How to Get Away With Murder and Other Things the Killing of Unarmed Black Teen Trayvon Martin Teaches Us

If you want to kill someone and get away with it, do it before the NBA All-Star game.

Appoint yourself captain of the neighborhood watch. Don't set it up with the national program. The national program won't let you carry a gun or pursue suspects. Do it in a gated development where your black neighbors — 20 percent of the community — are targets of suspicion afraid of leaving their homes. Drive around in an SUV and keep an eye out for suspicious individuals. Look for young black men, the kind you've warned people about, the kind you think "always get away." Monitor the 7-11. Find someone who "looks like he's up to no good, or [is] on drugs, or something," someone "carrying something," someone "looking about."

Call 911.

Describe the suspicious person to the dispatcher, the way you always do, the way you've done at least nine times before. There have been a lot of break-ins in this neighborhood. You've probably spoken to this dispatcher before. You called the police 46 times last year. Say, "He's a black male... He's got a button on his shirt. Late teens." Tell the dispatcher that "something's wrong with him." The dispatcher will tell you that police are on their way. He'll tell you not to follow the kid.

Do it anyway. He's running. Find him. Wrestle with him. Shoot him, once.

If you want to kill someone and get away with it, tell the police that he attacked you. Tell them you stepped out of your SUV, because you wanted to look at the name of the street you were on. Tell them the kid jumped you from behind. Even if he didn't have a criminal record. Even if he was an A and B student. Even if you have 110 pounds on him. Even if he was staying at his father's fiancé's house, and carrying Skittles and iced tea he'd bought before the game at the local 7-11.

Tell them you shot him because you were afraid for your life. When the police tell you that neighbors heard someone cry for help, tell them that was you.

Don't worry if you sound drunk or high; the police won't test you for drugs. Don't worry about your gun; it's licensed. Don't worry about your seven-year-old arrest for "resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer"; the charges were dropped. Don't worry about the cell phone that the kid was on, calling his girlfriend, as he fled from you. No one knows where it is, and no one's going to investigate it.

The cops will drop it. They won't charge you. If you want to kill someone and get away with it, do it in Florida, where the self-defense laws don't require you to retreat before using deadly force. Do it in Florida, where a former sheriff's deputy "pumped several shots into an unarmed homeless man" in a Haagen-Dazs just a few weeks ago; where prosecutors have routinely declined to even bring charges in shooting cases.

Even better, do it in Sanford.

Do it in Sanford, Fla., and there's a good chance the lead investigative officer will be the same guy who didn't arrest a lieutenant's son who'd been videotaped attacking a black homeless man. Do it in Sanford, where seven years ago two security guards — one a cop's son — shot and killed another black teenager whom they claimed was trying to run them down after dropping his friends off at an apartment complex.

Do it in a town where the police chief will say without any trace of irony that his "investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color," and that he "can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn't mean anything to anybody." Kill someone under the jurisdiction of a police chief who'd say that both you and your victim would "probably do things differently" if you both relived that night.

If you want to kill someone and get away with it, do it in a country where two of the three major news networks will barely cover your crime, and where it takes three weeks to become a national story. Do it in a country where the only possibility that you might get prosecuted is when the federal government steps in.

If you want to kill someone and get away with it, declare yourself the protector of your neighborhood. Drive around looking for black kids. Carry a gun. Do it before the All-Star game.

[sources: Mother Jones; HuffPo; Think Progress; Ta-Nehisi Coates; Miami Herald; New York Times; Orlando Sentinel]

Note: this article has been corrected to reflect that Trayvon Martin was killed before the All-Star Game, not during, as had been previously and erroneously reported.