Our son is 30, and not black, but because he is autistic, and looks "different" and cannot speak fluently in a "normal" tone, I live in constant fear that he will be stopped by someone who assumes he's high on drugs or dangerously crazy. Or attacked by bullies because he's different (a disabled kid was attacked by a school gang in the parking lot of a convenience store, badly beaten, and the adult clerk did nothing because "I was afraid they'd hit me."
I recognize that the mother of a kid with dark skin (whether African-American, Latino, Persian, Lebanese, whatever) has that same fear all the time. She knows that her child will be assumed to be "bad" and that his testimony will always be discounted to some degree. My heart breaks for Trayvon's mother. I grew up in an area with mixed cultures and races and I saw, firsthand, how Authority--in the persons of schoolteachers, community leaders, police--readily believed white kids from good families were naturally good ("She's from a good family..." "His father's a respected doctor") and got away with bad behavior, while the treatment went downhill from there--poor white kids were treated more harshly, and dark-skinned kids were given the least leeway, sympathy, and belief. All kids screw up sometimes--it's part of being young that you aren't yet the responsible adult citizen people want. But what happened when you screwed up depended on both who your parents were and what color your skin was, and I thought that was rotten from the beginning. We were taught "Justice is blind" and "the rules are the rules for everybody" but that's not how it played out.
Well, now we know: in Florida (and probably elsewhere), you can pick a fight with someone, then shoot them, claiming it was self-defense. Disgusting.
But only if you're white and they're not. Pick your victims carefully.
I agree that race played a HUGE factor in both crimes (the doing and the verdict). I fear that the 'lesson learned' by Stand Your Ground enthusiasts won't be quite so (ahem) discriminating.
Most of the Stand Your Ground enthusiasts around here are racist and expect home invasions and other violent crimes to be committed by persons of color. The legislation was pushed by ALEC (the organization that writes right-wing sexist and racist laws for legislators to introduce) and introduced by white legislators. Law enforcement has the same attitudes even though there are persons of color in local and regional law enforcement...in one case in Austin, a Latino officer was shot because a white officer thought he was a relative of the guy holed up in a house.
I see that ALEC is the organisation that drafted multiple bills preventing animal rights/humane treatment people filming on farms etc. Delightful, not.
As I pointed out to a friend (before the verdict) Stand Your Ground applied to Travon as well. He stood his ground against an attacker. And it may have contributed to his attacker going free.
I'm not sure not standing his ground would have helped: Zimmerman might have shot him in the back (the way police have done in Austin. A kid panicked and ran and was shot. The PD's response was "Tell your kids not to run from police." )
Travon Martin could not have done anything that would have convinced Zimmerman he wasn't a dangerous criminal...Zimmerman had already made up his mind and would explain Martin's behavior in the worst possible way. If Martin had run, Zimmerman would have chased him...he was already following him when Martin was just walking along.
No, no. What I meant was that Travon *did* "stand his ground". After being followed/chased by this white guy he finally turned and fought him. Which is pretty much the argument used for "Stand Your Ground" (don't run away, fight back).
And see where it got him.
I understood what you meant, I think, but was saying that even if he hadn't, he'd have been in mortal danger of an armed guy determined to prove him a criminal.
I cannot BELIEVE Zimmerman was acquitted! Argh, I'm so mad.
I agree with everything you said here.
The state prosecutor, with all the resources of a modern police investigatory service at their disposal, did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman committed murder or manslaughter. It may not be the verdict you desired. But american society chose to weight the justice system in favor of the accused. So the state has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury, and once a not guilty verdict is returned, they don't get a second chance.
It is a system that is a long way from perfect. But I much prefer it to a state where one is presumed guilty until you prove innocence. Or even worse, if one is the wrong gender or race, is more or less a piece of property owned by another.
No. You completely misunderstand. The police did not use "all the resources of a modern police investigatory service" because initially they bought Zimmerman's story that he shot a suspicious person who attacked him. They did not treat Zimmerman as a suspect at all until public outrage forced them to do something. They lost valuable time in interviewing potential witnesses, collecting all the evidence from Zimmerman and his vehicle and the crime scene (including the exact nature of his injuries, his tox screen which would have revealed whether he was chemically impaired by alcohol or drugs), tracking cellphone records, reviewing Zimmerman's own criminal record (he had assaulted police officers before) and considering how credible his story was in light of his violent history, etc.
