In the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin, echoes of his case seem to be everywhere. In e-mails to BlogPost, in petitions on Signon.org, in opinion pieces, family members have tied losses of their own to the shooting death of Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in Florida last month.
Like Martin’s death, the family members say, the shootings may have been race-based.
On Sunday, more than 1,000 people gathered in support of Martin in Miami. There, retired Miami police director Bobby Parker blasted the police who handled the case, the Miami Herald reports. Family members whose losses echo Martin’s have similarly slammed police.
Read their stories, after the jump.
Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., an unarmed elderly black man, was shot to death by the White Plains Police Department in November, the New York Times reports.
A former Marine with heart problems, Chamberlain attracted an ambulance and police to his home after he somehow triggered his medical alert system. Police say after they arrived, they saw Chamberlain grab a knife, which prompted an officer to fire a handgun. Chamberlain’s family members say that — as in Martin’s case — racial slurs and expletives may have been used by the shooter.
“This case ... brings into question the policies and practices of this department,” writes Chamberlain’s son in a petition calling for justice on Signon.org. The petition has received more than 150,000 signatures. Police insist the incident was a “warranted use of deadly force.”
A now-familiar chant by supporters of Martin is: “I am Trayvon Martin.” Last Thursday in the Bronx, residents chanted a similar refrain, but with a different name: “I am Ramarley Graham.”
The protesters stood in front of NYPD’s 47th precinct to demand legal consequences for the police who had shot Graham, who was unarmed, in his home in February, the Guardian reports.
Police say they thought Graham had a gun. Just like Martin, Graham didn’t. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has ordered an internal review into the unit to which the police belonged, and last week met with the Graham family.
In an opinion piece in the Post, former Washington Post reporter Donna Britt says Martin’s death sparked memories of the shooting death three decades ago of her brother Darrell, who was killed by police officers in Gary, Ind.
Britt says officers told her after the incident that her brother attacked them and may have briefly gone insane. She says that while those images never made sense with the brother she knew, she never challenged the police account as the Martin family has.
In the piece, Britt also relates fears similar to the ones held by Martin’s parents — that the shooting was race based. “How did these two officers see Darrell as so dangerous and, apparently, so dispensable that they would shoot to kill him?” she wrote. “They had to have seen something other than the brother I knew. I felt certain they saw black.”