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How Will Trayvon Martin Case Impact Race Relations In San Diego?

KPBS Evening Edition

Race Relations

Aired 7/22/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Lei-Chala Wilson, President, NAACP San Diego Branch

Brian Pollard, Community Activist

Mychal Odom, Historian, UC San Diego Graduate Student Dept. of History


Justice for Trayvon Martin rallies were held over the weekend in 100 cities across the nation, including San Diego.

"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," President Obama told the press Friday.

The rallies came one day after President Barack Obama made some powerful and personal statements about race and the verdict in the killing of the African American teen from Florida.

"There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me," he said.

But, the president's words broadened the issue and invited the nation to explore how race still affects our judgements, our actions and our daily lives.

Today, we'll take a look at race relations in San Diego.


Avatar for user 'talston'

talston | July 22, 2013 at 1:07 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Thank you, Marissa Cabrera and Maureen Cavanaugh for covering this urgent issue this afternoon.

Too many people are oblivious to the daily injustices that our systems enforce against our own fellow citizens within the city of San Diego and otherwise. Today, you shed light on the criminal justice system’s flaws and our cultural shortcomings. These systems are perpetuated by, as most things unjust, money changing hands. To get at the root of institutionalized injustice, which already impairs marginalized communities disproportionately, consider investigating the impact of the two, publicly-traded private prison companies who hold contracts with the State of California. The State’s contracts directly impact justice and the lack thereof in San Diego. Specifically, question the lobbying they do with respect to rules around detainment, arrests, convictions and lengths of prison sentences. These two companies and the handful of financial institutions with large holdings in them have assets in multibillions that depend on consistent - or ideally rapid - growth in the number of people in jail.

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Avatar for user 'JoeWeil'

JoeWeil | July 22, 2013 at 9:54 p.m. ― 3 years ago

how many people attended the rallies? Particularly the one on Saturday. Where was it? apparently the NAACP paid for it. Who was the keynote speaker? Where was it on the news on Saturday night or Sunday morning or even Sunday night?

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 22, 2013 at 10:35 p.m. ― 3 years ago

How does the Hispanic community feel about the vilification of Zimmerman? Since the courts found him innocent and the NAACP convicted him yet never referred to him as a Hispanic does this show bias on their part?

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 23, 2013 at 9:41 a.m. ― 3 years ago

He would have been better to say, "Due to the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, what happened to Martin could have happened to any one of us."

I didn't vote for Obama because he's black. I voted for him because I thought he'd do a better job than McCain and Romney. I still do. But for the first time I feel like he's telling us he's not the American president, but a black man.

Still, I understand where he's coming from. I'm a minority, too. But oddly the racist comments I've received in my life have been directed at me by black people, not white. Although some whites have, they were mostly black. And the prejudiced comments directed toward me have been from Mexicans who don't believe I'm Mexican enough. They accuse me of being ashamed of being a Mexican because I'm different than the stereotype.

I think the president would have been better to keep out of this. The law is the law and will remain so until changed.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 23, 2013 at 12:12 p.m. ― 3 years ago

The President should have NEVER commented on a local court verdict. He is the Commander-in-Chief, not a news analyst, nor a columinst nor the attorney representing either party.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 23, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. ― 3 years ago

"But for the first time I feel like he's telling us he's not the American president, but a black man."

You know, he can be both at the same time.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 23, 2013 at 1:42 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Obama aside, I don't think the Martin/Zimmerman verdict will have a lasting impact on race relations in San Diego. Mexican-Americans and Asians are always excluded from "conversations about race." From this corner of the country, "race relations" on the national level comes down to Black or White. That's what the media peddles and the public buys.

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Avatar for user 'Stro'

Stro | July 23, 2013 at 3:46 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Zimmerman rescued man from truck. Question is if the family were African American would he do the same thing? Great Job keep up the good work!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 23, 2013 at 9:25 p.m. ― 3 years ago

I don't understand why people think it's inappropriate that Obama spoke out about this.

After the Sandy Hook shooting which captured the country's attention and emotions, President Obama talked about being a father and nobody had a problem with that.

Why the problem with him talking about being Black ?

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 23, 2013 at 9:30 p.m. ― 3 years ago

It's simple: white America doesn't like to be reminded of their privileges. It bums them out.

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Avatar for user 'rstarr'

rstarr | July 24, 2013 at 7:17 a.m. ― 3 years ago

I agree wholeheartedly with the speakers about the need for greater understanding, so that people of color can experience life without constantly being disrespected. A Black man should be able to ride an elevator with a White woman without being perceived as a threat! This harkens back to the racism that eventually took the life of Emmet Till.

