Scrolling Headlines:

Local man arrested in drug investigation with 40 bags of heroin in his possession -

February 13, 2016

Cornel West speaks about importance of community at Smith College -

February 13, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse opens season with 16-5 win over Holy Cross -

February 13, 2016

Just another night at the Mullins Center for UMass hockey -

February 13, 2016

Three-goal second period sinks UMass hockey in defeat against Northeastern -

February 13, 2016

SLIDESHOW: Tyrone Parham Sworn in as Police Chief -

February 12, 2016

UMass men’s lacrosse falls to Army 9-5 in season opener -

February 12, 2016

UMass Police Chief Tyrone Parham ‘optimistic’ as University prepares for Blarney -

February 12, 2016

UMass revises guest policy in advance of ‘Blarney’ weekend -

February 12, 2016

Jabarie Hinds gives UMass men’s basketball a lift in upset win over VCU -

February 11, 2016

UMass men’s basketball overcomes late VCU surge in 69-63 win -

February 11, 2016

Offensive vandalism found in Integrated Learning Center -

February 11, 2016

Nominations for SGA elections will remain open until Feb. 19 -

February 11, 2016

SGA, MassPIRG work together on open source textbook initiative -

February 11, 2016

Civil rights activist Cornel West to speak at Smith College -

February 11, 2016

Uncertainties surround UMass men’s lacrosse as it kicks off season against Army -

February 11, 2016

New face, same old ‘Havoc’: UMass basketball ready to face familiar style of play against VCU -

February 11, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse begins season with high expectations, seeking eighth straight A-10 championship -

February 11, 2016

UMass hockey players react to news of next year’s trip to Belfast -

February 11, 2016

UMass women’s basketball falls to La Salle, drops 11th straight game -

February 11, 2016

Trayvon and Jason

Imagine going to the corner store for a snack, and getting accosted on the way home by a man with a gun who chases you down, attacks you and ultimately shoots you in the chest and leaves you to die.  Then imagine that, when the cops arrive, multiple eye witnesses describe the incident, but no forensic analysis of the scene is performed and the shooter is let go because he claims self defense.

Now imagine that you are a young black male and try again (my apologies to the young black males reading this).

The shame of the Trayvon Martin incident is not only that it happened, but that it happens too often. By ‘it,’ I mean a black male is singled out because of race, attacked and then law enforcement officials fail to make arrests or pursue appropriate prosecution.

Let us remember that the UMass Amherst campus has a classic example in its recent history.  In 2008, Jason Vassell, an African American UMass student in good standing, was sitting in his dorm room minding his own business when two drunk white men visiting campus saw him through his dorm window.  They shouted racial slurs, broke his dorm room window and challenged him to a come out and fight.  When Jason called a friend for help, the attackers gained entrance to the dorm and punched Jason in the face, breaking his nose and causing a concussion, and proceeded to chase him around the entrance area.  Jason warned them to back off and declared he had a knife, and after they attacked him, Jason defended himself with his weapon.

What did the cops do?  They figured it was a drug crime, let the white men go and charged Jason with attempted murder.  Two and a half years later, after an uproar from the community and several legal rulings in Jason’s favor, the prosecutor finally dropped all charges. Only one of the two white attackers was ever charged, and he was convicted of simple assault.

How is this like Trayvon Martin? A black guy minding his own business is attacked by a white guy looking for trouble, no charges are filed. Miscarriage of justice? You decide.

Don’t think these things only happen in some parts of the country.  They happen all around us and we all should suffer the shame of it and work much harder to fix it.

Randy Phillis

Professor of Biology

Comments
One Response to “Trayvon and Jason”
  1. R-R-R-R-randy says:

    The man in Trevon identifies as Hispanic, not white. Why are people assuming someone racist is Caucasian (not white) when the individual registers as something else.

    On another note the Vassal case was far more controversial than you give it. Why would two Caucasian men choose that room to randomly break into when they could have jumped any African American in the street? Wouldn’t it be easier to wait outside a dorm than go through a window designed to keep people out or suicidal students in? Even if they were that drunk and that angry it is highly, highly unlikely and illogical for them to pursuit Vassal because he was African American unless he already knew them from a prior encounter or was not as innocent as thought…

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