The Trayvon Martin Case Evolves

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Supporters of Trayvon Martin rally in Union Square during a 'Million Hoodie March.' (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Kai Wright, editorial director of Colorlines and a contributor to The Nation, discusses how the Trayvon Martin case has evolved in the media and in the public's consciousness--and lays out the known facts of the case.

Comments [109]

david from staten island

Yvonne from Park Slope

what about the case in Kansas City, where 2 black youths doused a white kid with gasoline, set him on fire, all while telling him you deserve cause your white......or the case of Tony Moore of Alabama, who was attacked by a group of black youths at an Applebees rest friday night, they were calling him racial slurs and tazed him....these cases and others like them will recieve about 1/1,000 of 1% of the news coverage that the trayvon case has recieved....why is that?

Apr. 06 2012 12:22 PM
Yvonne from Park Slope

Yvonne Part 2

On Feb. 7, 2012, Orange County Deputy Darren Sandberg shot multiple times and killed unarmed decorated Marine Sgt. Manny Loggins as he sat in the San Clemente High School athletic field in his vehicle with his 2 daughters ages 9 and 14 who were, then, though traumatized from what had just happened in front of them, detained for 13 hours of interrogation and unable to have any contact with their mother. The WHY keeps changing. The family, as I understand it is filing a wrongful death. The wife, who was pregnant at the time has since given birth.


No, I am not going to list every similar case ... not even every recent similar case ... this page is not big enough!!!!

Apr. 06 2012 11:08 AM
Kate from Astoria

Doesn't imperfect self-defense mitigate murder to manslaughter?

Apr. 06 2012 10:50 AM
Yvonne from Park Slope

Is it true that an "enhanced" version of the taped calls reveals Zimmerman saying quietly (to himself?) " coon" and "they always get away"??? I wonder if we now know whether he actually said this.

If this is indeed what he said, then all talk of whether Martin was at fault for not being cooperative, etc. misses the point: If Zimmerman came at Martin with this attitude, perhaps even repeating the same slur and, in any case, apparently so determined to no let this "coon" get away the he dismissed instructions to do no more, one could easily imagine that Martin thought himself endangered and acted as anyone would under the circumstances.


No, we are not talking about it too much as this case stands in for too many like it that do not get the same media attention. There are two things here; one is this individual case and the other is the larger situation of which it is a part. If the only way to address the second is by a focus on the first, so be it.

Apr. 06 2012 02:14 AM
david from staten island


i disagree---previous break-ins by black males is a legit reason to suspect another black male who does not live in the complex-----tray did not live there, zim didnt recognize him----lest we forget zim was the neighborhood watch ---if i saw a black male in the area, and i knew black males were committing breakins, i too would suspect tray was up to no good, anyone in that situation would......

Apr. 05 2012 11:40 PM
Jean-Pierre from Hewlett, NY

Listening to the show today, I could not help but be offended that this other listener, this so call black woman, former prosecutor, seemed to be suggesting that T. M. had it coming to him because he did not dress properly. As much as I deplore the way that some young people dress these days, it is just crazy when anyone suggest that they are looking for it when they get profile for it and worst die because of it.

Apr. 05 2012 11:13 PM

I'm not surprised that the guest on the segment continued to spread the falsehood that Zimmerman was not arrested, but I am surprised Mr. Lehrer didn't correct him. The infamous video that shows Zimmerman without injury at a police station also showed another very important thing. It showed Zimmerman being led from the back of a police cruiser in handcuffs. That is considered an arrest.

Apr. 05 2012 05:42 PM
Joe from Bayside

I don't believe the fact that the 911 tape matters all that much, other than the fact that it is bad reporting. Zimmerman did not volunteer the info about Martin's race as the edited tape implies. He was asked about the race of the person he was following. He responded "He was black." Fine. But, why was he following this boy at all? What made him suspicious in Zimmerman's eyes? Martin's race had to have been a factor.
There have many such cases in our history where a young black man is killed or seriously wounded,not because of a misdeed, but because of a series of bad circumstances that caused a shooter to become fearful and then deadly. In NYC we've recently have had the famous cases of Bernie Goetz, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and others. There is sometimes wiggle room for the shooters, rightly or wrongly, BUT THE FEARS OF SOMEONE OF A DIFFERENT RACE AS A FACTOR CANNOT BE DENIED!

Apr. 05 2012 04:23 PM
art525 from Park Slope

JIm - I'll say it once again. There is a teenage black boy that went to his grave because some idiot decided he was the sheriff. He is out free. He needs to be held accountable. That is the point here. Talking about the frequency of black on black crime is a distraction that has no place here. This is a story about the need for justice. If he was a white kid who was stalked by a black man, murdered and the murderer were aloowed to walk that would be just as offensive. IT is an issue of race because we all know that if those had been the circumstances the shooter would not have been allowed to walk. But talkng about issues of black on black crime or black fashion are irelevant. Until Zimmerman is held accountable.

Apr. 05 2012 03:35 PM
art525 from Park SLope

J.W. Your nonsense continues. What people are demanding is that Zimmerman be called into account for his actions. A young kid is dead at his hands. We need to determine what happened and if it did indeed happen as it would appear to any reasonable person he be held accountable. Again he pursued the kid. An unarmed kid who was doing nothing wrong. And where did you get that the "police report is an outright lie"? The lead investigator wanted to arrest him but the state attorney's office that there was not enough evidence. Of course there was one way to gather evidence. Take Zimmerman into custody and take possession of his weapon. You say-

"The narrative that Zimmerman at least *claims* to have acted in self defense, in turn leading to discussion about how creditable that claim is or isn't (as we are discussing now).
And since every media outlet everywhere badly wants Zimmerman to be lying here, to better frame him as the scapegoat, a degree of skepticism is in order..."


Apr. 05 2012 03:29 PM


If Zimmerman's police report is an outright lie and Zimmerman is a murderer, then he should rot in jail, no question.

However, it certainly should be part of the narrative that Zimmerman at least *claims* to have acted in self defense, in turn leading to discussion about how creditable that claim is or isn't (as we are discussing now). No one even mentioned this on the air.

And since every media outlet everywhere badly wants Zimmerman to be lying here, to better frame him as the scapegoat, a degree of skepticism is in order...