Moreover the judge decided to rule out some of the evidence that could have been presented. The moment judges start tampering with evidence (which they do all too often) and the jury does not get the whole story, somebody's greased the slope. And that happens over and over, with juries hearing only one side of the story because the other is prohibited from introducing evidence. (For example: some years back in a northern state, parents of a kid with a congenital bone disease that causes fragile bone sthat break easily were accused--and convicted--of child abuse and were sent to prison. The judge in that case refused to allow the child's congenital condition to be mentioned during the trial, refused to allow the child's own doctor to testify, etc. All the jury was told was that the child's injuries were compatible with severe abuse. And if the child hadn't had osteogenesis imperfecta, that would have been true. But he did. But the judge wouldn't let the jury know that. That's not just an imperfect system, but it a rotten, dishonest, travesty of a system.
"Reasonable doubt" is a very slippery concept anyway, because every juror comes to a case with pre-existing ideas about how much evidence is enough, and what kind. When jurors come to a case with a predisposition to believe that black kids are naturally scary (and naturally bad) and therefore white folks are justified in being so scare of them that they'll shoot them...you cannot have a fair trial on the facts.
I've been told by judges and lawyers that it's not about the facts anyway--it's about winning. Heard it first from a defense lawyer when I was in college (came to lecture to us on law) and again from a judge later and from a prosecutor--who turned out to be the guy who concealed evidence in a murder trial here in Texas and ended up putting an innocent man in jail for years, while the murderer went free. This is not the justice system the American people deserve.
2013-07-14 04:04 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you on this. Now before you go calling me a racist please understand that I'm basing my opinion on the evidence presented at the trial. I agree that Zimmerman is guilty of disobeying police and believe he should face charges for that, but that does not mean he's guilty of murder.
I do not believe the prosecutors presented evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was indeed murder. None of us were there to see what actually happened, so we can only go by what the facts say. Do I believe that it could have been murder? Yes, it could have been. But if I was on that jury my vote would have been not guilty.
Yes it was tragic that a young man with his whole life ahead of him was killed, and its very easy to get caught up in emotions at seeing a life so tragically cut short.
Please don't flame me just because my opinion may differ that your. If you think I'm wrong I an certainly willing to have a discussion about it.
Boy, you sure jump the gun...defensive, slightly, about being considered a racist?
A) If you can't post with a name, please post here with some indication of who you are. Otherwise, the word "troll" pops into my mind. I know some people can't sign in to LJ, so I know not all Anonymous posts are trolls, but out of politeness--when you post here, identify yourself in some reasonable way. "Joe from North Dakota, HS teacher" or "Suzy from San Diego, orthopedic surgeon."
B) Zimmerman is, by his own admission at the time, guilty of shooting someone and killing him. That's a lot more than "disobeying the police." The fact that he was acting in a hostile and threatening manner before he shot Martin is a strong suggestion that he was primed for a direct confrontation. The fact that he carried a firearm is a strong suggestion that he was prepared to use a firearm--to shoot someone--in this case, Martin.
C) Whether you think the evidence presented at trial was sufficient or not is in part a result of what you would have considered sufficient evidence...and that will vary from person to person depending on their prior attitudes about the situation in hand as well as their courtroom and jury room experience. Other jurors would have thought differently.
D) I don't want to get into a lengthier discussion. If you want to post here again, identify yourself.
2013-07-14 05:13 pm (UTC)
Sorry, my name is Rob Bolger and I am retired military. I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. This was posted anonymously in error.
I apologize for my defensive posture. I have been flamed before for expressing an opinion that wasn't popular in the past. But that's no excuse. I'll try to be more positive in the future.
I have enormous respect for you and your body of work. I have been a fan for years.
With that said, I disagree that Zimmerman admitted he was guilty of shooting the young man. He admitted he shot and kill him. Not that he was "guilty" of it. I know its a matter of semantics, but I think it's an important one. And because you carry a firearm does not mean he was looking for trouble. Though he certainly could have been looking for trouble.
Now if you take out the requirement for beyond a reasonable doubt, then my vote would have been guilty.
I hope this makes sense, sometimes I have a problem articulating my position.
Thanks for identifying yourself, Rob. And I do understand the tension that comes with having been flamed before just for disagreeing.
I get your semantic point about Zimmerman's admission, especially in light of his "not guilty" plea.
