Bobby Rush: Trayvon
Martin Shooting Highlights Racial Profiling Controversy
May 26, 2012
The fatal shooting of unarmed African American teenager in Florida in
February is focusing fresh attention on race in the United States. Some
Americans believe he was a victim of racial profiling, singled out
solely because he was black. Supporters of the white, Hispanic
neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the young man deny this.
Calls for action
Across the United States, there are calls for action in the killing of
Martin is the 17-year-old shot dead in a confrontation with neighborhood
watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Martin's parents say their son was murdered. Zimmerman claims
self-defense. Local, state and federal authorities are investigating,
but have made no arrests.
Benjamin Crump is an attorney who represents Martin's family. "We
honestly believe that Trayvon Martin is dead today because he was
racially profiled," he stated.
Zimmerman's supporters deny that, but many Americans insist that's the
Representative Rush makes a point
Representative Bobby Rush is among members of Congress calling for a
federal commission to study what they say is race-based injustice.
"Racial profiling has to stop Mister Speaker. Just because someone wears
a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum," he said.
Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt known as a hoodie the night he
died. Now thousands of people are wearing them as a protest against what
they see as racial stereotyping.
"I feel like I should be able to go outside and wear my hoodie without
worrying about this guy may be feeling this sort of way or that I may be
threatening to this person," said Chris Bullock, a university student.
Civil rights activists also cite what they call "driving while black".
It refers to police allegedly targeting African Americans for traffic
stops because they believe blacks are more likely to commit crimes.
Racial profiling violates equal protection laws. But many African
Americans believe it is common, and are calling for change.
Carr heads the Afro-American Studies Department at Howard University in
Washington. "Politicians tend to respond to numbers and when you see
numbers of people educating themselves as to the realities of racial
profiling and then organizing themselves in ways that could lead to
legislation," he stated. "It certainly could lead to lobbying and to an
increase sensitivity in law enforcement and in general society "
Candance House attends a university in North Carolina. "It just kind of
upsets me that we really judge people based on how they look and we
don't really stop to judge their actions," she said. "And to see if
they're really good people or not."
Some African American parents tell their children how to act if stopped
by authorities. High school student Efrugene Baptist relays his mother's
advice. "She taught me the safeties of going out on the streets and how
anything can happen at any moment. So just always stay attentive and be
aware of what was going on," he recalled.
Some say that advice can mean the difference between life and death.