Posted by: smstrouse | March 24, 2012

Searching for Our Soul in Sanford, FL

The USA Today headline: “In Wake of Trayvon Martin’s Death, America Is Soul-Searching” is heart-breaking in itself.  Because how often have we been here before?  The fact that Trayvon’s father saw the need to teach his son that being a black man in America could be dangerous and to warn him about getting stereotyped reminds us that sadly this latest tragedy is not an isolated incident.  The ugly shame of racism is alive and well.  Much is being written this week as the story continues to unfold in Sanford, FL.  Whether or not George Zimmerman is arrested or police chief Bill Lee is fired, the fact remains that an unarmed 17-year-old was shot dead.

I want there to be outrage about the racist implications of Trayvon Martin’s being stalked and attacked.  But I also want there to be outrage about the fact that George Zimmerman was carrying a gun.  There is no good reason for a Neighborhood Watch volunteer to be armed – anywhere, any time.  But you can see how it can happen.  A basically good guy, with good intentions gets a little power.  It feels good to be a respected protector in his neighborhood.  It goes to his head and he steps over the line.  He goes beyond what his role is supposed to be.  He goes out on patrol alone.  He disobeys express order not to follow the ‘suspect,’ he does.  And he has a gun.  Yes, he was evidently within his legal rights to carry a gun.  But in my opinion, he had no moral right to do so – because of the danger of the very thing that happened.

We keep being shocked by these tragedies: the attack on Rep. Gabby Giffords, the latest school shooting, the road rage shooting in San Francisco last week – and on and on and on and on.

If indeed America is soul-searching – again – is it not time we find our soul (and maybe also our spine) and stand against the inane laws that put a weapon in George Zimmerman’s hands?

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Responses

  1. Yes. Rachel Maddow did a piece this week pointing out that gun laws have gone only in one direction in the last ten years, and continue–all toward fewer and fewer restrictions and more and more options for arms. It’s way beyond out-of-control.

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  2. My name is Cain Davis; I was born and raised in Sanford, Florida, graduating from Seminole High in 1977. Though I no longer live in Sanford, I’m a Sanford property owner, I visit Sanford several times a year and like most people my hometown is a big part of who I am today. While visiting family and friends on March 31, 2012 I also witnessed several of the last speakers who addressed the rally held at the Police Department. I was amazed at the tolerance exhibited by local citizens who had to endure the bias opinions espoused by those who don’t have any personal interest and/or knowledge of Sanford. It appears that most of the concerns articulated by the speakers were based on actions committed by the police department over a period of years, yet the entire city is being painted as being the “New Selma”, code for racist. By any standard this type of approach does not facilitate the ability to address the root causes of the concerns expressed by the citizens of Sanford. Instead this divisive practice only deepens one’s conviction about their fears, biasness and cultural differences as evidenced by the fact that we now have both, Black and White separatist groups proclaiming that they are in Sanford or going to Sanford to protect the interest of their respective race.
    The recent national news coverage has marred the image of the city in a very negative and unbalanced manner. Regardless of one’s opinion about what specifically happened in this case, the untimely and tragic death of Trayvon Martin should be addressed by the appropriate officials, to include the state and national agencies, at this point. My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to his family and friends. I certainly pray that fair and equal justice is found in this case for all involved and that it serves as a catalyst for facilitating an honest opportunity for the community to come together and address all issues which has contributed to this and other incidents which may have contributed to the divisiveness that is being witnessed today.
    The reason for this email is to encourage leaders from all sectors of the community to come together for the purpose of shaping their community and its image, I am not asking you to take a position regarding the Trayvon Martin’s case, this is the work and responsibility of those in appointed and elected authority. However, as citizen leaders you can proactively create an atmosphere and environment where your neighbors can candidly engage in productive dialogue and action which produces a better Sanford in the future. Presently, the community’s image is being shaped by outsiders, which is not in the best interest of the citizens of Sanford as evidenced by the national media. I know many of the community leaders in Sanford, yet almost 100% of the personalities who are presented by the national media outlets to speak regarding the pulse of the citizens of Sanford only recently discovered that there is a Central Florida city called Sanford.
    I am keenly aware of the power of volunteerism and the positive impact it can have in a community. I hope that the diverse leadership within the community will corporately come together to identify and resolve the community issues, as they see them. One of the areas of expertise in which I possess is community relations/development and I am willing to volunteer my skills to assist however an organized community leadership group may choose to utilize them. There is no doubt that the citizens of Sanford will be subject to changes as a result of the recent news coverage; the community leadership is well advised to be proactive in this process to ensure the interest of those who look to them for leadership is considered during this process. The opportunities for community dialogue can be maximized to develop an awareness and action plan to address the pertinent issues within the community as defined by those who live in the community. I am proposing to assist community leaders with initiating a fair and neutral forum in which residents of all backgrounds, interests and concerns can come together with the sole purpose of creating a better Sanford through open and honest dialogue. Since I don’t live in Sanford, my role would be advisory to those in leadership and focused on conveying the various strategies which can be employed by local citizens to influence policy and procedures. The citizens of Sanford have an opportunity to ensure this horrible incident is used to facilitate and develop a model community relations and cultural experience at a time when it’s most needed.
    In concept, I am willing to facilitate opportunities for the community leaders to develop a series of well-organized and civil forums in which members of the public can productively voice their concerns and work corporately to develop solutions for the same. Additionally, I will provide resources and training to those interested to ensure that whatever is created by the community leaders can be sustained for as long as the group desires. Lastly, due to the very diverse experiences of the various sectors of the community there exists a lack of knowledge and understanding of each other which exists within the community. I know this because I have talked to both White and Black leaders, who frankly told me they didn’t understand the position taken by the other. This lack of knowledge and understanding contributes to a lack of trust, conflict, insensitivity and division. I would welcome the opportunity to employ my expertise to break down these barriers so that everyone’s differences can be valued and used to improve the community instead of dividing the community.
    You are receiving this email because I have either talked to you; someone has asked that I contact you, your name was retrieved from a public document or a friend has forwarded to you hoping that you will consider becoming a partner in developing good community relations for your city. You may be a leader of the religious, government, business, education, or other sector of the community, please know that as a citizen leader you can contribute to making Sanford a better place to live. If you are interested in hearing more and/or participating please email me expressing your interest, contact information and organization in which you represent. As in the case with this email (you are blind copied), your information or interest will not be shared with others unless I receive written permission to do so at some future time. If there is relevant interest amongst community leaders, I will arrange a tele-conference to discuss how you would like to proceed in the future.
    Please remember to keep the families involved in the most recent incident and those in leadership in your prayers because they are all undergoing intense pressure and challenges, which most of us will never have to experience.
    God Bless you and the City of Sanford

    Cain Davis
    Senior Partner
    Diversified Consulting Concepts, L.L.C.
    caindavis@dccteam.com
    http://www.dccteam.com
    352-871-4555

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