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Justice for Treyvon and White Privilege

I have two sons, they are 25 and 21. They are not black. They are tall, 6'3 and 6'4, dirty blond hair, one has a crew cut, one's hair a tiny bit longer, one with hazel eyes and one with sea green eyes.

Last year I arrived home from my yearly trip to Manila. I went alone in 2011 and spent time with my parents. I arrived home February 21, 2011. The next day I was beat, jet lag, everything that goes with the trip home. I asked my son, who was 20 at that time, if I gave him a list and some money would he do some shopping for me, I was much too tired to be driving to the store let alone trying to shop. As usual, as he is a sweet boy err ummm man he said, sure mom.

He brought home the 2 gallons of organic milk, jazz apples, veggies and salad. It was a small list, not much. He got home, and he I said thanks and he went back to the basement.

I'd gone out in the garage I still had a big freezer out there and just outside I saw a cop drive up and he seemed to be looking at my Tribeca. So I instinctively opened the garage door. He'd gotten out of his patrol car. He asked me if someone else had been driving the Tribeca and I said, yes my son, because I'd sent him to the grocery store, I told him my story about just getting back from the PI, etc. He had a strange look on his face, but he stayed outside on the porch. He asked if he could speak to my son. I was getting somewhat apprehensive but I said Okay. I called Max up. The guy asks Max why he ran out of the grocery store. As usual, he wasn't dressed appropriately, to this day I bitch him out about this, but what can I do. And he'd run to the car with the groceries after paying. It was cold around 40. My son had a strange look on his face. I said to the officer, what is the problem officer? He said someone at the store had accused my son of stealing groceries. I said, umm excuse me, he brought my change home. He did not steal those groceries. The officer tried to isolate my son away from me, something I did not allow. I also invited the officer in and I told him to take a look, here are the groceries etc. The officer had a strange look on his face, I live very close to the Puget Sound, it is a very nice area, we've lived in this house for 19 years at the time. I showed the officer my groceries. But none-the-less he said he had to arrest my son. I just stared at him, and I said what for? He didn't steal anything. I went into mom mode for sure. I said to him, what kid steals organic milk, apples, etc. Seriously. The officer then commented that our house was warm, I said of course it is, we pay our bills buddy. And he asked about our financial status, I showed him that I just arrived home from Manila, and I handed him my first class plane ticket stub. Suddenly the officer seemed to believe me and he called the store.
So, I said to the officer, okay, we will return to the store with you, I want to talk to those people and I want them to pull the video. I remained calm and friendly but firm, inside I was freaking out. Seriously.

Suddenly the officer not only believed me, but began to advocate for my son over his communication device from my house. He said, I don't think this guy stole anything and he asked them to view the video before we left. He received the call back and my son was cleared. I was relieved, but when I told my husband what happened on the phone he was outraged and angry as hell. After he got off work he went straight to Albertsons and complained, wait, he yelled at the manager of the store, we've been shopping there for 19 years. He asked the manager, how many times have you allowed your employees to make accusations about people without checking anything. They'd simply seen my son running to the car from the store and took our license plate down. My husband was livid. The manager at Albertsons, bought us dinner than night, they gave us a prime rib and french bread. They wanted to keep our business.  It doesn't work this way for Americans who do not share my skin color. They don't share one thing, whiteness, they get no privilege.

I am white, so that cop advocated for my son. He advocated for him. When does that happen for a black American? When? I have sons, they don't look like Treyvon Martin, I am privileged.

Treyvon Martin didn't' get that, in fact for Treyvon's father, he wasn't allowed to claim his son's body because he was tagged a John Doe. Even though the evidence shows through those police reports that they knew who Treyvon was. What? They were prevented from being with their son, a 17 year old boy. Which person in power stepped up for Treyvon that evening, certainly the cops who let Zimmerman go did not, hell they let the guy walk away with a loaded gun.

I am happy to see the outrage, but saddened that it took the murder of one more black teen to draw our attention to the injustice many of our citizens are subjected to because of the color of their skin.

Crossposted @ TheAngriestLiberal

Thanks for posting on your experience. destor23 has a post dealing with Tryvon as well. In that post, I noted that there are a group of Black and Hispanic legislators in NY acting to protest stop and frisk laws being used against minority youth. Youth grow up with a suspicion of police. The police are aggressors, not advocates. Legislators past "Stand Your Ground" laws to specifically target minority youth, and then are surprised when an unarmed Black youth dies. No one in Florida who actually used deadly force to protect themselves had been convicted of a crime prior to passing of the more aggressive law. (Just as there is no rampant voter fraud). Laws are put in place to keep Blacks and Hispanics in their place.

