Philadelphia And The Starting Five Rally For Trayvon Martin

 

“Trayvon Martin didn’t die so we can create a race war he died so we can promote better understanding. We must start honest dialogue.” -Russell Simmons

Before Saturday, I was on the fence about attending the rally for Trayvon Martin in Center City Philadelphia Monday evening. I had come to the conclusion that George Zimmerman was never going to be brought to justice and that this was only another welt on the backs of our people. But the more I celebrated with my son Quentin on his birthday the more that I realized that this wasn’t about me or my thoughts. There was a bigger picture that I needed to focus on.

A grim reminder of  how far we have to go.

My seven minute walk to Olney Terminal was laced with the sight of hoodies, all colors brands and sizes - I grabbed the heaviest one in my closet, a heavy fleece Jordan Brand with a hood big enough for two heads. It was a little after 6pm and the mercury was around 45 with a nice gust of wind to boot. Wearing the UNLV baseball cap was a mistake once the hulk started kicking around but the hoodie did serve a secondary purpose on this day.

Coming up out of the 15th Street concourse with a hot tea in hand, I expected a maddening rush to get to the park but once I reached street level there were already hundreds of people inside Love Park waiting for me to join them - overflowing with love and admiration for Trayvon - even in the midst of “new findings” that Trayvon was suspended from school for having marijuana residue in his bookbag and the even more serious accusation of having attacked George Zimmerman (who outweighs Martin by at least 100 lbs.) minutes before being shot to death by Zimmerman who claimed self-defense.

Walking up to the entrance of the park, there were two portraits of Trayvon that stood about 5 feet both of Trayvon. Without hesitation, I grabbed a pen and looked for open space on both portraits, I was able to find a spot right over his head and signed, “We love you our brother - Ron Glover, Quentin Glover and The Starting Five“.

Entering the rally, I was met with all races genders and ages, I was proud to see the overwhelming number of Black men in attendance - far outnumbering everyone. Young, old, wealthy and homeless were there to show their support. The police presence was visible but the uniformed cops (mostly white) stayed on the outskirts of the park in or around their vehicles. I couldn’t hear much because the volume on the equipment was poor but every few seconds a cheer or chant would go up.

The cover of this week’s Final Call

By now I’m ready to start speaking to people and getting their feelings on the situation. The first person I approach is Brother Kenneth Muhammad from the Nation of Islam. After purchasing my first Final Call in more than five years and inquiring about why he didn’t have any bean pies we got down to business.

Ron Glover: What was your initial reaction once you heard all of the details of this case?

Brother Kenneth Muhammad: Frustrated, because we’ve seen this happen time and time again and we know if we’re not treated right this will continue to happen, my first reaction was here they go again. Alot was done because he was killed by someone of a different race, my concern is that this is happening everyday in our communities. The same emphasis that we took on this rally here should be deal with every black child in our neighborhood, not just when it happens at the hands of someone from a different race. We should feel the same anger when one kills one of our own.

RG: What about the fact that he may never see the inside of a courtroom due to the “Stand Your Ground” law?

BKM: Yes sir Brother, I actually heard that on the news today that there is a possibility due to the law in Florida that it might not happen. Right now it’s a case of injustice, if it were me, you or any other minority we would’ve been locked up until we were found innocent.

RG: In the past many of today’s African-American athletes have taken a lot of criticism and ridicule for not taking a stance on issues such as this. With the gesture last week by the Miami Heat and others athletes of color has this awaken the Black Athlete?

BKM: They understand that this is likely to happen to someone who they didn’t know or even someone who they know. It’s great because it seems like that many of them leave and don’t come back once they get the money they leave and forget about those struggling in the inner city.

RG: Has the Brother Minister (Minister Louis Farrakhan) spoken out on this subject as of yet?

BKM: No sir he hasn’t but I’m sure that he will and I take my example from the Minister Louis Farrakhan.

RG: Thank you for your time Brother.

BKM: My pleasure.  

As I ended my conversation with Brother Muhammad, Mayor Michael Nutter was entering the park surrounded by a security team. A woman who I came to know later as Julia Williams noticed my recorder asked me, “Who was I with?” I told her The Starting Five and she volunteered her information like she had known me for years. It made me realize that it didn’t matter what outlet was there people wanted to be heard by anyone willing to listen, you could feel the frustration and desperation in their voices. There were many photographers but other than the usual media outlets I didn’t see too many people walking around with a mic or recorder.

