April 13, 2012

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and the media

What did George Zimmerman do?

Listening to the media would lead you to believe that he was an overzealous leader of a local neighborhood watch group driving a car through his neighborhood looking for suspicious people intent upon breaking into homes in his gated community. While driving he spotted a black teenager wearing a hoodie, drinking Snapple tea, and eating skittles as he was walking down the sidewalk, he then began following the guy because he stereotyped him as a thug. Zimmerman called the 911 emergency number, reported that he was following a black kid, then set out on foot, was told to stop following him, refused, and then hunted the kid down and shot him. He was then taken to a police station where his father, a former judge, was called and used his influence, while on the phone with the police, to have him set free. The police seemingly didn’t think too much about it because these types of cases happen all the time. Only when reverend Al Sharpton got involved was anything done about this, because it had been a month since Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman and the police obviously had no interest in arresting him for the crime of murder, which this surely is, a blatant homicide.

I paid attention as continuing saga played out, listening to what was being said, listening to the portions of the 911 call that had been released, then the subsequent 911 calls that were made by people from the neighborhood, reading multiple articles about the event, listening to various people in interviews, official folks during press conferences, and soapboxers relay to the general public what their opinion of the situation was and is.

The only two complete stories we have from people in contact with Zimmerman are consistent with all of the evidence known to the general public at this time. Whether you believe what these people have to say doesn’t matter, they are the only versions of events available from one of the people directly involved in the shooting. The police have said that there are at least two eyewitnesses to the complete event, both of whom have been interviewed by the police and have chosen not to speak to the media.

Standard procedure when something like this happens is to detain the person involved in the shooting, look at the evidence at hand, take laws and said evidence into consideration, then make a decision as to whether or not the individual should be charged with a crime. That is exactly what the police did. Whether you believe it or not George Zimmerman was injured, the exact extent of his injuries aren’t known to the public, his appearance at the scene was consistent with his version of events, and everything said by the eyewitnesses matched what Zimmerman told the police. Taking all of this into consideration, the police then let him go free.

Zimmerman has stated, via his father and brother, that he was on his way to Target to shop for groceries, established by the police when texts Zimmerman was sending at the time were read, when he saw someone he didn’t know walking from door to door. The supposed reason Martin was doing this was to get out of the rain. When Martin saw Zimmerman he began walking down the sidewalk while talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend. Martin was to Zimmerman’s right as he walked down the sidewalk, when Martin got to a point between two buildings where the sidewalk continued straight, and also had a turn to the left, he took the left turn between the buildings away from the street, then a right turn between the next set of buildings. Zimmerman then exited the car to go to the other side of the block to give the police the number of the building he went behind, as he walked by the right hand turn he looked between the two buildings and did not see Martin. When the 911 dispatcher asked Zimmerman if he was following Martin he said yes, and was told not to do that, he replied “ok” and turned to head back to his car, as he went by the walkway Martin had gone down, they met, an altercation ensued, and Martin was shot. According to Zimmerman, Martin approached him, made a statement, attacked him, knocked him to the ground, began hitting him and banging his head into the ground. Fearing for his life Zimmerman then shot Martin. He has not said if he drew the weapon or if Martin went for the weapon and they struggled over it. The funeral director that prepped Martin’s body has stated that Martin had no injuries other than the single gunshot that killed him. This interview has been played in the media to “prove” that no altercation took place, yet what this interview shows is that Zimmerman did not injure Martin in a struggle until he shot him.

What is my opinion of the situation?

This is a horrible series of events that should have never taken place. George Zimmerman should have never gotten out of his car. When he was faced with what he considered to be a suspicious person he should’ve given the police the details, waited on them to arrive, given them another description and the last known position of the individual, then made his way on to Target to do his shopping. Had Zimmerman done this, no one would know who he and Trayvon Martin are, a seventeen year old kid would still be alive, and George Zimmerman wouldn’t be sitting in jail right now.

The peripherals of this case aren’t in question, or shouldn’t be. Whether or not Zimmerman had a gun is irrelevant, it is legal for him to carry a firearm in Florida. The Florida “stand your ground” law has no bearing here as all states have some form of self defense laws. The race of either person involved shouldn’t matter either, but it does. Zimmerman has shown, from some forty six calls during the previous couple of months to police, to be consistent in reporting any person he considers to be suspicious, regardless of race. He has been reported not to be a racist by people of several different races that know him personally. So why does race matter in this case? It was used a catalyst to launch the case into the national media and draw attention.

The law enforcement community in Florida has now backed themselves into a corner. They have taken him into custody and charged him with second degree murder, forty some odd days after the fact. There is no way they can let him go if he is found innocent during a trial. The man has a price on his head (where is the FBI?), he and his family have received constant death threats, and the media has transformed the man into a monster.

The knee jerk reaction to hearing what took place here is to “bring the man to justice”, there is simply no reason for a grown man to shoot an unarmed seventeen year old, this is just another case of a black man being killed and it being swept under the rug, the guy should have never had a gun in the first place, nobody should be killed because they had tea and skittles, vigilante justice is no justice at all…

Some or all of these tings may be true. The problem with all of this is that we do not know exactly what happened there, only through a thorough examination of the facts can this be determined. The police thought they had done this, yet the public wasn’t satisfied, so the county is seeking to appease the public outcry. My question is this…. If Zimmerman goes on trial and is found to be innocent of these charges, will the media take a portion of the blame for the violence that will be sure to follow his acquittal with the same vigor they have shown in smugly taking credit for being the reason he was arrested? Will Piers Morgan and Nancy Grace admit they were wrong? No they won’t. They will act as any other sociopath would in that position, they will double down and then lead with pictures of the riots for the next few weeks while shaking their heads and proclaiming all Florida juries to be comprised of stupid people.

The questions raised by the case should be addressed in a national forum, headed by a panel of the same people that promote the case nightly on television. A discussion of why people stereotype, why firearms are sold and handled as they are, vigilante justice, police harassment, unfair legal systems, the high cost of decent legal representation, race relations… all of these things should be discussed, openly. Yet they won’t, and these types of things will continue to happen.