"I'm still alive, Trayvon Martin is not here,"said Rodney King on Trayvon’s death.
Rodney King is no more. He drowned in his swimming pool what is so far being assumed to be an accident.
So what does he have in common with Trayvon Martin?
Rodney King is a man who will not be soon forgotten. He was an average young man before the Los Angeles police beat him mercilessly in March 1991. The officers pulled him out of the car and beat him brutally. This act of extreme injustice came only to light when an amateur cameraman George Holliday caught it all on videotape.
Trayvon Martin was a black teen-aged boy who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer who thought the he looked suspicious. George Zimmerman claimed self-defense. The authorities did not charge him until widespread public attention and nationwide rallies called for his arrest.
There is a gap of 20 years between both the incidents.However, not much seems to have changed since then in terms of the treatment a black male may get from general public as well as the police. The worse is always assumed before even given a fair chance. The other similarity is the role media played in both the cases.
Though in 1991, there weren’t forums like the YouTube or Facebook or Twitter. News had no way of reaching millions within a matter of hours. But it was a video recording of King’s beaten by the police made by a man who in the neighborhood of the incident that brought the event to light. Even in the times when all there was to go around was the television, the footage was gruesome enough to get people’s attention and eventually get action taken. Riots broke lose demanding justice.
When Trayvon was shot dead, his death and his family’s fight for justice spread like a wildfire, but mostly it was done all over the Internet. The media was in uproar and the social media buzzing with pressure enough to demand action being taken against George Zimmerman.
Footage of King’s beating and the lack of justice that followed lead to widespread riots and mayhem in LA, some twenty years ago too.
But it was nothing compared to the reaction seen in Trayon’s case. Millions of people felt the pain of Trayvon’s family and joined the cause to get justice for him. They would not just quite down. There were pages on sites like Facebook and Twitter and heated debates as well as demands going on that reached a pitch that could not be ignored in a matter of days.
It enhances the importance and power of media. Had King’s case been any different if it happened today? Media, electronic as well as social, had powers that defy explanation. The best example can be how it reacted to Trayvon’s killing, the reaction it created and wall of pressure it proved to be in demanding action and how swiftly!
Indeed it has become not only a tool but a weapon as well. As for the answer to Rodney King’s question from twenty years ago, “Can we all get along?” Only time shall tell.