Predictably, we have someone Geraldo Rivera blaming Tryvon's parents for allowing him to wear a "hoodie" as being responsible, in part, for his death. Sanford should note that thousands upon thousands of Blacks and others descended on their town and there was no violence. The only violence we have seen came from Zimmerman, and he remains free and was allowed to disappear with evidence of the murder he committed left in his possession.

Police have a history of not respecting the rights or sensitivities of Black citizens. We are told to just grin and bear it when dealing with police. People realize that Blacks are treated differently, but we are told to just grin and bear it. When Henry Louis Gates objected to his treatment, he was criticized. Gates should have grinned and taken the disrespect. To be truthful, most Black people would have taken the Cambridge officer's disrespect. That tendency for law-abiding Blacks to grin and bear police disrespect worked out very well for Tryvon, didn't it? The Sanford police ignored his murder, just as NYC abuse the Civil Rights of minority youth on a daily basis.

The only way to change the tide is for more law-abiding minorities to make public their negative interactions with law enforcement. Public shaming of the offenders is a start.

Thanks rmrd. I think the Sanford police have ignored his murder as well.

We were lucky, I am lucky, we are white. upper middle class, seriously no one has ever questioned my presence anywhere.

The Gates  episode was appalling,  he was trying to get into his own home and sheesh, I've had to break into my own house before, no one tried to arrest me for it, it's crazy. The cop was wrong there too.

You relate a real story about real people.

What if someone felt probable cause under some Castle statute to shoot a youngster running from a store into the parking lot with groceries and shot him?

 

Some of these new statutes talk about protecting the property of others.

We sometimes find ourselves in situations where explanations are called for.

If I were your husband I would be damned mad.

And if I were your son, I would think twice about shopping--anywhere!

Your son has lost some of his freedoms forever; because he will always have to look over his shoulder.

Damn! This really has me thinking.

Thanks Dick! Your response made me think too.  My husband was livid.

Our son on the other hand no longer runs from the grocery store. I still can't get him to wear a jacket most of the time, but well, what can a mom do! Hah.

The 2 most shoplifted items are meat and alcohol, both typically stolen from grocery stores. Gillettes and deoderant are #5 and #6.

Meat and other expensive items are typically shoplifted while purchasing other items.

1 in 11 American shoppers will be a shoplifter. 10 million Americans have been caught  shoplifting in the last 5 years.

Most shoplifting is done not from need, but simply to get something for nothing.

1/3 of shoplifters suffer from depression

3/4 of shoplifters don't plan on stealing in advance

3/4 of shoplifters are adults.

Over 90% of shoplifters are non-professionals.

$13 billion is shoplifted each year - $25 million per day. (other estimates have it much higher, at 1.35% of sales)

While maybe the store should have checked the cameras better = a time-consuming & imprecise business, you might tell your kids to quit making store owners more paranoid by running out of stores - shoplifting is a serious problem at any store, making it difficult to stay in business.

And your policeman's responses don't make sense - whether you can afford a 1st class ticket to Manila has almost nothing to do with whether your kid might shoplift - for fun or dare or other reason.

http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/07/04/25/shoplifting-in-america-how-much-is-stolen-from-where-who-is-doing-it-and-more.htm

http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/steal-136712

 

And your point is...?

Your comments and data about shoplifting, while quasi interesting, seems to be off point, extraneous to the base message and intent of the post.

As for....

'....you might tell your kids to quit making store owners more paranoid by running out of stores..'

seems to be an aside with all the ol' 'blame the victim' tack to deflect away from the actual perpetrators that created the problem and negative end result.

If your comment reflects that your take away is the post was about shoplifting, I hope you reread it.

Well sorry, there's a huge difference between a kid walking home from a store with snacks, and someone running out of a store looking suspicious.

I own several hoodies, never realized they could get me killed.

I've seen grab-and-run thefts in metros, sidewalk stores, bars, convenience stores. Storeowners and tourists are frequently the "victims", and costs are also passed to customers. 

I miss much of the connection with Trayvon Martin, don't understand what the cop was doing in this story, never had a cop advocate for me.

 

I believe we all acknowledge that racism and other bigoted mind sets are still, sadly, too much a part of our society.

Whether it be ethnicity, religion, gender, socio-economic based, I venture that most of us have been the target of some ignorant jerks.  That said, I believe both the data and reality would support that the greatest number of abuses have occurred for no other rationale than the hue of one's skin tone.  Sick. Wrong. Stupid. Ignorant. 

