On March 6, 2012, Brevard County Deputy Sheriff Barbara Ann Pill stopped a car that answered the description of one that was seen removing items from a local hotel. The driver of the car she stopped, Brandon Lee Bradley, 22, allegedly shot and killed Deputy Pill. (We have to use the word “allegedly” here because technically Bradley is “innocent until proven guilty,” even though there is no doubt he shot and killed Deputy Pill.)
Bradley is a man with a long rap sheet and was under investigation for selling and trafficking drugs. If convicted of stealing from the hotel, he would have been facing jail time, something he apparently did not want to do.
So he shot and killed Deputy Pill, ending the life of a wife, mother, grandmother and friend to many.
Nine days prior to the murder of Deputy Pill,17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by 28 year old George Zimmerman, who was part of a neighborhood watch program. (Notice we don’t have to use the word “allegedly” here, because Zimmerman is not charged with a crime and even if he were, we suspect he would not get the same “innocent until proven guilty” verbiage in the media.)
Martin seems to have been a good kid, so while his life was not as long as Pill’s it had much promise and hope of dreams yet fulfilled.
Two members of society, gunned down for inexplicable reasons. One victim black, one white. One male, one female. One shot by a black man, the other shot by a Hispanic man.
Yet the media reactions and reactions of society have been much different in response to these two tragic deaths. Our friend Steve Bussey has written and commented on the death of Deputy Pill rather extensively. Steve and his brother attended the funeral service for Deputy Pill as part of covering the event for the Steve Bussey Radio Experience and WMEL Radio 1300, but we suspect he and his brother would have gone no matter what.
Everyone is asking for more investigations into this killing. There are petitions out there, demonstrations, accusations of police misconduct. And, there could certainly have been police misconduct. But, why the FBI and DOJ? My issue with this is the Central Government getting involved in a state matter. It has become so big that Zimmerman can never get a fair shake.
The Congressional Black Caucus wants it investigated as a “hate crime“. Zimmerman is Hispanic, Martin is black. And therein lies the problem with federal hate crimes laws: they can be used for almost anything, and involve the federal government whenever they want. Even if there is really no need.
There is a great hue and outcry over the death of Martin – and there should be. The death of Pill seems to have been barely noticed.
Here is a screen capture of a Google News Search on Trayvon Martin:
Here is a screen capture of a Google News Search on Deputy Pill:
We’ve highlighted the relevant numbers.
Despite taking place eight days closer to our search, articles on the death of Martin outweigh those on Pill by almost 1800%.
Perhaps it is because Martin was a young black man who was killed. Yet for all of the people who are screaming at the injustice of the tragic death of this young man, where is the outrage over a black man who is a mere 5 years older than Martin, killing a female deputy? In the same vein, while the police are rightfully outraged at the death of Deputy Pill, shouldn’t they be outraged when an officer unjustifiably shoots and kills someone?
If people are going to protest, march, scream, write petitions and demand action into the death of one person, why not protest, march, scream, write petitions into the death of another? Why do we want to know and demand action on why Zimmerman pulled the trigger on Marin but do not care about why Bradley pulled the trigger in the face of Deputy pill?
It is easy to say that these incidents are all about demographics. Black man kills white woman. Hispanic man kills black youth.
Frankly, that is the chicken way of looking at these events.
The real questions that have to be asked are, “why was a man stealing from a hotel to support his drug habit?” and “why does a neighborhood need an armed neighborhood watch program?”
These incidents aren’t about race. They are about the condition of the human heart. Whay are some drugs worth the life of a woman? We would ask Zimmerman what made him feel the life of Martin was worth pulling a weapon, but that answer is not going to be forthcoming. Even if Zimmerman thought the kid was a criminal, was it worth taking the kid’s life?
(We do recognize Zimmerman’s claim that he fired in self defense and was technically in compliance with the Florida “Stand Your Ground” Law, but Zimmerman’s actions in following Martin despite police advice to the contrary seems to have escalated the incident.)
Were any of these deaths worth the cost?
If we answer “no,” then the question becomes “why is one death getting so much more coverage?”
The answer it most likely “it fits the narrative the media and others want you to believe.”
The same people who want you to focus on the death of a decent young black man don’t want you to focus on another young black man viciously pulling the trigger and killing another person. They simply don’t want you to think about that. They want you to look at how great a kid Martin was instead of also looking at how much of a piece of garbage Bradley is.
There is no doubt the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Deputy Pill are tragic – beyond tragic even. Yet as a society, we should treat each death equally. Certainly each family feels the same sense of loss. Members of the respective communities feel the loss as well.
Yet that loss is being handled and examined differently. While Martin’s death is a rallying cry, it almost appears as if Pill’s death was a “throw away” – a speed bump in the day’s news.
Deputy Pill’s life and service had as much value as that of Trayvon Martin. To treat their killings as differently as the media and society has done says much about who we are.
And what is being said is not flattering.