Apr. 05 2012 02:31 PM
art525 from Park Slope

No david from staten island he was not. A0 he had no reson to suspect him. As we see he did nothing wrong and B) Zimmerman wasn't authorized to do anything. Who made him judge and jury? A judge and jury that handed out an execution. Your suggestion is repugnant.

Apr. 05 2012 02:00 PM
Protective custody for Mr. Zimmerman ? from "Stand your ground" may result in shootouts.

Perhaps the police should consider providing protective
custody for Mr. Zimmerman - to reduce the risk of needless
violence or bloodshed.

Many people in Florida are legally armed with guns.
If one or more of them encounter Mr. Zimmerman on the
street - particularly if one or more of them are wearing
a hoodie at the time - they might have reason to believe
that they are at personal risk of being attacked and
killed by Mr. Zimmerman.

If they believe that their lives are at risk, then under
Florida's "STAND YOUR GROUND" Laws, they might shoot first
in what they believe to be SELF DEFENSE. They would
then claim the same immunities as Mr. Zimmerman is claiming
under Florida's "STAND YOUR GROUND" Laws.

Hopefully, this is an overly worried worse-case scenario -
but perhaps Florida's police should consider taking
Mr. Zimmerman into protective custody to protect him
from such a scenario and to prevent the risk of
a "Wild-West" style shoot-out on Florida's streets that
could result in needless bloodshed and harm to innocents.

Apr. 05 2012 01:58 PM
david from staten island

art from park slope

you fail to realize there were previous break-ins by black males in the complex---zim was perfectly within his right to assume tray was up to no good....

Apr. 05 2012 01:16 PM
art525 from Park Slope

J.W. - What complete and utter nonsense. That isn't strong enough a word but I don't want to get censored. Trayvon Martin was walking down a street with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman followed him, I would say stalked him. For no reason. Trayvon had dnoe nothing. He then forced a confrontation. Trayvon may or may not have hit him. So far Zimmerman's insistance that he had yelled for help has it seems been proven untrue so I don't think he has a lot of credibility. Even if there was a confrontation Zimmerman prompted it. And A kid walking down the street being pursued by someone can not be blamed for resisting. Zimmerman initiated everything. It is despicable that you indulge in character assassination agains t a young unarmed boy wow was stalked and ended up shot to death. Oh and keep in mind that Zimmerman has a record of domestic abuse and assault against a police officer.

"WHY was this critical part of the story not even mentioned once in this segment? Treyvon does not exactly sound like a "young man simply minding his own business" or an "unarmed child" to me in that context. He sounds like someone actively trying to kill you"

Apr. 05 2012 01:09 PM
david from staten island

according to justice dept interracial violent crimes stats, blacks do commit a disproportionate amount of crimes against whites----and most rarely make national news....

Apr. 05 2012 12:49 PM
fnijrfinqjknj from NY

@gary from queens


You're a hypocrite. You changed your policy just to exclude my posts!

Previously, you accepted excerpts from articles as long as they were referenced, for proper attribution, with a url link.

You changed your policy just to censor ME!!!!!"

Wah, wah, wah, go whine to Limbaugh--he'll care!
Please censor "Gary from Queens", along with "John from the Office" and that damn Chuzzlenuts, I'm tired of reading their ranting posts!

Apr. 05 2012 12:31 PM

The thing I want everyone to realize is this: the media simply *cannot* resist the ability to frame a story so that it has a victim and a scapegoat, whenever possible. The better media outlets won't outright lie..but they will massage the story, emphasizing this point and skipping over that one, for maximum dramatic effect. When listening to the news, please remember - just like a movie has an editor trying to emotionally manipulate you, so too does a news room.

Now onto this specific case.

"George Zimmerman told police in a written statement that Martin knocked him down with a punch to the nose, repeatedly slammed his head on the ground and tried to take his gun" source:

WHY was this critical part of the story not even mentioned once in this segment? Treyvon does not exactly sound like a "young man simply minding his own business" or an "unarmed child" to me in that context. He sounds like someone actively trying to kill you. And Brian chose to leave this one little point out. Surely he was aware of it, so he did so consciously and purposefully - way to go Brian, way to go.

If (and its a big "If" ) it really happened that way, and I was Zimmerman, I probably would have reacted EXACTLY the same way, and so would any sane person, regardless of race. Yes, Zimmerman shouldn't have pursued Treyvon, but to the best of my knowledge, there is no law preventing him from choosing to take that course, and that was his choice to make in a free society.

And as part of a larger picture, there is racism and race issues in America - These sentiments are just being played upon here to get a reaction out of the public, they are not being addressed in any serious way.

Think it over, everyone.

Apr. 05 2012 12:26 PM
gary from queens

The Truth from Becky
Gary, I know you're not an idiot. We all heard the actual 911 call.

To date, three networks----NBC, ABC, CNN-----have now admitted to altering their videos and tapes on the incident. all to the detriment of Zimmerman.

So perhaps you're not up to date in your info

Apr. 05 2012 12:10 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

It has come out that the 911 tape of the Trayvon Martin shooting was altered by NBC.

It is sick that the usual suspects, Al (Tawana Brawley Hoax) Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the vile Spike (Tweet the address of the WRONG Zimmerman household) Lee are EXPLOITING this sad case.

Meanwhile people of color are killing each other and the same usual suspects don't see an opportunity to exploit in those Black on Black violence/murder sad cases.

Apr. 05 2012 11:51 AM

Let's talk about the "hoodie".

This is a garment originally made to keep athletes warm during workouts. It also turns out that it conceals a person's face when it's pulled up. It's been used by criminals of all colors - it was what the UniBomber was wearing in his trademark police sketch. Hip Hop culture and media has definitely popularized this garment and fetishized it as an essential component of a street criminal's wardrobe. It is definitely beyond just a "fashion statement" and should be taken into account when choosing something to wear. Is this really the image you're looking to project?? The hoodie is not unlike the pants worn closer to the knee than the waist - this is a look that takes its queue from prison culture. No belts in prison. Is this really a look you want to embrace? Transgressive influences fashion all the time and has a long storied history probably starting well before the motorcycle jacket and bluejeans. It doesn't broadcast a person's true intentions or their true personality but, it can not be separated from it's origins nor from the collective imagination that media has injected into the culture.

