“The true power of this story becomes clear in juxtaposition of competing systems of social control — the Medicalization of White versus the Criminalization of Black/Brown.”
[The] power of white privilege extends beyond individual versus collective accountability and representation. The white racial frame also shapes the labels we attach to aberrant white behavior and the systems we call upon to control the related deviance. Although James Holmes is indeed facing criminal charges of the most extreme sort, it is the medical model that is called on to “understand” him. He isn’t totally “bad” — despite his horrific criminal acts, Holmes is a mutant, an aberration on the trajectory of “normal” white maleness. Even in the context of criminal justice – insanity pleas or no, death penalty or no — he will be viewed as “psychopathic”, ultimately then as “sick”. Someone should have/could have “helped” him before it was too late. Of course, one of the key features of the medical model involves mitigating deviant behavior by attributing it to “sickness rather than badness”, with a particular focus on the condition rather than the behavior and treatment as opposed to punishment.
The white racial frame increasingly sees white “deviants” as sick – and maybe some are — but contrast this with the framing of both offenders and victims of color. They are irredeemably “evil” — no questions asked, guilt assumed, and punishment — in draconian legal systems not posh private treatment centers — is the corresponding response. The collective taint of criminalization is so strong that the actually innocent may be easily swept up, wild racial hoaxes furthered without sufficient doubt, and victims, such as Trayvon Martin, reframed via “white logic” as dangerous hoodie-wearing thugs who ultimately got just what they deserved.
“Gov. Rick Scott of Florida on Thursday named the members of a task force that will examine the state’s gun’s laws, including the expansive and controversial Stand Your Ground law that has been cited in the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The 17-member panel is being led by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll; the vice chairman is the Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., the pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, one of the largest churches in Florida. The task force will report back to the governor and the Legislature.
Ms. Carroll said the group includes a mix of law enforcement officials, lawmakers, neighborhood watch leaders, criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors, among others.
“We look forward to hearing from the citizens of our state about their concerns and recommendations for keeping our state safe,” Ms. Carroll said at a news conference with Mr. Scott and Mr. Holmes.
Ms. Carroll said the task force would begin its work on May 1 and hold public meetings around the state. It has set up a Web site and a Twitter account, @FLCitizenSafety, to allow the public to follow its work.
“We are not walking into this with any preconceived notions,” said Governor Scott, a Republican, who announced in March that he would appoint a panel to address concerns raised over how the criminal justice system responded to Mr. Martin’s killing. He said part of the task force’s job would be to examine data that has been gathered since the Stand Your Ground law was enacted in 2005.”
The New York Times, “Task Force Appointed to Look at Florida Gun Laws”
The simple truth is that what happened in Sanford, Florida, is a tragedy law cannot mend. It is a tragedy produced by our culture itself—a culture where racial divides and distrust remain as prevalent as they were when Rodney King, a black man, was beaten by white police officers in 1991, or when Abner Louima, another black man, was beaten and sodomized in 1997 by police officers in a Brooklyn police station. It is the culture itself that needs repair. Maybe putting George Zimmerman on trial will help accomplish that, but a better place to start would be with the Florida law. It’s a law that might well be innocuous or benign in a society truly marked by equality and trust. But in the society we actually have, a law that allows a human being to kill someone else even when no one’s life or safety is at risk is the legal equivalent of stoking a bonfire at a gas station.
George Zimmerman’s 2nd-Degree Murder Charge Fixes Nothing (via champagnecandy)
A self-appointed vigilante, carrying a loaded gun, decides to look for “danger” in his neighborhood. He begins to follow a 17-year-old boy, who is carrying candy and a soft drink. The boy asks why he is being followed; words are exchanged. The man aims his gun at the boy, fires, and kills the boy dead. The man claims he acted in “self-defense.”
A vigilante Super-State, armed to the teeth with thousands of WMDs, claims to perceive a threat from a small country, still battered and tattered from a war lost over a decade ago. However, international inspectors are allowed to scour the country and find no such threat (i.e., WMDs). Even so, to “prevent” any possibility of such a threat, the vigilante Super-State launches an all-out War on the small country—which is quickly pulverized, incinerated and murdered on a mass scale. Shortly thereafter, it is discovered that the small country was un-armed. “But the small country might still have made war!” the mass-murdering Super-State proclaimed. “We reserve the right to pre-emptively attack in the name of our security and interests!”
The AP reports that Trayvon Martin’s shooter George Zimmerman is currently in police custody and will be charged with murder in the second degree, a more serious crime than the manslaughter charge many analysts speculated Zimmerman might face.
Under Florida law, second degree murder is defined as “[t]he unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.” Zimmerman faces life in prison.
UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has called for an “immediate investigation” into the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen who was shot dead by a volunteer neighbourhood watchman in Florida.
Even though the thuggish so-called “neighborhood watchman” that killed our young brother Trayvon Martin in cold blood was not a real police officer, his actions were not unlike that of many American police. The institutionally racist and lethal US system of policing facilitates a culture that allows cops to kill unarmed men of color. The excessively flawed and corrupt judicial system, then allows these police officers to get away with it. The American prison industrial complex feasts on black and brown people, yet detests the taste of racist corrupt cops.
To accept Zimmerman’s version of events and relieve him of any culpability is to ignore Trayvon Martin’s right to walk from the 7-11 back to his place of residence unthreatened. To accept Zimmerman’s version ignores Trayvon Martin’s right to “stand his ground” and defend himself against the perceived threat of an older and larger man following him and questioning his right to be where he is.
What About Trayvon’s Right to Self-Defense? (via azspot)
As reporters clamored for breaking news about the vicious attack on Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi American mother of five in El Cajon, California, her teenage daughter Fatima turned to the interviewer with a question of her own:
“‘Why did you take my mother away from me? You took my best friend away from me,’ she said, choking with tears, in an interview with CNN affiliate KUSI. ‘Why? Why did you do it? I want to know. Answer me that.’”
So far, neither the grieving family’s pleas, nor CNN, nor the police have been able to provide any answers. Issuing the standard platitude about the ongoing investigation, the authorities described it as evidently “an isolated incident.” The grim circumstances of Alwadi’s death, however, point to a pattern of hate crime that’s devastatingly familiar to many Muslim and Arab communities. [++]
The idea seems to be that Trayvon Martin has to have been a flawless, angelic teenager for his murder to have been tragic and unjustified
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 27, 2012