A young African-American man is dead. He was armed only with Skittles and a hoodie, which now qualifies as dangerous. He reacted when a self-styled and armed neighborhood watchman bothered him for little reason other than he seemed to be threatened that an African-American male was walking the gated premises. The laws of Florida allow armed people to shoot first and ask questions later.
This was the recipe for travesty, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time it happens.
For all of the talk about having an African-American president, we are not a post-racial society. Race plays an important, and in this case an explosive role in our civic culture. President Obama has shied away from invoking race where it is an issue and, in my mind, he hasn’t done enough to focus Americans on the continuing injustice that colors our system. He should be speaking out more and letting America know that we have much work to do to achieve equality in society and fairness under the law.
Now there’s talk that the Department of Justice ought to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. Perhaps, like OJ Simpson, that will provide the family with closure and provide for some kind of punishment. There’s also talk of plots against Mr. Zimmerman and I truly hope that he remains safe. Violence should not beget more violence.
What truly needs to happen is that laws like Florida’s that allow people to legally acquire firearms and use them preemptively must be stricken from the books. How many innocent people need to die before we do that?0