Get past the stereotype of young Black men!” – Dwayne Wade

Ms. Williams  jumped right on the Mayor’s case about how she tried to get a word in with him and was “shoved away.” She went on to say how he could care less about Black people and that she couldn’t wait until his second term was up. After calming down she began to speak about how her nephew Takeem Laws (in her words he was her sister’s grandson’s brother) was shot down while riding a bike in the streets of South Philly in 2009 – one of the city’s 302 victims that year. Ironically, today was his birthday She talked about how this outpouring for Trayvon was great but she went on to question the anger from different groups and leader concerning her nephew and others that are gunned down in the streets daily. 

 As I moved throughout the park as much as I could, people were questioning one another and those speaking about how something like this has gone on virtually ignored. I looked into the faces of many of the white supporters that came to the rally and I must say if the roles were reversed I don’t think I could stand in the midst of angry white folk and the offender looks just like me.

Mary Kutcher was one of six witnesses who gave a police statement after Trayvon was shot in her backyard. What about her story? And how the Sanford Police Department may have been caught trying to cover up her statements.

The smear campaign that has surfaced against Trayvon and the constant reminders by the press that Zimmerman is of a Mexican mix reeks of fear.  The residents in that white gated community that watched a young man die are afraid, that guy with the smug attitude on the train that doesn’t want to move his bag so you can sit down – he’s afraid. Ditto the guy that cut you off in traffic or the guy next to you in the sports bar that’s suddenly concerned about race relations more than the game you’re trying to watch. They’re afraid because they don’t know when we’ll say enough is enough and set this thing off for real.

I was fortunate to run into Byron Daily, a freshman at Norfolk State University who was able to offer his perspective on the case.

RG: Being just a couple of years older than Trayvon how does it make you feel knowing that this could have been you or anyone that you know.

BD: It made me feel that no matter how careful I am I’m just not going to be safe. When I’m in Virginia the campus is open so I can easily walk into other neighborhoods that I’m not familiar with. And if I’m dressed a certain way, could that mean that I look suspicious to someone else?

RG: Have you experienced any racism in Virginia?

BD: I wouldn’t say so, I haven’t been off campus much.

RG: Are you aware of the fact that George Zimmerman may not be brought up on charges?

BD: That’s bullshit.

RG: Now that you’re in college do you feel that there is more of a responsibility to making a difference?

BD: Just making careful decisions no matter how small they may seem in my everyday life and to pay attention to what’s going on in the world.

Within an earshot of that conversation was Otto Barbour, a former Philly high school ballplayer who went on to play at Coppin State with a friend of mine.

RG: What is your response to the details in this case and its lack of progression?

OB: I grieved me – hurt my heart. Once again it appears that we’ve ended up on the wrong side of justice when we should have equality in regards to the justice system.

RG: Do you have any children of your own?

OB: None as of yet.

RG: Looking out on this rally you see people of all races but ultimately we know that it must come down to us. What do feel when you see this type of solidarity?

OB: This is very powerful and it only shows that when we come together nothing is impossible and we all have to continue to be on the same page. Speaking to humanity as a whole, it grieves my heart to know that the African-American community is the laughingstock of the human race and we can’t seem to understand that we need to come together as a people. It grieves me that some of us that have been blessed (Black Athletes) don’t take the forefront a little more, but at the same time it shouldn’t stop any of us from taking that forefront.

RG: Thanks Brother.

Heading home that night, I felt more uncertainty than anything else. I don’t know what’s on the horizon for this case and the effects that it will have on race relations in this country going forward. What I do know is that we are at a critical point and whatever happens in Sanford, Florida could tip the scales dramatically.

10 Responses to “Philadelphia And The Starting Five Rally For Trayvon Martin”

  1. Ryan Mishap says:

    Not often I quote Ice-T (except for “Reckless”), but apropos:

    Every night I pray
    That people get this shit together one day
    But this country ain’t with it
    America was founded on that racist shit
    I judge the devil by his deeds
    It’s usually connected to the size of his greed
    And keep the hope
    Even though they’d love to give a nigga like me the rope
    And when this shit hits
    There’s gonna be a lotta white kids rollin with the Africans
    You can’t sweat skin
    Cause ??? a lot of blacks is down with the Republicans
    This shit don’t have to happen
    That’s why a brother like me’s still rappin
    Just treat each other right
    Either that, or you’re lookin for a sure fight
    Fuck the police
    We already know they ain’t about no fuckin peace
    You wanna know what I think’s in store?
    Justice or a race war

  2. ch555x says:

    @Ryan Mishap

    “Home Invasion” was a pretty decent Ice-T album!

