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Trayvon Martin, Racism, and the Orlando Sentinel's Outrageous Deceit

Trayvon Martin, Racism, and the Orlando Sentinel's Outrageous Deceit

By Dennis Loo (6/29/13)

I received the note below today from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network regarding their efforts to get a "We Say No More!" statement as a paid ad in the Orlando Sentinel while George Zimmerman stands trial in Florida for killing Trayvon Miartin.

(For more on this issue, see this article Trayvon Martin, Walking While Black, "Stand Your Ground," and U.S. Foreign Policy.)

Dear Dennis,

The Orlando Sentinel has refused to publish the “We Say No More!” statement, THAT YOU HAVE SIGNED, as a paid ad on the grounds that it’s “inflammatory” and "is more of an opinion rather than a substantiated fact and therefore are unable to publish the ad in its present form.”

The statement, signed by you, prominent figures including Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys, Tom Morello, Noam Chomsky, Don Cheadle, Peter Coyote, Lisa Edelstein, scientist Niles Eldridge, Tony Award winning playwright Eve Ensler, and many others, and previously published in the Jacksonville Florida Star (5/24/12) says:

"WE SAY NO MORE! The killing of Trayvon Martin and 2.4 million in prison make clear that there is a whole generation of Black and Latino youth who have been marked and treated as a "generation of suspects" to be murdered and jailed. This is not an issue for Black people alone but for all who care about justice; it is not a random tragedy. We Say NO MORE!"

In May, 2012, The Orlando Sentinel, with a readership of over 300,000, was going to publish this statement as a paid ad and told us that “Management has the right to refuse an ad based on content – that is rare – but is why we do require documentation/sourcing is requested.  Now, they have refused to publish the ad and would not accept our “documentation/sourcing.”  Further, in their verbal communication with me, the Sentinel stated, whether George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin “that will be decided by the trial.”  For the Sentinel to make a claim, which is not being disputed in the trial, that it has not been proven that Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon, is ludicrous.

This is outrageous bias and censorship. The Sentinel’s extensive coverage of the Zimmerman trial has included biased defense team leaks and statements designed to impune and vilify Trayvon Martin and justify Zimmerman’s actions. And on June 27 The Sentinel released and promoted on its website, as a "top pick", courtroom video of prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel, cut and edited with flippant commentary denigrating the young woman who was the last person to talk with Trayvon Martin right before his murder, and dismissing her testimony. The Sentinel offered its opinion that her testimony “ranged from the tragic to the bizarre.” (George Zimmerman trial: 'Yes, sir!' it's Rachel Jeantel by staff writer Jon Busdeker.) Many are denouncing this sort of coverage as racism. Yet the Sentinel refuses to publish a statement concerning the basic situation facing Black youth today -- as inflammatory and not factual. This cannot stand.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO to uphold press freedom, and especially those who want justice for Trayvon Martin:  Make a significant donation to get this statement published in a major Florida newspaper during the trial.  Get this email out to everyone you know.  Contact the press about this.  Put this up on social media—FaceBook and Twitter.  Demand the Orlando Sentinel reverse this act of blatant censorship and publish the “We Say No More!” statement.

You can contribute to the publication of this statement by making out a check to the “Stop Mass Incarceration Network" and mailing it to SMIN at:

Stop Mass Incarceration Network

P.O. Box 941, Knickerbocker Station,

New York City, NY  10002-0900

You can make a tax deductible contribution by writing a check to "The Alliance for Global Justice" and putting "Stop Mass Incarceration Network" and "We Say No More" in the memo line.  Or you can go on-line and make a tax deductible contribution at:  http://stopmassincarceration.net/donate.  (Scroll down and click on DONATE ONLINE!, and then scroll down again and choose CAUSE:  FSP - STOP MASS INCARCERATIONS and complete debit or credit card details.)

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