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Latinos Call for Justice for the Martin Family and Demand Arrest of George Zimmerman

Latinos Call for Justice for the Martin Family and Demand Arrest of George Zimmerman

Photo: George Zimmerman

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We the members of Latinos for Trayvon Martin, a coalition of Hostos professors, administrators, and students are gathered in this plaza today because the history of this Latino institution demands we speak out.  Hostos Community College is a college born out of the struggle of Latinos for educational equality and against American racism. Yet over 40 years after its founding we are called upon by recent history to denounce, without equivocation, a despicable travesty of justice that has led to the murder of one of our children, uno de nuestros ninos, Trayvon Martin. 

Today we in the Latino community call on the Sanford, Florida police, the Seminole County District Attorney’s Office, and the Florida Special Prosecutor’s office to expedite their investigations and indict George Zimmerman on felony homicide charges.  If the Florida law enforcement cannot meet their obligation to its citizens of color then we call on the Department of Justice to prosecute this incident as a civil rights violation.  We also call on all Americans of good faith to contact their legislators and support the repeal of all “stand your ground” laws now practiced in twenty-one states. 

The death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African American teenager who was fatally shot by a vigilante neighborhood watch member in his father’s gated community and the botched investigation has justifiably resulted in a national outrage in communities of color.  It should enrage everybody. But despite emerging credible evidence the authorities have failed to act. This unconscionable, senseless act of violence cannot go unaddressed by those sworn to protect our communities.  It is a tragic reflection of American Justice that we as educators teach our students how the Criminal Justice system works from investigation to indictment to trial to sentencing. 

But when these very same students switch on their television sets what they witness is the murder of an unarmed black teenager who merely went to the store to buy an Arizona ice tea and skittles and was heading home to watch a basketball game.  Instead of the perpetrator being arrested he is set free and our students are left to wonder “Where is this justice?”  Even more troubling they see that instead of the authorities investigating George Zimmerman, it is the dead teenager that is investigated and drug tested.  That is why many students at Hostos are dressed in “hoodies” today because they too know any of them could be Trayvon tomorrow. 

It has become clear that we have a crisis of confidence in the Criminal Justice system among our young people and adults when the innocent are punished and the guilty go free. Does anyone seriously believe that if Trayvon had been a white teenager killed by a Black assailant that assailant would be free? The Martin family have conducted themselves with nobility, but we insist the predator that killed their son be arrested.  They must have, as have many other Americans, asked themselves during the last few months, whether we live in a nation of laws or have two legal standards of justice emerged -one for blacks and another for whites or off-whites.  Our legal system has been compromised and signals have been sent that vigilante style terror is the call of the day.

Zimmerman must be arrested so that we as a nation can have some closure to one of the worse incidents of racially-motivated violence in recent history.”  We also speak out because we are troubled by the specter that some in the media have chosen to focus on the irrelevant issue of Zimmerman being Latino because of his Peruvian mother. However the only relevant question -is whether there is enough probable cause to indict him for his crimes?  We are also very disturbed by what we perceive as an effort to divide Black and/or Latino communities by implying that Latinos have remained “silent” on Trayvon’s killing. Only last week, many Latinos joined their African American brethren in a march from Selma to Montgomery, AL. 

The hands that “picked cotton” and those that “cut sugar cane” have historical linkages that cannot be broken by misplaced historical revisionism. We remind members of the media that major statements have already been issued by the National Council of La Raza, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the National Institute for Latino Policy, and many other groups, yet our views have been ignored. We have not been silent but we have been “invisibilized.”  America are you listening?