The point about power and the desire to maintain it is so true. Power in this society is still held by a wealthy White majority, and until White privilege stops driving violence like it did that night in Florida -- even though Zimmerman is not ethnically White, he displays as White, and was subjected all his life to the lure of Euro-centrism -- and like it did when the jury decided to acquit him, we will rally, march, and yes PROTEST.

For the record, I'm White.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 24, 2013 at 10:43 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Barbarism and bigotry begin in the home. Younger generations inherited their bigotry from their parents and grandparents. They'll pass those values on to their children. Enlightenment breaks the chain.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 24, 2013 at 11:43 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Weil asks good questions. Where were they held. Why were they not more widely announced? This is the problem with many of the pro-immigrant rallies. By the time I hear about them, it's too late! Or, they have it in from of the County building at 4pm on a Friday!!!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 24, 2013 at 11:45 a.m. ― 3 years ago

@Duckster, because he's an American first!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 24, 2013 at 11:49 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Oh, and Duckster, Sandy Hook was a national tragedy, not a court verdict.

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Avatar for user 'jskdn'

jskdn | July 24, 2013 at 11:54 a.m. ― 3 years ago

It's impacted the country badly with very different narratives about the event being a function of race. I have seen little that would seem to lead toward harmonizing those disparate viewpoints. I don't know why it would be different in San Diego.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 24, 2013 at 12:28 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Mission, stand your ground laws are a national tragedy.

They exist in many states beyond Florida and they are ridiculous. They encourage wild-west retaliation in every day social situations instead of usin reason and restraint.

How the criminal justice system unfairly treats black males is also a national travesty.

Why is it statistics show blacks and whites use marijuana in the same numbers, yet a black person is far more likely to be in jail or prison for marijuana.

And that's just one example of many of how racial inequality exists both on our streets and in our criminal justice system.

I've been on subways where hire women clench their purses when a black man gets on.

I've been in stores where securitu guards go from being half asleep as white teenagers enter and then suddenly get up and follow when a black teen walks in.

Obama was speaking about race in our nation something very relevant to all of us.

And speaking about his experience as a black person in no way means he is being "up-American" or no putting his nationality first, to the contrary.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 24, 2013 at 12:54 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Barack Obama speaks on behalf of many special interests each and every day. He made the statement as a result of being under intense pressure from 13% of the population. No one has a problem with the innumberable statements he's made on behalf of other special interest groups, domestic or foreign.

"It's impacted the country badly with very different narratives about the event being a function of race. I have seen little that would seem to lead toward harmonizing those disparate viewpoints. I don't know why it would be different in San Diego."

San Diego's African-American population is 6% (in the City with a lower percentage in the County). Looking at the disparities on this comment board, those numbers hold up. Getting a balanced reaction to the verdict in San Diego is statistically impossible. That's why this conversation has to be opened-up to Americans of all ethnic descents. That won't be possible until "racism" is no longer framed solely as Black or White.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 24, 2013 at 2:04 p.m. ― 3 years ago

"...even though Zimmerman is not ethnically White, he displays as White, and was subjected all his life to the lure of Euro-centrism." -rstarr



I was stunned by your post. He displays as white? Lure of Euro-centrism? Can you explain exactly what you mean by that?

Would this case have mattered less if he "displayed as Hispanic"? Would Obama have given it any attention if Zimmerman had a Hispanic sounding name? What if he was a black man?

This case has brought into sharp focus where modern racism in America is coming from and it is no longer the dominion of backwoods Southern towns.

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 24, 2013 at 10:17 p.m. ― 3 years ago

"he displays as White". Is this new liberal speak? I have never heard this term before and wonder what kind of mind came up with this. Sad commentary on "civil" society. Racial and ethnic division and separation seems to be the focus instead of racial and ethnic harmony.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 24, 2013 at 10:36 p.m. ― 3 years ago

DLR is correct, we know how the Korean immigrants viewed African Americans in L.A. Any race or ethnicity can be a bigot or discriminatory toward another. We also know how a lot of people today view Arab-Americans. I remember one time, I was at a gas station downtown. A black man was saying something outloud. I wasn't paying attention. He then drew closer to me and repeated his question. I replied, "Sorry, I didn't realize you were speaking to me." He had an accent which in my educated guess, I would say he was Somali. Anyway, he then said "Oh, I thought you were being racist" or words to that effect. It was obvious to me that he had had some unpleasant encounter.

As for Zimmerman, he is Latino on his mother's side (it usually on the mother's side), but even as a Latino, he can still be classified for statistical purposes as the governemnt puts it, as "white."

