By: Martin Rand, III
Date: March 28, 2012


It has been a month since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot on his way home from the store to watch the NBA All-Star events. George Zimmerman, his murderer, was a self-appointed neighborhood watch chief who hasn’t been arrested for the murder because he claimed self-defense provoked him to shoot.

Signs like the one above have been seen a lot lately. But are the signs battling the right issue?

I’ve heard the 911 tapes of nearby neighbors reporting what they were hearing outside; and, the most apparent piece of evidence I hear is young Martin yelling “HELP! HELP!” right before a bullet is heard and his cries come to a screeching halt.

Did Martin deserve to be murdered? No. Should Zimmerman be in custody for the murder? Yes. While both action and inaction are confusing to me, there’s one thing about this whole situation that really perplexes me.

Why are people rallying for Martin? Is it because he’s a black person who was murdered by non-black person? Is it because he was a young adult and was murdered by a half-white half-Hispanic older adult? Is it because Zimmerman wasn’t arrested initially? Is it because his father lived in a rich housing community? Is it because the national media decided to follow the story? Are any of these the reason or is it something else because I can’t figure it out?

Everyone in this country and (thanks to social media) the world, knows about the Martin case. However, many have no idea about another young black male who was shot to death without just cause. His name is Marlon Riley.

I first read about Riley in a New York Times article earlier this year. Riley was visiting his girlfriend in a Brooklyn neighborhood, when he was stopped on the street by a gang member and asked if he was affiliated with a rival gang. Riley, who wasn’t affiliated with either gang, had no idea what the gang member was talking about and had a confusing look on his face. When the 21-year-old looked perplexed, the gang member shot him in the face, killing him.

I read about this in January, but when I looked into the situation, Riley had already been dead for months. He was killed July 2011.

But I never heard about. There were no protest, no rallies, no national news media and no trending topics on Twitter for Riley, like there was for Martin. I’m guessing most of the country, and (despite all the social media) the world never heard about Riley.

So, why no rally for Riley? Is it because he’s a black person who was murdered by another black person? Is it because he was a young adult and was murdered by a black teenager? Is it because his murderer was in a gang? Is it because he was killed in a low-income neighborhood? Is it because the national media decided not to follow the story? Are any of these the reason or is it something else because I can’t figure it out?

Derrek Asberry, a good friend of mine, Georgia Southern University Senior Journalism Major, guest writer for The George-Anne Daily and editorial writer for the Savannah Morning News, wrote a piece on the Martin case. In it, he proclaimed “this is not an African-American issue; this is an American issue. Any American, regardless of race, should be able to look at the facts and be able to say, ‘That’s not right.’ This is not a time for minority groups to rally for Trayvon.”

Initially, I agreed with the statement; but after giving it some thought, I can only half-way agree. This isn’t a time for people to rally for Martin, however, this IS a black issue.

Black people should be rallying against the issues and the injustices, not for the people. Here’s why. Riley is gone, Martin is gone but the injustices that killed them are still alive. Even if Zimmerman gets convicted and sent to jail for years or life, there is going to be another black kid killed for no reason at all.

Martin’s Case also brings to mind another black male who was killed unjustly. Troy Davis (remember him?). People held rallies, protested (all the way to the Supreme Court) and even made him a TT on Twitter. Then, all their rallies failed and he was put to death by lethal injection. Now, do you hear anything about Davis, his plight or the injustice that killed him? The answer is, an unsurprisingly, no.

The reason is because when people die, over time, we forget them. The same way people forgot about Davis, they’ll forget about Martin. When they do, another slain black person will arise and people will rally for them and the cycle will start all over again.

But, if black people rally against the issues on a consistent basis, rather than for any given person every once in a while, then maybe we have a chance to save an innocent person in the future.

I’m not a very political person. I don’t rally or protest issues. So, I don’t like to judge people who do; but when I see people rallying for one person (just because a cop or a non-black person killed them), when hundreds of others, like Riley, are also being killed, that’s when I feel like I need to say something.

What happened to Martin is a shame, but people need to stop focusing on Martin and start focusing on the issues of the black community. Gang violence and racism are still major enemies against black people in America. So, you can either rally and yell “STOP GANG VIOLENCE” or “NO MORE RACISM,” or just wait for the next black kid to be murdered and yell “JUSTICE FOR ___(insert name here)____.”

The choice is yours.

Image source here


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Why wasn’t there any marches held for Marlon Riley like there was for Trayvon Martin?
Is it because he’s a black person who was murdered by another black person?
Is it because he was a young adult and was murdered by a black teenager?
Is it because his murderer was in a gang?
Is it because he was killed in a low-income neighborhood?
Is it because the national media decided not to follow the story?
  
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