Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

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

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
April 2, 2012 -- Updated 2108 GMT (0508 HKT)
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
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
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
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 2129 GMT (0529 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
April 13, 2014 -- Updated 1856 GMT (0256 HKT)
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1906 GMT (0306 HKT)
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
April 12, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
Simon Tisdall: Has John Kerry's recent track record left Russia's wily leader ever more convinced of U.S. weakness?
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT)
Mel Robbins says Nate Scimio deserves credit for acting bravely in a frightening attack and shouldn't be criticized for posting a selfie afterward
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Dr. Mary Mulcahy says doctors who tell their patients the truth risk getting bad ratings from them
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says the married Rep. McAllister, caught on video making out with a staffer, won't get a pass from voters who elected him as a Christian conservative with family values
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
David Frum says the president has failed to react strongly to crises in Iran, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela, encouraging others to act out
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Eric Liu says Paul Ryan gets it very wrong: The U.S.'s problem is not a culture of poverty, it is a culture of wealth that is destroying the American value linking work and reward
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Frida Ghitis writes: "We are still seeing the world mostly through men's eyes. We are still hearing it explained to us mostly by men."
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Chester Wisniewski says the Heartbleed bug shows how we're all tangled together, relying on each other for Internet security
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1926 GMT (0326 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says an Ohio school that suspended a little kid for pointing his finger at another kid and pretending to shoot shows the growth in "zero tolerance" policies at school run amok
ADVERTISEMENT