Scrolling Headlines:

Sports Editors S1 E5: This one goes off the rails -

October 16, 2017

Members of the Pioneer Valley’s Native community march in celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day -

October 16, 2017

Club hockey skates to 1-1 tie with UMass Lowell -

October 16, 2017

UMass men’s soccer moves to 8-0-1 at home in win over La Salle -

October 16, 2017

It’s time to break the mold on breaking up -

October 16, 2017

‘MASSEDUCTION’ is St. Vincent at her best -

October 16, 2017

Beck’s ‘Colors’ is fun, well-crafted nightclub simplicity -

October 16, 2017

UMass hockey beats AIC 3-1 to win third straight -

October 15, 2017

Two goals from freshman John Leonard lead UMass hockey to 3-1 victory Saturday -

October 15, 2017

Makeshift back line steps into spotlight as UMass shuts out La Salle -

October 14, 2017

Prof. discusses link between socioeconomic inequality and children’s brain development and the effects on legislation and policy -

October 14, 2017

UMass hockey prevails at Union in 5-4 win -

October 14, 2017

UMass women’s soccer falls 3-1 to George Mason -

October 13, 2017

‘All-Star’ alumni tell students how to make it in journalism -

October 13, 2017

Hockey notebook: UMass helps raise over 500,000 gallons of freshwater while in Arizona -

October 13, 2017

Minutemen play to 2-2 draw against Saint Joseph’s -

October 12, 2017

Talk held on merit and diversity in graduate admissions -

October 12, 2017

Unique McLean will have the opportunity to play a large role for UMass basketball -

October 12, 2017

Prof. discusses how African Gold Coast slaves resisted oppression -

October 12, 2017

UMass hockey looks ahead to the weekend, continuing to build its identity -

October 12, 2017

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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