On February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old boy was gunned down in cold blood in a gated community in Florida. His body was left lifeless in the grass and the pouring rain; a single bullet piercing his heart from neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman’s gun.
Zimmerman wasn’t arrested until 46 days after this shooting and even after he was arrested, a controversial law and flawed public opinion allowed him to walk free.
Just a month after Zimmerman was acquitted, Chris Lane was left in a gutter after being killed because three teenagers were bored. His killers were arrested 12 hours after his incident. They were charged just a week later.
Two lives lost to senseless violence. But are they similar?
After Lane’s death, Trayvon Martin comparisons to the Australian student spread like wildfire. People were convinced that Lane’s death wasn’t going to garner the same attention that Martin’s case did, and criticism about Al Sharpton and President Obama not stepping up to acknowledge Lane’s death fueled the debate – was Lane’s death racially motivated and do black leaders not care that a white man’s life was stolen prematurely?
Lane’s fatal shooting was without a doubt downright horrible and the three teenagers involved should definitely be punished. However, if you look at these two instances, you can see that even though these two males tragically lost their lives, the circumstances surrounding their deaths contrast far more than they compare.
The three males that were involved in Lane’s shooting were arrested the same day after he was shot and killed. Zimmerman wasn’t arrested until weeks after the shooting and that was after public outrage. It’s even safe to say that if not for a public call to action, Zimmerman might not have ever been arrested because of a certain Florida law called Stand Your Ground.
The question about the injustice in Lane’s case and the injustice in Trayvon’s case, while compared for their similarities, are starkly different.
Though Lane’s death was a complete and utter tragedy, there was no injustice that took place by law enforcement or the government when it came to his killers. The teens were caught, arrested and charged as quickly as possible and that is exactly what should have been done in Martin’s case as well.
But in Florida, law enforcement officers were “pressured” to arrest someone that shot an unarmed juvenile. They should have conducted themselves the same way the police who arrested Lane’s killers did – with urgency.
I understand that people are disgusted with the three teens that took Lane’s innocent life and I don’t blame them one bit. But, it’s important not to confuse anger or any of the other emotions that you are feeling with injustice. It’s perfectly normal to feel angered by this case, I did as well. But to compare a case where Lane’s culprits were both arrested and charged less than a week after his death, to another case where a juvenile was killed and it took public outcry and 46 days for his killer to be arrested and charged, is completely absurd.
Moreover, Martin was just a boy that had turned 17-years-old three weeks prior to his death and his killer was acquitted on all charges. The three teens that killed Lane most likely won’t be.
Justice is likely to be served in Lane’s case, as it should be.
So, what was that about injustice?
May both Lane and Trayvon rest in peace.
Isha Thorpe (pronounced eye-shah) is a News/Politics Editorial intern at GlobalGrind. She is also a contributing writer at Yahoo! and Examiner. Follow her on Twitter for all things news @IshawThorpe