Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson delivered a rousing speech this week before fellow members of Congress in which she pleaded that her colleagues “stand up for justice” in the wake of the recent shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
Martin, 17, was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla., by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was acting in self-defense.
Wilson, who represents Florida’s 17th Congressional District, can be seen in this videotaped speech saying she’s “tired of burying young black boys.”
She compares Trayvon Martin’s case to another young black boy, Martin Lee Anderson, who was beaten to death at a Florida bootcamp about three years ago. The Anderson beating was caught on tape yet none of the guards were jailed.
Even with the increased media attention being given to the case of Trayvon Martin’s death, Wilson’s plea to her fellow elected officials is one of the most impassioned statements critiquing the practice of the racial profiling young black males.
An excerpt from her speech is transcribed below:
Mr. Speaker, I am tired of burying young black boys.
I am tired of watching them suffer at the hands of those who fear them and despise them. I’m tired of comforting mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, and brothers after such unnecessary, heinous crimes of violence.
In Florida, almost 3 years ago, as I served in the Florida senate, a young black boy, Martin Lee Anderson, was beaten to death at a Florida bootcamp. It was all captured on a State of Florida Corrections video and shown all over the world. Martin Lee Anderson was beaten and tortured until his lifeless body couldn’t take anymore, and then Martin Lee Anderson was dead, at the hands of several bootcamp guards. A young boy, who wanted to be somebody! A young boy who was trying to turn his life around.
After they beat him to death on international TV as the world watched, over and over again—not one guard was sent to prison. Not one was even reprimanded. In fact, after we closed down every bootcamp in Florida, many of the accused received promotions.
Well, guess what? In Florida, we have another Martin—Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a renegade wannabe policeman neighborhood watchman.
Trayvon Martin lived in Miami, Florida, in District 17—my congressional district. Trayvon, a 140-pound young black boy, 17 years old, was just trying to live and reach 18. In spite of that, the accused killer, George Zimmerman, has not been charged, and is using the term of “self-defense.”
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Brett Johnson is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer and the founder of the music and culture blog VeryArtistical.com.