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A teenage girl who said she witnessed a portion of the incident said she never saw Middleton provoke the deputies.

“He wasn’t belligerent or anything,“ she said.

By acquitting Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, the all-female jury of five whites and one Hispanic set a dangerous precedent by giving neighborhood watch captains, would-be cops — and sheriff’s deputies –  the legal authority to shoot black men first and ask questions later.

Middleton’s shooting underscores my point that overzealous police – and random gun owners – continue to use the Zimmerman verdict to justify shooting black men who they feel look suspicious even if the black men are standing in their own driveways.

Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama told the nation that racial profiling still exists and he told his truth about experiencing racism as a black man in America.

“We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities,” Obama said.  “We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.”

Clearly, the sheriff’s deputies of Escambia County Florida didn’t embrace Obama’s message. They weren’t trying to be compassionate or understanding. They saw a black man – and they opened fire.

Meanwhile, Middleton said he doesn’t understand why he was shot. He also said deputies never offered him an explanation or an apology.

“Even if they thought the car was stolen, all they had to do was run the license plate,” he said. “They would have seen that that car belonged there.”

But for these overzealous Florida cops, it was easier to shoot Middleton rather than logging his name into their on-board computer because he’s a black man and by definition, he’s suspicious.

How many more unarmed black men have to be shot before this racial madness ends?

COMMENTARY: Open Season Continues – Police Light Up Black Man for Reaching for a Smoke  was originally published on

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