Of Hoodies and Crime
Some of us in New England have long thought that Florida has all the charm and intelligence of Bald Hill Road with palm trees.
Now comes old friend Peter Kadzis of the Boston Phoenix to remind us that Florida is a “nightmare from which America cannot seem to awake. It bakes with neuroses.’’
Florida, writes Kadzis, “has an uncanny ability to magnify and distort cultural and political anxiety, to live with a welter of deeply inbred social conflicts that regularly erupt with a ferocity that is almost surreal.’’
The Sunshine state, Kadzis says, is surrounded by “fun-house mirrors, the sole purpose of which are to make the application of common sense to public events impossible.’’
Florida is home to the 2000 presidential election miasma, the Terri Schiavo case, the custody struggle over Elian Gonzalez and a never-ending spate of bizarre crime. The latest is, of course, the Trayvon Martin case, where a 17-year old was fatally shot while visiting his father’s fiancée in a gated residential community in Sanford, Florida.
Martin, a black youth, was unarmed. He was wearing a hooded (hoodie) sweatshirt and carrying some ice tea and a bag of skittles candy.
Martin was shot by a man who says he was part of a neighborhood crime watch. This man, George Zimmerman, is of Anglo and Latino ancestry. He was carrying a gun. Zimmerman suspected that Martin was a criminal, even though it appears he had scant evidence of that.
Zimmerman claims he was assaulted and shot Martin in self-defense. The arresting officer wanted to arrest him, but the local prosecutor decided against pressing charges.
There has been an obvious national outburst of protest over the killing of Martin. Much foolishness has been focused on whether the young man’s wearing of a hoodie led Zimmerman to racially profile Martin.
Kadzis editorial on this issue is passionate and well done. The most famous hoodie-wearer in New England is Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Nobody ever suggests he is impersonating a ghetto gang-banger as he roams the sidelines..
This case is a sad example of loose gun laws pushed by the National Rifle Association and the racism that is still a stain on American society.