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Derrick Z. Jackson

Imprisoned by their fears

Trayvon Martin case highlights paranoia behind gated communities

A QUARTER-CENTURY ago, my wife Michelle and I thought we would casually veer off Interstate 95 on our way back from Florida to see Daufuskie Island, S.C., home of a unique black culture that thrived in isolation after white landowners fled the area during the Civil War. But to get to the dock, we first had to go through Hilton Head.

We arrived at a gate. A white private security guard with a handgun strapped to his hip and a machine gun slung over his shoulder asked me for my driver’s license. He let us through, but Michelle and I were flabbergasted at this show of arms, which was presumably meant to scare off anyone who might threaten the wealthy inhabitants. This was more like the entry to a military base or prison.

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