Alexandria, VA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/16/2013 -- The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) is asking for calm in communities across the United States following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. “While the verdict may be difficult for some to understand, it is important that it be respected” stated Maurita J. Bryant, NOBLE National President.
NOBLE has been carefully monitoring the trial in Sanford, Florida where an impaneled jury was asked to determine if Mr. George Zimmerman had criminal culpability in the shooting death of seventeen year old Mr. Trayvon Martin on the night of February 26, 2012.
NOBLE respects the work and the findings of the jury in this case, but now that the criminal trial is over and a verdict of not guilty has been rendered, it is clear that nobody has “won”. There are instead, some notable losses.
The Martin family has lost the joy of seeing their young son grow into a man and accomplish his dreams. The late Mr. Trayvon Martin lost the chance to attend college, graduate and become a responsible credit to his family and his community. And because of this case, and the resulting verdict, many young people of color across the country now believe that they have lost their right to freely and safely walk the streets of their neighborhoods at any hour without the fear or threat of being profiled by a citizen (armed or unarmed) as someone who has criminal intent.
As an organization with a long history of being in the forefront of providing solutions to law enforcement issues and community concerns, we recognize that while the criminal case may have concluded; confusion, uncertainty and the work needed to bring us closer to being a nation of equal justice and equal rights still remain.
“NOBLE believes that racial profiling and bias still plague our nation, and it’s important that any law such as the so-called “Stand your Ground Law” in Florida, increases the possibility of tragedies occurring and ultimately for individuals to be wrongfully targeted and killed. Such laws must be changed to reduce any possibilities of wrongful deaths occurring,” stated Ms. Bryant.
NOBLE has begun working with local, state and federal officials and national civil rights, social justice and community based organizations to begin a “dialogue for change”. A dialogue that will seek to root out and change laws and policies across the country that create disparity and inequities in the way that justice is dispensed. A dialogue that will address the concerns of young people of color across our country that have realistic fears of being victims of racial profiling either by law enforcement officials, and now as a result of the verdict in Sanford, Florida, by ordinary citizens, who may have inherent biases or false perceptions of who “looks suspicious” or who may be prone to engage in criminal activity.
The Florida criminal case against Mr. George Zimmerman reaffirms that there is much more work to do and NOBLE stands ready to “roll up their sleeves” to get it done. As we and others take on this task, we urge that there be calm and responsible reaction to the verdict.
We do ask however that during the days and months ahead that everyone joins us in keeping the Martin family and their friends in prayer for what we know must be an extremely trying time for them. We also ask that you join NOBLE in creating ways to strengthen our communities and to help them remain vigilant against crime, because no matter how you view the outcome of this trial, it was the fear and perception of a “crime in progress” that began the cycle of events that cost young Trayvon Martin his life!
NOBLE’s national conference will convene August 3-7, 2013 in Pittsburgh where we will partner with the NAACP for a town hall meeting and spearhead a dialogue focusing on youth and gun violence. We will also address our adversarial system that allows the criminalization of minority victims like Trayvon Martin, based on stereotype and prejudice, and the apparent little regard for the life of African-American victims.
President Bryant’s “Call to Action” for the membership of our 56-chapters across the United States and abroad is to engage youth. Many young people today, especially youth of color, feel the system that we work within is against them. This is our time for community engagement, for working with local police departments, universities and colleges, to develop mentoring programs for youth that teach the “Law and You” along with personal and professional development. NOBLE’s “Call to Action” is to help young people understand that in order to change a system, they must focus on their education, so they can become the police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and law makers that create the system.
The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) seeks to serve as the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to justice by action. NOBLE represents over 2,500 members nationwide, primarily African-American chief executive officers of law enforcement agencies at federal, state, county and municipal levels, other law enforcement administrators, and criminal justice practitioners.