90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:

After Zimmerman Verdict, Reflecting On Race And Justice

Demonstrators march in Union Square, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York,during a protest against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Demonstrators upset with the verdict protested mostly peacefully in Florida, Milwaukee, Washington, Atlanta and other cities overnight and into the early morning. (John Minchillo/AP)

Demonstrators march in Union Square, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York,during a protest against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Demonstrators upset with the verdict protested mostly peacefully in Florida, Milwaukee, Washington, Atlanta and other cities overnight and into the early morning. (John Minchillo/AP)

Over the weekend we saw shock and protests — from Los Angeles to Boston — over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 19-year-old Trayvon Martin. Today, there’s a deeper effort to understand the meaning of the verdict — in particular what it means to African-American communities across the nation and around this city.

Yesterday evening, about 500 people rallied in Roxbury’s Dudley Square and then marched up Malcolm X Boulevard to protest the verdict. Ministers across the the city called for peace and healing, even as they expressed solidarity for Trayvon Martin and his family.


Willie Bodrick II, youth minister at the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, and a student at Harvard Divinity School.

Tricia Rose, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University.


The Boston Globe: “Hours after Bodrick and other ministers called for peace and healing following the not-guilty verdict in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin, a protest in Dudley Square drew hundreds, some wearing hoodies and carrying homemade signs. More than two dozen speakers forcefully expressed their frustration with the verdict and with wider issues of inequality.”

Other stories from this show:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://moultonlava.blogspot.com/ Mokita Syzygy

    Dr. StrangeLaw

    [The Attorney General calls Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin]

    Attorney General Eric GunHolder: [to Tracy Martin] Hello?… Uh… Hello Tr- uh hello Tracy? Listen uh uh I can’t hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the crying and wailing down just a little?… Oh-ho, that’s much better… yeah… huh… yes… Fine, I can hear you now, Tracy… Clear and plain and coming through fine… I’m coming through fine, too, eh?… Good, then… well, then, as you say, we’re both coming through fine… Good… Well, it’s good that you’re fine and… and I’m fine… I agree with you, it’s great to be fine… a-ha-ha-ha-ha… Now then, Tracy, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Law… The *Law*, Tracy… The *Rule* of Law!… Well now, what happened is… ahm… one of our vigilante assistants, he had a sort of… well, he went a little funny in the head… you know… just a little… funny. And, ah… he went and did a silly thing… Well, I’ll tell you what he did. He allowed his defense lawyer… to attack your dead son… Ah… Well, let me finish, Tracy… Let me finish, Tracy… Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?… Can you *imagine* how I feel about it, Tracy?… Why do you think I’m calling you? Just to say hello?… *Of course* I like to speak to you!… *Of course* I like to say hello!… Not now, but anytime, Tracy. I’m just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened… It’s a *friendly* call. Of course it’s a friendly call… Listen, if it wasn’t friendly… you probably wouldn’t have even got it… They will *not* express remorse for at least another generation… I am… I am positive, Tracy… Listen, I’ve been all over this with your psychologist. It is not a trick… Well, I’ll tell you. We’d like to give your spiritual staff a complete run-down on the hangups, the narratives, and the ego defense systems of the police culture… Yes! I mean i-i-i-if we’re unable to instill remorse, then… I’d say that, ah… well, ah… we’re just gonna have to help you forgive them, Tracy… I know they’re our vigilantes… All right, well listen now. Who should we call?… *Who* should we call, Tracy? The… wha-whe, the People… you, sorry, you faded away there… The People’s Central Spiritual Epiphany Headquarters… Where is that, Tracy?… In the Noosphere… Right… Yes… Oh, you’ll call them first, will you?… Uh-huh… Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Tracy?… Whe-ah, what? I see, just ask for Noosphere Information… Ah-ah-eh-uhm-hm… I’m sorry, too, Tracy… I’m very sorry… *All right*, you’re sorrier than I am, but I am as sorry as well… I am as sorry as you are, Tracy! Don’t say that you’re more sorry than I am, because I’m capable of being just as sorry as you are… So we’re both sorry, all right?… All right.

    • Estproph

       Does it make you feel good to make fun of a father who had his son murdered?

  • Wahoo_wa

    The black community could also address the problem of crime.  The break-ins in that Sanford neighborhood were perpetrated by young black men.  A neighborhood watch volunteer is clearly going to pursue a stranger in the neighborhood matching the description of the suspects whether they are white, black or Asian.  It’s not racism.  It’s common sense.

    • Fstylerep

      The crime may be an issue, but that does not mean that killing an unarmed innocent boy is ok. All Zimmerman had to do was call the police and let them take care of it.

      • a guy

         then Zimmerman is guilty of bad judgement, not second degree murder.