We are in non-total, but partial, disagreement on the connection between carrying a firearm and looking for trouble. This may result from different life experiences, living around people with different cultural roots. For instance, we have in this town people who are "old-rural" and grew up considering a firearm in a different way from the people who moved here from the city and believed they needed a firearm to protect themselves from other people. Old-rural people (and I'm of that sort, having grown up among farmers and ranchers in a different part of the state) always had a firearm in the truck when they went out so that if they spotted an animal with a bad injury (be it livestock or wildlife) or a predator after their livestock, they could kill it. They also hunted for meat more than sport, and it's true that seeing such a person with a firearm (be it handgun or long gun) did not mean he was looking for trouble. However, we have others, unfortunately, who carry a firearm for the express purpose of killing someone in the name of self-defense. They have been convinced that there are bad guys lurking everywhere, and they can be heroes if they shoot first. You see comments after any mass shooting crime about the need for more people to carry firearms from this sort of person, and it's clear they have no grasp of how difficult it is to hit just the bad guy in a real tactical situation in a crowded theater, school, shopping mall. (There's a shooting group at the University of Texas that's eager to carry weapons and convinced they will save innumerable lives...the thought of a bunch of frat boys, with the thinking processes of frat boys, and possibly the blood alcohol level of frat boys, deciding who's the bad guy is and blasting away is...unsettling.) I think Zimmerman was this type of guy, on the basis of his behavior (both before this incident and during it.) We can disagree on that, of course.
Thanks for writing back and clarifying your position.
When I was working for the police department in the '90s (civilian computer guy) we received regular general orders and operational orders updates. Whenever a cop did something wrong (sometimes in another city or state) and got called on it, updates came out and training was modified to try to prevent a repeat performance. One thing that I learned was that if a cop shot someone and had followed procedure to the letter, the department would back them to the wall. If they violated procedure, they were thrown under the bus. They took training very seriously to try to avoid de-escalating situations and killing people.
Zimmerman specifically disobeyed instructions from the dispatcher, who is highly trained, and continued following Martin. It looks pretty clear from what I read that he wanted to be a hero and was looking for an opportunity to get in to trouble. And he did at the cost of a 17 year old's life.
The reason why he carried a gun was a pit bull had been reported in the area and officials had recommended he carry one. I'm sure he was very happy to be told that, I have no idea if he owned one or carried one before that point.
I took training to carry a concealed weapon, back when training was actually required. And one of the things the instructor told us (he was a detective that I knew who'd helped write the state laws) was that if you warned a person that you had a gun and would shoot them if they attacked you, if they attacked you they were pretty much insane by definition. But he also stressed not looking for trouble and trying to avoid confrontation.
Zimmerman was looking for confrontations and is possibly paranoid. We'll see what happens: the DoJ can sue him for violating Martin's civil rights and Martin's parents can sue him for negligence in their son's death, just like OJ Simpson was sued.
Finally got myself logged in properly....
Of course there are many points of view on these matters. The problem is which one is correct. Zimmerman could have been a concerned citizen wanting to better his neighborhood by trying to do something about the crime in the area. He could also have been a wannabe cop trying to find glory. The most disturbing possibility is that he was a racist looking for an excuse. All are possibilities, but how do you tell what is true?
I'm not convinced that Zimmerman is innocent, but neither am I convinced he was guilty.
The BBC are asking for reactions to the Trayvon Martin verdict from people in the US. Would you be willing to repost this powerful reaction on their website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23307610
too? I can understand why you might not, but a more compassionate viewpoint rarely gets represented in these things.
(PhD student in law, UK)
Thanks for info. Took a day off for medical stuff and work. Thinking about it.
A-fuckin'-men! (Now I wonder, if I want to kill someone, can I, a mature white woman, go down to Florida, find a guy who scares me, stalk and harass him, and then shoot him? 'Cause it sure seems like that's what they're saying. Unless, of course, stand your ground only applies to white guys, since it certainly doesn't apply to anyone of color.)
Justice in this country is a sick joke.
There are several statements you make that are either outright mistaken or, at the very least, not supported by the evidence.
"...posed no threat to George Zimmerman until George Zimmerman followed, harassed, and then accosted him..."
Zimmerman followed Martin. That is not disputed. He believed Martin was "suspicious" by how he was acting. He may well have been wrong. Let's assume he was wrong in his suspicion. That doesn't make "following" Martin illegal. Remember, he was also on the phone to 911 at the time and wanted to give the police a location.
