Reflections on the Trayvon Martin Murder
by Playthell Benjamin
Listening to the conversation that has followed in the wake of revelations about the murder of Trayvon Martin – an unarmed 17 year old Afro-American boy going happily about his business who was stalked by a racist white Latino bully named George Zimmerman, who shot him down like a wild beast then claimed self-defense and white male State Attorney let this killer walk – I am reminded of a day during the summer of 1960, when I had a serious talk with my Granddad that caused me to leave Florida for good.
I had just completed my freshman year at Florida A&M University where I had participated in the student sit-ins that began that spring. Once I became active I could no longer accept the status quo again, because I could see that collective struggle was the way to freedom. But, like most people I knew in the ancient city of St. Augustine, I was not a saint like Dr. Martin Luther King.
Hence back then, as now, my inclination was to put a cracker in the cemetery if they put their hands on me. You could say I had a homicidal disposition and a grave yard mind…I was on a freedom high and ready to die! As small town southerners we belonged to a hunting culture; everybody was armed, and guns were readily available.
My grandfather George Benjamin was a pious church deacon, yet he kept a 20-gage shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot mounted on the wall just above a sign professing his faith in Jesus Christ! Grandpapa didn’t take no mess! Like his friends, he was an Old Testament Christian who believed in an eye for an eye!
We lived in a state of constant tension with the white community. They were in charge as a community, but individual whites understood that there were lines they were not to cross, and they did so at their peril on this hot August day, Grand Dad stepped to me and said: “Boy I think it’s time for you to go on up north. Cause if you stay around this town either you gonna kill one of these peckerwood crackers or one of them is gonna kill you. Either way it goes down you bout to git this whole family in a war with these rednecks….cause whatever they do to you they do to all of us!”
It was good advice, because relations between the races were very tense…just like now. My generation had reached a consensus that we would not submit to the white supremacist racial caste system any longer, although the system of separate and unequal treatment for Afro-Americans had the force of law. I heeded grand-dad’s advice and soon left town and joined the Airforce. This was three years before Dr. King came to town and lead some of the most dangerous demonstrations of his career.
The local crackers, led by local Redneck terrorist ”Hoss” Manucy, were mean and prone to violence; and Dr. King told Jet Magazine he had never seen so many Negroes with guns! It was a hard sell to convince them to put down their guns and follow him in a passive resistance campaign. He never convinced me!
He didn’t convince my neighbor Reverend Goldy Eubanks either. A truly righteous and fearless fundamentalist preacher, Goldy and his sons shot it out with the Klan and offed a couple of them. They were tried for murder by the state of Florida, and only the lawyerly brilliance of William S. Kunstler, who swooped down from New York to defend them, had saved their lives!
While I now concede that Dr. King’s non-violent campaigns was the right strategy to change government policy, and the Maoist strategy of armed revolution we advocated in the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Black Panther Party of Oakland, was wrong; a half century later I still believe that anybody who steps to me with violent intentions is tired of living and I’m going to try my best to take them out of their misery!
Witnessing the way the state of Florida allowed Piggy Zimmerman to walk after murdering a black child in cold blood then covering it up, and the mounting attempt to even justify Zimmerman’s homicidal attack by painting Trayvon as the aggressor, if I were living in Florida today I would be strapped and practicing my fast draw in the mirror!
The New Black Militia is armed and actively searching for Zimmerman and his picture is all over the internet. Since the depraved child killer is in hiding like the punkass low down dirty rat that he is, the militia men intend to conduct a search, ferret him out, and make a citizen’s arrest since the police won’t do it. They consider him armed and dangerous…as all black folks should, and they intend to act accordingly.
The militia men have declared their intention to bring Zimmerman in dead or alive! Although a chorus of voices is denouncing their decision: I wish them well. White policemen have been getting away with murdering unarmed black men all over this nation….including here in New York City repeatedly. Now we are to stand by while private white citizens are getting away with murdering our children? Those who think this are flirting with disaster!
My black friends in Florida are armed to the teeth….one classmate told me he won’t go to the bathroom without his Glock! They intend to stand their ground, and there is no Martin Luther King around to cool them down…a white racist shot him years ago. So it’s on: Anything can happen! If you are planning to vacation in Florida don’t do it….unless you are some sort of freak who gets off hanging out in free fire zones.
Benjamin is a veteran political journalist out of Harlem NY. His essays can be read on his blog site Commentaries on the Times.