By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
The new forensic voice analysis of the desperate sound of the pleading cry for help captured on the 911 tape recording on that tragic night of the murder of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida back on February 26, 2012 is just the latest piece of evidence of the horrible and tragic last moments of a precious life that was ruthlessly and viciously taken away. Every time we hear that tape, it serves to reveal and remind us of the deadly consequences of racial hatred, prejudice and violence.
This is not about prolonging a national controversy or doing anything to further polarize people who still may be uncertain of why this particular case of fatal violence has engendered the sincere and caring concerns of millions of people not only in America, but also from millions of people throughout the world. In a society and global community where freedom of the press is a paramount pillar of a stable democracy, it is invaluable contribution of the free press to seek out the truth in cases like the merciless death of young Trayvon Martin. This is about ensuring equal justice for Trayvon and for all people.
The Orlando Sentinel newspaper did the right thing when it commissioned a professional independent voice analysis of the 911 tape recording that documents the “screams” and outcry for help that dreadful rainy night in Florida. The question is who was the person screaming for help? Tom Owen is the Chairman Emeritus of the American Board of Recorded Evidence and is a forensic specialist for Owen Forensic Services LLC in New York. Owen is an expert on this issue of audio verification and voice identification. Owen was retained by the Orlando Sentinel to answer this important question. Based on test results and Owen’s own independent review and analysis of the results of the test conducted on the 911 tape recordings from the night of February 26, 2012, Tom Owen concluded that moments before the sound of the fatal gunshot, the voice heard screaming for help was not that of George Zimmerman.
To enhance objectivity and to provide further accuracy, the Sentinel got second independent opinion that utilized a different professional forensic technique to identify the voice that was screaming on the 911 tape recording. Although Zimmerman now claims that he was the one screaming for help before he killed Trayvon Martin by a close-ranged gunshot, Ed Primeau from Michigan who is also another voice forensic expert concluded that the voice heard crying for help on the 911 tape was not the voice of Zimmerman. Primeau affirmed that is was the voice of Trayvon that was yelling for help. Primeau stated, “I believe that’s Trayvon Martin…. without a doubt…. That’s a young man screaming.”
We must not let this matter fade back into the forgetful shadows of momentary national and global concern. Justice in this case has not been accomplished. We are grateful to Trayvon’s parents and family who are being steadfast in their determination to see that justice is done. All of our national civil rights leaders and organizations are to be saluted for responding swiftly with massive mobilizations. There continues to be a huge yet understandable interest in the media and most of all it is very important to note that young people across the lines and divisions of race and class continue to respond by speaking out to demand justice and basic fairness in the wake of this tragedy.
As we have stated from the very first day, the murder of Trayvon Martin is not an isolated incident. It is symptomatic of the deep-seated, institutionalized injustice and racism in our society that begs for a fundamental airing and resolve to change and transform so that young Black males, as well as others, are not characteristically stereotyped and perceived to be worthless targets to satisfy the venomous blood thirst of those who have gone rabid mad with hatred and prejudice.
The truth is, however, our society does not need more polarization or anger if we are going to see that justice is done for Trayvon and for all the victims of this type of societal madness. Some of the recent public debates on this issue have been driven more by the personal ego of some rather than the collective determination of all people of goodwill to stand up and do what is fair and just. That is why, even in the face of all the real haunting hurt and pain, we remain committed to transforming our nation and world into a better place.
That is what Occupy the Dream is all about. We are building a proactive movement for change. We want “to get money out of politics” because our democracy is so paralyzed due to economic inequity and injustice that some believe they have “the right” to carry guns and shoot people at the will of their social bias or prejudice. These inequities make our “system of justice” only for the interests of those who are in the 1 percent. Will the 99 percent continue to hear Trayvon Martin still crying out for justice from his grave?
Yes, first we have to continue to demand equal justice. But also, we can make sure that Trayvon’s murder is not in vain. That’s right. We have a responsibility today not just to be angry, but to channel our anger into a positive, proactive, participatory movement for change in our own communities, nation and world. Yes, our high and active passions for freedom, justice and equality should never be dimmed in the wake of tragedy or the set-backs that we may face in life. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best at the 1963 March on Washington. Dr. King emphasized, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We need to press forward to make Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream a reality. We need to press forward compassionately to answer Trayvon Martin’s cry for justice. Trayvon’s cry for life is now our cry for life. Occupy freedom, justice and equality for all. Occupy the Dream!
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) and Education Online Services Corporation and serves as the National Director of Occupy the Dream (OTD) and can be reached at drbenjamin.chavis @gmail.com