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The acquittal of a murderer

July 15, 2013

by Kiilu Nyasha

The long-awaited verdict in the Zimmerman trial was incredible – “not guilty.”

Justice for Trayvon march diverse 071413 Oakland by Julia Wong, web
Hundreds rallied in Oscar Grant Plaza at Oakland City Hall at 4 p.m. Sunday to protest the Zimmerman trial verdict announced the night before. Here you see why Oakland is called the most diverse city in the country. – Photo: Julia Wong
Listening carefully to the trial judge’s detailed instructions to the six-juror panel (amazing in itself), including complete definitions of second degree murder and manslaughter, I was convinced that were they to follow her instructions, the verdict was bound to be guilty as charged or at least the lesser charge of manslaughter. After over 12 hours of deliberations, my worst-case scenario was a hung jury.

Yet how could I forget that this trial took place in a judicial system I’ve long known (through experience!) represents white-supremacist injustice and in one of the most racist states in the country – Florida, the nation’s second highest incarcerator and state executioner of Black men.

Off the top, how many other cases come to mind of a young Black man senselessly murdered by so-called law enforcers? Oscar Grant, Alan Blueford, Kenneth Harding, Amadou Diallo. In fact, a Black person is murdered by law enforcement every 28 hours. Are their lives valued?

Justice for Trayvon march 071413 Oakland by Natalie Alund
Six hundred people left Oscar Grant Plaza at 5 p.m., writes JP Masser in Indybay, taking over the streets as they marched into West Oakland, stomping grounds for the Black Panther Party, gathering more people as the march progressed. Masser published dozens of tweets on Indybay, the source of these photos. – Photo: Natalie Alund
An endangered, stereotyped group, Black and Brown male human beings top the prison populations and those slated for state murder. Black women and mothers are swiftly gaining a similar fate as more and more Black babies are literally born in prison.

That the Zimmerman verdict is racist is simply a fact

You can’t even imagine a reverse situation playing out the same way: A Black self-appointed neighborhood patroller with a loaded firearm follows a young White man, presumptively calling him a “fucking punk,” and after a scuffle, the unarmed White teenager is dead from a fatal shot to the heart. No arrest of the Black perpetrator is made for well over a month, or until White people take to the streets and raise hell. Now that’s really hard to imagine.

That the lawyer defenders of the murderer wanted jurors they could count on to render an acquittal meant they had to pick individuals they thought would devalue the life of a young Black man, just as the general society or U.S. population devalues Black life.

As a Black mother who raised a Black son, I readily empathize with Trayvon Martin’s mother and father. They have my deepest sympathies and condolences in this tragic loss and travesty of justice. I would urge them to turn grief into strength and find peaceful, insightful means to fight for real change in honor of their child.

Justice for Trayvon march 071413 Oakland by Strike Debt Bay Area
The number of marchers grew to over a thousand – 2,000, according to Shane Bauer – as outraged Oaklanders joined in. – Photo: Strike Debt Bay Area
My son was born on Jan. 21, 1960, and, politically naïve, I thought his birth on Inauguration Day was a sign that he was going to be the first Black president. How ironic.

As I began noticing society’s regard of my dark-skinned, curly-headed baby boy, I grew conscious that it was nothing like my viewpoint. I thought he was gorgeous.

Racism in the schools plus police brutality and murders of Black folks in the 1960s – culminating in the blatant murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in 1969 – made me politically conscious. I joined the Black Panther Party and decided to take my son out of public school to home-school him. When he was 13, I so feared for his life, I gave him martial arts lessons and allowed him to devote full time to the art of self-defense. Eventually, he earned a 4th degree black belt in Choy Li Fut. To date, he’s never been beaten or arrested.

Justice for Trayvon protesters block 14th & Broadway after march Oakland 071413 by thehoopoe
When marchers returned to downtown Oakland near sunset, JP Masser reports: “Hundreds then decided to block downtown Oakland's main intersection at 14th and Broadway, right off Oscar Grant Plaza, lying down in the street in symbolic affinity to the sprawled corpse of Trayvon. The blockade has continued for some three hours.” – Photo: thehoopoe
The media blitz over Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman has been in-depth, saturating mainstream news for days before, during and now after the trial – commenting on every aspect of this case, with sympathy clearly on the side of Zimmerman. It has completely obscured the current hunger strike by tens of thousands of California prisoners protesting prolonged solitary confinement.

Martin, who was shot 21 days before his 17th birthday, is always said to be 17 – perhaps to make him a bit more ominous – and every attempt has been made to assassinate the character of this teenager.

It brings to mind one very courageous 17-year-old Black manchild, our martyred hero Jonathan Jackson, about whom you’ll rarely hear a word.