But, tmac's post is a heartfelt and poignant telling of an experience her and hers have had, acknowledging awareness of the 'difference' in our societal reactions/reality based on ethnicity, socio-economic class and having parents who care and are fortunate to have the ability to stand up to confront the 'wrong' of these types of situations.  

My hope is that this horrific tragedy will unite us all as we embrace unity and speak out louder, stand up more often - all our children need to see and experience this to ensure a better future for them.  

Could you please provide a more complete list of things that law-abiding people should do to prevent paranoia of shop owners?

Let's see...NUMBER ONE: no running. I'm assuming that includes when it is raining or cold and one is not adequately dressed. After all Paranoia is going to trump Pneumonia in every Kangaroo Court.

NUMBER TWO: (This just in from Mr Rivera) no hoodies. Again no weather exclusion.

NUMBER THREE: go ahead....I'm waiting... Actually, we're all waiting. I have a suggestion. Why not just arrest every 11th person who leaves a store with merchandise, based on your well-documented numbers. I mean, I'll just bet that REALshoplifters probably don't do suspicious stuff like running out of stores.

I mean, what is a shop-owner to do? Wait until they actually SEE someone stealing? Review the time-wasting tapes that could document it? No? Too much trouble?

Just give us a complete list of suspicious behaviors for those of us to avoid, who are just a shopping for, and paying for stuff. That will go a long way towards making things right. Oh. You might also want to re-read the blog. You missed the point entirely.

If it were not liable to undermine my recovery from lawyering and if I practiced in t- mac's jurisdiction I would raise just the same questions in the slander case against the complaining witness at Albertsons. As no emergency action was contemplated beyond noting the license plate, failing to review the video before making a police report is actionable

Some shoplifters do grab and run. Others are more sophisticated.

Oh, it's 40 whole degrees - I must run to my car or I'll freeze or catch pneumonia. Welcome to the pampered class.

And I guess I can pretend to be stuffing stuff in my pockets - just good fun - as long as I don't put anything in them. And it would be wrong for a shopkeeper to be suspicious.

I think I said the shopkeeper should have reviewed the tapes - and that customers should try acting normal, since shoplifting is a huge expensive problem, and costs everyone in higher costs to cover stolen goods.

Yes, stores can put cameras every 5 feet if you think that's required.

Peracles, with your grasp of the issue, the statistics and the modus operandi of the shoplifters, cops and the retail operators, why don't you go ahead and game the system to at least make up for that 1.35% portion of your money that goes to pay for the booty stolen by your fellow citizen shoplifters?

You would likely get some free dinners with your 'good fun' pocket stuffing act in front of the cameras, your knowledge that videos are too time consuming to review, and the total criminal giveaway of running in the parking lot. Reap some well deserved benefits buddy.

Thanks for sharing this, TMac.  I think that a lot of people are almost oddly unaware of how much the presumptions of the authorities affects the quality of our lives.  People especially don't get this about race, unless they experience it directly.  But, heck... another issue to your story is that the police probably shouldn't have even been snooping aorund your place, much less wanting to arrest somebody, just on the word of some store employee who equated running with theft, had no clue what was "stolen" and no back up evidence.

So you're saying I can be in a store,  run out quickly, and the store has no rights to suspect theft and report it for questioning? Guess all shoplifters should try that. Just make sure you cover up from a camera - a raincoat will do - slide stuff in your bag, and just run. After all, it's cold outside.

(granted that there's a huge difference from running after you've paid vs. running from inside the store)

Yes, I'm saying that you should be able to run out a store quickly and not find yourself arrested based on nothing more than, "you ran out of the store quickly."

It's not a crime to be in a hurry.  Or to like running.  America could do with a little incidental cardio, you know.

I said "questioning", not "arrest". And with 10 million Americans shoplifting, it's quite a popular little personal fitness craze. But I guess we can chuckle about it, since no one here seems to think it's a serious issue.

TMac's son was almost arrested just based on "suspicion," so that seems to be the issue at hand.  But, I don't think that based on him running to his car that the police even should have been lurking outside of his house.  The grounds for stopping somebody and questioning them should be pretty darned high.

As for the epidemic of shoplifting, it is certainly a problem (do you own or manage a retail operation, by the way?) but I don't believe it's an important enough issue that I'd support solving it by giving even more expanded stop and frisk powers to the police.

The policeman in this case seemed pretty dim. Nope, don't run a retail biz, just sympathetic to the issues on both sides.

Shoplifting is an important enough issue, but the solution just isn't obvious - between expense of enforcing, false arrest suits, bad PR even if the store's in the right, and not an obvious legal basing that would give civilians power of enforcing without huge amounts of abuse.

