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A Father of Black and White Sons Looking for Answers

March 22, 2012

Here is a letter written to the Editor of the Orlando Sentinel by Mike Beates. When we arrived at Reformed Theological Seminary in the mid 90s, Mike was the Dean of Students. He was always a great encouragement as a teacher and a friend. Thoughtful and considerate, Mike was always a favorite with the students. In this letter he reflects upon recent events in his home area, and calls upon us all to consider this tragedy as more close to home than we may think.  Thanks Mike:

My Word: Father of black and white sons wants answers to Trayvon’s Death
By Michael S. Beates | Special to the Sentinel

March 21, 2012

The tragic case of Trayvon Martin begs for answers.

The 17-year-old black youth was fatally shot last month by a Hispanic crime-watch volunteer in a gated Sanford community.

I have four sons raised in Seminole County: two white, by natural birth, and two black, through adoption. This case hits home — not just close to home — for their mother and me. If either of my white sons had been walking in that neighborhood that evening, hood up in a drizzling rain, I am confident they would not have been shot. But I wonder now, if either of my black sons had been walking there, whether either might have lost his life that night. This is profoundly troubling.

If this neighborhood-crime-watch volunteer had followed the 911 dispatcher’s order to stay in his car, this black youth would not have been shot by George Zimmerman. Period. End of story.

But Zimmerman did leave his car, an altercation did ensue, and Trayvon was shot. Why Zimmerman has not been arrested is confounding. Perhaps the Sanford Police Department is being silent, waiting for federal investigators to take over. But the silence only foments more and more protest, more and more suspicion.

The released 911 recordings, far from clarifying, only fuel the fires of want for answers.

Questions begging for answers:

Why would a teenager with a pocket full of Skittles and an iced tea initiate an altercation with an unknown man? Did Trayvon see a drawn gun and fear for his life?

Why, if Zimmerman was screaming for his life, did his screams for help stop immediately after a shot was fired? Why did he not follow the clear instruction of the 911 dispatcher?

What situation was so life-threatening in Zimmerman’s eyes to cause him to leave his car? How far away from Zimmerman’s car was the scene of the altercation and shooting? An armed man leaves his car to follow (pursue?) an unknown (suspicious?) boy who ends up dead.

If the Sanford Police have information that exonerates Zimmerman and implicates Martin, the department needs to release it, or arrest Zimmerman. It is that simple. No happy ending to this story is on the way.

But one thing remains true: If Zimmerman had waited in his car as instructed, Trayvon Martin would likely be alive today. The black community is protesting. But every other ethnicity should be equally concerned that justice prevail here.

For this father of black and white sons, complete disclosure from authorities cannot come too soon.

Michael S. Beates lives in Winter Park.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2012 10:13 pm

    Thanks Anthony! This article went a lot of places. I re-posted on my blog as well including the picture that was in the local print edition but not in the online version. You can see that here: http://mikebeates.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/article-in-the-sentinel-with-print-edition-photo/

    In another crazy turn, the Sentinel called me on Friday saying CNN wanted to contact me for an interview. They apparently did a love show from Sanford Saturday evening, but I told CNN that everything I would say, I already said in print so I did not participate. Sadly, the tragic story has taken a turn toward the sensational that loses the simple pointless loss of this young man’s life.

    Blessings to you and all the Carters!

  2. ajcarter permalink*
    March 26, 2012 12:12 pm

    Thanks Mike! Good hearing from you! Your thoughts have been greatly appreciated. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, you must stop in to see us. That would be such an encouragement to us. God bless.

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