This Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in connection to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The verdict gave rise to a national dialogue about race and racial profiling, as people took to the streets in protest. One year later, Zimmerman remains a household name–but violence against unarmed black people continues.
In a personal essay over at Next City, organizer Dante Barry, who works with the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, considers the ways in which black neighborhoods continue to be plagued by violence:
Although frustration still lingers from that tragic decision of injustice to acquit Zimmerman of all charges, over the last year, Million Hoodies has been busy bridging the gap between gun violence prevention and mass decriminalization. We recognize that the death of Trayvon Martin and even Jordan Davis, and many others like them, are deeply embedded in institutional injustice and structural violence. We must attack the core inequalities in our society if we are to put a stop to the senseless deaths and systemic violence inflicted on people of color every day.
Audre Lorde once said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” We cannot just talk about gun violence and continue to ignore the criminalization of communities of color. Responses to certain forms of gun violence have resulted in the increase of school metal detectors and policies like stop-and-frisk. Arguably, stop-and-frisk is motivated by a desire to address public safety and the safety of our children. However, it disproportionately impacts young men of color. Stop-and-frisk is an experience far too common if you walk around Bed-Stuy and identify as poor or black.
I live down the street from a police precinct. I see officers patrol my street at night and will occasionally stand in front of my apartment building to surveil the area. Am I safe? Is this what security feels like?