Thursday, April 12, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

That fact that it took 45 days for George Zimmerman to be arrested and charged speaks volumes about the American criminal justice system's cold and racist disregard for black life. If it wasn't for the people marching, protesting, speaking out, petitioning and blogging, our brother Trayvon Martin would be just another dead, discarded n*****. George Zimmerman would still be on the loose, armed and dangerous. Never forget that. Frankly, it is a national disgrace that we had to protest to bring the killer to justice.

People all over this nation united and said "Hell no! We aren't going to let that man get away with killing an unarmed, innocent, young brother." As a result of the people's collective efforts, Zimmerman is now behind bars and charged with 2nd degree murder. This is why protests matter. This is why civil rights organizations are still relevant and necessary. Unfortunately, this nation will probably never be a post-racial society.

The question is where do we go from here. Should we put down our signs, take off the hoodies, stop marching, stop protesting and stop petitioning? No.

Although we are all pleased to see Zimmerman arrested, we should not celebrate yet. Many prominent individuals have said that they just want to see Zimmerman arrested. That's not enough. An arrest alone is not justice. It is merely the first step on the road to justice. Remember Emmett Till's killers were arrested and charged. Rodney King's torturers were arrested and charged. Sean Bell's killers were arrested and charged. Amadou Diallo's killers were arrested and charged. In each case, the killers and attackers were released. So, don't be pacified by an arrest.

We must remember that this problem is much bigger than Zimmerman. What about the Sanford Police Department that let Zimmerman go free? What about the continuing systemic and nationwide problem of racial profiling? What about racial differences in charging and sentencing? What about those ridiculous "stand your ground" laws in over 20 states?

Instead of jumping from one crisis to the next crisis, we must seize the moment and develop a national campaign to end racial profiling, police brutality and vigilantism. Pontification and indignation are not enough. As Kwame Ture said, we must be organized. Join a progressive organization today. Stay engaged and involved.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

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