Before the world heard of Trayvon Martin, another teenager, Ramarley Graham, then 18 years old, was walking home in the Bronx when New York Police officers later claiming they thought Graham had a weapon, chased him into his home, busted down the door, climbed the stairs and shot him dead in the boy’s bathroom in front of his grandmother. The young man was unarmed. The police, in plain clothes, had no search warrant. The family held monthly vigils at their home drawing hundreds of people. They marched on the Bronx’s 47th police precinct and protested in front of the Bronx District Attorney’s office asking for answers. After more than a year, one police officer Richard Haste, was indicted on manslaughter charges. A crowd of New York Police officers cheered Haste as he exited the courthouse. In May 2013, a judge tossed out the indictment saying the prosecution had mistakenly instructed the grand jury and Richard Haste was set free.
The story of unarmed black teenage boys being shot dead by police or their surrogates (George Zimmerman) repeats nearly every day across the USA. The defense follows a similar script, I thought he had a gun, I thought he was going to hurt me. He looked like he was going to hurt me. Yet there is little accountability, and the killings continue.
Sarah Schulman a writer and professor, posted this on Facebook.
The (Zimmerman) verdict is a privileging of perception over reality. Just because a person feels afraid doesn’t mean they are in danger. In fact, their perception may be so pathological that it puts OTHER people in danger. In this extreme case, taking a young man’s life for no reason. The perpetrator claims to be the victim, and believes that s/he is the victim. And then when the “community” re-enforces the right to false perception regardless of how much pain it causes, the “community” (or state apparatus) becomes an enforcer of injustice.
Photos ©Nina Berman