Scarborough artist Docta Cartoonz was funded by CUE for his stencil project entitled Target Practice, a commentary on the racial motivations involved in killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. On Friday, July 12, CUE opened it’s group show Margin of Eras that featured this art work by Docta Cartoonz. On July 13, Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman was found not guilty on all charges by a Florida jury. CUE called the Docta to talk about the verdict, and decided we’d record the conversation. Here are some excerpts from our of phone call:
CUE: How does this news make you feel?
CARTOONZ: The thing about the news is that it’s ninety-five percent bullshit. They like to feed into hype, and you have to critical think. What’s pissing me off is that they had evidence, they had key witnesses, they caught Zimmerman lying on the stand, and shit. Something doesn’t add up right. If he (Trayvon Martin) was Caucasian, they would’ve friggin’ locked him up in no time. The justice system is made for people who are Caucasian and privileged. If you’re not Caucasian and privileged, nobody gives a shit about you. It’s ridiculous that the NAACP had to protest and petition to even prosecute this dude. But then the media creates their stereotypes and focuses on this case to cover up all the other racist shit going on across the country—television is the true drug of the nation.
CUE: What do you think about the jury process—all women, and there was only one black person on the jury.
CARTOONZ: I think it’s suspicious, man. It’s a suspicious thing. Something doesn’t add up. That’s saying to me you’re promoting this vigilante shit. This is justice for privilege at it’s finest. The jury says “oh, you know, we did our jobs.” It’s bullshit. You didn’t do your jobs. You had all the evidence in front of you. Everything you needed to prove that this man is a murderer.
CUE: You grew up in Scarborough. Do you see any similarity between the Trayvon Martin case and how black communities are treated in the GTA?
CARTOONZ: The thing about Toronto is it’s the police officers, right? They’re unionized. They can’t get in trouble for jack shit unless they steal from their own department. When I was 13, there was this news about four police officers who beat up a person who was mentally ill—and he was an old dude, too! And the police got away with that shit! And nobody knew. They showed it a couple of times on City Pulse, that’s. That’s how dangerous the police are.
Have you ever felt racially profiled by the police?
I used to get harassed a lot by the police in the west end when my girlfriend was living there up by Weston, and they’d pull me over and ask for I.D. and then say, “you’re not from here. What are you doing in the west end?” Like I wasn’t supposed to be in the west end cause I’m from Scarborough. And even I made a complaint, but I never heard shit back about it. The cops seem to hire anybody. I don’t think they do any psychological tests on police officers. They get called names for a reason: pigs, five-oh, and all that shit. When you have a lot of power, you tend to abuse it a lot. And it’s the bad cops that give a bad name to all the good ones.
This kind of thing happens around the world everyday. Why is it just this one case that’s being profiled in the media so much?
That’s the thing, man, that’s why I say ‘media hype’. We see this around the world everyday. Trayvon isn’t the only kid who’s been victimized. Trayvon Martin isn’t the only one, and that’s what’s really gets to me, you know what I mean? You just can’t fall too much into the media hype. There’s so many other cases that they don’t talk about. The media likes to distract you with things. That’s why I’m suspicious of this whole thing. This case is like a decoration, it’s like a token, you know what I mean? They’re using Trayvon Martin as a token. They distract you with this one case so you don’t look at all the other cases where it’s the exactly the same thing.
Although we’re living in quite the sad state of affairs when it comes to discrimination, and centralized power, do you see any we can all work to reverse these trends?
The thing is about racism is that it’s all based on ignorance. The only way your going to erase racism is by ridding yourself of ignorance. But that shit is like a cancer. That’s something we’re going to be chilling with for a long fucking while, man. It sucks, it’s sad, but it’s true, man. And even the justice system is like… I don’t really buy that shit. And it’s actually funny that you mention that, because there was another case in Florida…the lady’s husand was threatening her, and she fired a shot to scare him off. And now she’s in jail. She didn’t even shoot at him. There was evidence it was a warning shot. And she went to jail.
If she was a white lady, living in a upper-class neighbourhood…
Most definitely! They would’ve said, ‘you know, you did what you had to do to protect your home…’
And so, with this verdict, your piece feels incredibly timely…
The thing is, Target Practice isn’t just for Trayvon Martin, it’s for all the victims who have been in the same situation. It’s not just him. There are a lot of victims who become target practice.
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The Docta’s art work will be on exhibition until July 27, at 1181 Queen St. West–the abandoned convenience store across from the Gladstone Hotel. More info HERE.