News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

July 16, 2013

RONN MOTT: Hoodie

George Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury of his peers. All I can say to that is, thank goodness it’s over … at least for the time being. He will be sued in civil court and there will probably be an appeal or two.

I don’t believe George Zimmerman is an out and out racist, just as I do not believe Trayvon Martin was an angel. This was a racially charged court case because Zimmerman shot the young black man while being pummeled on the ground.

This certainly was not a cut-and-dried case. Immediately after the shooting, cries went up that Martin was killed because he was African American. Zimmerman was getting the tar beaten out of him with Martin astride him pounding his head against the sidewalk. We will never be able to know if that act would have killed Zimmerman because he shot his assailant and ended the struggle.

Trayvon Martin need not be dead today. And Zimmerman needn’t have been on the ground getting beaten up. Zimmerman should never have been out of his car, but he thought this tall person in a hoodie was in the wrong neighborhood and was up to no good. When Martin was confronted by Zimmerman, he was not about to allow some short, fat, white man tell him he didn’t belong where he was standing. The fight ensued and the man who was winning the fight is now dead. A jury of six women, one of them African American, acquitted Zimmerman.

This young man who was shot was standing up for what he thought was right and did not think he deserved being watched or asked about what he was doing there in the gated community.

Young Mr. Martin had been suspended from school because of marijuana refuse that was found in his backpack at high school. He was a young man of his times and his culture. Stepping into that attitude was George Zimmerman who had taken police enforcement courses in school and, obviously, was thinking along those lines when he got out of his car. It resulted in what your TV screens have been full of for the last one and a half years.

A young man is dead. Those who loved him are heartbroken and angry. They feel the justice system has let them down, while Zimmerman’s family and those who love him feel he did what he did in self defense. Therefore, justice for them was served.

For me, it’s a simple matter of clothing. Had Trayvon Martin not been wearing a hooded sweatshirt, he still, most likely, would be alive today. You see signs in certain business establishments that you cannot wear a hoodie over your head while doing business inside. It has been the uniform of criminals and such for some time. I do not know any black teenagers.  The African Americans I know are generally my age or thereabouts. They need not wear a hoodie to be what they are in this world today. They are what they are.

My advice is … make it simple. Do not show your defiance to the culture that surrounds you by defying it in your clothing. Take your hoodies and burn them. Martin’s mother would have gladly given up her son’s hoodie and have him still be alive.

I know many who read this will not agree with me, but who knows what Trayvon Martin could have been or would have been. Instead, he’s dead. Is this article of clothing worth having someone dead because of it? I think not.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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