Nutter addresses racial issues at post-Trayvon event

Frances Cromwell and David Dee (background) place pieces of cut-up hoodies - commemorating Trayvon Martin - into position to make a flag.
Frances Cromwell and David Dee (background) place pieces of cut-up hoodies - commemorating Trayvon Martin - into position to make a flag. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 07, 2013

Mayor Nutter spoke candidly about race relations amid musical and spoken-word performances reflecting on the Trayvon Martin case Monday evening in the City Hall courtyard.

Nutter cited as the latest evidence of racial strife the controversy surrounding Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, caught using a racial epithet at a June concert in a video that surfaced last week.

"Somebody said something, either out of their mouth or out of the side of their neck, and didn't think anybody was listening," Nutter told nearly 200 attendees at the free event.

The mayor then mentioned the movie 42 and how it showed the Phillies manager in a 1947 game using a racial slur against Jackie Robinson, "the same word that the Philadelphia Eagles player used last week - 66 years later, still dealing with the same kind of nonsense, same kind of mind-set."

The event, "Philly REACTS: The Heart of the Hood," was presented by First Person Arts in partnership with the mayor's office. The theme of the event was artistic action for Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old fatally shot in Florida last year by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer.

On July 13, a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder in the racially charged case.

The performances included singing by Ruth Naomi Floyd, trombone playing by Ernest Stuart, and a mixture of tap dancing and spoken-word performance by Khalil Munir.

"The jury may have found him not guilty, but they did not find him innocent," Nutter said of Zimmerman. "That man did kill Trayvon Martin. That was never in dispute. And one day - it could be Judgment Day, and I believe in that - he'll be judged accordingly by a higher authority."

Nutter said he was "hopeful that America's eyes were opened just a little bit more to the issue of what it is like to be a black or a brown or other color of God's rainbow in this country, and the challenges that many of us face."

He recalled his youth in West Philadelphia, growing up around the corner from a police station.

"I've been stopped by the police when I was a teenager, stopped by the police when I was in my 20s. I was stopped by the police two times when I was a member of Philadelphia City Council," Nutter said.

He later added, "Every black guy is not a criminal or even thinking about being involved in negative activity. It's sad, quite frankly, in 2013 that we have to have some of these conversations, but we do."


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

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