Commentary: If Trayvon Martin had been your son, how would you react?

The Myrtle Beach SunMay 6, 2012 

A 17-year-old boy was shot dead not far from the home where he was visiting his father.

He was carrying a bag of Skittles and a drink.

He wasn’t breaking into a house.

He wasn’t illegally shooting off firecrackers in a residential area.

He wasn’t trying to steal a car.

He was unarmed.

He was walking home with the treats he bought for a brother.

The man who shot him was briefly detained and let go.

Law enforcement officials said there would be no charges.

There would be no day in court.

There would be no trial before a jury.

The man who shot him was free to resume his life as though he had done nothing more than step on a bug, not ended the life of a fellow human being.

Forget for a second that those details are at the heart of the Trayvon Martin case that has garnered international attention.

Imagine that 17-year-old boy was your son, or your cousin or brother or friend or schoolmate or colleague.

Imagine how you would feel or what you’d do.

For many people – including a growing number who continue to contact me every week – those facts seem to not matter.

They are angrier that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton led protest rallies than they are that a kid was shot to death on the street.

They have convinced themselves that they know precisely what happened when the meeting that night between Martin and George Zimmerman ended in a confrontation that left one of them dead – and that Martin must have been the aggressor.

They send around self-righteous emails and leave vitriolic voicemail messages about other cases they believe aren’t getting enough attention. Those cases usually recount horrific crimes involving black suspects and white victims.

Through their eyes, the Martin shooting has received lots of attention because of race, because a black guy was killed by someone described as a white Hispanic. (Being Hispanic is about ethnicity, so there are black Hispanics as well.)

That’s why they dutifully send me messages about every incident of a black criminal and a white victim, daring me to answer why those cases haven’t been trumpeted by the national media at the same fever pitch.

The answer is simple.

In all of the cases I’ve had flood my inbox, the suspects had been arrested, charged and awaiting trial.

An unarmed 17-year-old walking home – doing nothing sinister, nothing illegal – from the store with a bag of candy in his hands was shot dead, and the person who killed him simply walked away.

Had Zimmerman been charged that night, or sometime shortly thereafter and the criminal justice system was allowed to work – protecting Zimmerman’s rights while seeking justice for Martin – most of us would still have never heard either of their names. Nonstop public protests and debate finally assured a full investigation would be conducted, which led to serious charges being filed against Zimmerman.

Violent crime may be down but still occurs in this country every day and every night. Most don’t make national headlines, no matter who is involved.

Forget about race or Jackson and Sharpton or what you think happened once the confrontation took place that night in Sanford, Fla.

Forget for a second about your well-rehearsed grievances against a supposed liberal media.

Ask yourself a simple question: Had that been your son, how would you feel?

And would you have wanted society to pay attention to your attempts to hold someone accountable for the death of your child?

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