Shawn Tyson Found Guilty! In One Week?

British tourist murders: Two men at scene; one conviction


Photo from the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

I made some errors in thinking in my last blog while I was contemplating my feelings of missing my jury summons to the Tyson trial where a black man is quickly convicted in killing white men.

  • I didn’t have to worry about being kept off the jury because of my views against capital punishment. They were only asking for life in prison.
  • With the international media blitz given this crime, it only lasted one week? I wouldn’t have missed my vacation after all.

Whether Tyson was guilty or not, he did not have a fair trial. Plea bargaining (bribery to me, whether legal or not) brought in 5 witnesses to testify for the prosecution and they were fully believed by the jury even though they were adept at lying, crime and jail time themselves. What happened to the defense? I read the accounts. There wasn’t one. There are so many unanswered questions like:

  • What were two tourists doing in Newtown? It wasn’t easy to find their way to Gregg Ct. Were they looking for drugs? Women?
  • Why were their shirts off? Their pants down?
  • Wasn’t there possibly an accomplice?
  • How come there was only one black person on the jury?
  • Why hadn’t the public defender demanded a more racially fair jury?



Of course I have to compare this trial with the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black man by George Zimmerman, a white/latino man in Sanford, Fl., a little town with  a legacy of racism. He hasn’t even been arrested, in spite of nationwide outrage, hoodied protests and accusations of injustice.

The news in Florida has finally taken over the nation’s front pages, for better or worse.

Discrimination – Then, Now and Forever?

What made the recent Herald Tribune article about the Sarasota High class of 1970’s 40th reunion newsworthy, was the fact that it was the first time in all those years that the rift of racial conflict between the black and white alumni was finally mended. The article calls it “a benchmark of social progress,” and continues, “The reunions have been mostly segregated for the last four decades.”

This statement shocked me into a tumble of mixed emotions and old memories. The first was shame. Forty years this segregation has continued, though the schools were integrated in 1967? I graduated in 1961 from Venice High and lived without any real consciousness that my contemporary black students from Venice were bused to Booker High in Sarasota. As I look back at the conservative 50’s, I think of myself as one of the naive sheep following the herd over the cliff. It wasn’t the Age of Aquarius yet, but ‘times they were a changin’. Why has it taken so long?

The second was pride. In the 80’s, black students were still being bused out of their home districts. My deaf son was attending the re-opened magnet school – Booker High, which he loved. His junior year he chose to attend Riverview for two reasons: one, it had the only resource teacher for the deaf, and two, he wanted to experience a larger school population and choice of subjects, to see if he could compete with his hearing peers. He could and did, but not before going through reverse discrimination. He was the only white kid on the bus and deaf to boot. He fought back, on his own, on all fronts and stuck with it until, by the end of the school year, the riders respected each other’s challenges and became good friends.

Now in my 60’s, I’ve had the opportunity to travel, teach and volunteer in both the United States and around the world and I still see the horrible inequities of life surrounding us. I was lucky to have grown up in the United States and, being an eternal optimist, I still have hope for freedom and peace worldwide. But, baby, we’ve got a long way to go.