EDITOR: One dark, rainy night my eyes were opened to the harassment young black men encounter every day of their lives. Leaving a restaurant in west Santa Rosa, a young black man approached me, keys in his hand. We were face to face when we heard a screech of wheels. I looked up to see a pickup with a tow-headed youngster leaning out the window, yelling the N-word and "Get away from that car!"

It was like having the wind knocked out of me. All I could say to the young man with the keys in his hand was "wow." All he said was "yeah." That said it all. This sort of thing happened to him all the time. He put the keys into the door of his very nice sports car and drove away.

What would have happened if Trayvon had been caught running away that night? Even if he had reached the safety of his father's friend's door would he have still been treated as a suspect? Our nation needs to answer that question, urgently, before more armed private citizens are emboldened to patrol the streets.


<i>Santa Rosa</i>