My fourth grade boy wears a hoodie, he pulls it up when he's cold not when he's about to jack a car. Will I feel as comfortable with him wearing a hoodie when he's in high school - probably not. I'd be concerned about this cultural perception and the chance that he could be shot because of it.

Does this mean it's okay to shoot someone wearing a hoodie? Absolutely not! But, does the hoodie contribute to a preexisting cultural perception - yup, probably does. Especially for someone who might have the limited capacity to discern more subtle distinctions. It's these same folks that should NOT be carrying a lethal weapon.

Apr. 05 2012 11:50 AM
Joe from Bayside

Ed Pendleton - notice that i put "black on black" in quotes - both in this message and the previous one.

Apr. 05 2012 11:30 AM
The Truth from Becky

Gary, I know you're not an idiot. We all heard the actual 911 call.

Apr. 05 2012 11:20 AM
Joe from Bayside

Yes, I understand the issues of the gun lobby and this stupid Florida law. I was just addressing what I thought Lehrer had presented as the point of the discussion; i.e., perceptions by the media and how we perceive what is presented to us by the media.

Apr. 05 2012 11:15 AM

What has come out from much of the media attention is that any black man -- regardless of age or appearance -- is a suspect and subject to stop and search at any time for no particular reason. Existing while black seems to be a license to profile.

Apr. 05 2012 11:05 AM


Yes, I agree that it seems very likely that Trayvon was innocent and that he was stalked and killed by a seriously misguided person. My point is that, if we want to learn from this case as a teachable moment, we need to be able to separate the issues as we discuss them. A black woman calls in to argue some subtle points about her experience as a woman, her experience as a black person, and her views regarding the appropriateness of hoodies, the appropriateness of making this a race issue, a law enforcement issue, etc. That was a huge opportunity for meaningful discourse between races. Sadly, it was largely wasted as the guest chose to dwell on the obvious talking points.

Apr. 05 2012 11:04 AM
Ed Pendleton, Esq. from New York, New York

You have fallen for the Hype of the white conservative media and its pundits on Fox and other networks.
There is no such thing as Black on Black crime. This is itself a RACIST notion and a RACIST Term. Crime is crime, the color of the victim or perp has nothing to do with the action.
When Madoff stole all that money from fellow Jews nobody said that this was Jewish on Jewish crime. When white husbands kill and bury their wives in the woods nobody talks about this being white on white crime. When
white women go missing and a serial killer is involved there is no mention
of white on white crime. Stop being RACIST.
It is only after Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton appear on the scene to ensure that a Black family receives justice after a loved one is killed by a member of the system that you began to hear this ridiculous term.
Please remember that Black people preying upon Black people is a very recent phenomenon that is directly tied to living in urban settings. This
is an action related to poverty and living in the ghetto. It is not race based. As more white people move into Harlem and other urban cities they
too will be subject to crime by Black perps.
White people preying upon innocent Blacks people in this country for years and getting off scott free. This phenomenon is at least 400 years old.
From Slavery, Dred Scott,Jim Crow and now the anti-affirmative action
movement is Racism at its best. White people have always moved, cheated and worked the system to their advantage to screw Black people. Zimmerman and the Stanford Police Department are doing the same but they got caught this time.It is even obvious to most white people as to what occurred here. White people have to stop violently hurting Black people, we are already subjected to such much economic violence in this country and in the world.

Apr. 05 2012 10:58 AM
Joe from Bayside

Sorry, - failed to mention that Jackson State was an all black southern college and the students that were killed were black.

Apr. 05 2012 10:58 AM

I have no doubt that this horrific crime has a race component that should be thoroughly explored. However, what disturbs me even more is how the gun psychosis of Zimmerman is not being discussed.

This is as much a gun issue as it is a race issue.

Why did this idiot have a gun in the first place??? Would he have been so emboldened to pursue Martin if he hadn't had a gun??

Zimmerman was asked by the police to not go after Martin!!!

I might point out that someone who is eager to carry a weapon is even MORE eager to actually USE IT. Why carry a gun if not to shoot it??

Clearly, Zimmerman was itching to shoot his shiny new gun, did Martin's race help him to choose that moment to discharge his "toy"... probably.

Guns, I would assume, are involved in an extremely high percentage of the murders of black Americans regardless of the color of the person pulling the trigger.

Apr. 05 2012 10:57 AM
mece from New York

You are all missing the THE #1 issue: An adult male shot and killed a child because the LAW allowed him to do so by empowering him to a) use lethal force against non-lethal force; and b) carry a concealed handgun while acting as a "neighborhood watch" capacity. There is nothing "pseudo-law enforcement" about neighborhood watch capacity or zimmermans actions. This is a just a stupid man with a gun that is a police wanna-be, but the law allowed him to act in this way and kill someone. Yes, race, hoodies, black male media portrayal, etc. etc. are all sidebands in the conversation that add noise to the #1 issue: THE LAW. Young black males would be better served and protected on the street if THE LAW was changed to only use deadly force in your home like most rational laws in other states, AND enacting neighbor hood watch laws to absolutely restrict civilians from engaging anyone that they think are "suspicious".

Everyone should focus on THE LAW and the evaluation of this case where self defense is applied WITH evidence of pursuit (zimmerman is the agressor in this case) as Murder in the Second Degree. A real prosecutor could easily make the case that since zimmerman was a police wanna-be, pursued Martin, and then forced a confrontation that this is premeditated Murder in the First Degree.

Boycott Florida, especially Disney (since a child was killed) until FLorida changes THE LAW.

Apr. 05 2012 10:56 AM
Joe from Bayside

I believe there is still a difference between how we perceive black youths as opposed to white youths, and this lies at the center of this case. During the 1990's, when I was a NYC resident,and school teacher with 2 boys in our school system, there were several " black on black" shootings in some our high schools. It was treated as a crime and security issue. Later there was a spate of high school shootings in middle class white high schools across the country, culminating in the Columbine shootings. Suddenly, there was a national outcry, a national sorrow and much analysis as to why this happened. Why was there now a national concern? Wasn't what happened in NYC as much of a tragedy? Think back to 1970 when 4 young people when killed at Kent State. How many of you know that there were students killed at Jackson State Univ. that same week for doing the same thing? Never captured the national attention that Kent state did.
If minority gang members in Fla. start killing each other because they fear they are in danger from rival gangs (which they commonly claim ) what will prosecuting offices do then?
We are not in a post racial society and I don't think we talk about this problem enough.

