In case you have been in an isolation chamber over the weekend, the jury in the Trayvon Martin murder case returned their verdict Saturday night, moving to acquit shooter George Zimmerman. Whether the news produced a state of devastation and disbelief or confirmed your cynical detachment from a broken system, there is really no way around the fact that this case commanded us to locate the better angels of our nature–and then the verdict ripped that angel’s wings off. No matter what your worldview, it was nearly impossible not to have an emotional reaction to the news and in the wake of this controversial decision, almost everyone gave voice to their feelings, from Barack Obama on down. As superfluous as talk may feel given the stakes and implications of this tragedy–and the legal travesty that attended it–it is just possibly more important than ever not to stop talking, sharing our anger, sadness and even hope. Power comes not only from the barrel of a gun, Chairman Mao be damned–and the power of a community coming together to bond over an injustice can be the spark of something much, much larger. As we continue to wrestle with the American reality embodied by this verdict, we share with y’all some of the reactions from Okayplayers and key public figures which spoke to the moment most eloquently and no doubt we’ll be adding (and retweeting) more throughout the day.
- President Barack Obama:
The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.
- Beyoncé expressed her feelings by holding a moment of silence for Trayvon onstage in Nashville, before covering Whitney Houston‘s “I Will Always Love You.”
- Solange (who organized a peaceful rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall):
““I am optimistic. I am cynical. I’m angry. I’m in pain. I am motivated. I’m confused. I’m scared. I am sick of racism & want to do something about it.”
- Talib Kweli conducted an ongoing seminar on the issues around the case, at times seeming like he intended to respond to every apology for Zimmerman’s actions one by one, knocking down every platitude and justification with the simple clarity of the truth. It’s this comment that stays with us, though:
“Yesterday’s decision was sad. But today is made sadder by those celebrating Trayvon’s death or blaming him for his own demise. Ghouls.
Acting like racism will go away by ignoring it, pretending it doesn’t exist and refusing to discuss it is the trademark of a closet racist.”
“Lets kiss and hug our babies a LiL tighter today. Aa a community, we must love and protect our babies!”
- Erykah Badu (before tweeting out the lyrics to her song “Soldier”):
“This world is in a constant state of Grieving.”
- Freddie Foxx:
“the feeling of unity comes & goes in our people like rainy days…even tho the sun is shining today.. it’s a rainy day.”
- Black Thought (quoting activist Huey P. Newton):
“The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young always inherit the revolution.”
“FYI, at this point I’d rather threats from Klan members rather than one white person “explaining” to me why this isn’t racism…no matter how low you set your expectations America can still find a way to disappoint you.”
“Our strength shouldn’t be measured by our ability to endure suffering.”
- Lester Chambers, founding member of 1960s recording artists, The Chambers Brothers, was attacked by a woman who jumped onstage shouting “it’s all your fault!” after he dedicated Curtis Mayfield‘s song “People Get Ready” to Trayvon at The Russell City Hayward Blues Festival. He is recovering fine, according to a facebook statement from his son.
“Stand your ground if you’re white and use a gun to do it, you go home. Stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.
Friends in Florida, I will no longer be doing shows there until the #StandYourGround law is repealed. Hope to see you soon, XO Cosmo.”
The Justice Department said Sunday that it would reopen its civil rights investigation into the Trayvon Martin shooting, to consider possible separate hate crime charges against George Zimmerman.
- Eric Holder (speaking at a news conference in April 2012):
“We have to prove the highest standard in the law. Something that was reckless, that was negligent, does not meet that standard. We have to show that there was specific intent to do the crime with the requisite state of mind.”
– David Simon (creator of The Wire, Treme, Homicide, etc.):
“If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.”
- Questlove (via twitter):
“psssh i got nothin to say. im friggin crying. internalizing all this on some cube/dre “hear’s what they think about u” ish.”