In the city of Sanford, Florida, about an hour from where I am writing this blog, a community is in an uproar over the shooting of a black teenager by a Hispanic  man nearly twice his age, who took it upon himself to be a neighborhood watch volunteer. He wound up being the person in charge for the complex where he lived. He shot and killed the teenager, arguing self defense in the resulting trial and was acquitted of all charges.

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On that fateful night there was a confrontation that cost the young teenager his life and propelled the defendant and the small city of Sanford, Florida into the international spotlight. There have been protests, petitions, death threats, calls for federal civil rights charges, as well as the boycott of the state of Florida due to his acquittal.

An atmosphere of anger and outrage has broken out due to the seeming wanton act of a man who, rather than stay in his pick up truck and let law enforcement handle the situation, took matters into his own hands.

The problem is that this is not the first time an incident like this has occurred.

In April of 2009 in the small upstate New York town , A neighborhood volunteer encountered three teenagers who were allegedly stealing items from neighborhood automobiles.

The vigilante claimed that the teenager charged at him yelling that “he was going to get him.”  Claiming he acted in self defense, the vigilante shot the 16 year old teenager, twice,  killing him. In the subsequent trial, the vigilante was found not guilty of Mansaughter thus convincing the jury he acted in self defense.

The vigilante stated that he had heard voices outside of his Greece, New York home, took his gun and went outside to investigate.

While the circumstances of both cases are strikingly similar, there is one important difference.

The vigilante, Roderick Scott, 42, is black, the 16 year old victim, Christopher Cervini,  was white.

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There are other differences as well. There were not riots, there  were no church meetings to discuss the problems of racial profiling. There were no vast crowds out at the entrance of the courthouse and there was not that vast media compound to broadcast gavel to gavel coverage of the all to brief trial. There were no calls for legislation to curb the actions of neighborhood vigilantes.

There were no parades into the streets or twitter hash tags. The international media completely ignored the case.

In short, nothing happened. Roderick Scott was able to go back to his life while the only ones who remember who Cervini was were his immediate family and friends.

The intent of this blog article is not to say that George Zimmerman was wrong or that Roderick Scott was right. On the contrary, BOTH men were wrong. BOTH men seemed to have used racial profiling and BOTH men took it upon themselves to proactively confront their victims rather than stand down and allow law enforcement to do their jobs.

One has to ask, How many Treyvon Martains and Christopher Cervini’s are out there that go unnoticed by the mainstream media and society at large? How many George Zimmermans and Roderick Scotts are out there armed and ready to exert their form of vigilante justice.

It seems to me that this is not a black or white issue. It is a social issue. It is an issue where angry vigilantes who are sick and tired of the rising wave of criminal actions of neighborhood teenagers, who take matters into their own hands and delve out deadly force as a solution to the problem.

Rather than have riots and calls for boycotts, all communities must come together to come up with more sensible solutions than having a bunch of short tempered macho men run around and shooting teenagers to death.

Let us reform the stand your ground laws. Let us call for better training for those who have concealed weapon permits. Let us have better methods for recruiting and training neighborhood volunteers.

Last but not least, let all of us of all races come together and seek ways to understand each others cultures and concern and work to stem all the factors that have caused these situations to evolve.

Stay tuned

MURT

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