Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Without protests, justice for Trayvon Martin can't be served

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
updated 5:08 PM EDT, Mon April 2, 2012
Protesters march in downtown Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed.
Protesters march in downtown Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Without protests, the Trayvon Martin case would be going nowhere, Roland Martin says
  • History is rife with examples of injustice against African-Americans, Martin says
  • Instead of condemning those clamoring for justice, we should thank them, he says

(CNN) -- For everyone who has condemned the numerous protests, rallies and vigils demanding justice for Trayvon Benjamin Martin, the 17-year-old gunned down in Sanford, Florida, a month ago, please listen to these two words: Shut up!

Of course that may seem harsh, but that is exactly how I feel. I don't want to hear the nonsense to let the system run its course. Others say, "Let's not do anything until all of the facts are in."

Let's cut to the chase: There would be no special prosecutor had thousands across the national not mobilized, organized and took to the streets to demand justice for Trayvon.

Would a grand jury be convened on April 10? Not a chance.

Would the 911 tapes be released showing admitted trigger man George Zimmerman calling Trayvon suspicious, and owning up to following him? No.

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

Would the Florida Legislature be reviewing -- and discussing changing or abandoning -- the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which is at the heart of this case? No.

March for Trayvon Martin
Hundreds march for Trayvon in Florida

Would the Department of Justice have launched an investigation into the case, as well as the Sanford Police Department? Nope.

Would Sanford's police chief, Bill Lee, have stepped down if the inept investigation hadn't been exposed? No.

Instead of critics condemning the protests, they should be saying, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Whether folks want to admit it or not, this has always been the story of African-Americans. Go through history and you will find many examples of cases not being investigated or, if they were brought to trial, prosecuted or judged atrociously: Scottsboro Boys. Clarence Brandley. Lenell Geter. Medgar Evers. The Sixteeenth Street Baptist Church bombing.

Justice is supposed to be blind, but for African-Americans, it has commonly been deaf, dumb and blind.

As a result, we've had to live by the admonition of former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who said, "Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!"

It was also Douglass who stated, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

The main demand in the Trayvon Martin case from Day One was for Zimmerman to be arrested and for justice to be served. This wasn't about a ridiculous bounty on the head of Zimmerman by the New Black Panther Party. It wasn't about the selling of T-shirts. It wasn't about who showed up and led a march or why.

It was about holding a legal system accountable that clearly gave more credence to a 28-year-old gunman than the 17-year-old, unarmed man who was gunned down.

For all of our talk about law and order in this country, there is a lot that is wrong with our legal system. We all should feel ashamed when someone is freed from death row or life in prison after DNA testing revealed him or her not to be the real killer or rapist. It should pain our heart when the prosecution withholds evidence in a case that could exonerate someone. And all of us, regardless of race or economic status, should scream to high heaven when the police don't do their job equally for all citizens.

We are a nation of laws, and sometimes they work for some and not others. When we've prayed, cried and pleaded, oftentimes the only thing we have left to do is march. That is a right that is afforded every one of us in the U.S. Constitution, be it the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street or those demanding justice for Trayvon.

No one should be condemned for taking to the streets and letting their voices be heard. They shouldn't be called race-baiters, rabble-rousers or radicals. We all should call them exactly what they are: true Americans.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery support the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 1:10 PM EDT, Sat April 19, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
updated 7:23 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT