In the last week, we’ve seen protests erupt after George Zimmerman was cleared of the murder of Trayvon Martin.

Essentially, the law has upheld the view that ‘walking while black’ is a crime, if somebody interprets that as “cruising for burglaries”.

The case has helped to highlight the deep racial divides that exist not only in the US but across Europe – where many have expressed similar support for Zimmerman.

Zimmerman had confronted Martin – an African-American man while Martin had been walking home after buying a bag of skittles and soda.

Despite being initially told to back off and not to confront him by the police, Zimmerman continued to pursue him after calling the police.

Zimmerman and his supporters claim that Martin had attacked him when approached and thus the homicide was a justifiable act of self-defence.

But given that Zimmerman was armed with a gun and had no reason to attack Martin other than the fact that he was black, this defence is flawed at best.

Supporters of Zimmerman also ignore the fact that he had chased Martin – who attempted to get away from Zimmerman – before confronting him.

This gives rise to several questions. Firstly, if someone physically started a fight with you, would you be tempted to retaliate?

But let’s be fair here. It is impossible to know who threw the first punch. Which makes it all the more puzzling that many appear to be so sure that it must have been Trayvon.

And would Zimmerman have confronted Martin if he had been white? Unlikely.

Would Zimmerman have followed Martin if he had not been armed, considering that he thought – for reasons only known to himself – that Martin was dangerous? I’m no mind reader, but again this seems highly unlikely.

And would Martin who was – unarmed – have defended himself if he had known Zimmerman was armed? It’s doubtful.

Some of the most fanatical republicans and those on the right also point to the fact that Martin had previously been in trouble at school and was once busted for marijuana.

As if that in itself was a good reason to start firing at someone. They forget to mention however, that Zimmerman himself had been in trouble with the law for firearms offences and domestic violence – and therefore, should not even have been allowed to carry a gun.

This is a guy who was accused of sexual offences by his own family member and was once fired from a job as a bouncer for being too aggressive.

But according to his supporters, Zimmerman had a right to confront Martin who was “cruising for burglary”. How they could possibly come to that conclusion without any evidence is beyond me, especially as Martin’s motive for walking on the streets was widely known – a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea sourced locally from the shop.

Another spurious argument that proponents of the walking-while-black brigade often trot out is that the mainstream media is race-baiting.

I have to say, I agree. Never before have I seen such a concerted and I must say, highly organised campaign to smear the name of Trayvon Martin and justify his death for the crime of visiting the shops.

But I would go further. It is not just the mainstream media. Other so-called alternative outlets (controlled opposition?) such as Natural News and Alex Jones have also been at the centre of a campaign to justify the death of yet another black man in the US.

They claim that Obama is using this as an attempt to undermine gun laws in the US. In the same breath they point to the number of black men who die in black-on-black crime and gangs (completely ignoring the root causes of such crime, or the documented fact that the CIA was known to have flooded the streets with cocaine and guns in a bid to encourage gang crime).

But if guns are used to kill people whether they happen to be walking home from the shops, or involved in gang crime, then that alone is a good case for further restrictions.

And why are the alternative movement so paranoid about losing their gun rights? They claim it is because they don’t trust their own government. To some extent that is justified.

In a country where civil liberties are gradually being eroded, while police brutality grows, it is not surprising that people don’t trust their government. This is a country where police officers conduct public strip searches and invasive vaginal searches on the streets without good cause.

Therefore mistrust of government and law enforcement is perfectly understandable.

But if ordinary public citizens in America are seriously advocating shooting teenagers who merely “look suspicious”, then should they be armed? Perhaps if the government is what they truly fear, then more time should be spent tackling the government and corrupt police officers rather than shooting black teenagers armed with nothing but a bag of skittles.

However, I’d argue that the desire to hold onto guns extends deeper than just a mistrust of government.

If the Trayvon Martin highlights anything, it is how the fear of crime and minorities helps to feed into the paranoia felt by the middle classes.

The fear of crime actually feeds the government’s agenda to expand police budgets and introduce harsher punishments, which inevitably spills over into oppression against all sections of society.

And even when this agenda is exposed and recognised, the population is so busy pointing fingers and blaming each other for the oppression meted out by those who control society, that there is very little political will to unite and stand up for the rights of all people, regardless of race.

Afterall, as Martin Luther King once said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Never a truer word has been spoken.

Interestingly, Zimmerman was tried in the same state that sentenced Marissa Alexander – an African-American mother of two – to 20 years in jail after she fired warning shots at an abusive husband, who incidentally was neither harmed or injured as a result.

The prosecutor who tried the case was the same prosecutor who looked over this latest case.

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