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Gated communities killed Trayvon
The Los Angeles Daily News ^ | March 30, 2012 | Rich Benjamin

Posted on 03/30/2012 4:44:59 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

AS a black man who has been mugged at gunpoint by a black teenager late at night, I am not naive: I know firsthand the awkward conundrums surrounding race, fear and crime. Trayvon Martin's killing at the hands of George Zimmerman baffles this nation. While the youth's supporters declare in solidarity "We are all Trayvon," the question is raised, to what extent is the United States also all George Zimmerman?

Under assault, I didn't dream of harming my teenage assailant, let alone taking his life.

Zimmerman reacted very differently, taking out his handgun and shooting the youth in cold blood.

What gives?

Welcome to gate-minded America.

From 2007 to 2009, I traveled 27,000 miles, living in predominantly white gated communities across this country to research a book. I threw myself into these communities with gusto - no Howard Johnson or Motel 6 for me. I borrowed or rented residents' homes. From the red-rock canyons of southern Utah to the Waffle-House-pocked exurbs of north Georgia, I lived in gated communities as a black man, with a youthful style and face, to interview and observe residents.

The perverse, pervasive real-estate speak I heard in these communities champions a bunker mentality. Residents often expressed a fear of crime that was exaggerated beyond the actual criminal threat, as documented by their police department's statistics. Since you can say "gated community" only so many times, developers hatched an array of Orwellian euphemisms to appease residents' anxieties: "master-planned community," "landscaped resort community," "secluded intimate neighborhood." No matter the label, the product is the same: self-contained, conservative and overzealous in its demands for "safety." Gated communities churn a vicious cycle by attracting like-minded residents who seek shelter from outsiders and whose physical seclusion then worsens paranoid groupthink against outsiders. These bunker communities remind me of those Matryoshka wooden dolls. A similar-object-within-a-similar-object serves as shelter; from community to subdivision to house, each unit relies on staggered forms of security and comfort, including town authorities, zoning practices, private security systems and personal firearms.

Residents' palpable satisfaction with their communities' virtue and their evident readiness to trumpet alarm at any given "threat" create a peculiar atmosphere - an unholy alliance of smugness and insecurity. In this us-versus-them mental landscape, them refers to new immigrants, blacks, young people, renters, non-property-owners and people perceived to be poor.

Zimmerman's gated community, a 260-unit housing complex, sits in a racially mixed suburb of Orlando, Fla. Mr. Martin's "suspicious" profile amounted to more than his black skin. He was profiled as young, loitering, non-property-owning and poor. Based on their actions, police officers clearly assumed Zimmerman was the private property owner and Martin the dangerous interloper. After all, why did the police treat Martin like a criminal, instead of Zimmerman, his assailant? Why was the black corpse tested for drugs and alcohol, but the living perpetrator wasn't?

Across the United States, more than 10 million housing units are in gated communities, where access is "secured with walls or fences," according to 2009 Census Bureau data. Roughly 10 percent of the occupied homes in this country are in gated communities, though that figure is misleadingly low because it doesn't include temporarily vacant homes or second homes. Between 2001 and 2009, the United States saw a 53 percent growth in occupied housing units nestled in gated communities.

Another related trend contributed to this shooting: our increasingly privatized criminal justice system. The United States is becoming even more enamored with private ownership and decision making around policing, prisons and probation. Private companies champion private "security" services, alongside the private building and managing of prisons.

"Stand Your Ground" or "Shoot First" laws like Florida's expand the so-called castle doctrine, which permits the use of deadly force for self-defense in one's home, as long as the homeowner can prove deadly force was reasonable. Thirty-two states now permit expanded rights to self-defense.

In essence, laws nationwide sanction reckless vigilantism in the form of self-defense claims. A bunker mentality is codified by law.

Those reducing this tragedy to racism miss a more accurate and painful picture. Why is a child dead? The rise of "secure," gated communities, private cops, private roads, private parks, private schools, private playgrounds - private, private, private - exacerbates biased treatment against the young, the colored and the presumably poor.


Rich Benjamin is the author of "Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America" and a senior fellow at Demos, a nonpartisan research center.

TOPICS: Conspiracy; Politics; Society
KEYWORDS: gatedcommunities; georgezimmerman; racism; richbenjamin; selfdefense; trayvon; trayvonmartin; zimmerman
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To: lonestar
In Columbus' day EVERY village and town in the Americas was, so to speak, gated and had a large stockade around it.

In Medieval Europe they built stockades and stone walls around anything they could.

It's normal to have gated communities. It's abnormal to have open communities.

81 posted on 03/31/2012 6:03:54 AM PDT by muawiyah
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
"Why is a child dead?"

Because the black community is arching into chaos; and it's not happening in a vacuum.

I feel terrible about a 17 year old kid getting killed, this is a tragedy.

However, when thugs are celebrated as cultural icons that can take whatever they want from whomever they want there's a problem. And where there's a problem there's going to be pushback.

Perhaps the black community should look in a mirror at themselves and ask; why are all these different people afraid of young blacks?

Instead of blaming other people ALL THE F*CKING TIME they could take responsibility for the chaos and distruction they're causing and understand that's why rational people don't want to live anywhere near them.

I'll be frank, I moved out of the city to get away from those idiots. I read the paper and shake my head at the utter stupidity.

Just today 14 people shot and 2 killed at a funeral in Chicago. How'd the "white man" cause that Mr Benjamin?

White people ain't your enemy Mr Benjamin; other blacks, the thugs and gangstas are. If you can't see that you're only lieing to yourself .

82 posted on 03/31/2012 8:40:08 AM PDT by Pietro
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To: muawiyah

Really! And then it behooves even more for Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to carry on more push in those countries instead of focusing on the Trayvon killing. The rewards will be so much greater in preventing murders if they succeed.

83 posted on 03/31/2012 9:38:57 AM PDT by entropy12 (Every tax payer now owes $150,000 towards the national debt. We will follow Greece soon.)
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To: PapaBear3625

You see.. That’s the point! You white folk keep making yourselves a hard target: moving to the burbs; gated communities, guards etc....
All that security and stuff force the brothers to prey on their own. That’s messed up. Brothers having to put their lives on the line to earn their high.
Life in the hood ain’t going to get better until we get rid of these gated communities and ban this self defense crap.

84 posted on 03/31/2012 10:11:13 AM PDT by CoastWatcher
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To: ctdonath2
One night, around 3am, I happened to glance outside to see two guys emerge from the forest and hop over the tall spiked iron fence with little effort. My faith in “gated communities” evaporated.

Static defenses serve only to annoy the enemy, unless covered by observation and direct fire.

The fence jumpers would have thought twice if Castle Doctrine was extended to cover the perimeter of the gated community, and trespassers such as you observed were subject to being shot on sight.

85 posted on 03/31/2012 1:34:15 PM PDT by PapaBear3625 (In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. - George Orwell)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Zimmerman reacted very differently, taking out his handgun and shooting the youth in cold blood.

What gives?

You're jumping to conclusions in the absence of facts for purpose of pimping things in a racist manner?
86 posted on 04/02/2012 3:55:00 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: andyk

“So it’s an apartment complex with a gate? Ritzy.”

Exactly! “Gated” community does NOT mean “rich” community. Effin’ MSM Marxists trying to have a go at creating class warfare...

87 posted on 04/05/2012 9:13:03 PM PDT by Frank_2001
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