Rich Benjamin’s fine book, ‘Searching for Whitopia’ gets it in the opening sentence of his introduction–
Imagine moving to a place where you can leave your front door unlocked as you run your errands, where the community enjoys a winning ratio of playgrounds to potholes, where you can turn your kids loose at 3 P.M., not to worry, then see them in time for supper. Where the neighbors greet those children by name…
Contrast this with the gated ‘community’ where George Zimmerman shot the un-armed teenager, Trayon Martin. From Wikipedia–
The Retreat at Twin Lakes is a 260-unit gated townhome community in Sanford, Florida. The population in the development at the time of the shooting, was about 49% non-Hispanic white, 23% Hispanic, 20% black, and 5% Asian, according to Census figures. Both George Zimmerman and Tracy Martin’s fiancee were renting homes in the development when the shooting occurred. At the time of the shooting, Martin had been staying with his father’s fiancee at The Retreat.
From January 1, 2011 through February 26, 2012, police were called to The Retreat at Twin Lakes 402 times.[
I’m guessing that Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney Fife did not respond to those calls.
Does a gate make a community? Apparently not. George Zimmerman was so afraid that he perceived a boy walking by on the street as a threat that warranted calling the police and then preparing himself to shoot to kill, which he did within minutes.
The family of George Zimmerman is claiming that he did only what was reasonable to protect himself. Did they trust the police to keep the community safe? Did they think that a neighborhood of nearly 300 families rated any action from their elected representatives to fight crime? Did they organize to demand that the ‘gate’ of their ‘gated community’ be made effective to protect them? One thing is sure, George Zimmerman chose to arm himself and use lethal force as he thought fit.
We will not end this internal war of Americans against Americans without tough conversations– without understanding what divides us–what could put us on opposite sides in interpreting this awful murder of a teenage boy.
It’s painful and oppressive to live with fear of crime, but the thought that there is no remedy in the law drives people to despair.
The family of Trayvon Martin is appealing to a legal system that for centuries placed little value on the life of a Black man. They are not seeking vigilante justice, but real justice. In light of history, Travon Martin’s family has more reason to despair.
Crime will never go away, even the Amish couldn’t keep the peace forever.
What tears a society apart is the sense of despair when fear of crime is combined with a belief that justice is out of reach.
Why, when the statistics say that crime is decreasing, are so many people buying more guns? What is the best way to create that safe community, where the children play in safety, and there is no need for a gate? That is the question.