        The evidence -and lack thereof- is what it is. The jury and the judge are bound by it. Zimmerman had no history of racial bias (taught to black kids, had a black girlfriend), was reasonably liked by neighbors black and white alike. He had evidence of a broken nose, and nobody has witnessed how it started, but testimony was heard that Martin was on top of him.

        we ask too much of juries, and they do what they can with what they have.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          and  what scenario can you imagine where Zimmerman is guilty and all the other facts fit?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        he did call the police. your “innocent boy” tried to beat him to death while he was waiting for them. tell me more about how innocent he is. perhaps provide some of travons tweets to show what an innocent child he was

      • Sasquatch

        And why do you imagine he killed him? It wasn’t on a lark. It was because Trayvon refused to stop brutally assaulting him. The physical evidence and witness testimony completely backed Zimmerman up on this. So does common sense. Why would he call the police and then murder someone when they could arrive at any moment and for all he knows, a dozen neighbors are filming the whole thing on their phones?

        There is zero evidence he was not “letting them take care of it” – getting out of his truck to try to maintain a visual, at a great distance, isn’t taking anything into his own hands. It also is no justification to come back 4 minutes later and start assaulting someone, as the evidence shows Trayvon did.

  • Fstylerep

    When Tricia Rose stated, we live in a post racial world, I was stunned. Don’t know or care if she is black or white, but she is delusional and so is everybody else who thinks that! Just because we have a biracial president don’t mean anything. Racism is alive, quite well and rampant!!! I’m white my husband is African and our son is biracial. I see it everyday here in Massachusetts. The decision regarding Zimmerman is heinous and for the judge to ignore race is beyond current reality. We were stunned at the complete exoneration of Zimmerman while turning Trayvon in the criminal. This country needs to wake up and smell the coffee, more blacks in prison than whites, among other problems that men of color have: much lower unployment, etc, etc.

    • Devin

      I think you misheard her. She said we DID NOT live in a post-racial America. Other than that, I agree with all you said.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      actually there are more white people in prison although the percentages are greater for African americans. so in your mind the right thing to do would be wrongly convict Zimmerman of murder?

  • Give_Me_Liberty_92

    …another one-sided show where everybody agreed. Way to go Antony, thanks for keeping the “debate” alive!

    one thing struck me, though. I have always taught my kid to be respectful, to make sure you hands are
    in plain view, to maintain a non-aggressive posture and to respect space
    when encountering the police or someone in a position of authority (or someone overexcited and angry). To the cops, always ask if you are free to go and if it says no, ask what crime you
    are accused of committing. If you are detained, don’t touch the cop,
    hands up, knees down (he will floor you in most cases) and don’t struggle, comply with
    the orders. After that there is a lawyer on speed-dial. Road-side
    lawyering or physical confrontation never works with LEOs or ….angry folks with a gun on their belts.

    considering the militarization
    of law enforcement in America, this is not just a “black conversation”. 
    I guess it’s a conversation that everyone living here has had (or
    should have) with their kids.  not sure why journalists makes so much
    out of it, as if this was some special tragic survival strategy of black
    Americans. What America are they living in? America law
    enforcement officers are more aggressive than in most western countries.
    regular folks too, and anybody can be armed here (lawfully or not). you
    just have to adapt to it.

    • Devin

      Perhaps you simply don’t understand the reality that being Black in America and dealing with police is different for Black people, and always has been. There is the common sense that EVERYONE has to have and and a special amount of caution that Black people (men especially) need to deal with. I’m not sure what race you are, but I’m assuming you are completely ignorant to the difference.

      • Give_Me_Liberty_92

        ….you “assume”….. how lovely.

         I’m an immigrant, I have an accent and a beard….this country has a long history of anti-immigrant/nativist waves of intollerance, for all the pro-immigrant official rhetoric.  obviously I could try to shut down the conversation by saying that you or anybody else don’t know how it is to be me… so what? that would be silly and useless in a forum like this. so let’s avoiding to measure each other ignorance. we would go nowhere.

        In today America (not 1958 Alabama), the “special amount of caution” you are talking about, when described and looked at carefully it is not special at all: it is indistinguishable from common folks caution. As a survivor of many countries and countless not-so-random police “document checks” I can tell you: that’s how you stay alive, independent from race.

        And my point is that- perhaps- it is more the perception here at play than actual facts, along with old fears that are projected on present events. Take the Zimmerman-Martin case: a brown latino man with a history of positive interactions with blacks (ex-girlfriend black, teaching to black kids, liked by neighbours and teachers)  kills a black kid following an argument in a mixed-race gated community. A tragedy, obviously. Yet, because of the history of that part of America, the narrative becomes that of a crazy white supremacist out to get random black folks. The reaction seems to be playing out other fears, from other times, other stereotypes, not the actual facts.

