There can be No Justice for Trayvon Martin

Justice for Trayvon Martin is impossible. Justice is for the living, not the dead. Revenge, vengeance, or punishment on behalf of Trayvon Martin is possible. But justice is not.

During the trial I thought about how differently the outcome would have been had George Zimmerman apologized. While it would not have raised Trayvon it would have drastically altered the grief and mourning of his family. What if Mr. Zimmerman went to Trayvon’s parents and said, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that I took your son from you.”

Period. No justification, no rationalization, and no politics. Just remorse. What would that have done for the family of Trayvon? What would that have done for Mr. Zimmerman’s family? What would it have done for our country?

I used to work with people whose loved ones were murdered. I worked with one mother who didn’t attend the trial of the person who murdered her son. Her family was baffled and furious that she wouldn’t go to the trial. “Why?” she once asked me, “why would I go? It doesn’t bring back my son. I know all that I need to know.”

As unfair and shocking as the George Zimmerman verdict is, in one way it doesn’t matter. The verdict does not change the past. It does not bring back life from the dead. We need to stop talking about justice for Trayvon because that possibility ended the night he died.

So where do we go from here?

9 thoughts on “There can be No Justice for Trayvon Martin”

  1. Thanks for your comments on the Zimmerman verdict. I am actually frightened by the verdict, because it means that we still live in an America where laws and the interpretation of it are are more important, more valid, than common sense, sympathy, and equality. One, Zimmerman should have respected the Police Department’s request and should never have pursued Trayvon. Two, I agree with you: Zimmerman never apologized to the Martin’s. I vaguely remember a video-recorded apology from Zimmerman. But shooting someone in the leg to disable them versus shooting them in the heart which resulted in the death are two very different things. George Zimmerman aimed to kill Trayvon Martin.

    Many leaders are encouraging a peaceful introspection, which may be our best course of action. I am hoping the anger and frustration many are experiencing will be channeled into something positive. Something good must come of this.

    1. I too hope that this anger and frustration can be channeled into something positive. And in some ways we have started that journey because at least many of us can agree that an injustice was done. However, what saddens me is that while my heart is reaching out to the Martin family I am also thinking of all the other families that have lost young Black men to violence and incarceration. The tactic of racial profiling and this unjust system did not begin in February of 2012. It should not have taken a televised trial to show us that there is a problem, especially, when many of us frequently see this happening personally, in our local news or through experiences of friends and family. We have been dealing with this for decades and that in itself should make us angry and frustrated enough to unify enough to strategize ways to do something different.

  2. Tonya,
    On this I disagree with you. For many people, justice is also for the dead. So that
    the person’s murder and dying would not be in vain. The way it stands now,
    Trayon being murdered or killed has no one being punished. You commit an
    act like murder(and that is what happened regardless of the spin Zimmerman wants to
    put on what he did) you should be punished. This is not just man’s law but GOD’s.

    My feeling is, though it may APPEAR that George Zimmerman got away with murder
    appearances are deceiving. Even if this case is not taken to the federal level or
    no civil case happens, that man WILL pay and pay dearly. The universe will see
    to it.

    Yes, it would be decent if Zimmerman had some remorse but he does not. When
    Trayvon’s parents testified he had no expression. To him, black males are 3/5 of
    a human being. He rid the neighborhood of an “undesirable”. Job done. No sadness
    needed.

    The next step for this nation is to fight to change the laws at a state level. A gun is
    used in an incident an investigation should be AUTOMATICALLY warranted. That only
    happened in this case when the public and media called attention to it. They had to act.

    This division in our nation is food for our enemies.

    They are watching.

    1. Thank you for commenting! This discussion is so important and one way that change can happen. Saying how we see things even when we disagree allows our voices to be heard and laws to be changed. Please keep speaking loudly!

  3. Tonya, I feel the same as Michele above in many respects. Nevertheless, I understand what you said about not being able to bring Trayvon back and give him justice. However, I believe he has become a symbol of the lack of justice that African-Americans (AA) receive within the American legal system. With your expertise and skills this is my challenge to you….come inside of the pain that AA’s feel in this country and help us learn how to heal ourselves. Your comments seemed cold and dismissive. We are broken and in pain and Trayvon Martin is simply what we are calling it this decade.

    Thank you for being there…

    1. I certainly don’t mean for my comments to appear cold and dismissive. For that I am sorry.

      I very much want justice for Trayvon’s family and believe that Zimmerman should be punished. Trayvon’s parents will never celebrate another birthday with him, they won’t watch him grow older and perhaps have a family of his own. The pain that Zimmerman inflicted on Trayvon’s family is horrendous. That pain exists regardless of the verdict. A guilty verdict would have been justice for our country and for Trayvon’s family. But the pain and anguish would remain and Trayvon’s parents would still grieve the death of their son. This is part of the conversation that I want us to have.

      I think that we can start healing our pain when we go into it. When we talk about and understand the depth and intensity of our pain and what it’s like to live with constant unfairness. How do we cope with this? How do we acknowledge and hold our pain while still working to move forward? This is a piece of what I’m trying to do. It’s one of many pieces that need to occur for there to be change.

  4. I was so saddened but not surprised at the verdict. Unfortunately ,it appeared as if the prosecution did not WANT to win. I know that sounds like an oxymoron when it comes to lawyers,but they only wanted to pacify the public by have a (kangaroo) court. Remember, it took SIx Weeks for an arrest to be made! The police trusted everything that Zimmerman told them,why? Because a white Hispanic had just shot and killed a Black man. There can be justice if we continue to fight injustices. We must let our voices be heard at the ballot boxes and peacefully in the street. We have come a long way with these tactics ,but it is obvious that we still have a LONG WAY TO GO ! Keep the faith and continue the fight.

  5. Tonya,

    For me, your post raised important questions about the difference between our current criminal justice system (which is not offering any kind of justice) and some alternative system in which the goal is to repair harm that was done.

    I’m not sure if this matches the intent of your post completely, but this article highlights some ideas I found to be similar to those in your post:
    http://inthesetimes.com/article/15329/what_would_justice_for_trayvon_martin_look_like/

    Kay Whitlock writes: “Deeper and more effective forms of justice would recognize that in fact, the lives of both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are worth reclaiming and redeeming.” I find myself having a hard time seeing the value in Zimmerman’s life, but I do think it’s important to hold onto the idea that people have the capacity to grow and maybe transform. I think Zimmerman could feel remorse, but I don’t think our criminal justice system can provide a structure for that to happen.

    Whitlock also asks: “Where are today’s risk-takers who are willing to step out into the great storms of fear—those who are willing to call not for more policing, punishment , and retribution, but for justice that not only names and confronts, but works to transform and heal the terrible wounds of structural racism in this purportedly “colorblind” society?” For me, working in this direction is the closest thing that feels like justice. How to concretely do that is another question.

    1. Junior, thank you or sharing this article! I hope that others read it as it speaks to to the racism and injustice in our country that made it possible for Zimmerman to murder Trayvon Martin and then get acquitted of his murder.

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