By Laura Cox
Bill Cosby has spoken out in anger about the circumstances which led to George Zimmerman shooting Trayvon Martin.
He questioned why neighbourhood watch volunteers, like Zimmerman, are allowed to carry guns.
‘Without a gun, I don’t see Mr. Zimmerman approaching Trayvon by himself,’ he told the Washington Post. ‘The power-of-the-gun mentality had him unafraid to confront someone. Even police call for backup in similar situations.
Outspoken: Bill Cosby, of the Cosby Show fame, questioned why neighbourhood watch volunteers, like Zimmerman, are allowed to carry guns
Trayvon, a black teenager, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by Zimmerman in a case that has sparked allegations of racism and a nationwide outcry for justice.
74-year-old Cosby steered clear of mentioning race, though in the past he has been unafraid to jump into the fray and has even caused controversy of his own.
In the late 1980s, Cosby inserted himself into the case of Tawana Brawley, a black teenage girl who said she was sexually assaulted by six white men, including a police officer and an assistant district attorney.
Cosby pledged his public support to her and contributed to a $25,000 reward for information in the case.
He was joined in his campaign for justice by Essence magazine publisher Edward Lewis, who said: ‘Bill and I don’t care who the perpetrators are, whether they’re black, white, pink, yellow or family. They should be caught’.
A grand jury later found insufficient evidence of a rape, with Brawley and her advisers being sued for defamation. The incident inflamed racial tension nationwide.
Shooting: Trayvon Martin (left) died after being shot by George Zimmerman
Protest: Trayvon, a black teenager, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by Zimmerman in a case that has sparked allegations of racism and a nationwide outcry for justice
‘These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around,’ he said.
‘I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t,’ ‘Where you is’ ... and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk.
‘Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.’
After his comments sparked a nationwide debate, Cosby said in a statement that he meant for his remarks to be a call to action.
‘I feel that I can no longer remain silent,’ he said. ‘If I have to make a choice between keeping quiet so that conservative media does not speak negatively or ringing the bell to galvanize those who want change in the lower economic community, then I choose to be a bell ringer.’
Since then, Cosby, who has a doctorate degree in education, has continued to espouse responsible parenting, the importance of good education and personal accountability.
‘Stand up and stop looking for somebody to blame,’ he told an audience of community association leaders in 2008.