This eloquent lament echoes how I feel for all of the children and innocents who have died through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN:
Like the thunder rattling my apartment, the death of Trayvon Martin is rattling my soul. Like millions of Americans, I marveled over the fact that I had heard nothing on the news about the slaying in the three weeks since the incident took place. Then, when the Sanford Police released the 911 tapes over the weekend, and the nation heard Trayvon’s horrified cries for help before the single shot that ended his life, the story exploded—like my own heart.
To add insult to well, one can’t say “injury” in the case of a gunshot and heart-stopping fatality…but to heap insult upon the memory of a sacred and beautiful human life lost, the killers are often not brought to justice. Time after time the narrative twists the crux of the matter: that an innocent person has died and his death is judged, somehow, JUSTIFIED. Zimmerman was justified because he SAID he was acting in self-defense against a boy armed with Skittles and a can of tea. He was justified to use lethal force against crude weapons that by no stretch of the imagination could be fatal. He was justified by an overly vague and ambiguous law that seems more suited to the Wild West than the 21st century. Though this “suspicious” boy retreated from his aggressor, though this young man could not possibly know the motives of this strange character, who was just as unknown to Trayvon as his killer was known to him…Zimmerman was justified without a judge or jury in the homicide of a man who Trayvon. Chief Bill Lee stated that arresting George Zimmerman would have been a violation of his civil rights.
On May 16, 2010, another innocent lost her life. Seven-year-old Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley Jones was killed by a single gunshot wound that struck her as she was napping on the couch in her living room. The Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team, followed by a TV crew filming for the crime show “The First 48,” raided the home in search of a murder suspect.
Although police were aware that children may have been inside, they fired a flash-bang grenade into the home before battering through the front door. The gunshot that killed Aiyana was fired by police officer Joseph Weekley. The officer claimed that Aiyana’s grandmother had grabbed or bumped him, causing his gun to go off-a charge her grandmother denies. There was video footage of the incident, but it has not been made public.
In October of 2011, 16 months after Aiyana’s violent death, Officer Joseph Weekley was charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun. Allison Howard, a producer with A&E who was also present at the raid, was also indicted for obstruction of justice and perjury. Investigators say that Howard lied about the events surrounding the incident. I hope that there will be justice for Aiyana. The officer faces up to 15 years if convicted. Though I am sure the officer did not mean for this baby to get shot, if he was involved in a cover-up of the incident he deserves the maximum penalty under the law. I believe the Detroit Police Department as a whole should share the blame for the botched raid for putting innocent lives at risk in the first place.
Though the details surrounding each of these cases are different, what makes them similar is that public outcry and attention by the media has helped to finally start moving the cogs of justice, despite the fact that law enforcement agencies attempted to make the problems go away. Neither case has yet gone to trial, of course, so we can’t know for sure that justice will be done. We can’t allow ourselves to forget these young lives wasted needlessly. We cannot allow them to be sacrificed for nothing.