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Darius Simmons, Trayvon Martin and innocence stolen

A jury took just short of two hours to find John Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of 13-year-old Darius Simmons.

I'm tempted to celebrate, but it's hard for two reasons.

1) I can just see Spooner being found to be insane, because he's white and we whites sure love to think we don't just haul off and shoot people without some mental illness.

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2) I have this sickening feeling that Spooner would have had a really legitimate chance of being acquitted if there hadn't been a video showing exactly what had happened.

In this country, black boys are so often considered suspects in their own murders. There's also an obsession in this country with turning all pubescent black boys into scary black men. Trayvon Martin became a hulking, superpowered monster that was beating poor George Zimmerman to within an inch of his life, before Zimmerman bravely put a bullet in his chest.

Our society fights so damn hard to dehumanize people of color from the time they're children. Childhood innocence is a privilege reserved for white people; black boys are men from puberty, if not before. People of color are either criminalized or fetishized.

That theft of innocence is a huge deal. Once you transform Trayvon Martin and Darius Simmons from boys into black men, it's all too easy for our racist criminal justice system (don't argue with me or demand documentary evidence; I'm not fucking Google and you're derailing) to frame them as the aggressors, and then you have The People vs. Trayvon Martin. Luckily, in this case there was clear video, but that's almost never the case, and often, even that isn't enough.

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John Spooner was so arrogant, he thought he could shoot a black kid without provocation while being recorded by HIS OWN CAMERA and get away with it. That may be the only reason he's not leaving the courtroom a free man today. That should make us all incredibly sad.

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