Five Bright Spots Amid The Zimmerman Industrial Complex

By Arturo R. García

Several young black men are brought to the stage in a show of unity at a rally seeking justice for Trayvon Martin on July 14 in San Diego, CA. Image by Arturo R. García.

It did not take long for business interests and other unsavory elements to pop up in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Beyond the professional ghouls, bloviators and racial profiling apologists to Zimmerman’s brother acting as a media surrogate to, perhaps even more disturbingly, one of the six jurors attempting to cash in on her brush with “fame.”

But thankfully, there are already people, online and off, in the streets marching and working from their homes, and even from behind bars, pushing back against this odious tide.

@MoreAndAgain: Before getting to the protests, let’s give more shine to the spotlight won on Monday by Genie Lauren who organized a Change.org petition to put a stop to the threat of a “tell-all” book by the juror identified as B37, who couldn’t even wait a week before taking to the airwaves to say she thought the 17-year-old’s actions — walking home in the rain wearing a hoodie — merited suspicion.

“Anybody would think anybody walking down the road, stopping and turning and looking — if that’s exactly what happened — is suspicious,” the woman told CNN. “I think all of us thought race did not play a role. We never had that discussion.”

The petition, which was signed by more than 1,000 people, put enough pressure on literary agent Sharlene Martin (who also brokered the publishing deal for O.J. Simpson’s If I Did It) that both Martin and B37 “decided” not to move forward with the project. Four other jurors subsequently attempted to put as much space between themselves and B37′s opinion as possible.

“I was shocked because I didn’t think the response from other Tweeters would happen so quickly,” Lauren told NewsOne. “I thought that even if we got 1,000 signatures that I would hear something like, ‘Sorry you feel this way but we’re stilling going ahead with this book.’ I really didn’t expect for this to happen like this so quickly. I knew I was hurting and I needed this, but I didn’t realize how much everybody else was hurting too.”

(Also important to note: a separate petition has been created calling for an investigation into how B37 got on the jury in the first place, given her public statements.)

Rachel Jeantel: After being pilloried by the press regarding her “performance” as a witness, Jeantel re-emerged for her own interview, where she continued to defend her friend’s character.

“He was a calm, chill, loving person. Loved his family, definitely his mother. And a good friend,” Jeantel said of Martin in an interview with Piers Morgan.

On Tuesday, radio host Tom Joyner offered to pay Jeantel’s tuition for four years of study at any historically black college of her choosing.

“If you want to graduate from high school, and go to an HBCU, even if it’s not in Florida but especially Florida, like Florida Memorial, Edward Waters or FAMU, if you want to do that, I want to help you do that,” Joyner said on his show Tuesday morning.

Marissa Alexander: Like Cece McDonald, Alexander was prosecuted for defending herself. In Alexander’s case, she fired into the air to fend off her abusive husband, yet was still convicted in April 2010 despite citing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

The person leading the state’s case? Republican state attorney Angela Corey, who could not put together a cogent enough case to convict Zimmerman on even manslaughter charges, yet managed to put Alexander behind bars for 20 years. (Also, Corey — who you might recall was all smiles at the press conference after losing the Zimmerman trial — doesn’t seem to like it when the press asks questions about her use of state funds.)

With interest in her case surging in the wake of this past weekend’s acquittal, the Daily Kos published a letter she sent in October 2012 thanking supporters:

My good days out weigh my bad days only because God is my source of strength. Please know that you all inspire me thru your communication and please know that the prayers that you offer up on my behalf are being answered. I’m so very blessed to have some of the most extraordinary people and organizations who are committed to supporting and encouraging me in every way. I will continue to believe in our justice system. I choose to do so because I have complete trust in God, and we are still a nation that has this fundamental belief embedded in our core, displayed in our courtrooms and written on our money, and more hopefully in our hearts.

Temar Boggs: Not related to the Zimmerman case at all, but how stirring was it was to see a young man of color emerge as a hero at this point in time?

The 15-year-old Pennsylvania resident became a story of his own after helping save a 5-year-old girl from a kidnapper, when Boggs and a friend, Chris García, chased the suspect, who had the girl inside a car, on their bikes.

“Soon as the guy noticed that we were chasing him, he stopped at the end of the hill and let her out,” Boggs said. “She ran to me and said that she needed her mom.”

#Justice4Trayvon: By now, four nights after the initial rallies showing their support for the Martin family and calling for justice, the police presence has increased and along with that, so has the reporting, although it’s important to question those: watching a news station’s raw helicopter feed on Monday, the disappointment was palpable on the pilot’s voice when what she anticipated was a robbery in process was actually people getting into a car.

But, in watching footage from many demonstrations for The Raw Story on Monday, it was hard not to be touched by the intersectionality on display, and the multitude of locations for the gatherings: not only did hubs like New York City and Los Angeles join community members in Sanford, but so did Oakland. So did San Diego. So did Delaware. Houston. St. Louis. All urging each other: educate yourself. Question the system. Take back your vote. Take back your jury duty. And in Atlanta, Thomas Reeves asked the question no doubt many of us have been asking since Trayvon Martin was killed in February 2012: What are you going to do?