Apr. 05 2012 10:54 AM
gary from queens

Young Mr. Martin may not have acted smartly. "Smartly". I didn't say "legally". no one is legally obligated to talk to a private security officer, or even a homeowner who wants to know why you're spying on his property. But it is smart to be cooperative.

15 years ago, I was working on my car at night. So I parked under the bright lights of the rear parking lot of a local business. The parking lot wasn't closed, and i wasnt illegally parked. But the civic association patrol car stopped near me and the security guy asked me what i was doing. I explained to him i was checking stuff under my hood where there was a good light. I showed him my drivers license to show that I resided a couple of blocks away. He didn't ask for it. i volunteered it. Why? Because I understood he had a job to ensure community safety, and I supported that aim.

I didn't give him attitude, or quote my constitutional rights. He was acting reasonably and so I decided to reciprocate.

I suspect that Martin didn't act that way; that community security was not any of his concern; and that's part of the reason he's dead. PART of the reason. We'll know more in time.

Apr. 05 2012 10:50 AM
gary from QUEENS

The Truth from Becky
Gary, Really...suggested or not, he continued to pursue!!


Apr. 05 2012 10:47 AM
June from Manhattan from Manhattan

I offer two scenarios, one possibly factual, the other hypothetical.
1. Zimmerman says he was attacked by Martin. Martin was a young black guy being stalked by an older white guy. Perhaps Martin was standing HIS ground by attacking Zimmerman.
2. Imagine Martin being a few years older and being able to have, and having, a licensed gun, and being a member of the Neighborhood Watch but off-duty. He's walking down the street minding his own business and finds himself being stalked by an older white guy. And he stands HIS ground, there's a struggle and Martin kills Zimmerman. Would HE get away with it?

Apr. 05 2012 10:44 AM
art525 from Park Slope

Jim- the reason he keeps saying Trayvon was innocent is because he was innnocent. That is what is so offensive and so unacceptable about this tragedy. And that's why it is so offensive that Zimmerman wasn't charged. He should not have been able to walk away from killing a boy and with his gun in his hand no less. There should be a trial where all these disputed facts would be examined and a judicial judgement made. But Jim Trayvon was innocent. There was no robbery no assault nothing has been presented that would cause a person (not a law enforcement agent) to stalk him and shoot an unarmed teenager.

Apr. 05 2012 10:42 AM
The Truth from Becky

Gary, Really...suggested or not, he continued to pursue!!

Apr. 05 2012 10:41 AM
ab from plainfield, nj

hispanic vs. black

is the big issue in our city too

Apr. 05 2012 10:41 AM
gary from queens

What If Your Son Doesn't Look Like President Obama?
By Aaron Goldstein on 3.27.12 @ 6:08AM

Indeed, if President Obama did have a son he would not look like Aaron Thomas Nemelka, the 19-year old Private First Class who was gunned down along with twelve other soldiers by Major Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009. So do Pfc. Nemelka's parents have any less right to expect that all of us take what happened at Fort Hood with the seriousness it deserves and get to bottom of it? I ask because the bottom fell out when the Obama Administration made no mention of Hasan or what motivated him to gun down his fellow soldiers in its report on the Fort Hood shootings in January 2010. Apparently, the Fort Hood shootings were nothing more than an act of "workplace violence." In which case, I guess that makes the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the biggest acts of workplace violence in American history. But it would miss the point entirely.

In retrospect, no one should have been surprised at the Obama Administration's foregone conclusions. Even as it became known that Hasan had shouted Allahu Akbar and had business cards in his possession bearing the inscription "Soldier of Allah," the day after the shooting President Obama said, "I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts." President Obama then proceeded to the real business at hand that day, which was to give an address boasting about a bill he had just signed extending unemployment benefits. There was no time for President Obama call upon the nation to do some "soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen." The loss of our soldiers at Fort Hood simply didn't evoke the level of emotion in President Obama that the loss of Trayvon Martin did.

It isn't to say that one cannot lament the death of a 17-year-old boy with his whole life ahead of him. It also isn't to say there aren't questions that must be asked in this case and these questions are currently being asked by both federal and state authorities. But in the event George Zimmerman is charged in connection with Martin's death, it's going to be awfully hard to find a jury pool that hasn't heard Obama say that Martin reminds him of the son he never had and the powerful imagery that conveyed. President Obama has once again fanned the flames of racial tension without knowing for a fact that race is an issue in the first place.

Apr. 05 2012 10:41 AM

I am encouraged that this vigilante killing of a young black man has been covered, albeit in some cases with less than stellar reporting. (Note: Actual Neighborhood Watchers are told to not confront, to never carry firearms; they are supposed to get the police involved and back off. FL encourages people to shoot "preventively," which is bad policy with wars and, obviously, by citizen vigilantes.)

Trayvon was killed because Zimmerman felt he was dangerous because he was black.

Talk about not having access to a fair trial!

I'm white, I have tons of hoodies but I seldom put the hood up unless it's raining or there's wet snow (like that's happened much since late October around here...). But I do sometimes use the hood. I wear them for warmth.

But, as I was reading about the recent Supreme Court decision that any person, detained for any reason, if he or she will "enter general population," MAY be STRIP SEARCHED, I realized for the first time that the person subjected to these then illegal strip searches was BLACK. And not the Conservative Supreme Five are willing to use this to apply search stripping to everybody. At least those not in the Power Elite, or those in the One Percent, eh?

So a case involving the detention of a black man, of solid middle class standing, but...still BLACK. He was arrested for an outstanding warrant for non-payment of fines --which had actually been paid years ago-- and he was arrested and detained --which in NJ is not standard procedure, not sure it's even legal, but, hey, he was a BLACK man-- and then he was kept in jail for a WEEK.

Would this have been done to Anthony Kennedy? Would this have been done in this circumstance --stopped bcz a tail light was out, iirc-- to me, a white person of a certain age?

This was police from a southern NJ county using unequal application of arrest powers.

The Trayvon death was unequal application of civilian violence, but under the belief that the killer could do so with impunity if he could prove there was something which caused him to fear "for his safety." It was followed by a seemingly somewhat blind acceptance of the statement of the only living person from whatever happened that resulted in the other person being shot to death.

