The slaying of Trayvon Martin has raised many questions about race relations in the US in the weeks since the 17-year-old was gunned down by George Zimmerman. Some, however, are concerned that these conversations aren’t enough.
Malik Zulu Shabazz, the national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told a radio program over the weekend that he wants African-Americans in the US to be prepared for further victimization and, in hopes of preventing further attacks, wants blacks to be briefed in self defense.
“This Saturday in Sanford, Florida the New Black Panther Party will be conducting county-wide and state-wide defense training and community patrols to protect against racial violence and attacks, and people like Zimmerman,” Shabazz told The Muslim Street radio program on Sunday evening.
It was on February 26 that Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman, a community watch captain on patrol in a Sanford, FL gated community while walking on foot to his father’s apartment. More than a month after the event, however, no charges have been brought against the confessed shooter and he still stands a free man. Although a grand jury will soon consider taking on a case against Zimmerman, the silence so far has caused outrage across America. In recent weeks, protests and rallies have occurred from coast-to-coast, and even US President Barack Obama himself has touched on the topic. With Americans asking for justice en masse, Shabazz suggests that proactively preaching defense tactics to black youths could be perhaps the best thing to do for now while Zimmerman remains free.
“We’re talking now here about community patrols, laying a structure for defense [training] in the communities where men and women will know how to deal with this violence and police misconduct,” said Shabazz.
Additionally, Shabazz is calling for a worldwide strike on April 9 in hopes of raising even more awareness for their fight for justice. According to the New Black Panther Party leader, over 300 organizations have agreed to take part in a strike both in the US and abroad. Discussing the strike with The Muslim Street, Shabazz said next Monday would be “a day of absence, where there is no work, no school, and no shopping in the cause of justice for Trayvon and the immediate arrest of Zimmerman and charging him with the appropriate charges.”
“[W]e’re talking about a national strike and using the power of our labor and our dollars to affect justice,” added Shabazz.
In December 2010, Shabazz supported a strike in the state of Georgia, where prison inmates refused to perform assigned work duties until they were provided with better living conditions. In terms of that strike, Shabazz said he hoped that it would “send a message out across state lines to others who are behind bars that they must organize behind bars and take the necessary risk to take a stand for their human rights and for a better life.”
“Incarceration and coercion has been a means to control black people who compose a majority of those in the prison system,” Shabazz added. “It’s a prison industrial complex.”
This is not the first time that the New Black Panther Party has asked for justice for Trayvon, either. Last week the group released a wanted poster asking for the capture, dead or alive, of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, 28, says he killed Martin in self defense. Critics have been skeptic of what threat, if any, Martin was to Zimmerman. In addition to the more than ten-year age difference between the two, Zimmerman also weighed in at more than 100 pounds heavier than the teenager, who was unarmed.