Saturday, March 17, 2012

Beyond Outrage

I confess to be even more than outraged over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. You are no doubt aware of this case. Trayvon Martin, a 17 year-old teen was shot and killed by a man named George Zimmerman. I do believe that a person should be presumed innocent until he is proven guilty but there are times when it stretches your credulity to the limits. For me this is one of those times. Consider the facts as they are now being reported.

Trayvon Martin was walking through a gated community, in which his father lives. He was carrying a bag of skittles (whatever they are) and a soft drink of some kind. He was unarmed. Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watch captain was patrolling the area. He saw Treyvon who was wearing sweat pants and a hooded sweatshirt and called 911 as, apparently he was supposed to do. He reported the person was “looking at houses,” and was “suspicious.” He also said “he had something in his hands.” But he also said he had a hand in his waistband and he reported the person was approaching him. Then he said “these assholes always get away.” When he was asked if he was following the person he replied that he was and was told he did not need to do that. He obviously continued to do it in spite of the directions not to, there was some kind of altercation witnessed by other callers, one of whom reported he heard someone say “don’t do that,” followed by a shot and then silence. Another caller had reported two persons fighting. And still others reported hearing cries for help. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was allowed to go free because the Sheriff said he was “squeaky clean,” and they just took his word for what happened. Why am I so suspicious of this?

First, Zimmerman had just shot an unarmed teenager and killed him. To me that does not make him squeaky clean. It turns out he was not entirely squeaky clean anyway as he had had some altercations with the police previously. He had also had complaints about his behavior raised by other members of the gated community. So why was he being allowed to patrol by himself and carrying an automatic 9 mm weapon? Is it common for volunteer night watch people to go armed (maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, what kind of gun laws do they have in Florida? Does Zimmerman have a permit to carry a weapon?). If the boy had something in his hands how did he also have a hand in his waistband? He was looking at houses. What else would one be looking at in a gated community at night, a parade? He looked suspicious, maybe like he was on drugs. What was he doing to make himself look suspicious or on drugs? “These assholes always get away.” To whom is Zimmerman referring? Had he had previous encounters with those who got away? Why was he an asshole, because he was there? And why did Zimmerman follow him when he had been told he did not have to do that?

There was some kind of fight or altercation. Are we to believe that a 17 year-old, 140 pound youngster attacked a 200 pound adult watchman? Why would he have done such a thing? Perhaps it was the other way around and Zimmerman was attempting to capture and hold him for the police to arrive? And if the boy was crying for help why was he shot in the chest and killed? This account in my opinion stinks to high heaven and leaves me in a state of complete disbelief.

While I know I am supposed to believe innocence until guilty, under these particular circumstances I find that virtually impossible, although I would certainly agree Zimmerman is entitled to a fair trial and I would accept the jury’s verdict. But I cannot understand why he was allowed to just walk free without a detailed investigation. Is shooting an unarmed teenager on his way to his father’s home such a casual event in Florida the shooter can just say it was self-defense and be believed? You can bet your life that if the shooter had been Black and the boy White he would have been immediately incarcerated until a thorough investigation was completed (if, indeed, he had not been hung). There have been far too many killings of unarmed Black men, including children, and often it is claimed to be self-defense.

My instincts, or my suspicious mind, if you prefer, lead me to believe Treyvon was suspicious merely because he was there, he was Black, and it was night. It is entirely possible that Zimmerman believed he was suspicious and his fear made him also imagine he was about to be attacked, however irrational and groundless that might have been. I simply do not believe the boy attacked Zimmerman, but I’m sure if Zimmerman was trying to capture him he may well have tried to fight back. Zimmerman had no business trying to capture and subdue him, that was a job for the police, but he obviously didn’t wait. If he was supposed to call the police in such situations why was he carrying a loaded gun in the first place? So, although I personally find it impossible to believe this was a case of self-defense, I do believe there should be a thorough investigation, the alibi of self-defense should certainly be questioned, and, if my suspicions are confirmed Zimmerman should stand trial for a capital crime.

Opinions founded on prejudice are always sustained with the greatest of violence.
Francis Jeffrey

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