        Data on hands (Bureau of Justice Statistics) there is not a specific problem of white-on-black violence (~5% of all violent crimes and flat over time since 1976), as black-on-black,white-on-white,  black-on-white violence is more common: 93% of blacks are murdered by blacks, 85% of whites are murdered by whites.

         (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vvr98.pdf; http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/bvvc.pdf)

        But overall violent victimization trends are downward for all races from 1993 to today, following the general downward trend of crime. and that is the underlying “good” that disappears from this conversation.

        The number of hate crimes has also decreased for all kind of biases (anti-black and anti-white) from 1995 to now, in spite of the US population growing considerably during the same period of time  (http://www.publiceye.org/hate/Statistics.html). the exception are antihomosexual and antimuslim bias incidents, actually. so, if there is a problem, it is there.

        clearly I do see a general problem of people with power trying to control people with less power (stop and frisk is an example of that, and black cops are as guilty of this practice as white cops), aided by the people general willingness of giving to the authorities ever increasing police powers in the name of “security”.

        but I don’t see any good in somehow creating an aurea of “special” victimization around a specific race detached from data and facts (as the two speakers of the show did). it will only reinforce old stereotypes.

        • Sasquatch

          “The reaction seems to be playing out other fears, from other times, other stereotypes, not the actual facts.”


          Well written comments, bravo.

  • Shwan12

    What is the teenager, Trevon doing inside a gated community anyway… if you do not belong there then don’t go there.  I would say he contributed to his death… sad tragedy, but I hope those people respect neighborhood watch communities.  Otherwise people who do robberies will ignore neighborhood watch communities, and this is a good example of always follow the law, and do not be rebellious to a neighborhood watch groups like Zimmerman.  I am sure those Jurors are intelligent people who knows more to the story than the public is saying, so people should leave things alone, and don’t be judgmental.

    • Mr . Thomas

      Trayvon had every right to be in that neighborhood. His dad lived there, meaning it’s his neighborhood just as much as it was George Zimmerman.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        of course he did. he just did not have a right to beat anyone

      • Sasquatch

        False. Trayvon’s father was in an adulterous relationship with Brandi Green who had recently gotten a condo in Zimmerman’s neighborhood.

        That makes Trayvon a guest of a guest. Whereas Zimmerman was a homeowner there and very active in his community.

        Trayvon had a right to be there, but it was a gated community and he was a guest. His thought when seeing a man in a nice truck, inside gates which you can only get into with a code (in a vehicle), holding a phone up to his ear and keeping an eye on Trayvon (who had gotten in trouble constantly) should have been “this guy thinks I’m up to something” not “this guy is a threat to me.”

        And in fact, according to Rachel Jeantel, when he said “creepy cracker” he meant “someone actin’ like they police, or security” so… he didn’t think Zimmerman was a threat. He thought he represented an annoyance. She also said she thinks Trayvon punched first, and Zimmerman didn’t have his gun out.

    • J__o__h__n

      It is called Neighborhood Watch, not Neighborhood Take the Law into Your Own Hands.  He should have called the cops, and then listened to their instructions to not follow him.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        he did both of those things

      • Sasquatch

        Zimmerman’s account is that he did listen to the suggestion by the civilian phone operator.

        Not only did ZERO evidence ever surface to contradict him on that, but a TON of evidence supported it.

        In other words, all he did when he got out of his truck was attempt to keep an eye on where Trayvon had run to from a great distance. He had zero intention or expectation of any sort of direct encounter. Trayvon chose for that to happen, and chose for violence to happen.

    • Ajajrjah

      You sound like a real fool “those People” what about respect for someone like, who his Zimmerman should he be allowed to take the law in his hands.  What gives him the right to take someone”s life. He should have waited in his car. And as for self defense, what about Trevon acting in self defense.  Speak about the Jurors how is it at all possible for three not guilty, two guilty and one manslaughter then all to turn around and say not guilty, something is wrong with that picture in anyones eyesight.  Florida needs to change their for all mankind not just some.  Open your eyes and see the big picture.  GUILTY
      Boston 2

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        if you want to play the Monday morning quarterback game… perhaps if travon had not fought and done drugs so much at school he would not have been suspended from school and no where near there. what was travon defending himself against? so because you think Zimmerman got out of his car when you think he was not supposed to he is a murderer?

Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

  • Listen: Weekdays, 3 p.m. on 90.9 FM
  • Live Call-In: (800) 423-TALK
  • Listener Voicemail: (617) 358-0607
Most Popular
This site is best viewed with: Firefox | Internet Explorer 9 | Chrome | Safari