Ok, he followed Martin. That's understood. However, there is NO evidence that he "harassed" or "accosted" Martin. Where is you evidence for that statement? No evidence of that came out in the trial. There is no evidence they exchanged any words.
"Followed" is not the same as "harassed" or "accosted."
"Mentally stable people don't disobey police orders to cease following and harassing someone they suspect."
Ok, a couple things here:
1. A 911 dispatcher talking to you on the phone is not a "Police order." A 911 dispatcher does not have the right to issue you an "order" and what a 911 dispatcher tells you to do, or not to do, is not a "police order."
2. The dispatcher asked if Zimmerman was following Martin. Zimmerman said he was, and the dispatcher said, "We don't need you to do that." Zimmerman said, "OK," AND HEADED BACK TO HIS VEHICLE. That means he DID listen to the 911 dispatcher, and was no longer following Martin.
This is according to Zimmerman's voluntary statement to the police and the 911 tape. Where is the evidence that "Zimmerman continued to follow Martin after he was ordered not to do so by the police."
Seriously, where is the evidence that contradicts Zimmerman's account and the 911 tape of his convesation with the dipatcher?
"But because it was a white man killing a black kid...he gets away with murder."
Zimmerman is Hispanic, not white. The New York Times tried to create the new category of "White Hispanic" for Zimmerman, but no one bought that, other then the NYT. So, the whole idea that he was a "white guy who killed a black kid" isn't true either.
The prosecution admitted, in the trial, that it was Martin who was on top of Zimmerman, hitting him and bashing his head into the concrete.
How did they get there? Zimmerman voluntarily talked to the police several times and went over what happened. He said he was headed back to his vehicle when Martin attacked him.
Zimmerman said Martin punched him in the face, knocked him down, and was straddling Zimmerman while punching him and banging Zimmerman's head on the concrete.
At that point Zimmerman had to defend himself. The law does not require that your brains be bashed out on the sidewalk or that you suffer some other serious injury before you are allowed to use lethal force to defend yourself. You just have to believe you are about to suffer serious injury, or death, and the evidence has to back that up.
This is Zimmerna's story and what he based his claim of self defense on. Where is the evidence that it is not true? The prosecution had claimed that it was Zimmerman on top, beating Martin, but during the trial had to admit otherwise. (Had it been that way though, Zimmerman would have been the attacker).
The physical evidence of the gunshot wound matches the witness descriptions that put Martin on top, hitting Zimmerman.
Now, Zimmerman may have made a mistake when he got out of the vehicle to follow Martin and try to figure out exacty where he was to tell the police. A more prudent course would have been to stay in the vehicle.
But, that doesn't eliminate Zimmerman's right to self defense when MARTIN ATTACKED HIM. It was Martin who threw the first punch, not Zimmerman.
It's an emotional case but has to be judged on the evidence presented to the jury. If the jury, who saw all the evidence introduced in court, didn't believe the prosecution, what evidence do you have that they are wrong? Outside of emotion?
Zimmerman is not a Hispanic name, and compared to Martin he looks white. I grew up among Hispanics.
If you do not think being followed is a form of harassment, then you have not been properly harassed. I have been, and it is. We have only Zimmerman's word--Martin being dead--that was not also verbally harassing him, but following him is in itself harassment.
"Accosting"--exiting his vehicle to speak to or detain Martin is "accosting." Zimmerman had no legitimate reason to a) follow Martin or b) exit his vehicle, and the only logical reason for it was to confront Martin.
Doing so is not a sign of his being afraid for his life; it is clear evidence that he considered himself armed and safe.
Who was on top when Zimmerman shot Martin does not determine who touched whom first. We have only Zimmerman's word that he did not attempt to detain Martin before Martin threw a punch. That's the word of a man who a few years ago assaulted police officers--a violent man, a man who weasled out of a prison sentence for that assault.
Did you ever consider that a teenager who's just been followed by a stranger's car for blocks--and then the stranger gets out and approaches him--might be in fear for _his_ life? What if the stranger tried to grab him? If someone like Zimmerman followed me, I'd be scared. If he came out of his truck to approach me, if he tried to grab me, I'd fight with everything I had, because I know--from experience--that if you let the bad stranger grab you, you're either raped or dead or both.
Zimmerman has a violent history and a bad attitude about people of color and a gun. Zimmerman is a proven killer who's been willing to attack cops.
