Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and Stand Your Ground

Craig Sonner is the attorney of record for George Zimmerman. Zimmerman is the neighborhood watch "captain" who gunned down 17 year old Trayvon Martin. At the time Martin was armed with a bag of Skittles and a can of ice tea. Sonner says he is confident the killing is justified under the Florida "Stand Your Ground" statutes. These are laws that apparently allow just about anyone in the Sunshine State to shoot and kill candy wielding young men because, well, they are candy wielding young men.

Obviously it is a bit more complicated than that, but not much. Zimmerman is currently in hiding and in fear of his life. He can't be blamed for that. Huge crowds all across this nation are demanding he be arrested and put in the dock for murder. The New Black Panther Party has reportedly offered a ten grand reward to anyone who is able to locate him. It is doubtful the Panthers want that information so they can counsel Mr. Zimmerman on the finer points of race relations over a cup of coffee.

Florida prosecutor Angela Corey says it will be difficult to prove guilt in the case because of the stand your ground laws. It doesn't help that no one actually saw what happened except Zimmerman, unless you count Martin. A woman named Mary Cutcher has come forward saying she heard cries of distress outside of her open window, but by the time she looked outside the shooting was over. She does say that the cries sounded as if they were coming from a young person, not an adult. And, that after the shot the cries abruptly stopped. She also said she saw Zimmerman standing astride the body, leaning over, pressing his hands against Martin's back. Zimmerman apparently yelled at her to call the police, but offered no aid to the teen.

A couple of weeks ago the nation was aflame with a passion to go after Joseph Kony in Uganda. That fad went right out the window when this sordid story hit Twitter and the net. People dumped their Kony 2012 tees and are now donning hoodies all over the place. The Miami Heat NBA team circulated a photo of the squad standing with heads bowed, all of them wearing matching hooded sweat shirts. Entire church congregations showed up yesterday wearing them. Hell, I even got into the act early Saturday morning, but when you are a 62 year old overweight white guy people tend to think of words like funny and sad. Suspicious never enters their minds. No one even asked me about it.

I always grow uneasy when some situation, or act whips people into a fury and lawyers and "experts" all over the place begin to try a case in the court of public opinion. Rage and media analysis tends to create a toxic fog that obscures the truth. Reason and impartiality go right out the window.

Sonner maintains that Martin attacked Zimmerman. That his client suffered a broken nose and gash to the back of the head and that the pants he was wearing that night have grass stains on them.

A black friend of Zimmerman has gone on TV stating that Zimmerman has never given him any reason to think he is a racist. He went on to say that if Martin had just told Zimmerman he was visiting relatives he wouldn't have been killed. Our old pal Geraldo Rivera claims that if Martin hadn't been wearing the hoodie he would be alive today.

The problem with those observations are two fold. Trayvon Martin had no idea who George Zimmerman was. For all he knew Zimmerman was a run amok serial killer. And if you can be shot to death over your choice of  fashion, Lady Gaga is living on borrowed time.

Well, if everyone else is going to speculate I will too. In my mind here is what happened. I can see it perfectly. Zimmerman is armed and thinks he is a cop, or at least some sort of sanctioned para military protector of the neighborhood. He sees a black kid on foot, hood up because of the rain and immediately thinks he can't be up to any good. He begins to follow him. Martin notices Zimmerman and becomes alarmed. In his mind Zimmerman IS Jack the Ripper. Finally Martin begins to run. We know he did because Zimmerman told police 911 that he was running. It never enters Zimmerman's mind the kid is running from him because he is scared. Ignoring the urgent advice by the dispatcher not to follow the young man, Zimmerman pursues him. To George Zimmerman, Martin is running away from some sort of crime because that is what black kids in hoodies do. They perpetrate crimes.

At some point, right out side of  Mary Cutcher's window Martin stopped running. Either he was gassed, or felt trapped. He turned to face what he was sure was a deadly attack by some crazed stranger. He, in fact, did exactly what those Florida stand your ground laws say you can do, he defended himself with every means at his disposal. Unfortunately for him  his every means were candy and tea, Zimmerman's was a 9 millimeter and he didn't hesitate to use it.

Zimmerman's friend says he was and is devastated by the shooting. Well he could have saved himself the grief if he had done what neighborhood watch guys are supposed to do, call the cops and let them handle the situation. He could have prevented the whole tragedy by following the advice of the 911 dispatcher and cease to chase after Trayvon Martin. Finally, none of this would have happened if he hadn't been packing a gun.

I don't know if the guy is an overt racist or not, but he certainly didn't help his case by making a series of assumptions based on race and appearance. No one, not that cheap shill Rivera, not Zimmerman's lawyer or his pal are denying that fact of life. And those assumptions are what triggered the whole terrible affair. To be honest if that isn't racism I don't know what is..


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