Duckster, then "stand your ground laws" are a legal/judicial issue--not a racial one--and should be reconsidered. Take those laws to court.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 25, 2013 at 12:33 p.m. ― 3 years ago


This whole incident has shown that America seems to prefer segregation (by all sides) rather than inclusion. Perhaps the past is our future, too.


Why would the government classify Zimmerman as white? I would assume it would be Hispanic. Just like Obama is black and would never be considered white. Unless he committed a crime against a minority. Funny how that works.

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Avatar for user 'RagnarDanneskjold'

RagnarDanneskjold | July 29, 2013 at 7:16 p.m. ― 3 years ago


IT IS A SICK SOCIETY which pretends that Trayvon Martin hasn't already received the justice that he deserved, a sick society which calls for George Zimmerman's head --- but then it is a sick, sick society which elects --- and then re-elects --- and re-elects --- scum like Barak Hushpuppy OhBummer, Biden The Magnificent, Nazi Pelosi, Filthy Harry Reid, and NYC Mayor Doomberg. In the best of all possible worlds, they'll all be on a plane which crashes into the NY Times Editorial offices at midmorning, any work day, next week.

The real assassins in the Martin-Zimmerman confrontation are 1] Martin, 2] Barak Hushpuppy OhBummer, who is trying to promote race riots and the assassination of George Zimmerman, 3] Attorney General Eric "Fast and Furious" Holder, who will make sure that Zimmerman is unarmed when OhBummer’s and Holder's proxy assassins come for him, and 4] the fascist Democrat-captured media who are character assassins operating on behalf of the Democrat party and the OhBummer dictatorship.

As well, these media propagandists are actionable as accessories before the fact if they succeed in promoting the injury or assassination of George Zimmerman. Every one of the media who have tried or who will try to cause injury to Zimmerman is a legitimate legal target of people who believe in justice --- the justice which Trayvon Martin earned when he jumped George Zimmerman and attempted to murder him. Two lying fascist sacks of shxt --- OhBummer and Holder --- and of course the usual race hustlers like Sharpton, Farrakhan, and Jackson --- can be counted on to promote racial hysteria and a false narrative on this subject, year-on-year, and decade-on-decade, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

As for "racism in America," there are millions more black racists than white racists in America today --- and the hundreds of millions of non-racists in America have "nothing" to apologize for --- no "guilt" to feel or adopt --- no "white privilege" to apologize for --- no “reparations” to pay --- no obligation to kowtow to all of the black racists --- or to Unkle Skum --- by which expression I mean “government at any and every level of American society.”

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Avatar for user 'RagnarDanneskjold'

RagnarDanneskjold | July 29, 2013 at 7:17 p.m. ― 3 years ago


There are more evil games afoot, here.

In his call to the police before the incident, Zimmerman was advised by the cops to stay in his vehicle. Critics say that Zimmerman had “a duty” to "follow orders" but the caution issued by the cops was not a lawful command, else he would have been cited by the cops, and he wasn't.

Even corrupt Florida State Attorney Angela Corey --- who hid evidence from the defense and fired the whistleblower who outed her --- did not argue that Zimmerman had a legal obligation to remain in his vehicle --- and he exited his vehicle when Martin disappeared from sight.

Zimmerman called the police before Martin jumped him --- and MSNBC deleted parts of the recorded discussion and broadcast it to make it look like Zimmerman was targeting Martin because Martin was black --- rather than tailing Martin because he was wandering around in the dark in a neighborhood which had recently suffered some break-ins and thwarted other break-ins.

This was MSNBC's attempt to lynch a straw horse, a so-called "white" Hispanic. MSNBC needed a black-white confrontation to promote their own racist, anti-white narrative that America is a "racist" society --- a society wherein whites should be disarmed --- and pay reparations to non-whites for the "privilege" [crime] of being white.

There is no evidence whatever that race played a part in Zimmerman's execution of his duties as the on-duty Neighborhood Watch Volunteer.

It is said with great derision that Zimmerman is or was "a wannabe cop." These critics appear to live in safe neighborhoods, no? There's nothing wrong with the aspiration to be a cop unless one intends to indict all cops for wanting to be cops --- and letting a puddy like Chris Matthews be the nighttime Neighborhood Watch volunteer strikes me as ineffective, to say the least --- although a pretty good way to get rid of Chris Matthews, come to think of it.