Trayvon Martin lying dead on grass 022612, death photos released 062713
Now heightened by the Zimmerman acquittal is the fear by all parents of Black boys that this will be their fate: Trayvon Martin dead on the grass with George Zimmerman’s bullet through his heart. This is one of the death photos released June 27, 2013.
Jonathan stormed the courtroom of Marin County, Calif., Aug. 7, 1970, armed to the teeth, where the trial of captive freedom fighter, James McClain, was providing real-life lessons on criminal injustice masquerading as equal justice.

Attempting to expose racist prison hell and free the Soledad Brothers, including his older brother, George, Jonathan was shot dead before he could drive the van out of the parking lot.

A great revolutionary and political analyst, George Jackson said in a May 1971 interview on KPFA just months before he was assassinated on Aug. 21:

“We aren’t getting justice in the courts, or we can’t get justice in the courts. You are aware that the district attorney and the judge were related by law [in McClain’s trial] …. And the collusion, all of us see it, the collusion – the prosecutors and the judges and juries, all working together, you know, the grand juries especially. And the control, the control the judge and prosecutor can exercise over picking of jury panels, impaneling a jury. The control they can exercise together completely eliminates all possibility of an impartial trial. And the vanguard is very much aware of that. Well, the people in general, Black people in general are becoming aware of that. …

Jonathan Jackson, 17, Soledad Bros William Christmas, James McClain, Ruchell Magee take judge, prosecutor, 3 jurors host
Jonathan Jackson, 17, and Soledad Brothers William Christmas, James McClain and Ruchell Magee take the judge, prosecutor and three jurors hostage to a waiting van on Aug. 7, 1970, in the Marin Courthouse Rebellion.
“McClain wanted to use his trial as a demonstration of this thing that people are slowly becoming aware of – that the court process, the legal process is just a farce, a device to keep us thinking in conventional terms that perhaps we can get some relief in conventional ways, established ways. He wanted to use it as an example [my emphasis] ….

“I’m pretty sure he wanted to use the second trial as a demonstration that the entire establishment was working against us, and we should stop, we should stop accepting conventional, stop accepting the legal process as a possibility for solving problems …. In the process of liberating themselves, I’m certain that, I’m positive that they [William Christmas, James McClain and Ruchell Magee] were making a conscious effort to destroy the prestige of this last sanctuary the establishment’s using to stall off revolutionary culture.”

They killed George Jackson, but they couldn’t kill his spirit, his ideology, his lasting legacy of courageous, international organizing. He is so feared by prison officials that just having his name on a piece of paper can get a mainliner thrown into the hole indefinitely. And they say we have no power.

Ruchell Magee, George & Jonathan Jackson drawing by Kiilu Nyasha, web
The names George Jackson (front) and Jonathan Jackson (right) still strike terror in the hearts of prison officials in California. Any show of respect for them can condemn a prisoner to a lifetime of torture in solitary confinement. For his association with them and his jailhouse lawyering, Ruchell Magee (left), the sole survivor of the Marin Courthouse Rebellion, remains in prison to this day. – Drawing: Kiilu Nyasha
Let us please not allow the opportunists of the so-called Left or Right exploit this travesty to further divide us. We must not let this teachable moment escape again.

The system will not collapse on its own. Our Mao noted, “If you don’t hit it, it won’t fall.” And I’m not meaning that literally. We cannot use now the military tactics we once espoused in our self-defense over 40 years ago. We’d be giving our enemies the opportunity to simply escalate mass genocide, which they’re already doing in Africa and Asia.

George Jackson is so feared by prison officials that just having his name on a piece of paper can get a mainliner thrown into the hole indefinitely. And they say we have no power.

Let’s do take Jackson’s advice and STOP using these racist courts to solve our problems. Stop expecting justice from white-supremacist-controlled courts. The latest Supreme Court decisions rolling back our civil rights to vote, giving corporations unlimited power, etc., should have convinced us by now that there’s no justice, just us.

Millions of Trayvon Martins are trapped behind bars in either overcrowded, three- to four-bunk-bed gymnasiums or caged in solitary confinement in windowless cells endlessly.

Stop expecting justice from white-supremacist-controlled courts.

On July 8, 30,000 prisoners refused meals as the promised hunger strike began. It continues as I write this on July 14. No doubt the numbers are reduced as time goes by and suffering increases. What’s especially encouraging about this collective cooperation and nonviolent action is the coming together in recognition that there’s one human race and we’re all in it together, that an injury to one is an injury to all. That if we continue to allow the divide-and-rule strategies of our foes to keep us polarized – as they’re doing right now in the wake of the Zimmerman acquittal – we will only continue to see the clock turned backwards by the tiny fraction of the 1 percent that’s running the whole empire.

People are asking what they can do

Join the resistance, support the resisters, the hunger strikers, in every way possible, and organize, organize, organize.

