The political nature of my charges cannot be over-stated here. To give human rights to a mechanical entity constructed solely for the sake of profit and exploitation is a perversion of those rights and what it means to be a human being.
In Florida, a white man walks for the obvious murder of a black boy. That young boy, that black child, wasn’t even given the rights of a dog. When the verdict was announced, black people across America rise up to protest our non-citizen status. What could be called a riot ensues. A handful of people are arrested with charges of felony vandalism. I am one of those defendants.
When Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin he wasn’t even arrested. When a window was broken in Oakland, I was viciously slammed to the ground, causing injury to my legs, arms, and head. Even though I’m fighting cancer– and the disgusting conditions of the Santa Rita County jail are not conducive to healing — on top of being significantly injured by Oakland Police Officers, I was not allowed to be released on my own recognizance.
A window is made of sand and can be replicated exactly. A rectangle window, of the dimensions I am being charged with breaking, doesn’t need to be replicated because the manufacturer keeps spare windows around for replacement. The United States justice system considers this a serious crime warranting felony charges.
Trayvon Martin was a human being. There will only ever be one of him, and we have lost him and the joy he brought to this world forever. A human life is priceless because it can never be replaced.
Trayvon Martin could realistically have grown to be a political leader who would bring peace to warring nations. He could have grown up to cure AIDS, Cancer, or Diabetes. We know this to be realistic because the brother was a high achiever in school, earning a 3.7 GPA. He could have developed some new treatment for drug addictions. The point I’m trying to make is, aside from being the pride and joy of his family and community, he could have made the world a better place for all of us. He could have stopped wars, cured diseases, and gotten people off of drugs. At this point we will never know what we have lost, aside from the fact that he was a beautiful young black boy who was loved and cherished. His murderer was given freedom and even got his murder weapon back that, god forbid, he may murder another child with. This is the impotency of the US justice system, incapable of treating black people as human beings. By the same token, in Oakland, California, a place considered to have some of the strongest enforcement of civil/human rights, we are charged as felons, a charge that could land us in a penitentiary, for a display window that was broken with no injuries to any human beings.
While America is incapable of enforcing the rights of Trayvon Martin, a human child with a 3.7 GPA, corporations have been legally recognized as human beings and are being protected with the full extent of the law. I’d like to see the California ID that was issued to Men’s Warehouse.
With the handling of my case and the endangerment to my vulnerable cancer-ridden body, combined with the acquittal of Zimmerman, it would appear that the US justice system has no value for human life, or, even more troubling, it has no value for black life. While Obama gives a televised speech on the oppression of black boys/men, I am being railroaded for a broken window. I am the black life that he claims we need to have a higher value for. While my own plight is troubling as it is, the idea that we are setting a new precedent of violence against black men and boys is terrifying when I think of the kindergarteners in Martin Luther King elementary school in West Oakland and the infants in Highland hospital (the Alameda county hospital where poor people go). I write this with teary eyes because, as a grown man, I understand what I’m facing, but how do we prepare children to face specific and targeted genocide against them?
Hannibal Shakur is a community organizer in Oakland, California. Born and raised in Richmond, California, he is one of several people arrested in the protests against Trayvon Martin’s still-unpunished killing. Please come out to support Hannibal and another comrade on Tuesday, July 23, 9AM at Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland, Dept 115. (Childcare and snacks will be available!) See Facebook page here. You can donate to Hannibal’s legal fund here. And you can read Hannibal’s piece, The Incomprehensible Black Anarchist Position, here.