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Henry Rollins: Trayvon Martin Did Not Need to Die

[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]

See also: Henry Rollins: Jetlagging

It has been days since the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case was delivered. I can't say I was surprised. I don't think the state in which the case was being tried or the ethnicity of the jury were factors. That is too speculative for me. It would be a hard case for any prosecutor. There were two direct eyewitnesses. One can't speak and the other chose not to. The evidence brought into the courtroom -- like the phone tapes of the defendant, the witnesses -- none of it was all that strong. It would be a hard call for a jury to send a man to prison for a long time on what they were given. I am not choosing sides -- I am saying that it was a tough case and what would be obvious to some can't be used or considered in a court of law. Burden of proof is just that. That being said, I wonder if the prosecutors could not have done more.

A teenage boy is dead, and the man who shot him walked from the courtroom a free man. That part of the conversation is over. However, I think there is still a lot to be considered.

The demolition of Martin's character started almost immediately after he was killed. Last year, Fox News jackoff Geraldo Rivera said, "Zimmerman is not a racist. Trayvon Martin would be alive today if he wasn't wearing thug wear, if he wasn't wearing that hoodie."

See, it's the clothes. A boy, needlessly murdered, has been relegated to someone who chose the wrong garment to wear.

As the trial was nearing its end, the media already were getting warmed up for the post-acquittal unrest, as if they had the verdict several days in advance.

Bill O'Reilly, in a recent segment of his corny show on Fox, while discussing the trial, said: "Even among African-Americans themselves, blacks come out as the top racist group -- 31 percent of black Americans say their own race heads the list, while 24 percent consider whites the most racist group. Now the media want no part of any of that, and I guarantee you the poll will not be widely discussed." This is the dim world he lives in. He doesn't want it to change and says this crap to make sure it doesn't.

A few days before the verdict came in, I heard a public service campaign being promoted by the Florida police, urging people, "Raise your voice, not your hands," in a way to perhaps preemptively cool tempers if George Zimmerman was found not guilty. I think it spoke very loudly to the African-American population of Florida: If you don't like the verdict, your immediate reaction will be to riot. We've seen you do this before. This is how you are, and this is what we expect from you. So, REMEMBER, don't DO IT. It was thinly veiled provocation, nothing more.

The incredible amount of negative post-verdict sentiment on sites all over the Internet says a lot about the stagnant swamp of ugly racism in which America still labors. Apparently, Trayvon Martin got what he deserved, and George Zimmerman is a hero for standing up for himself. He's the new Travis Bickle.

The fact is, in the minds of many, Trayvon Martin received the appropriate punishment for a true crime: He was black, male and dared to walk outside. In life, young Trayvon was just a teenager; in death, he has been transformed into a scary, lurking, suspicious, prone-to-violence spook. This is the person the defense vigorously prosecuted.

I think all of this is part of something much bigger.

George Zimmerman is a foot soldier in a rapidly privatizing country. He is a new centurion of 21st-century America. Law enforcement is tied down by the strictures of, well, the law. There is only "so much they can do" to take care of the "problem." Much as American forces in Iraq were nailed down by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and their orders. This is why so many contractors were sent in, to do the dirty work.

The new, private America needs a different kind of cop to enforce a different kind of justice. George Zimmerman; just smart enough, just stupid enough, happy to toe the party line of minority control. He was the perfect crash-test dummy. He is completely expendable. The next version will be even better.

Zimmerman has fans and supporters all over America. This is how he was able to effortlessly raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for his defense. For them, he is the Charles Bronson character from the Death Wish films, a misunderstood hero who killed an uppity black kid in a hooded sweatshirt, who had obviously forgotten his place.

This is the issue. Zimmerman is a preview of what is to come, the product of planning that has been in motion for a long time. The hate is as real as the agenda is clear and incredibly well-financed. There's a lot of money in crime, but it's not always the street criminals who are making it. Several people have already made money from what George Zimmerman did. At some point, he might be able to cash in, too.

Just throwing this out there because all this makes me so mad: Instead of rioting or demonstrating, I think all concerned should stop patronizing fast-food chains. They should stop drinking alcohol and smoking anything. In fact, they should ingest nothing stronger than a cup of coffee and two aspirin. They should leave all the toxic crap for Whitey America to choke on. They should obey the law with annoying exactitude. They should all get picture IDs and register to vote. They should become the healthiest, most civically astute, morally commendable and impossible-to-arrest citizens America has. They should fuck up and destroy the prison-industrial complex.

Trayvon Martin did not need to die. The whole thing is so sick and sad.

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