A lot has been made of the death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, what the facts show or don't show, who should be believed and of course, the infamous stand your ground laws and claims of "self-defense" by George that Trayvon, with his bag of skittles and ice tea put him in fear of his life sufficient to justify killing the young man. Laws that allegedly prevented Zimmerman from being charged with murder for over a month.
Well, this may be the case everyone, right or left, is focused on at the moment. Certainly it is the case the news media and the blogs have swarmed to as moths to a flame. However, I would like to remind you of another heinous crime that to me is a far more serious indication of what is wring in our nation, a case that deserves far more attention than it is getting. I am speaking about the shooting of five African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma by two white men, Jake England and Alvin Watts. Watts and England were apprehended after a two day police manhunt, at which time they confessed that they drove around a predominately black neighborhood on the Thursday before Easter shooting fellow citizens of Tulsa for no other reason then they were black. Three of their victims died.
Prosecutors in Tulsa have now charged those two white men, who admitted to using their guns to slaughter innocent people, people they did not know, people with whom they had no connection, with three counts of first degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. More significantly, the Oklahoma prosecutors have also charged England and Watts with committing hate crimes based on the allegation that they targeted their victims because of their race.
We will never know all the facts surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin for the simple reason that George Zimmerman is the sole survivor of his encounter with that young black man on that dark, rainy night of February 26th. We know Zimmerman ignored the directions of the 911 dispatcher to remain in his car. We know that Zimmerman followed Trayvon, beginning a series of events that led to a confrontation in which Zimmerman shot the young man. There are many unanswered questions regarding the facts surrounding Zimmerman's action to use his gun to kill Trayvon, about the Sanford Florida police department's investigation of that shooting and about the decision by the local district attorney to allow Zimmerman to go free, and remain free for over 40 days until a special prosecutor finally brought second degree murder charges against Trayvon's killer.
However, there is far less dispute about the motives and the actions of the Tulsa killers. Both England and Watts posted numerous racist screeds on social media sites. After their arrest both confessed that they chose their victims not because they knew them, but because of their race and the fact that they were outside on the day that England and Watts chose to engage in their killing spree. There is no question of self-defense, no evidence that the people who were shot posed a threat to England and Watts in any way. To me that makes their crimes far more frightening and of far greater concern than the actions of George Zimmerman.
We know that England and Watts planned in advance that they would be targeting African Americans for death by gun fire. We know there is significant evidence that they hated African Americans and intended to murder any black person who came across their path. We know they did not act out of fear of the people they killed. We know that Watts and England deliberately hunted fellow human beings as if they were animals and killed them in cold blood because they hated the race of the people they chose to shoot.
Zimmerman, by all accounts was in shock at what he had done after shooting Trayvon. He even informed a fellow resident to call 911 after he Killed Trayvon with his hand gun. We can infer from witness reports of his initial actions that he knew the serious nature of what had happened and he did not try to evade the police. We know from his own statements to the 911 dispatcher that he believed Trayvon Martin was a potential criminal.
England and Watts on the other hand attempted to evade arrest, and it was only after police received numerous anonymous tips that they were the killers. They confessed to police that they shot five black people, killing three of them, Bobby Clark, Dannaer Fields (also known as Donna) and William Terrell Allen. None of these people were teenagers. The youngest was 31, and the two others were ages 49 and 54. Perhaps that is one reason their names are not on the tongues of every national news anchor or pundit. But they should be. They are just as dead as Trayvon Martin, and their deaths are just as senseless. And in their case there is little to no doubt that they were murdered because of their race. Here is a brief list of the statements police received regarding the racial motivations of England from callers to the Tulsa police hotline:
"Caller states that Jake England is a racist and hates black males."
"Caller stated Jake England has bragged about other shootings."
"Caller advised a black male shot and killed Jake England's father two years ago."
"The shooting may have been revenge for the death of his father."
"Jake England has mentioned he will die in a shootout with police if he has to."
"Jake England has made severa[l] comments about killing black people."
"Jacob England's father was killed by a black male and he wants justice."
"England told several family members that he needs to burn his truck."
"England has made comments about killing black people."
I understand the media's fascination with the Zimmerman/Martin case. It is regrettably a "Made for TV event" much as was the OJ Simpson case in the 90's. But please, do not let it obscure the actions of two white racists who murdered Bobby Clark, Dannaer Fields and William Allen as if they were rabid wild animals instead of innocent human beings. These murders are clearly the acts of terrorists, and I believe our country needs to be as focused on the horrific killings in Tulsa as much or more than the tragedy of Trayvon Martin. The uncertainties of the Martin/Zimmerman case allows racists to muddy and obscure the role that race played in Trayvon's death. The prominent role that racism and race hatred played in the Tulsa killings, on the other hand, could not be more apparent, nor more damning.