Why do you believe that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense? All the reasons that you give are tangential to the main issue of whether or not Zimmerman had (in legal terms) provoked Martin, and (if not) if Martin started the physical part of the confrontation. And in particular, whether or not Martin put Zimmerman in reasonable fear of his life, which is the usual test for allowing the use of a lethal weapon in self-defense.
No, my reasons are not tangential.
Let's start with a simple one. Have you ever been stalked? Have you ever had a car following you block after block after block? That's a form of harassment, and it's scary. The person who should have been (and by some evidence I don't think was admitted at trial was) scared was Martin.
Zimmerman exited his vehicle. Now the only reason to exit your vehicle if you are following someone you think is a criminal is to confront them. To attempt either to question them or physically hold them. We have only Zimmerman's word for what he did, and frankly I do not find him a compelling witness. Especially not since he had, in the past, physically attacked police officers making a legal arrest. This indicates an explosive violent personality, and one very willing to both create a confrontation and get physical.
He caused the confrontation by exiting his vehicle; he could have driven away--Martin could not outrun a truck. As I commented previously, having been followed by a stranger, and familiar with what can happen to young people who just stand there when a stranger gets out of the car and approaches, a street-wise young person knows that his/her life is in danger from that person in the car.
The choices available are few. Are you likely to be faster than the person who's confronting you? If there's light enough to see, and you know the terrain better than the pursuer, and you're really fast, that's sometimes an option. But when the pursuer has a vehicle and you're in a built-up area, the pursuer can follow faster than you can run--and too often kids who knock on a nearby door and ask for help are not helped or shot. Also, if the pursuer has a gun, he may shoot you and *then* beat you up, rape you, drag you into the car. If he has a gun (as Zimmerman did, and we don't know if Martin knew it) then "stay out of reach" doesn't work at all. Get in fast and knock him down may be the only way to survive. You want the pursuer disabled enough to give you a solid two block head start (yes, I'm speaking from experience.)
But more likely, in my view, is that Zimmerman attempted to lay a hand on Martin, and that a legitimately frightened Martin struck out in self-defense. That he was a better boxer than Zimmerman isn't his fault. That he wanted Zimmerman sufficiently disabled for him to get a good head start away from this obviously dangerous person makes perfect sense. And Zimmerman, supposedly so beat up that he was afraid for his life...didn't even look that beat up in the police photos. I've seen beat-up. That wasn't it. That was someone who took a few punches and pulled out his gun and shot the person he'd been harassing and had chosen to confront.
Why, after all, should Martin retreat? He was not committing a crime, nor had he committed a crime. He was not doing anything wrong, despite Zimmerman's paranoid suspicions. So why don't you consider that he was defending himself from an older man with a car who was tailing him and then got out of the car to confront him? Or don't you think HE had a right to defend himself? I can tell you, again from experience, that when you're a scared young person and think you're in danger...you fight hard.
So, given Zimmerman's previous demonstration of explosive and violent behavior, his attacking police officers, I think he started after Martin looking for trouble, caused the trouble he found, and then shot and killed his victim. I think the police did a lousy job of investigating the crime from the first, and I think justice was denied.
Zimmerman started it by following (and almost certainly scaring) Martin.
He then got out of his truck and confronted Martin. Escalating the level of harrassment (and again fear).
Now Martin might well have thrown the first punch, which escalated things even further, but he was not without provocation. If Zimmerman had not been armed (apart from the fact he'd probably have stayed safely in his truck) we might be hearing a different story. Unfortunately, the only story we get to hear is Zimmerman's. History is written by the winners.
Regardless of Zimmerman's *legal* responsibility for Martin's death, he's certainly *morally* responsible. He started it, it's his fault. He's also the adult in the confrontation, so he should have been aware of how his actions would appear to a teen. Perhaps he was, and was spoiling for a fight -- that we'll never really know.
One thing that most of the Monday morning quarterbacks don't understand is that life is very different if you're a young black man than it is if you're any other race, older, female, educated etc. Young black men get routinely harassed by police, by white men who assume they're up to no good. If they're in small groups (2 or 3 say) white women will often cross the street to avoid them. Even if one intellectually understands that racial prejudice is still rampant in the USA, that's not the same as living with it 365/7/24.