Not exactly equal, but this cavalier attitude toward the life of "others" must be brought to an end in this nation.

Apr. 05 2012 10:41 AM
Ella Matthews from Brooklyn, NY

Why is it that some people accept the idea that George Zimmerman felt threatened by a young man in a hoodie and therefore found it necessary to follow Traynor Martin and noone talks about what threat a young man might feel when he sees that he is being followed some strange man at night. I am 75 years old and the young men I grew up with in Brooklyn would have been proud to tell all his friends about beating up some man who was following him. Of course, all the young men I grew up with were white.

Apr. 05 2012 10:40 AM
Tony from Downtown Brooklyn

The outrage about this case isn't because a white man killed a black man and therefore it is more newsworthy than a black man killing a black man. The outrage is because the white man killed a black man and WASN'T CHARGED.
This is the list of black men who murdered black men and then were sent home by the police with their weapon the same night:

This is the list of black neighborhood watch captains who killed unarmed white children in Florida and weren't even arrested:

This is the list of unarmed white men who were shot 40 times by police, or sodomized in a NYC police precinct by multiple police officers, or gunned down the night before their wedding while unarmed:

This is why it is necessary to have this uncomfortable conversation about race. A single instance is a mistake or an accident. When we look at those single instances in aggregate we see in this country is a trend that disproportionately effects the black community. To say we should ignore this for the sake of making people comfortable values the comfort for the living more than justice for the dead.

Apr. 05 2012 10:37 AM

Sadly, our media is not truly public–it is not controlled by and created for all classes and races of people. That is why there is not that much coverage on black on black crime. If our media were truly public, we would hear more of these stories.

Apr. 05 2012 10:35 AM
gary from queens

DEAR Sheldon from Brooklyn

Thanks for not calling me a racist.

You're talking about "hate crimes" penalties----when a prosecutor can add charges to a felony to penalize speech.

That's what I feel, because it happens that a prosecutor can use evidence of antipathy against an ethnic group, from any PRIOR statements from the past.

Thus, if I get into an altercation with a black person next month, a prosecutor can use my political views from this blog against me-----alleging I had racial motives.

Furthermore, Al Sharpton resides in a safe white neighborhood in NJ. I live in the hood. I'm personally affected by racial tensions. I experience more confrontations with blacks who dont know me when tensions are heightened. Sharpton learned absolutely nothing from his irresponsible race baiting of Freddie's dept store in Harlem.

Incitement kills. Just ask Israelis.

Having said that, no one has any f----n business "patroling" their neightborhood without a clear unambiguous understanding of the state and local rules governing engagement with the public. and no one who is mouthing off in the media on this affair knows what those rules are, let alone whether Zimmerman had broken them.

How much discretion, if any, did Zimmerman actually have in that situation? Did state authorities weigh in on that? I would be interested. What I'm not interested in is listening to is Al Sharpton and the race hustlers inducing incitement.

Apr. 05 2012 10:35 AM
Edward from NJ

The fact that Brian is talking about the "black-on-black crime" meme shows how successfully conservative pundits are working the refs. It's a distraction and totally unrelated.

Apr. 05 2012 10:34 AM
Claire from Brooklyn

I think the mainstream media is trying to keep up with the real outrage that bubbled up on social media. This could have been ignored like many other similar cases, but it seems a critical mass of people have had enough of this deadly and unaccountable racism. There is not too much coverage -- the media is covering it because we reached the point that it can't be ignored any more, or at least in this very flagrant case.

Apr. 05 2012 10:34 AM
Brian from Hoboken

The race discussion is a joke because all of the commenters who make their money showing up in talk shows and writing in their blogs drew huge extrapolations from a "white guy " killing a black kid. What happens to their grand conclusions as hypotheses when we now are calling Zimmerman a "white Hispanic"? I will tell you : those same pundits start writing on their blogs about the Hispanic- black relationship in America. But it's the same darn guy! See what happens wen we discuss "race" so much?! Pretty soon everyone will be mixed and people like this guest will e out of a job. Thank god.

Where is the talk about te stand your ground law that allowed this guy to be walking free? That is the tragedy here. The fact that under Florida law, as horrible as this incident is, it appears that there is no way that Zimmerman can be charged, nevermjnd convicted, when he has the stand yur ground law to back him up.

Apr. 05 2012 10:33 AM
Richa from New York, NY

Lets just reverse the racial make up of the two people involved here:
A 17 year old white boy wearing a hoodie is walking back from the local convenience store in the middle of the night. (The boy is on his high school's football team). A black man that is a self-proclaimed neighborhood watch volunteer (with a prior record of assaulting a police officer) follows the unarmed white boy and shoots him...RESULT? Need I say more!

Apr. 05 2012 10:33 AM
Emir from Queens

The problem is not Zimmerman but the laws that allows a murder to go unpunished. The fact that he was allowed to, as neighborhood captain or however it's called, to act as an law enforcer and shoot is beyond my imagination.
This country has to step up the gun control and we would have much less "racial issues" and murders, regardless whether black, white, Hispanic or in schools...

Apr. 05 2012 10:33 AM
Mom of Two Sons from Lower East Side

I'm here to defend the hoodie. My son has worn a hoodie at various times in his young manhood. Perpetuating the idea that hoodies implicate the wearer as a criminal is as horrifyingly disingenuous as implicating a mini-skirt-clad woman for actions befallen her.

Keeping this story in the media if only to continue the national conversation to break down stereotypes over mode of dress is worthy in and of itself.

Apr. 05 2012 10:32 AM
CL from NYC

I commend the BL show for inviting Kai Wright to discuss the Trayvon Martin shooting. So much reactionary nonsense has crowded the media since the tragedy. I'm not sure that all of the facts about what happened are known. What I do know is that an unarmed black man was shot and killed by someone who was perhaps authorized by a law in Florida to do so. The inane comments about the hooded sweatshirt he was wearing, including those by Geraldo Rivera, have obscured the real issues.

Apr. 05 2012 10:32 AM

Black on black crime is just a s horriffic to the black community as white on black crime, or even black on white crime as we all know that repercussions will be felt by othe rblacks for these actions. Yes, unfortunately that is still the world that we live in 2012.

