Slave Patrol Mentality: Trayvon Martin’s Murder in Context

When George Zimmerman pursued, confronted, and killed Trayvon Martin, he was acting in the spirit of the slave patrols of the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s and the many forms they have taken since the Civil War and into our own time.

During slavery times, slave patrols were the main institutions of force plantation owners used to keep black slaves in bondage. As Theodore W. Allen says in the introduction of his book, The Invention of the White Race, “Some people want to be masters, but no one wants to be a slave.”  As slavery developed in Virginia in the 1600s, there arose a problem: the slaves kept rebelling. Without a forcible means to keep them enslaved, the slaves would have none of it.  The solution was in the European colonists and their descendants, many brought over themselves as bond servants.

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