The cry "For Trayvon" has become a theme in violent attacks against innocent people who happened to be in the presence of someone seeking revenge for the shooting death of Florida black teen Trayvon Martin.
It's an alarming trend, says Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity.
"A pattern of racially motivated attacks is cause for serious concern," he said. "And the evidence of racism is much stronger in these instances than in the Trayvon Martin case itself."
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Since Martin was killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in February 2012, there have been at least eight attacks in which the perpetrators reportedly invoked Martin's name. Zimmerman was acquitted by a six-member, all-female jury last month that concluded he was acting in self-defense. The most recent case of violence against an innocent victim was the murder of white college student Christopher Lane in Oklahoma.
- April 17, 2012 – In Chicago, an 18-year-old black male named Alton L. Hayes attacked a 19-year-old white man with no provocation. Hayes told investigators that he beat his victim because he was angry about Martin's shooting. Hayes was joined by a 15-year-old companion in the attack.
- July 8, 2013 – In Los Angeles, as the the Los Angeles Times reported, "a group of unruly young people broke off from hundreds gathered for a Trayvon Martin prayer vigil." The group tore through a Los Angeles Wal-Mart, attempting to steal jewelry. A mob the next day was more violent, when "more than 100 people descended on stretches of downtown Long Beach in an organized, sudden crime rampage." On the same day, July 9, a violent mob rushed through Hollywood Boulevard, and 911 callers reported that "a few dozen young people" were "running in and out of traffic, knocking people over on the sidewalks and snatching their belongings."One police official spoke about the social media messages tracked by Los Angeles law enforcement. The official said: "They're using Trayvon as an excuse. … They were saying, 'Let's go mess up Hollywood for Trayvon.'"Local L.A. media have even coined a new term for violent mobs: "bash mobs." The term is used as a substitute for the more common "flash mobs." As described by the Los Angeles CBS affiliate, a bash mob "involves upwards of 100 people – usually teens who organize on social media – who run through the streets attacking and assaulting people, stealing property, committing petty crimes and acts of vandalism."One day after the Zimmerman verdict, the racial violence continued.
- July 14 – In Senatobia, Miss., a white father named Devin Dickey was out for an evening jog after putting his daughter to bed. While he was jogging, three black men drove up to him and ordered him into their car at gunpoint. As Dickey described the incident to local news, "[one of the men] said, 'Do you know who Trayvon is?' I said, 'No,' thinking of somebody local. He said, 'Trayvon Martin.' I said 'Yes.' He said, 'I'm going to beat you ... for Trayvon.'" Dickey claims that the men kicked his head and beat him until he lost consciousness. He was hospitalized for his injuries.
- July 14 – In Baltimore, witnesses say that a group of black teens – one armed with a gun – attacked a Mexican man named Melvin Garcia while yelling, "This is for Trayvon.” Three witnesses have confirmed that Garcia was beaten for racial reasons. One black teen present during the attack reportedly said that the group was beating Garcia "because he was Mexican" and that the Martin case motivated the attackers. However, Baltimore Det. Angela Carter-Watson is claiming, "Our investigation is basically saying that there is no Trayvon connection."
- July 14 – In Milwaukee, a 34-year-old white man named Christopher Simpson was beaten by at least a dozen black teens while walking to the bus stop. He suffered a broken hand and concussion. Simpson says, "I know what the guy said: 'This is for Trayvon Martin,' because [one of the attackers] was right in my face and after he said it he punched me right in the mouth."A witness to the attackconfirms Simpson's account.Simpson was rescued by a black couple. As Simpson recalls: "A guy came with his girlfriend and said, 'What the hell are you guys doing? Leave this guy alone!' He said, 'Don't worry' and he held my wrist and he said, 'As long as I'm here, you'll be OK.'"
- July 15 – In Houston, Texas, a white grandmother driving her granddaughter to the hospital was attacked by a protester demonstrating against the Zimmerman verdict. The woman, Georgia, who asked that her full name not be used, said her 7-year-old granddaughter was having a reaction to medication, so Georgia started on her way to the hospital. However, along the route, a group of supposedly peaceful protesters was blocking traffic on a bridge. The demonstrators were screaming at drivers and beating on cars that were caught on the bridge. When Georgia and other drivers attempted to drive around the protesters, a crowd of black people moved towards her vehicle.Video of the incident shows a black man grabbing or striking Georgia and attempting to force a car door open as she drove past the crowd.
- July 27 – In Washington, D.C., three black men yelled, "This is for Trayvon Martin" then beat and robbed a white man in Adams Morgan, a popular venue for young professionals in the nation's capital.
- August 16 – In Duncan, Okla., Christopher Lane was killed by three teens, two of whom are black and one who appears to be biracial. One of the teens charged with first-degree murder tweeted in April, "90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM." Another tweet boasted about attacking whites: "Ayeee I knocced out 5 woods since Zimmerman court! :)""Wood" is a derogatory term used by some blacks to describe white people.
Trayvon Martin's death was cast by activists such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as evidence of a trend of racially motivated violence against blacks, despite evidence to the contrary presented in the trial and statistics that show black-on-white attacks occur at eight times the rate of white-on-black attacks. One example is the murder of Brittney Watts, a 26-year-old white female marketing executive. Her convicted killer is Nkosi Thandiwe, a young black male.
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At his trial, Thandiwe declared: "I was trying to prove a point that Europeans had colonized the world, and as a result of that, we see a lot of evil today."
Thandiwe testified: "In terms of slavery, it was something that needed to be answered for. I was trying to spread the message of making white people mend."
Thandiwe shot three white women in Atlanta in 2011, with no provocation. Watts was killed, and one of the two other victims is paralyzed.
An exception to the trend was an attack on a pro-Trayvon speaker at a July 13 rally. A white 43-year-old woman attacked 73-year-old musician Lester Chambers after he dedicated a song to Trayvon. The woman rushed onto the stage and shoved Chambers to the ground, yelling, "It's all your fault." The musician has a bruised rib and nerve damage, according to his son.
Until the murder of Lane, an Australian who was attending college in the U.S., mainstream conservatives had been largely silent about such racially motivated crimes against whites. President Obama even weighed in on the incident, 10 days later, issuing a statement through a spokesman saying there is "an extra measure of evil in an act of violence that cuts a young life short."