However, black on black crime is largely ignored by the press except to show the brutality of the killer and never to address how these deaths affect the community.

Apr. 05 2012 10:31 AM

This is not a black "person" or a white "person" problem...the persons are MEN, this is a male problem.
Men's behavior towards other men is the issue.
Women do not, in general, kill each other with guns on a daily basis.

Apr. 05 2012 10:31 AM
Marc Anders from Lower East Side

Brian your comment about Black on Black crime sounds insane! Blacks who commit these crimes are usually arrested and processed through the justice system. It may not be publicized, but can't you see that is because there is nothing unusual to report? The martin case is "news" because the facts are that the cops found a corpse that had been shot, a man with a gun who admits that he is the shooter, but no one is arrested and there is no investigation by order of the DA! This is not about the f**ing media! Get real, will ya?

Apr. 05 2012 10:29 AM

Jawbone -

Sure - all of WNYC's content is archived. See that calendar on Brian's homepage? Listen to any Trayvon segment. Including this one. The mere fact that they've made this overwhelmingly a racial issue is dangerously irresponsible.

Apr. 05 2012 10:29 AM
White Matthew from Rockland

When is someone with a voice that will be heard by many people speak about how 30 to 40 % of this country is completely racist. Those of us with eyes can see that Racism is at a huge level, and that Obama's presidency has only made it more obvious. Everyone asks "is this racially motivated?" YES OF COURSE IT IS< ARENT YOU PAYING ATTENTION? RACISTS ARE IN POSISTIONS OF POWER AND KEEPING THE STATUS QUO.

Apr. 05 2012 10:28 AM
Edward from NJ

If a young black man shoots another young black man, and the police know who the shooter was, that guy gets arrested. That's the difference. It's really pretty simple.

Apr. 05 2012 10:28 AM
M from brooklyn from Brooklyn, NY

The difference is Black on Black crime is CRIME. People get arrested and put away. This guy walks.

Apr. 05 2012 10:27 AM
Nora Rocket from Queens

To Donna, the caller pleading with people to pay attention to "black on black" violence because more black men are killed by *other black men* needs to read Ta-Nehisi (on Juan Williams) on this. He tidily addresses such mistaken outcry at the perceived lack of outcry:

Apr. 05 2012 10:27 AM
JEZ from 10039

What's being lost in the whole black-on-black, white-on-black, black-on-white comparison is the rate of conviction (or even arrest in this case) for the perpetrators.
Millions of black males are going to jail every year for killing other black males.
How many white police officers are convicted for killing black victims?
Its bad enough a police officer can get away with it, but now community watch volunteers too?!?!

Apr. 05 2012 10:26 AM


It's not that "black-on-black" crime isn't reported and "white-on-black" crime is . . . it's the fact that George Zimmerman is not been perceived to have been properly engaged by the criminal justice system. If every event of that night had transpired exactly as it did, but culminated with Zimmerman being arrested, this would not be news.

Apr. 05 2012 10:26 AM
kegan from brooklyn

Zimmerman sounds like a stalker.

why is that not being emphasized?

Apr. 05 2012 10:26 AM
A guy

The response to black on black violence has become routinized...put out some balloons and teddy bears, hold a prayer vigil, march around the block, shout "Stop the Violence!"...and then do it again a few days later after the next killing...lather, rinse repeat.

Apr. 05 2012 10:25 AM
Susan from Upper West Side

Wow -- I am really astounded by the hatred in these postings. My son wears a hoodie. He is white and so I am not as afraid as I am when he and his best friend are together and both are wearing hoodies. His friend is a very sweet kid.

It doesn't matter to me whether the perpetrators are white or black or whatever ethnicity one considers Zimmerman to be -- the fact that my son is at far less risk of being killed for no reason than his friend.

This is a tragedy and my heart goes out to Travon's mother and the lack of respect for her tragedy among these postings is PAINFUL to me as a mother. I heard the radio recording of him BEGGING for his life. Really this is the more important issue that ANY teen can beg for their life and be shot in cold blood.

I recently had an incident on an airline flight where a drunk white woman (and I'm white and never really thought about the fact that my son's friend is black) accosted me coming off the airplane -- pinned me against the wall in the exit area screaming at me about the boys. The flight attendants tracked me down later and told me both boys behaved perfectly well (and flight attendants usually don't like teenagers). I was really afraid she would hit me (but I was wearing my Martial Arts hoodie at the time and figured I could defend myself). The HATRED expressed by the drunk woman for teenage boys was unbelievable. I can't remember whether the boys were wearing hoodies.

In addition to racial issues there is also a fear of teenage boys and a lot of hatred towards children and teenagers.

Apr. 05 2012 10:24 AM
john from office

Brian is Too white, liberal and sorry (Jewish) to do this segment. Too much guilt, too many prior cases of guilt to cover this without bring in all prior cases.

Apr. 05 2012 10:24 AM

This guy answers every challenge with "Trayvon was innocent". Not helpful discourse.

Apr. 05 2012 10:24 AM
Stephen from prospect heights

Interesting follow up article (headline suggests a better focus):

Apr. 05 2012 10:24 AM
The Truth from Becky

Oh yeah Brian, let's make sure everyone knows he was half white....and you are correct...the media does not make a bid deal of black on black or or white on black crime...the issue here is that zimmerman is NOT sitting in jail waiting to be cleared by a judge!!

Apr. 05 2012 10:24 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Sorry caller, Zimmerman was a wannabe-cop vigilante who was constantly in contact with the police. It WAS A PSEUDO-LAW ENFORCEMENT SHOOTING. At no point was T. Martin doing anything worth being followed, let alone confronted and astoundingly shot.

Apr. 05 2012 10:23 AM
jane doe from long island

Sounds as if Donna from Staten Island might have a family member in law enforcement.

Apr. 05 2012 10:23 AM
Judy from manhattan

I don't think there is too much coverage. It's the coverage that is instigating any semblance of justice in Fl.

It was chilly and rainy on the night Trayvon was shot. A hoodie was appropriate attire. But even if he was dressing tough, as some youths do, that's not a capital crime.

Apr. 05 2012 10:23 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

By the way, Brian, YOU are increasing the coverage and engaging in speculation by having this subject on the show.