  3. Miranda says:

    The phrase “all hell gonna break loose” seems to be coming to fruition. There is too much to this case that is unjust and just plain bizarre. This latest video of Zimmerman at the police station, with no signs of the battle royale he claims took place. The completely unbelievable words being attributed to Trayvon – “you’re gonna die now”…”you got me”…what the hell? I could not believe the cops told Tracy Martin that fairy tale and then to hear Zimmerman’s father telling another fanciful bad Hollywood scripted tale – they trying to make Trayvon some character from a blaxploitation flick.

    And I’m sick of people pretending like being upset over the handling of this case means black folks were never upset over crime in urban areas before. That’s some bullshit being pimped by right wing nuts. Every darn week there are meetings, workshops, training, etc within neighborhoods beset by violence…EVERY DARN WEEK. Just because its not the headline on The Today Show everyday does not mean its not going on. The conversations about violence within urban areas go on EVERY SINGLE DAMN DAY. The issue with the Martin case is the obvious police cover up, for reasons we have yet to figure out. Last I checked, even the most notorious gangbanging fool’s death is investigated thoroughly and arrests made – there isn’t a “oh well, pookie dead, lets go home.” The comparisons by the likes of Faux News is just sickening and illogical, but they cater to the slow and dim anyway so it doesn’t matter.

    And for those who believe this case is just getting too much attention…F U…and I got another two words for ya: Natalee Holloway.

  4. Ron Glover says:

    @Miranda, I’m in total agreement.

    There’s a group in Philly called Mothers In Charge comprised of mothers that have lost their children to violence in the city and some of the things you hear from the lips of these brave women will shake your soul.

  5. eric daniels says:

    “And I’m sick of people pretending like being upset over the handling of this case means black folks were never upset over crime in urban areas before. That’s some bullshit being pimped by right wing nuts. ”

    Miranda you are so right, like there are not any Black groups who are involved into mentoring programs or neighborhood watch programs in these neighborhoods or Black America in general. Th Trayvon Martin inicident to me personally that the United States governs and treats Black Men according to the ‘Dred Scot’ decision, ” That the Black Man has no rights that White People are bound to respect’.

    That is so important because though the law may have faded into memory, it’s intent since it came down in 1857 is clear. African- American men are governed by it’s principle, let the Black Man rot in hell, do nothing to assist him but if he is not where he is supposed to be Whites as citizens have the to right to violate his rights or use deadly force if so threatened. African- American men are treated like Cain and will always bear the mark of the criminal and sinner.

    This is why right- wingers will use crime stats to defend their view that Martin was not dressed correctly and blamed him for wearing a hoodie or so-called gangsta gear, not that Zimmerman was violating his 4 th amendment rights and had no cause to harass him because he was not an officer just a wannabe cop looking to shoot a black kid. Ultimately this is where we are at as African Americans even with the first Black President in office, the Bald Eagle and spotted Owl has more rights AND PROTECTIONS than we do.

    Now the time is for solutions to this issue, and it won’t be by marching and begging some ‘God in the sky” but by real intellectual thinking, planning and action on the part of Black America, We have failed in that message the past 45 years and it’s time for some real grassroots leadership not some phony “New Black Panther racial posturing or integration/assimilation ideas that come from the Black media and leadership. But an alternative that speaks to Black America’s past and looks towards the future.

    Sorry I wrote so long but had so many things in my head.

  6. Sylvia says:

    Profound.

  7. Ron Glover says:

    All I can think of is the line from the Godfather where one of the Dons says in a meeting regarding Blacks, “They’re animals anyway, so let them loose their souls.”

    That’s the attitude that has been and will always be taken towards us no matter what field we’re in – at the end of the day that’s what we’re seen as to them.

  8. eric daniels says:

    Ron, pretty much the “Dred Scott” decision in a nutshell in the “Godfather” quote the question is what do we about it and what solutions can be made to combat the reality of American Life.

  9. Ron Glover says:

    Yeah, weren’t they talking about putting drugs in Brooklyn or someplace where we were thick at?

  10. ks says:

    Miranda,

    Absodamnlutely! Zimmerman’s tale is absurd and getting more so by the minute.

    The diversionary talk about “Black crime” is irritating beyond belief. As you mentioned, it ignores the anti-crime efforts that have been going on in black communities forever and, just as importantly, it ignores the reality of crime.

    There are two major truths about crime:

    1. The majority of crime is INTRARACIAL. Meaning, the perp and victim are the same race.

    2. Most crime is “known to…”. Meaning, the perp and victim are “known to” each other in some fashion.

    Comparatively, “stranger danger” crime is a lot less likely. The vast majority of “Fox News” type people complaining about “Black crime” will likely never be affected by it and don’t really care about it. It’s just a tactic to express “rational” bigotry.

    Also, spot on about anybody complaining about the coverage of this case. Especially in the era of the “Missing White Girl” syndrome.

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