While I agree with some of what you say about Monday morning quarterbacks, you've missed one: As a woman, I will cross the street to avoid walking past ANY group of men standing around--especially young ones, double-especially loud young ones--triple especially loud young men in groups who appear to be a) excited about something, b) intoxicated, c) hassling passing cars, women, or d) moving together in the proximity of a major athletic event, etc. Color doesn't matter. White, black, brown, pea-green--in any area where I do not immediately recognize them as safe--people I know, who are chatting quietly and appear to be sane, sober, and so on--I will cross the street, maybe even going around a block--to avoid them. So will many other women. I never wear shoes I can't run in (though my running speed now is pitiful.) There may be--probably are--women who only cross the street to avoid black youths, but having been hassled by white and Hispanic and Asian youths, I'm not discriminating in my avoidance of them.
That being said, I do not think that every group of men on a street corner are bent on mugging, rape, and murder. But it's impossible to tell until too late...the antelope that wonders if maybe some lions are friendly gets eaten. And in the case of women, being attacked is proof (to police, to judges) that you "were in the wrong place at the wrong time" or "weren't being alert enough." Just as some people now are trying to prove Travon was responsible for his own murder, people are eager to prove that women were mugged/raped/murdered because they did something wrong.
However, must say something nice about the noisy football crowd headed for Liverpool on the train I was on. Huge noisy bunch of huge noisy men--old, young, whatever--in a highly excited state got on the train with me and my son. Filled the aisles, some smelled of beer, etc. I'd heard about how awful football fans were in the UK. With me was our autistic son, who was easily frightened (particularly back then) by crowds and noise. As it happened, one very large man standing in the aisle right beside our seats had his small son with him. His father held him for awhile, then put the boy down. The men continued to shout and laugh and banter back and forth, and since nobody had bothered me yet, and I saw the boy getting tired, I suggested to his father that perhaps the boy would like to sit with us--we could scoot over a little, or he could sit on my lap. No, his father said, and picked him up again. He's fine. But then he did ask where we were from, and I said "Texas" and he wanted to know (everyone wants to know) if we lived on a ranch. We changed trains at Wolverhampton, and he cleared a path through his boisterous friends for us to get through the aisle more easily...and all the others politely squeezed themselves together so we could get by. Nobody touched anything they shouldn't have. So...sometimes being scared of the big loud beery ones is unnecessary. Thank you, I would say to him, if I knew who he was (well, I did say thank you for his help in clearing the way.)
My personal opinion is that Zimmerman committed manslaughter and deserved some prison time for that. While he didn't set out to kill the kid, he did set out to confront him -- with a weapon. Note the kid broke no laws and Zimmerman wasn't a peace officer. So he shouldn't have gone all gung ho and jumped out at the kid in the first place, like the dispatcher told him.
Zimmerman should have stayed in his truck. And the kid should have kept on walking and ignored him. But both of them had to prove their man bits were bigger, so a fight started. And while Zimmerman may not have set his sights originally on killing the kid, he did create the entire situation which then spiraled out of control and brought it about.
He deserves Manslaughter and some prison. But Murder 1? That was a stretch, and the DA shouldn't have stretched that far.
Given the screwups in the initial investigation, and the unwillingness to prosecute, I find it quite possible the DA intentionally threw the case.
Irony is not dead. George Zimmermann will now experience the need to constantly look over his shoulder, to rigorously control his behavior, and to dread meeting new people, just like most black boys have been warned to do by their families for a very long time.
But his need for a gun to be vigilant with is being fiercely defended...oh, NOW he needs a gun more than ever.
Whereas, let's see how many black men don't have any problem walking around with a gun in their pocket even if they can obtain a concealed carry permit.
Let's see what happens if a black man walks down the street in Zimmerman's neighborhood with a gun in his pocket. Will Zimmerman have a panic attack and shoot him immediately--and get off again? Because it's OK that he shoots people when he's scared.
Honestly, I have had issues with the following/stalking. I do agree that a lot could have taken place which we know nothing about due to lack of witnesses. However, I respect the decision of our current legal system. If we believe there is a problem in how juries are selected or presented with evidence, we should seek to fix that. Otherwise, a jury found him not guilty based on the evidence they were presented.
The other arguments I hear is that Travon was close to his own home and could have run there instead of ambushing Zimmerman. There was evidence that he could be violent or racist. I don't know the validity of these arguments and I don't know how the jury perceived the evidence they were given.
I can't argue either way. I wasn't part of the jury. It is obvious that they felt there was doubt and could not find Zimmerman guilty. If Zimmerman had been committing another crime at the time, he'd likely have been found guilty. However, following someone is not considered a crime (it doesn't constitute stalking without meeting additional criteria).