And yes, giving the police more opportunity to tase people seems like a no-win. It might be the 1.5% loss is worth it, but obviously some businesses suffer much worse than others, and it can contribute to them going out of business.

I don't think we're really that far apart on this.  I suspected a little discussion of the issue would reveal that...

Yeah, I thought about all that later des, but in the moment I was completely oblivious and never would have expected he was there because a crime had been reported in relation to my son.  That was a weird day.

A local Circuit City would check the packages of people as they headed out the door, even though the person at the door could see the people as they paid the cashier. As my bag was checked as I left the store, I pointed out that I watched the person at the door watching me as I paid and checked out. No comment. I found fewer reasons to go to Circuit City. Circuit went bankrupt. Justice was served.

I made a purchase at the rear of a Walgreen's. As I left through the front door, alarms went off because the cashier had not turned off the security alert on my purchase. The clerk at the front looked at my Walgreen's bag and said to her colleagues, "He bought something in the back.", even though she hadn't witnessed the purchase.  I have returned to that Walgreen's several times.

Tmac's son made a purchase. I doubt any alarms went off as he exited. Running after making a purchase is not a crime.

 This blog sent me running to google organic milk. I would have never guessed that there was any other kind.

http://www.theoutlookonline.com/sustainable/story.php?story_id=120491879155074600

The Department of Agriculture defines organic milk as having been produced by cows not treated with antibiotics or bovine growth hormone. The animals must have access to pasture, and their feed must be grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Beyond that, I've heard about some creepy additives in dollar store, "milk."

I buy a local brand, the Organic Valley brand.

Good piece, Tmac.  I hate that what you've written is still true.  I'm still so enraged by the murder of that beautiful, innocent boy I just can't find the words to express how I feel.

  I'm glad you did.

Hoodies are standard winter Outerwear in Florida. Everyone wears them. We get chilly winds and a hood is nice for that and rain showers. I keep one in my car for that reason. Good post Teri.

I am wearing one right now. I have two of them and when I get a 'raise' in July, I am getting three or four (more expensive) hoodies for three of our four seasons (we have a 2 week summer, although I suppose it shall swell to five this year!)

It is currently 43 and I keep the windows opened.

 

I always wear a watch cap...

Yup. I've worn a watch cap ever since my days in the Navy.

And when I'm followed around a store by security, most likely thinking I am a "homeless bum" looking to pocket a package of bologna and some zig-zag rolling papers, I usually give them the simple salute.

 

 

Smoked bologna is a delicacy...

~OGD~

TMC, after reading your post I happened to notice when the officer stated his reason for being there was about the accusation of "theft" of groceries, you offered your son brought back the change from the transaction, but how about the receipt? The receipt is the "get-out-of-jail-free" card and that you didn't think of it and the officer didn't asked for it sounds strange. Hard to prove theft if you have a receipt for what is being claimed to be stolen goods.

In Europe, I always ask for a receipt and put in in my wallet. When a local police officers sees a person exiting a place of business, either store or restaurant, they are allowed to ask you to produce a receipt ... they don't need a reason. If you can't produce one, you have a little meeting with the business owner to find out if you're skipping out on a meal or shop-lifting.

Since Obama became President, there has been a hard push back against racial equality in the US. The local Republican legislatures are passing laws geared more towards vigilantism at the local community level. In my opinion, no person of color (white, black, brown) is safe walking the streets of ethnic neighborhoods they don't belong to. It took the death of a young man to get the attention of the nation, our local governing bodies are promoting the vigilantism we find disgusting.

He couldn't find the receipt. It probably fell out of his pocket while he was stuffing the money in his pocket in the parking lot. So that certainly didn't help matters. Kids make mistakes though. At least he got to learn from his. It was a good lesson. I lectured him for a few minutes after the officer was gone. But I was relieved too.

The Martin case certainly did bring to light what seem to be remnants of what AMan termed unacknowledged presumptions. The outcry has been universal, other than a few on the fringe who are saying stupid things...*eyes shift to look directly at Newt Gingrich*. I think right now could be a turning point but it makes me feel really sad that a young man is dead now, and it really is because he was black.

Okay, glad to know you lectured him.

He ran from a store and had no receipt - of course a mother defended him, and the police like storeowners are more likely to give the wealthy and non-colored the benefit of the doubt.

And undoubtedly your son was lucky to have his mother defending him than facing the police alone, especially in the store's parking lot.

In any case, it wasn't the police or storeowner Trayvon Martin had trouble with - it was a vigilante neighborhood watch guy, and it was the Stand Your Ground laws of Florida that made his killer more brazen. The police tried to get him to stand down.

and it really is because he was black.