Apr. 05 2012 10:23 AM
DianaF from The Bronx

Remember Ramarley Graham - shot and killed IN HIS OWN HOME in the Bronx by invading cops. He had no gun. 18 years old. Grandmother and 6 yo brother were witnesses. Vigils outside his home on 229th St Bronx bet White Plains Road and Barnes every Thursday evening, until . . .

Apr. 05 2012 10:23 AM

What about the 'trenchcoat mafia' references after Columbine? There is a gulf between what CAN BE and what IS. Men in blue can be a source for good or a tool of the oppressor. I wouldn't ban what they wear.

The fact that Trayvon's killing is still making headlines is that HIS PARENTS don't have a clear answer of what happened that night. Cf. the revenge mass murder in California...They have the culprit and his rationale for shooting. No longer headline worthy. (sick as that sounds)

Apr. 05 2012 10:22 AM
Felicia from Harlem

As others have noted, we have arguably "over-coverage" of Trayvon Martin because in the US we only talk about race/racism when there's a specific incident. This case goes into issues of gun ownership, private property rights and the increasing privatization of security (and vigilantism) in this country in addition to the way race operates in the criminal justice system--so it should be talked about a lot. (Although I worry that the coverage gives Zimmerman's defense room to argue he can't get a fair trial--if he ever gets a trial at all)

But I want to know if polls were issued asking whether there was overcoverage of Natalie Holloway's disappearance or the Casey Anthony murder trial. I don't remember NPR producing a show on that. Why are crimes committed against white people seen as unquestionably newsworthy while crimes like this are seen as over-discussed?

Apr. 05 2012 10:22 AM
john from queens

I say, let Zimmerman protect all white areas, if they love him so much.

let him have a chance to shoot a white boy..

Apr. 05 2012 10:21 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Gary - I agree with you to a point. It's always a bit annoying when certain characters, supposedly speaking for the Black Community, create this hysteria about the precious lives of black men, after a case like this or a dubious police shooting, when as you've said, black men die by the dozens every day - mostly by the hands of other black men in this country, without MOST people, BLACK or WHITE, giving a damn.

HOWEVER, where people like you either don't get it or simply don't care is - when someone like Trayvon Martin gets killed ALLEGEDLY, BECAUSE he's BLACK or the likes of a Yankel Rosenbaum or those poor souls in France get murdered simply BECAUSE they're Jewish, or Gay, or Asian - that's just NOT another crime. Gary - surely - you can see the difference.

Apr. 05 2012 10:20 AM
Bob from Westchester, NY

Caller Donna complains about ignoring facts, but has some of hers wrong - the shooting happened around 7pm, not late at night, and Mr. Martin and his father were frequent guests in the neighborhood, not strangers.

Apr. 05 2012 10:20 AM

Impatient @ 10:17am -- Could you provide some examples of how WNYC has not covered the Trayvon Martin case well? Thanx, as I don't get to hear all the coverage.

Apr. 05 2012 10:19 AM
A dude

[[gary from queens

You're a hypocrite. You changed your policy just to exclude my posts! Previously, you accepted excerpts from articles as long as they were referenced, for proper attribution, with a url link. You changed your policy just to censor ME!!!!!]]

Gary -

Life is unfair. Go start a blog. Or just move on.

Apr. 05 2012 10:18 AM
SteveH from b'klyn

on the survey be sure to check the box marked race!

People always see things from their own personal reference.

White people in the south in general thought "Jim Crow" laws were just ...
in fact lots of people in the north felt the same.

Please keep in mind the child was stalked by someone in an SUV......

Apr. 05 2012 10:18 AM
GARY from queens

Ninety-three percent of all black homicide casualties from 1980 to 2008 were killed by other blacks, and are thus of no interest whatsoever to today’s race advocates, because they fail to support the crucial story line that blacks remain under siege by a racist white power structure.

The Media and Black Homicide Victims
By Heather Mac Donald
March 29, 2012 7:00 A.M.

Here’s another difference between police killings of blacks, white-on-black killings, and black-on-black killings: Sheer numbers. There were nine civilian victims of police gunfire last year in New York City; there were several hundred black homicide victims in the city, almost all shot by other blacks or Hispanics, none of them given substantial press coverage. Nationwide, in 2005, there were 2,646 black victims of other blacks, compared to 349 black victims of whites or Hispanics. The relative rates of interracial killings are wildly skewed towards black on white killings: There were two and a half times as many white and Hispanic victims of civilian black killers in 2009 as there were black victims of civilian white and Hispanic killers, even though the black population is one-sixth that of whites and Hispanics combined. Yet to read columnists such as the Times’s Charles Blow or to listen to the professional racial extortionists, it is the police and whites who are the biggest threat to blacks, not other blacks.

Apr. 05 2012 10:17 AM

It's not so much the amount of coverage (of which there's been loads) it's the quality of coverage. Almost no news organization has covered it responsibly - including and especially WNYC.

Apr. 05 2012 10:17 AM
Truth & Beautry from Brooklyn

The problem is not so much the amount of coverage as the nature of the coverage: too much speculation and not enough facts.

Apr. 05 2012 10:17 AM

I think we are hearing more about a private citizen killing, a black teen than we ever do about a cop killing a black teen. When the Bay Area transit cop shot an unarmed cuffed teen a few years back on New Years Eve (seen on mulitple cameras)I don't remember a national outcry...because it happens all the time. We need to level the field and be outraged all the time.

Apr. 05 2012 10:17 AM
damisi from manhattan

The coverage of the Martin case is a result of the 24 hour news cycle. Anglo girls that go missing get equal if not more attention.

News on the Cable Networks is about titillation not News and people get emotion involved and stay tuned when they are made to be feel insecure.

Apr. 05 2012 10:17 AM
Julian from bronx

If Treyvon was white.

That S_____ would be in jail.

Apr. 05 2012 10:16 AM
Brenda from New York City

Okay, here goes my stupid question: if you are wearing a hood to hide your face who can tell what race you are?

Apr. 05 2012 10:16 AM

The problem with all the coverage of the Martin tragedy is that we are ignoring all the other similar and even worse cases of racial murder - some by the police. Brian, please do a show on a situation that took place in White Plains NY where the police taunted 68 year old Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. entered his house without provocation, tasered him and then shot him twice. While many might think the Martin case is being over-reported, the murder of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr by the White Plains Police Dept is under-reported.

