KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The Vincentian diplomat who was arrested by a cop in New York in March has disassociated himself from comments that parallel his detention with the shooting death of an unarmed youth in Florida in February.
“I don’t want to stand here and put myself in the same shoes with someone who was killed,” Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves said at a town hall meeting in New York last week.
“I think the parents of Trayvon Martin would be insulted … ‘cause I am sure they’d love to have their son with them with just an injured hand as opposed to being dead,” said Gonsalves, this country’s U.N. ambassador.
The diplomat said his left hand was still numb, two weeks after being injured during the arrest — in the lobby of the building where this country’s U.N. Mission is located — after he stepped through barricades outside – a usual practice, according to Gonsalves.
George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old man of mixed ethnic descent shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black youth in Sanford Florida on Feb. 26. Zimmerman, who admitted shooting Martin, was last week charged with second-degree murder in connection with the teenager’s death.
“I am not overlooking whatever similarities you may have seen. But I just want to say I do not want my name uttered in the same breath with Trayvon Martin because I think that was a terrible and dastardly crime and it resulted in the loss of life and it is beyond measure to think about that,” Gonsalves said in response to comments by a Vincentian national.
The member of the audience had said that he had been subject to profiling in New York.
“I call it a racist attack,” he said of the arrest of the diplomat.
“You weren’t stopped because you look like a suspect. It’s because you look like a success. You know the racist New York cop sees a bright, young, well-dressed young man passing around the area, he is like ‘Where’s he going? He’s somebody,’” the audience member said.
“[The] same thing with little Trayvon Martin. His good looks didn’t save him from a wannabe cop with a gun,” he further stated.
But Ambassador Gonsalves said “loss of life is the greatest sin; and murder.
“And that’s what it was. He (Martin) was murdered. So, I appreciate the point but I would like to take one step short of Trayvon because of the very serious issues at play there,’ he said.
The death of Martin has refuelled racial tensions in the United States with some saying that he was a victim of racial profiling.
Zimmerman pursued and shot the youth, against the advice of police.
The case also points to the perils of the Stand Your Ground law, which allows Floridians and residents of 20 other U.S. states to shoot or stab first — with no obligation to retreat — if they “reasonably believed” it is necessary to protect yourself.
Zimmerman invoked the law the night of the shooting and his lawyers will likely invoke it at his trial, according to U.S. media reports.