Who hasn’t heard of the case of Trayvon Martin? Virtually everyone knows his name now. More importantly, we know the name of the man who took his life, George Zimmerman. So often the killers of black youth go unnamed and unapprehended. Just a few years ago in 2007, there was a “stop snitching” campaign brought to light by various media outlets. For instance, in a 60 Minutes report entitled Stop Snitchin’ by Daniel Shorn, TV anchor Anderson Cooper reported that “stop snitching” translated into a street code of “don’t cooperate with the police – no matter who you are.” This, the report claimed, was the key reason that “witnesses are not coming forward [and] murders are going unsolved.”
As of the date of this writing it has been forty days since the death of Trayvon Martin. Witnesses have “been snitchin” all over the place, arming investigative officials with compelling testimonies and demanding the production of the audio recordings of Zimmerman’s call to emergency services the night of Trayvon’s death. There has also been massive support, both nationally and internationally, for the apprehension and formal charging of George Zimmerman, especially since videotaped footage has surfaced showcasing a major discrepancy in George Zimmerman’s story of defense. On Feb 26, 2012, Zimmerman claims to have been upholding the Florida “Stand Your Ground” legislation when killing Martin. This law calls for a defendant to meet force with force, even killing the attacker to preserve the defendants own life. Trayvon Martin, a teen of 17 years old and weighing only 160lbs, was holding a bag of skittle and a can of ice tea. Zimmerman carried a loaded hand gun and weighed in at 80lbs more than Martin’s body weight.
Since Feb 26, the story of Trayvon’s death has become clearer with each passing day. Zimmerman, who claimed to be in fear of his life because of a “suspicious character” prowling around his gated community, was told by the Sanford, Fla. police dispatch to not follow Martin. Through audio recordings we hear Zimmerman affirming that he wouldn’t follow Martin, however, the body of Martin is proof that Zimmerman’s promise to not pursue wasn’t kept. Though Zimmerman was the pursuer, a partial report put out by the Sanford Police Department lists Martin’s cause of death as “Homicide – Negligible Manslaughter – Unnecessary Killing to prevent [an] Unlawful Act.” Thus the cover up for the homicide of yet another Black youth began, not by the street code of no snitching but by the historical codes of law enforcement and public investigation officials of not caring about the lives of Black bodies.
All of this begs us to ask the question, is the unsolved murder rate within Black communities a simple matter of community members not cooperating with law enforcement officials, or is it really a case of what race the bodies are within the written and unwritten policies of American society? In the case of Trayvon Martin, we know his name and the name of his killer, yet justice has not been served. In fact it doesn’t seem as if justice is on the main menu, even in the face of mass media coverage and snitching witnesses.