Apr. 05 2012 10:16 AM
gary from queens

Joe from nearby:

the dispatcher SUGGESTED he not pursue. It was not an order.
and Zimmermann acknowledged the suggestion and ended his pursuit.

Apr. 05 2012 10:16 AM
A listener

The people of Florida will be best served if the shooting results in the repeal of the "Stand Your Ground" law. The law was pushed by a powerful gun lobbyist but was opposed by prosecutors and police.

I don't believe there has been too much talk about race, but there has been too much sing-song rhyming by Jesse Jackson and too much indignant harrumphing by Al Sharpton. When those two show up, people retreat to their established ideological camps.

Jesse, Al, sit down and shut up.

Apr. 05 2012 10:16 AM
bob from flushing

The individuals and their backstories aside, were it not for media coverage of this incident, many people--particularly those living in blue states--would not be aware of the phenomenon of "Stand Your Ground" laws and the "shoot-first-and-ask-questions later" mentality they legitimize.

Apr. 05 2012 10:16 AM
Nathan from Hoboken, NJ

There is too much of the wrong coverage:

We should be talking about how for anyone there are consequences of your actions from how any of us dress to how any of us act. AT ALL TIMES!!!

We should be talking about gun control.

We should be talking about how a zero tolerance policy that is pervasive here is making us all "trigger happy" and not willing to take a moment to discuss what is happing as humans.

For my part, I have tuned out, because until we are talking about the larger issues, we are not going to bring back a dead man or allow a potentially regretful Zimmerman to help us evolve our culture. There are things to be learned here.

Apr. 05 2012 10:15 AM
Janet from Bronx

It's more than a little early to talk about juries before there is an arrest, indictment and jury selection. That is a huge media story.

Apr. 05 2012 10:15 AM
Dean from nyc

too much coverage.

All my white Racist republican friends are offended by it...

Apr. 05 2012 10:14 AM
Sara from Bushwick

Can there be such a thing as too much coverage when a man who shoots an unarmed teenager is still free?

Apr. 05 2012 10:14 AM

Too much coverage? Really not enough facts to make a reasoned conclusion - so constant repetition of the story can be called too much. The facts - unarmed teenager shot dead and the person who admits shooting him neither arrested or indicted - seem to point at an injustice.

Hope the FL prosecutor steps up the information flow. It is clear that the Sanford PD blew this big time.

Until then the case becomes a proxy for revealing too many biases and firmly held beliefs. A case study on mass hysteria.

Apr. 05 2012 10:13 AM
Demo from NYC

RIDICULOUS amount of over-coverage, creates almost a LYNCH MOB mentality (and I'm a Democrat!). almost suggest an EPIDEMIC of race based murders. why doesn't the media give EQUAL coverage to the FACT that most young black men are killed by OTHER young black men?

Apr. 05 2012 10:12 AM
gary from queens


You're a hypocrite. You changed your policy just to exclude my posts!

Previously, you accepted excerpts from articles as long as they were referenced, for proper attribution, with a url link.

You changed your policy just to censor ME!!!!!

Apr. 05 2012 10:12 AM
art525 from Park Slope

Wow there's a whole lot of ugliness here. The fact is a kid was stalked and shot and the the killer hasn't been held to account for that. There needs to be a light shone on it until there is justice.

Apr. 05 2012 10:10 AM
Ally from Brooklyn

I'm white, and I think there's too much coverage over the Trayvon Martin killing, but I think that because I feel we shouldn't be talking about the case like it's a rare event. There needs to be more conversation in the media about how racism is still a HUGE problem in this country and less exceptionalizing this case as if it were some one-time thing.

Apr. 05 2012 10:09 AM
Irma from Queens

What a waste of air time. How about a program on racism?

Apr. 05 2012 10:09 AM
The Truth from Becky

So are we really surprised by the results of this "poll"? Did we really need a poll to know?

Apr. 05 2012 10:08 AM

We've removed some comments. Please remember the WNYC posting policy, which asks you to remain brief, productive, and keep your comments on topic to the conversation taking place on the air. Please don't simply cut and paste from other articles into this comments section.

-BL Show Moderator-

Apr. 05 2012 09:53 AM
John from office

Lets get this clear: vicious white racist shot an innocent child on his way home. Lets get the narrative clear. Dont cloud the narrative with facts and details. By the way, Spike Lee may know YOUR address!

Apr. 05 2012 09:52 AM
Joe from nearby

Zimmerman was ordered by police dispatcher not to pursue but he disobeyed.
Zimmerman was armed, Trayvon wasn't.

Bottom line- even assuming Zimmerman was being hit by Trayvon's hands, he had no right to respond by using a firearm.
It's called "imperfect self defense" and it gets you least in any other state.

Apr. 05 2012 09:52 AM
gary from queens

This article recounts all of obama's injecting himself to inflame and polarize, rather than calm, emotions.

March 27, 2012 4:00 A.M.
Obama’s Demagoguery
The president has a bad habit of wading uninformed into local controversies.
By Victor Davis Hanson

Apr. 05 2012 09:51 AM
gary from queens

President Obama could have said the following, which would have been far more closer to reality:

"If I had a son, he would have been 76 times more likely to have been murdered by someone "who looks like him" than by a person who looks white."

Apr. 05 2012 09:47 AM
John from office

Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan
I agree with you. Once Brother Jesse, Al Sharpton and the usual suspects show up I stop listening. The black community has a real need for real leaders to emerge, not the profit based race baiters. Also, why is there no discussion or reaction to the real problem, black on black crime. A black male has more to fear from another black male then from any cop.

I want to be clear, this is a tragedy, Mr. Martin seems to have been an innocent person confronted by a wannabe cop. But the reaction has been predictable and the usual circus occurs.

Apr. 05 2012 09:45 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Shelby Steele (African-American) – Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page today:

“The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin”

“... has given us a generation of ambulance-chasing black leaders, and the illusion that our greatest power lies in the manipulation of white guilt. The tragedy surrounding Trayvon's death is not in the possibility that it might have something to do with white racism; the tragedy is in the lustfulness with which so many black leaders, in conjunction with the media, have leapt to exploit his demise for their own power.”

Apr. 05 2012 09:36 AM

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