New Black Panthers Bounty Understandable, But....

New Black Panthers Bounty Understandable, But....
R.I.P. Trayvon Martin (Wiki Photo Author Unknown)

"An eye for and eye. A tooth for a tooth" Those were the defiant words of New Black Panther Party leader Mikhail Muhammad when asked whether he was inciting violence when members offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot an unarmed Trayvon Martin to death in Sanford, Florida.

There is no doubt in my mind that those very same biblical words have been uttered millions of times since man began walking upright and understood their meaning. And I suppose that they were uttered most when revenge consumed human souls for senseless acts committed upon other human-beings. As much as I do not agree with Mikhail Muhammad, I can honestly say that I fully understand the rationale behind it.

In actual practice, though, it is quite another thing. The truth of the matter is that an eye for an eye will never bring back to life the victim. One senseless death in exchange for another, I would think, could not sustain any long term comfort and that would just leave more victims in its wake.

As such, I am hoping that the threat of a bounty was designed only to force authorities to reevaluate the circumstances behind Trayvon Martin's senseless death. Zimmerman, it appears, took great liberties in applying what I perceive Florida's Stand Your Ground Law to be. Yes, I believe people have a right to defend themselves with lethal force. However, I would think that "imminent danger to one's own life" must be the burden placed upon the person who is seeking protection under self-defense laws. And from everything I, and others, have been able to digest thus far do not believe that George Zimmerman has not met that burden.

Opponents of gun rights will surely fault Florida's Stand Your Ground Law and call for its repeal, but before anyone gets too obtuse here - I seriously doubt that the law was enacted to permit the cold-blooded shooting of innocent people. But let's be very clear here too - if the New Black Panthers bounty is more than just a tool to ensure that Florida Officials do their due diligence in this matter with Zimmerman, then what they would be doing is just as obtuse as those who believe that the Florida Law is something more than what it is intended to be.

While the outrage and protests are justified, taking the law into one's own hand will not solve anything except diminish the life of Trayvon Martin. That young man's memory would be better preserved if the anger and outrage does not escalate into something that would further divide the races and instead opens up a deeper and much needed understanding among us all.

Although we should be farther along as a society, unfortunately, there will always be those who do not understand the true value in what tolerance and diversity brings us. And that is a real shame because we should be at a better place and time in our nation's history.  Even though racial barriers have been broken down since the 1960's, we still have a long, long way to go. And that is a sentiment that goes for everyone, regardless of their color or ethnicity.

Let's face it our nation's diversity is its' greatest strength!

As for the furor Trayvon Martin's murder has sparked, it is still my hope that the anger will be replaced with a sense of calm. But the only way that can happen is if the authorities in Florida take the appropriate action in this case. No one should be protected by the Stand Your Ground Law if it is proven that the victim was stalked and gunned down unarmed. The people absolutely have a right to demand that justice be served if George Zimmerman has violated the intent and spirit of a law designed to protect people.

And that justice must be color blind!

At the end of the day Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman must have their day in court and it will be up to a jury, not a mob, to determine what happened that fateful night.

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  • I didn't even know that the Black Panthers were still around, but the Tribune just put up a story about Zimmerman's one black friend saying that Zimmerman was crying about it. Sure.

    The real issues are (a) if, as stated by Jeb Bush and others, the law doesn't justify shooting at someone who is fleeing from your gun, and (b) that's what Zimmerman was doing, someone should deal with the sheriff down there, and Zimmerman should turn himself in. Of course, there are plenty of cracked up sheriffs in Illinois, too.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, I was as surprised as much as you although I see they have prefaced the past with "the new." I certainly remember the turbulent 60s and the Black Panthers as if it were yesterday. This new group, though, I am hoping are only trying to spur some action - bounty is not the way we need to get people to go, counterproductive.

    And yes I agree with your (a), (b) and plenty of cracked-up sheriffs.

    Zimmerman, I guess is now in hiding although his attorney says he has contact - but yeah, he really should turn himself in - even if just to protect his own safety. Not good anyway you look at it.

    Hope you had a great weekend.

  • I remember the Black Panthers too, perhaps a little differently than some. I didn't have a negative view about them at all. Grwoing up, I felt safer around them than the police. The "old" Panthers started the before school breakfast program, which is now part of the offerings at public schools. They also believed in the "Stand Your Ground" edict, that you have the right to defend yourself if in imminent danger. That's why they were armed and considered dangerous. They encouraged blacks who were harassed and brutalized to defend themselves and their families if their lives were in danger. Cops routinely brutalized innocent black people back in the day (one can say, still do) And Black folks got mad as hell and weren't going to take it anymore. The Black Panthers grew out of the outrage. It's only ironic that that stand your ground ideology would become law in many states which gives residents the right to shoot to kill if they perceive a threat to their safety. Had the races been reversed in the Sanford FL case, would the shooter had gone to jail? BTW Panthers Marc Clark and Fred Hampton were gunned down in their sleep by cops here in Chicago. The element of surprise kept them from standing their ground. Read my post "From Precious to Predator...or Prey?" on my son's experiences with cops. Blessings...

  • In reply to Edye:

    I remember the days well too, although at the time seemed a bit confusing to a white kid from a white neighborhood. But over time I must admit I do not view the Black Panthers with complete negativity. That struggle was real and police abuse was rampant with Old Man Daley looking the other way. I suppose the Black Panthers started out with a noble idea, but as we know they also fell into a trap and eventually ran afoul of the law. As they say, power corrupts absolutely and sadly even noble causes are affected.

    What the CPD did to Marc Clark and Fred Hampton was, I believe, cold-blooded murder and helped in my own transformation as a sheltered kid to understand both sides of the equation. The 60's were a powerful time and should have produced a better place than what we have. Sometime I get the impression that racism retired into the closet from thse overt days - but as we see all the time there those among us who refuse to let go. It is stupid really. Oh well, we must keep trying to convince people that in the end all peoples are the same.

    As for the irony? I see it clearly. From all angles. And yes, if it were reversed we know without a doubt someone is sitting in jail.

    The more things change - the more they stay the same?

    Thanks for your comments very much appreciated.

  • Here's one you can add as germane to the topic:

    The surviving original Black Panther, Rep. Bobby Rush, started to make a speech in the House wearing a hoodie. The dumb@$$ presiding officer had the Sgt. at Arms kick him out for violating a rule against wearing a hat.

    Usually, I have no use for Rush, but he does have his First Amendment rights, and symbolic speech is still speech. I wonder if Emanuel, in whatever position he had in the House leadership, was kicking out members wearing a yarmulke (I suppose there might be such from New York).

  • In reply to jack:

    I saw that on the Noon News. Like you I too usually have no use for Rush, but he does have his 1st Amendment Rights and should be honored on the floor; the hoodie was symbolic and the chair should have recognized that. Although I am an gun rights advocate, we don't need ambiguous laws either. Oh well.

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