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Please Please Stop the Madness-Driven Violence

August 25, 2013|Wanda Coleman
  • Los Angeles Times readers submitted their views in verse for a feature dedicated to opinion poetry.
Los Angeles Times readers submitted their views in verse for a feature dedicated… (Anthony Russo / For The Times…)

In the name of Trayvon Martin, just Americans

must rise up and stop this monstrous domestic brutality

motivated by bias and bigotry, justified by fear,

a vigilante violence that has claimed too many lives to count:

Like 19-year-old Michael Donald, kidnapped at

random and beaten to death in Mobile, Alabama,

on March 20th 1981, courtesy of the Ku Klux Klan.

Like 20-year-old, mentally disabled Melvin Eugene Hair

who succumbed to a carotid chokehold by a

Tampa, Florida police officer on February 20th 1987.

Like 19-year-old Jerrold Hall, accused of stealing a $60

Walkman, felled by a shotgun blast to the back of his head,

issued by a BART transit cop on November 15th 1992.

Like 16-year-old exchange student Yoshihiro Hattori, shot

dead for trespassing by an irate property owner in Baton Rouge,

while on his way to a Halloween party on October 17th 1992.

Like 21-year-old Matthew Wayne Shepard, mistaken for a

scarecrow after being tortured and tied to a fence outside

Laramie, Wyoming, October 12th 1998, because he was gay.

Like 19-year-old Tyisha Miller bullet-riddled 12 times by

Riverside, California officers during a brain seizure, a semi-

automatic allegedly in her lap, that December 28th, 1998.

O Trayvon, Trayvon! Far too many were martyred decades before you.

Too many to name, too many to remember:

Who says they got what they deserved?

What kind of justice was served?

Where is empathy and respect for human life?

When will there be an end to this God-ugly strife?

Why the shoot-first-and-ask-questions-too-late?

How many unarmed or incapacitated victims of hate?

These names in the name of Trayvon demand we defend The Dream

with unrelenting commitment,

with protests against and repeals of unjust laws,

with hearts and eyes that refuse to be blinded by lies.

In the names of innocents slain, the compassionate must rise.

The author is a widely published Los Angeles poet and fiction writer.

Read more: Opinion poetry by Times readers

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