Trayvon Martin Case: Sparks of Racial Violence Appear

By Jonsson, Patrik | The Christian Science Monitor, April 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

Trayvon Martin Case: Sparks of Racial Violence Appear


Jonsson, Patrik, The Christian Science Monitor


Police report isolated incidents of blacks attacking whites in the name of 'justice for Trayvon Martin.' The incidents are rare, but they indicate frustrations in the African-American community.

Recent isolated incidents of violence against whites by blacks, in which Trayvon Martin's name has been reportedly invoked as a justification, indicate that anger and frustration over the case within the African-American community are boiling over in rare instances.

On Wednesday, 18-year-old Alton Hayes was charged with a hate crime for beating and robbing a white man in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ill. He told police he was angry over the Trayvon case, in which neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who is part- white and part Hispanic, says he shot Trayvon in self-defense.

On Saturday, a group of black people severely beat a white man in Mobile, Ala., with one participant reportedly claiming, "Now, that's justice for Trayvon." Mobile police say the attack was not motivated by the Trayvon case.

On April 11, when a white man attempting to stop a black purse- snatcher in Gainesville, Fla., attracted a crowd, some people started shouting "Trayvon!" and three people in the crowd started stomping on the white man's hands. Earlier in the week, a white man in the town said he was beaten by several black men who shouted "Trayvon," but police said he was intoxicated and could not confirm his report.

The attacks put a sharper edge on recent polling data, which show that whites and blacks view the Trayvon case differently. Twice as many blacks and Hispanics as whites (73 percent versus 36 percent) say race played a major role in the shooting, according to a recent Monitor/TIPP poll.

Given the huge amount of media coverage in the Trayvon Martin case, the fact that only a handful of attacks with some kind of tangential tie to the Trayvon shooting have occurred suggests that Americans are overwhelmingly resorting to words to settle their differences.

Indeed, some commentators suggest the case has helped to bring simmering tensions out into the open.

"I've sat ... tight-lipped as my white peers questioned the existence of racism in their post-racial American, white privileged minds," writes Rachel Hislop for the Daily Grind website. "But then a young black man named Trayvon Martin was killed and the dirty blanket was finally pulled off the taboo conversation of the very present demon that is race relations in America, and I've decided that I am tired of staying quiet. …

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