Frank Episale is an editor, writer, educator, and theatre artist living and working in Brooklyn. He holds a BFA from New York University, an MA from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and an MPhil from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. This is his (infrequently updated) blog. He's pretty google-able, if you'd like to know more.

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Sunday
Jul142013

On Trayvon

The fact that the jury was likely correct in their decision makes the situation worse, not better. If this were a rogue jury who hadn't weighed the evidence or understood the law, there would be an easier, more digestible kind of anger and heartbreak. 

Instead, we have to look at the larger issues that made the acquittal inevitable: a culture that put a gun in Zimmerman's pocket and fantasies of vigilantism in his head; a police dispatcher who said, "we don't need you to do that" when he started to follow Trayvon instead of saying, "Stop. Get back in your car. And let us handle it"; a legal framework that considers firearms reasonable tools of "self-defense" against fists, and that presumes the "winner" of a deadly confrontation to have been defending himself while not acknowledging that the victim was trying to do the same; and an atmosphere in which any young black man walking down a sidewalk at night is viewed as a threat instead of greeted as a neighbor.

Revenge fantasies about Zimmerman and rage at the jury are distractions from the underlying issues. Yes, honor Trayvon. Yes fight for change. But no: don't wish for or encourage more violence. Our culture of fear, violence, and retribution is the problem, not the solution.

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