Kiilu Nyasha at home 052613 by Nedzada Handukic
Kiilu Nyasha, revolutionary journalist, artist, legendary teacher and organizer at home in a photo taken May 26, 2013. – Photo: Nedzada Handukic
We must throw our collective weight into stopping this rotten system in its tracks. We can say NO! again and again in a myriad of ways. And we can say YES! to changing ourselves and our politics. That involves first recognizing our own brain-washing and moving to become the new, nonracist, nonsexist, nonjudgmental human beings who believe in ongoing growth and development, mental, physical, emotional.

Understanding that we are all connected, we must nurture our collectivity through cooperative activities and attitudes.

Finally, have faith in the people (of the whole world) who in the final analysis will make the revolution.

The overwhelming majority of the world’s peoples are being dominated, exploited, incarcerated, tortured and oppressed by the tiny international oligarchy that comprises the global owners. But the wheels of industry cannot turn without us.

The overwhelming majority of the world’s peoples are being dominated, exploited, incarcerated, tortured and oppressed by the tiny international oligarchy that comprises the global owners. We’re talking billionaires and trillionaires at this point in history. But the wheels of industry cannot turn without us.

Power to the people.

Kiilu Nyasha, Black Panther veteran and revolutionary journalist, hosts the TV talk show Freedom Is a Constant Struggle broadcast live on Thursdays at 5-5:52 p.m. on SF Commons, San Francisco Channel 76, and rebroadcast Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 29, and blogs at The Official Website of Kiilu Nyasha, where older episodes of Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, along with her essays, are posted. More recent episodes can be found at She can be reached at


12 thoughts on “The acquittal of a murderer

  1. Richard

    If trayvon had have confronted a blue blonde haired lilly white boy and brutally executed him the the out cry from red necks for his head on a platter would have been deafening.And just where are the wounds from the fat want to be cop from having a skinny kid who weighs 80 pounds less than you? You confront a person withe a cocked and loaded gun your afraid of? Yeah right!

  2. Seamus

    I think the jury was made up of permanently baffled FOX News watchers. I just saw a CNN interview with a juror who said George would have pursued Martin even if he were white or Asian…which probably isn't true.

    Zimmerman profiled based on clothing and race, NOT on behavior. It's a civil rights case now.

    1. Proud Black Man

      Trayvon's liver showed damage from abuse of cough syrup, a popular cocktail with ghetto thugs. He was a thug, a drug user, and a violent young man.

      Take responsibility for your actions, and teach your children that thugs die young at the hands of someone quicker.

      1. Selina

        Eric Harris and Dylan Klebod including Alan Lanso were THUG Terrorist

        Teach your Cavedwell'in children how to be HUMANS

      2. Seamus

        I don't think the liver damage from drugs is relevant. I also don't think the violent portion is comparatively true.

        We can note Zimmerman is described as a domestic abuser by an ex-girlfriend, a sexual abuser by a cousin, Zim was arrested for assaulting a police officer, and he shot an unarmed minor in the chest during a scuffle.

        That is, it appears the opposite of your description is more true than your description of character.

        I think your last sentence was misplaced or is meant as a change of topic. Difficult because there isn't any relevant Trayvon behavior that can be described as irresponsible.

  3. samsarah morgan

    The author of this article makes the arrogant assumption that Trayvons parents grief is an indication of a lack of strength !!! Excuse me, these people have been exemplars of dignity and strength… It is misguided and beyond arrogant say otherwise. None of us are in their home or in their hearts…none of us are privy to their plans moving forward.

  4. John Mulligan

    George Zimmerman's acquittal of murder charges in a Florida court has been followed by predictable calls for America to have a "national conversation" about this or that aspect of the case. President Obama wants to talk about gun control. Civil-rights leaders want to talk about racial profiling. Others want to discuss how the American criminal justice system supposedly targets black men.

    All of which is fine. Just don't expect these conversations to be especially illuminating or honest. Liberals in general, and the black left in particular, like the idea of talking about racial problems, but in practice they typically ignore the most relevant aspects of any such discussion.

    The homicide rate claiming black victims today is seven times that of whites, and the George Zimmermans of the world are not the reason. Some 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.

    So let's have our discussions, even if the only one that really needs to occur is within the black community. Civil-rights leaders today choose to keep the focus on white racism instead of personal responsibility, but their predecessors knew better.

    Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal, A Black Man

  5. Old and Tired

    Perhaps the best way to honor Trayvon is to reject ghetto thug culture, pull up our pants, speak english, and stop committing 90% of the crime. Where is the outcry from black "leaders" about the glorification of thuglife?

    If we want respect, then we must be respectable.

  6. wino

    Open season on little black girls in Oakland.
    21-month-old Daphne Webb missing since July 10.
    8-year-old Alaysha Carradine shot to death last night, July 17 2013.

    No arrests in either case.

  7. TruthBeTold

    Trayvon's position here in the grass appears as if he was the one being held down. Trayvon's murder, if handled properly with prayer and strategic action could truly be the impetus to turn this country, this case of injustice might well be inflection point for the USA.


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