I disagree. It doesn't help to stir race hatred.  

My first impressions 

He was killed by a bully, wanna be cop.  No longer satisfied being an observer, he found instant bravery, because he had a gun.

Maybe a 44 oz - bottle of instant a-hole?

Race was not the issue, I believe this Barney Fife , would have hassled a white skateboarder too. 

This guy is just another power tripping ass, with a gun, trying to be the HOA hero, who went looking for recognition. 

Don't mess with Zimmerman. 

"Badges, Badges? I don' need no stinkin badge" 

Trayvon, may have been trying to hold his ground, with his bag of skittles.

It is doubtful that Zimmerman would not have faced more scrutiny after killing a White teen. Zimmerman, the police and the legal system are all part of the discussion."Stand Your Ground" was not aimed at White teens.

For you or anyone to say that the "Stand Your Ground" law is one sided are mistaken. 

"Stand your ground" defense may have been invoked by Trayvon in this incident. 

When a robber asks you for your wallet, it's best to give it up.

We'll never know, if Trayvon died protecting the contents in the bag. 

Zimmermen had NO RIGHT. 

Zimmerman was the armed aggressor, the moment he pursued his prey,  instead of avoidance of the threat. 

It's too bad Trayvon was only armed with a can of tea and some skittles at the gunfight  

When Zimmerman demanded to see "what's in the bag, KID" 

A scuffle ensued.

Had Trayvon been armed, there may have been a better result?

* When they lawfully take the guns from legal citizens, the criminals will still have guns.  

Would You, leave all of us defenseless? 

1. would your opinion change if you knew that Zimmerman referred to Trayvon as a "fucking coon"? 2. Why is it better to arm Trayvon than to disarm his nutjob killer, if parity is what we seek?

Why assume there will  could ever be parity between a lawful citizen vs a person bent on lawlessness.

A civil person wouldn't consider harming another, a criminal could careless. 

A criminal will always seek the advantage, they'll use any weapon.    

Dead witnesses tell no tales.   

A nut job comes at you with a hatchet, is there a law against hatchets? 

Is your idea of parity;  I should carry a hatchet too? Maybe a baseball bat?  

Maybe you could pull out your comb and fend off your attacker?

I'd much rather have a 9 mm or better,  and keep some distance

Ever try to running backwards?

Turning your back on a man with a hatchet or baseball bat makes no sense and these two items are lawful to have. 

Hatchets don't kill people, people kill people.

Lions and tigers kill people, so do animalistic individuals. In this concrete jungle a sane person carry's protection. 

Unless you're like the individuals they speak of,  "the lights are on but no ones home"

Just like voter suppression laws, Stand Your Ground is directed at intimidating minority communities. 

And a Tomdispatch article about racism and the legal system. Would anyone care to guess when the black prisoner population expanded most significantly?

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175520/best_of_tomdispatch%3A_michelle_a...

Pivoting from the Haldeman quote in Michelle Alexander's article we see how the racism of the drug war is a feature not a bug.

Leading to the following brain exploding contradiction:

"Vote civil rights. Vote sanity .Vote Paul! "

I appreciate your story, but I can tell you we have been pouring over the evidence and while the National Media are twisting this for ratings, getting people worked up, Everything George Zimmerman and his friends have said check out. I invite you to check out the evidence we have found on our Facebook page "We Support George Zimmerman"

we invite you to join. Our fear is that pressure from those who are listening to the media and those in a frenzy of hate will cause GZ not to receive fair treatment because of the mob mentality. That would be unfair!

[double-post trimmed]

The sad part in this entire fiasco is that despite the presence of a black president, the abuse and discrimination that black people get still continue. When will this stop?

Uh, you thought electing a black man President would end "abuse and discrimination"? Why?

Beautiful - I appreciate you spamming the threads to push your view.

And I suppose it's that "frenzy of hate" that caused MSNBC to report 2 audio forensic experts concluding the screams that night were not George Zimmerman's.

Or that Joe Oliver now appears to be some kind of sock puppet.

What might be useful is if people simply waited 2 days for the facts to change yet again, or maybe in a month we'll have a much more detailed investigation with the grand jury.

Oddly enough, we built a court system either because village square posses lynched too many of the wrong people, or ironically in post-Sherlock Holmes times, there are more clues and info to investigate before solving the puzzle.

What has been good about the outrage is 1) it's forced greater inquiry where it seems inquiry is due, and 2) it's calling for more examination of our racial views, standrad views & procedures, and our approach to crime, even though I'm not convinced we'll learn anything more this round.

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