Immediately upon the breaking of this story in the media, there was the assumption that the confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman had something to do with Florida's "stand your ground" law. But because Martin jumped Zimmerman and knocked him to the ground and proceeded to beat him in "mixed martial arts" pound-and-ground style, Zimmerman clearly was not "standing his ground" --- in the moment of confrontation, he was on his back with Martin on top of him smashing his nose out of shape and smashing Zimmerman's head on the cement.

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Avatar for user 'RagnarDanneskjold'

RagnarDanneskjold | July 29, 2013 at 7:18 p.m. ― 3 years ago


The attacks on “stand your ground” laws are being made by opportunists whose real objective is to leave the American citizen defenseless and let the freelance-Democrat scum rule the streets of America.

I say that the American people should be well-armed and well-ammoed and stand their ground against the OhBummer dictatorship and against Unkle Skum --- against American government at every level. We have no obligation whatever to surrender to fascist statism --- or to any other brand of statism, as a matter of fact. That government is best which governs least. It is said that American government rests upon the consent of the governed. Now is the time for all good men and women to withdraw and cancel that consent.

Trayvon Martin has been portrayed in the media as a sweetie-pie. The first published pictures of him that I saw were of Martin at the age of 12, or so, looking relatively mild and not especially bright.

The pictures which Martin published of himself at age 17, online, and before he attacked Zimmerman --- and pictures which others had of him at that age --- showed him at 160 lbs and six feet in height --- a football player who had had some "mixed martial arts" training, in his own website flipping-off the viewer, smoking marijuana, and holding a semiautomatic handgun --- I guess OhBummer would have to call that “an assault weapon,” ay? He'd twice been suspended from school, had been found in possession of stolen property, started fights with other people, was a dopehead, and gave the impression that he was also a dope dealer.

Trayvon Martin was a cheap thug, and it makes perfect sense for Barak Hushpuppy OhBummer to say that if he'd had a son, that his son would look like and be like Trayvon Martin, although, arguably, that son would look more like Trayvon Martin's ally, Rachel Jeantel, who has good reason to wear a hoodie, and probably also a very large trashbag, all things considered.

So let Barak Hushpuppy OhBummer and Eric "Fast and Furious" Holder don their hoodies --- their version of the racist KKK pointy-headed white sheets --- and let them pursue their black racist witch hunt and their campaign of character assassination against George Zimmerman.

I say that the majority of the American people see OhBummer and Holder --- and the Democrat-captured media --- and the whole OhBummer Wrecking Crew --- for what they truly are --- a dictatorship which deserves to be smashed.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 29, 2013 at 9:10 p.m. ― 3 years ago

"This whole incident has shown that America seems to prefer segregation (by all sides) rather than inclusion."

No it hasn't. When considered relative to other white-on-black justifiable shootings, this case shows that racism is alive and well in the american judicial system.

"Are there are racial disparities in justifiable homicide rulings? Out of 53,000 homicides in the database, 23,000 have a white shooter and a white victim. The shooting is ruled to have been justified in a little more than 2 percent of cases. In states with a SYG law (after enactment), the shooting is ruled to be justified in 3.5 percent of cases, compared to less than 2 percent in non-SYG states. In cases where both the victim and shooter are black, the numbers are almost identical, if slightly lower.

When the shooter and victim are of different races, there are substantial differences in the likelihood a shooting is ruled to be justified. When the shooter is black and the victim is white, the shooting is ruled justified in about 1 percent of cases, and is actually slightly lower in non-SYG states. Between 2005 and 2010, there were 1,210 homicides with a black shooter and a white victim—the shooting was ruled to be justified in just 17 of them (about 1 percent)."


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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 29, 2013 at 9:12 p.m. ― 3 years ago

The story is completely different when there is a white shooter and a black victim. In the same time period, there were 2,069 shootings where the shooter was white and the victim black. The homicide was ruled to be justified in 236 cases (11 percent). In SYG states, almost 17 percent of white-on-black shootings were ruled to be justified.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 30, 2013 at 7:01 a.m. ― 3 years ago


Those statistics as well as data from prisons tell an inconvenient truth. I think "Equal Justice" is the next "Marriage Equality" if done correctly. As with LGBT marriage, the country hasn't yet realized the extent of our institutionalized discrimination.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 30, 2013 at 9:13 a.m. ― 3 years ago

FLORI-DUH Defender, okay, if it makes you feel better, Zimmerman is Latino even though he's father is NOT. Maybe you should check some of the job applications around town where LATINOS are asked to mark "white" for statistical purposes.

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 30, 2013 at 5:59 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Missionaccomplished - white, black, Asian are considered to be races. Latino, Hispanic, etc. are ethnicities. Depends what statistics they are collecting which question gets asked.

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