|Tremaine McMillian. (Credit: WSVN-TV)|
"When you have somebody that is being resistant, somebody that is pulling away from you, somebody that's clenching their fist, somebody that's flaring their arms, that's the immediate threat," Detective Zabaleta told reporters. "And by all that, I mean somebody who's black."
Police officers across Florida agree.
"It's one thing to have a Jewish retiree flash a dehumanizing stare or a Cuban clench his fists," explained Forrest DeRoss, a police captain from Jacksonville. "But when a colored person does it, I mean, they practice voodoo and stuff like that. Who knows what kind of curse they're laying down on you...and your kin."
DeRoss also discussed how Africans brought AIDS overseas to the United States.
"They spit at you, you got the AIDS," he added. "That's attempted murder in my book."
The McMillan case, however, is not unique. It follows a long and lurid succession of race-based panic in Florida.
The fatal February 2012 shooting of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, sparked national outrage and a federal investigation. Martin, 17, was heading home from a 7-11 convenience store on February 26 when Zimmerman followed and then confronted him. Zimmerman was armed with a 9-millimeter pistol. Martin was armed with a cellphone, a bag of Skittles and an iced tea, police said. Zimmerman claimed he gunned down Martin in self-defense.
Under Florida state law, a heavily armed citizen may slaughter another person he encounters on the street, so long as the shooter believes his life to be in peril. Critics have attacked the law as being too broadly worded. For example, a schizophrenic who believes he's being molested by Fatty Arbuckle and Oscar the Grouch may open fire on a crowd of innocent bystanders, having perceived the threat in his mind.
Civil rights groups in Florida want to amend the law to authorize the justification of extreme force only when the perceived assailant is "clearly of Sub-Saharan African descent, beyond any reasonable doubt to shooters, witnesses and potential jurors not of Sub-Saharan African descent themselves, which would introduce bias in favor of the attacker."
A month after Martin's death, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) was called out of order and escorted from the House floor for donning a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses in a show of solidarity for the slain teen. Like Martin, Rush was unarmed, African American and had his face concealed by a hood. Under Florida's prevailing laws, only members of a specific and predominantly Caucasian Christian organization may cover their faces with hoods. These outfits are protected under the First Amendment as religious garments.
Rush was removed for what security personnel referred to as "grave safety concerns" and inciting panic. Witnesses claim mayhem erupted during the otherwise routine proceedings as representatives from Florida fled screaming for their lives, scrambling to grab firearms from security officers to defend themselves from the threat.
Sudduth Craster, former state GOP chair, said the response from Florida delegates was not unusual.
He cited the 2007 headline-making case of Rep. Bob Allen of Florida's 32nd District. Allen was arrested for allegedly offering to perform oral sex on a black undercover police officer in a restroom at a public park. Allen maintained his innocence, explaining that he felt intimidated by the dark, muscular man.
"Bob Allen's self-preservation tactic of fellating an angry black man to avoid fisticuffs shows just how pervasive the threat and fear of black people is in this state," Craster said.
"And I get it. Remember last June? Some crazed, naked black guy, Rudy Eugene, pounced on a homeless person and spent 18 minutes eating his face off. Maybe if the vagrant had offered to perform oral sex, Eugene would have left him alone. I'm just saying, until we get the black threat under control, I'm urging our peacekeeping resources to use any means necessary to protect the voters of Florida. The ones we allow to vote. Who aren't scary and black."
2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.