I am perturbed. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by community neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012. On February 2 - almost one month before the tragic events in Florida that have now captivated the nation, celebrities and even the President of the United States - Ramarley Graham, another unarmed black teen was shot and killed in his bathroom by police after they gained illegal entry to his Bronx home.
While I don’t want to think that racism is the reason why Trayvon’s case has garnered so much more attention than Ramarley’s (after all – both were young black men in their teens, going harmlessly about their business when their lives were snuffed out by an overzealous wanna-be cop in one instance and in the other a rookie inexperienced officer working with an under-cover drug unit for which he had not received any training) I’m trying to wrap my head around what it is about Trayvon’s case that has so energized America’s obsession with race, when charges of racism can be laid at the foot of both black and white America. Could it be that Trayvon is an African-American and Ramarley, though born in America is the offspring of Caribbean parents? One shudders to think that this could be the case, but the more I see the story unfolding, the more I am inclined to draw the conclusion that my initial premise is correct.
While attention to Trayvon’s case grows – it seems that Ramarley’s case diminishes, save for the stalwart community activists, Graham family supporters and curious stragglers who want to know what the excitement is all about, there seems to be scant attention being paid. Who or what is keeping the lid on the news of Ramarley Graham’s murder?
After the initial groundswell of community outrage, Ramarley’s case will hopefully soon be investigated by a Grand Jury to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against the officers involved. The outcry across the country grows as more evidence comes to light fueling allegations of police negligence, but still there is no arrest or criminal charge(s) against Zimmerman. It is interesting to note that Zimmerman is now pleading his case via his attorney and most interestingly a friend, who just happens to be black and who has stated on national television his ‘friend’s’ lack of racism. Joe Oliver’s talking points, routinely paraded on every national station in the past weeks were vigorously shot down by Lawrence O’Donnell who called Zimmerman’s lawyer a coward, when the latter chickened out of an interview with the hard-questioning host of MSNBC’s “Last Word”. In a rather bizarre and comical portrait of farce, O’Donnell went on to ‘interview’ the empty seat that should have been occupied by Zimmerman’s attorney – Craig Sonner. By the way Joe Oliver, a former CNN host has since gone into hiding, much like his ‘friend’ George Zimmerman who continues to trot out a succession of supporters and family members to plead his innocence.
Meanwhile, the organizers of the Ramarley’s Call Foundation urge support for the firing of police commissioner Ray Kelly, an end to police violence against kids, an end to illegal stops and frisks, an end to trespass arrests of folks in their own buildings and above all, swift justice to those responsible for Ramarley’s murder. The community participates in candlelight vigils in honor of Ramarley’s memory every Thursday leaving from 749 E 299th Street at 5:00 pm followed by a march to the 47th Precinct at 229th Street and Laconia Avenue. The vigil and march to the precinct is peaceful above all, respectfully honoring Ramarley Graham 4.12.93-2.2.12 – RIP!