Why a Case Like Travon Goes Viral and Culver City Armory Murder Does NotBy Ari L. Noonan @ 10:00 AM April 17, 2012
How does it work one time but not another?
One of the impenetrable mysteries of life.
In a fickle journalistic atmosphere where certain events catch fire and arguably worthier ones do not, Gerald Bennett, brother of the pregnant woman spectacularly murdered at the Culver City Armory, recently tried to stir interest in his family’s story.
The spark did not ignite even though there are racial elements of his sister’s homicide – she was black, her killer was white – that are parallel to the hottest murder story of the season.
Like much of America, Mr. Bennett has been tracking the dramatic murder case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL.
“This is identical to our case,” Mr. Bennett said as he reached for a human lightning rod to spread the news of his sister’s tragedy.
“I find it strange that I have tried to get in touch with Spike Lee, with Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Oprah Winfrey, and nothing happened.
“None of them would take the story. They told me that the story wasn’t big enough. They couldn’t understand what was going on, and they could not help me.”
Five years ago this summer, Mr, Bennett’s kid sister, JoAnn Crystal Harris, 29 years old and six months pregnant, was murdered by her boyfriend, the married National Guard Sgt. Scott Ansman, wholater was convicted and now is serving out a life-without-parole term.
“Earl Ofari Hutchinson told me if the white media doesn’t make it big, then they won’t touch it. He said ‘it has to be blown up my the white media.’”
An important distinction between Ms. Harris’s murder and young Mr. Martin’s is that race never was cited as a causal factor in her case.
“The Trayvon story is big,” Mr. Bennett said, “because the media grabbed onto it and blew it up.”
The story of Ms. Harris’s death – after she was chased around the Armory gymnasium by an enraged Sgt. Ansman and killed more brutally than Mr. Martin – may never have leaked beyond Culver City’s borders.
What does Mr. Bennett make of the unanimous rejections?
“Everybody is talking about the Trayvon Martin case because the media blew it up,” he said. “For Trayvon to have a hood on, when he was being surveyed by a neighborhood watch captain, I don’t think George Zimmerman targeted him because he was a black youth with a hood. I think he looked suspicious wearing a hood that late at night.
“If you are in your car, and you see someone with a hood coming toward you, or even walking by you, you have got to lock your doors and be very cautious and keep your eyes on that individual. You could be a potential witness to a potential crime.
“For him to be walking by himself that late at night, says a lot about where he was going and what he was doing, what his intentions were.
“I don’t think George Zimmernman set out to kill Trayvon Martin that night. I think it was an accident. Something happened.
“My sister’s case was ‘way far worse than that. Here was a young black woman, trying to enroll in the military, the National Guard, who was pregnant and murdered, and she didn’t have to be murdered. There were too many clues, too many signals, where this crime could have been prevented.”