I covered every single minute of George Zimmerman’s trial when I worked for my former employer.
You know what I learned watching that trial day in, and day out?
I learned that Florida’s “stand your ground” laws had nothing at all to do with Zimmerman’s defense, which was predicated on a classic case of self defense. While Zimmerman didn’t have a duty to retreat under Stand Your Ground, the relevant fact is that he never had the option to retreat because of the nature of the attack.
Let’s make no mistake: drug-abusing, illegal-gun dealing Trayvon Martin was attempting to murder George Zimmerman with his bare hands when Zimmerman—who had been screaming for help from neighbors who refused to get involved—finally drew his gun and fired a single shot to defend his life.
As hidden files and images on his own phone revealed during parts of the trial that the jury wasn’t allowed to see, the real Trayvon Martin was a violent, drug-abusing thug who appeared to get off on hurting people, and was apparently happy to traffic in illicitly-acquired and possibly stolen guns.
That isn’t keeping activist playwright Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj from concocting a pathetic bit of propaganda that whitewashes this young serial criminal’s path to a well-earned grave.
Trayvon Martin has often been in the thoughts of playwright and activist Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj in the four years since the 17-year-old unarmed black boy was shot and killed after a confrontation with neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
He has wondered about Martin’s dreams, his life and the moments before he died.
Maharaj has channeled those thoughts into a two-hour play debuting Thursday at Philadelphia’s New Freedom Theater. “The Ballad of Trayvon Martin,” co-written with Thomas Soto, explores the idea of the dangerous consequences for black boys and men of being perceived as a threat through the lens of Martin, whose death in Sanford, Florida, on Feb. 26, 2012, was a galvanizing event for many black Americans and seen by some as the nascent origins of the Black Lives Matter movement underway across the country.
Maharaj wrote the play six months after Zimmerman was acquitted of Martin’s death in 2013.
“My grandmother would say, ‘There are things that are put on you and they never go away,'” Maharaj said in an interview with The Associated Press. “That was something that was put on me. It angered me so deeply, and I just didn’t know what to do. We’re left with the question of, How do we move ahead and make sure Trayvon’s death is not in vain? The theater is a great place where we can do that. For me, it’s the great equalizer.”
The star’s message to the audience: Feel me. See me. Don’t shoot me.
Maharaj didn’t write a play about Trayvon Martin. He wrote a bizarre and wistful bit of abject fantasy about a semi-literate violent criminal who was shot because he ambushed a man he perceived to be softer and weaker than he was, and he apparently tried to beat that man to death.
You don’t want kids in your neighborhood to end up in a cooler at your local morgue, Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj?
True something new. Write an honest play which attacks and dismantles the well-documented thug culture that teaches children it is okay to rob, and steal, abuse and deal deal drugs, join gangs, and treat other people as prey to be exploited. Stop attempting to excuse the behavior of the Trayvon Martins and Michael Browns of this world.
You had a real chance to maybe change some minds and hearts and maybe even save lives, Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj.
You pissed it away justifying the indefensible, whitewashing a black heart.