First Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman related hate crime reported in Chicago

The first Trayvon Martin-related hate crime has been reported. Is the rhetoric of politicians like Jesse Jackson and President Obama to blame? Photo: AP

CHICAGO, April 22, 2012 – The first Trayvon Martin-related hate crime has just been reported. Is the politically heated rhetoric surrounding the Sanford, Florida case to blame?

For weeks, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other prominent political figures have been ratcheting up the rhetoric in the case of Trayvon Martin. Martin is the 17-year-old black teenager who was shot by volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Zimmerman is of white and Peruvian descent. 

Alton Harris, 18, is charged with a hate crime.

Critics have charged that Jackson and Sharpton have been using the Trayvon Martin case to fan the flames of U.S. racial discord and have intentionally focused their venom on the racial divisions between the white and black communities – Zimmerman’s mixed racial heritage notwithstanding. 

Last month, Jackson launched what he termed the “Trayvon Martin-voter registration movement” with a goal of registering 1 million voters in Florida.

The founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition also expressed anger after bond was set Friday at $150,000 for Zimmerman’s release.

“We are disappointed that the bond was set so low,” said Jackson.  “Tomorrow Mr. Zimmerman’s freedom will be restored.  This decision cheapens black life.”

But now there is a real-life casualty of the heated - some would say politically-motivated - rhetoric: a 19-year-old white hate crime victim from Chicago.

Alton Hayes, 18, of Oak Park, Illinois and a 15 year-old accomplice threatened the victim with a large tree branch and said, “Empty your pockets, white boy.”

Both of the assailants are black.

After pinning the victim’s arms to his sides, Hayes allegedly threw the 19-year-old to the ground, robbed him, and repeatedly punched him in the head and back.

Hayes told authorities he was so upset about the Trayvon Martin case he beat up the man because he was white. He has been charged with attempted robbery, aggravated battery, and a hate crime.

Bail has been set at $80,000. The 15 year-old will be charged as a juvenile.

Similarly, a White man in Baltimore was attacked and beaten by a group of Blacks, male and female, while a crowd stood by and watched earlier this month. 

The incident raises serious questions:  Is it an isolated incident or a bellwether of the racial conflicts yet to come?

Arguably, not since the acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King back in 1992 has U.S. race relations been under this kind of dangerous pressure.

In all, 53 people died during the South Central Riots and thousands more were injured, including Reginald Denny, a white truck driver who was pulled from his vehicle and videotaped being beaten by a mob.

Ironically, it was the candidacy and election of America’s first black president that promised a new beginning of racial harmony.

“I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together, unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes,” said then candidate Barack Obama in 2008. “That we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction — toward a better future for our children and our grandchildren.”

However, that promise has been short-lived.

Even President Obama has inserted himself into the Trayvon Martin controversy. “If I had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon,” said Obama back on March 23.

Black political leaders and pundits on both sides of the ideological aisle have weighed in on George Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence without knowing the hard facts of the case.

Noted legal expert Professor Alan Dershowitz expressed concerns this week about the Zimmerman arrest affidavit and its omission of key pieces of evidence favorable to the defendant, including a graphic iPhone photo obtained by ABC News.

If authentic, the evidence would support Zimmerman’s plea of self-defense.

Using Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, the defense can ask a judge to dismiss the charges if they can prove Zimmerman acted in self-defense. So what will happen if the charges are dismissed and Zimmerman never goes to trial?

In this volatile atmosphere of race and political gamesmanship, what will be the outcome for U.S. race relations?

If the Zimmerman case goes to trial and there is an acquittal, will U.S. race relations survive?

Regardless of the outcome of the Zimmerman trials, it will be a long time before U.S. race relations recovers from the racial impact of the Trayvon Martin case.

Not even America’s first black president can change that.

Conservative commentator and satirist William J. Kelly and Laura Kelly edit and manage the Tea Party Reports for Communities Kelly also pens Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad and is a contributor to He is a native of Chicago’s Southside. Email questions to him at

Find Kelly on Facebook/Williamjpkelly

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Laura Kelly and William J. Kelly

The Tea Party Report is written and edited by Laura and William J. Kelly. Kelly also pens Bill Kelly's Truth Squad for the Washington Times.  Watch for his new website at We welcome all Tea Party leaders and enthusiasts to send us their news, opinions, and stories.

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