Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.  Since both the author of the law, and the Governor who signed it, say it doesn’t apply to Zimmerman’s actions; Ms. Corey is standing on solid legal ground.   She was cool, calm, witty, and erudite.  I am convinced that she is the perfect prosecutor for the job.   I also believe the actions she has taken thus far will do much to restrain Floridians from shooting each other down in the streets.

Finally, the role played by the media in forcing the governor of Florida to appoint Ms. Corey as Special Prosecutor was indispensable; I don’t believe it would have happened otherwise.  And it is no exaggeration to say that the powerful advocacy of Rev. Al Sharpton, on his WNBC show, Politics Nation, was the catalyst for it all.

George Zimmerman: Child Killer

Jail is the safest place to be! 


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

April 13, 2012

The More Things Change…The More they Stay the Same!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , , on March 30, 2012 by playthell
 The outraged family and friends of Trayvon

Reflections on the Trayvon Martin Murder

Listening to the conversation that has followed in the wake of revelations about the murder of Trayvon Martin – an unarmed 17 year old Afro-American boy going happily about his business who was stalked by a racist white Latino bully named George Zimmerman, who shot him down like a wild beast then claimed self-defense and white male State Attorney let this killer walk – I am reminded of a day during the summer of 1960, when I had a serious talk with my Granddad that caused me to leave Florida for good.

I had just completed my freshman year at Florida A&M University where I had participated in the student sit-ins that began that spring.   Once I became active I could no longer accept the status quo again, because I could see that collective struggle was the way to freedom.  But, like most people I knew in the ancient city of St. Augustine, I was not a saint like Dr. Martin Luther King.

Hence back then, as now, my inclination was to put a cracker in the cemetery if they put their hands on me.  You could say I had a homicidal disposition and a grave yard mind…I was on a freedom high and ready to die!  As small town southerners we belonged to a hunting culture; everybody was armed, and guns were readily available.

My grandfather George Benjamin was a pious church deacon, yet he kept a 20 gage shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot mounted on the wall just above a sign professing his faith in Jesus Christ!  Grandpapa didn’t take no mess!  Like his friends, he was an Old Testament Christian who believed in an eye for an eye!

We lived in a state of constant tension with the white community.  They were in charge as a community, but individual whites understood that there were lines they were not to cross, and they did so at their peril on this hot August day, Grand Dad stepped to me and said: “Boy I think it’s time for you to go on up north.  Cause if you stay around this town either you gonna kill one of these peckerwood crackers or one of them is gonna kill you.  Either way it goes down you bout to git this whole family in a war with these rednecks….cause whatever they do to you they do to all of us!”

It was good advice, because relations between the races were very tense…just like now.  My generation had reached a consensus that we would not submit to the white supremacist racial caste system any longer, although the system of separate and unequal treatment for Afro-Americans had the force of law.  I heeded grand-dad’s advice and soon left town and joined the Airforce.  This was three years before Dr. King came to town and lead some of the most dangerous demonstrations of his career.

The local crackers, led by local Redneck terrorist “Hoss” Manucy, were mean and prone to violence; and Dr. King told Jet Magazine he had never seen so many Negroes with guns!  It was a hard sell to convince them to put down their guns and follow him in a passive resistance campaign.  He never convinced me!

He didn’t convince my neighbor Reverend Goldy Eubanks either. A truly righteous and fearless fundamentalist preacher, Goldy and his sons shot it out with the Klan and offed a couple of them.  They were tried for murder by the state of Florida, and only the lawyerly brilliance of William S. Kunstler, who swooped down from New York to defend them,  had saved their lives!

While I now concede that Dr. King’s non-violent campaigns was the right strategy to change government policy, and the Maoist strategy of armed revolution we advocated in the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Black Panther Party of Oakland, was wrong; a half century later I still believe that anybody who steps to me with violent intentions is tired of living and I’m going to try my best to take them out of their misery!

Witnessing the way the state of Florida allowed Piggy Zimmerman to walk after murdering a black child in cold blood then covering it up, and the mounting attempt to even justify Zimmerman’s homicidal attack by painting Trayvon as the aggressor, if I were living in Florida today I would be strapped and practicing my fast draw in the mirror!

The New Black Militia is armed and actively searching for Zimmerman and his picture is all over the internet.   Since the depraved child killer is in hiding like the punkass  low down dirty rat that he is, the militia men intend to conduct a search, ferret him out, and make a citizen’s arrest since the police won’t do it.  They consider him armed and dangerous…as all black folks should, and they intend to act accordingly.

The militia men have declared their intention to bring Zimmerman in dead or alive!   Although a chorus of voices is denouncing their decision: I wish them well.  White policemen have been getting away with murdering unarmed black men all over this nation….including here in New York City repeatedly.  Now we are to stand by while private white citizens are getting away with murdering our children?  Those who think this are flirting with disaster!

My black friends in Florida are armed to the teeth….one classmate told me he won’t go to the bathroom without his Glock!  They intend to stand their ground, and there is no Martin Luther King around to cool them down…a white racist shot him years ago.  So it’s on: Anything can happen!  If you are planning to vacation in Florida don’t do it….unless you are some sort of freak who gets off hanging out in free fire zones.

Black Militia Men on Zimmerman’s Case  


They want Piggy Zimmerman ”Dead or alive!!


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

March 30 2012