Based on our current legal system, justice was served. A jury found him not guilty. We could change the current system, but what would we change in this case? How would those changes alter other cases that are actually self defense or the defendant is innocent? What if Zimmerman is actually the victim? Granted, he did follow Travon, which I disagree with, but that in itself is not actually a crime. Community watch people follow people. They sometimes talk to them. This is especially true when there are a rash of crimes in the area.
Your first paragraph contains a lot of weaseling.
Let's start with the last sentence in it: "a jury found him not-guilty on the basis of the evidence they were presented." The problems with our current legal system start right there: at the discretion of everyone involved BUT the jury, juries are routinely denied access to obviously pertinent evidence. First, both prosecution and defense may seek to conceal evidence that would hurt their respective cases: it has been done, and done successfully enough to send the innocent to prison and set the guilty free. Second, judges have discretion to rule out obviously pertinent evidence on specious grounds: I have cited such a case above, where a judge ruled that the medical history of a child--the diagnosis of a bone condition that made his bones fragile--was inadmissable in a trial of the parents for abuse of that child (the abuse being "proved" by the fractures that resulted from the condition.) This is something that needs to be changed, but you will find--if you talk to prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys--that none of them are willing to let juries have "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." The system is rotten from the inside out.
In this case potential evidence was not collected by a police department that, clearly biased, chose to believe Zimmerman's initial story and thus failed to do what they would have done had the races been reversed, or even the same. Some evidence was kept out by the judge. We don't know--can't know yet, at least--what evidence was concealed or destroyed by either the prosecution or the defense or both.
Jurors come to a case with pre-existing beliefs about the likelihood of another person's behavior...what's reasonable and what's not. Jurors apparently came to this one believing that fear of black teenage boys is so reasonable--those black boys are so horrible--that it justifies killing one if you're scared enough. It justifies assuming a black teenage boy walking down the street is probably a criminal. It justifies following him, confronting him...and shooting him. Different jurors would have dismissed that argument out of hand.
You're obviously trying to find a way to make this Travon's fault. It wasn't. If Zimmerman had been home with a stomach-ache that night, Travon would have walked home from the store with his candy and would still be alive. He had not committed whatever neighborhood crimes had been committed. He wasn't going to commit one that night. He did not start the sequence of events that led to his death. Zimmerman did. Zimmerman did not prevent any crimes, or catch a criminal, when he killed Travon. He committed one, and now he's gotten away with it.
And given his violent history, he will do it again, and use the same excuse.
2013-07-16 08:19 pm (UTC)
"In this case potential evidence was not collected by a police department that, clearly biased, chose to believe Zimmerman's initial story and thus failed to do what they would have done had the races been reversed, or even the same. "
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to prove that statement. How do you know that the department is biased. How do you know that there was more evidence that was not collected.
"You're obviously trying to find a way to make this Travon's fault. It wasn't. If Zimmerman had been home with a stomach-ache that night, Travon would have walked home from the store with his candy and would still be alive. He had not committed whatever neighborhood crimes had been committed. He wasn't going to commit one that night."
Again, you are stating the unknown and unknowable as fact.
If Zimmerman had been at home someone else might have done exactly the same only without a gun.
Travon might have been the one causing the break-ins, WE do not know.
Both of them appear to have committed failures of judgement. We can not say much else.
As for the Judge ruling some evidence was inadmissible, they have to do that. Some is gathered using illegal methods. Some probably helps the guilty and would have been nice to see but due to the current laws of the US cannot be held against them in THIS trial.
In your example, bone condition that made his bones fragile--was inadmissable, Why? If a Doctor made the diagnosis then a judge would have no grounds for excluding it. If his ruling was actually "on specious grounds". He could be removed from his seat, have all of his cases reviewed and so on. A simple appeal would possibly get the Parents a new trial.
Back to Travon.
We were not told all the information. The prosecutor and the defense have to share the information. They both knew what was found and what would be presented in court. They are the ONLY ones that can say information was withheld and then they can appeal or re-try due to that.
We are in a country divided by this case because we tried Zimmerman on the stuff we heard on the News, or read on the internet. We made up our minds BEFORE the trial and fit the trial facts to what we had decided. Our "pre-existing beliefs" were shaped by what we heard, saw and have dealt with growing up and what the media decided to stuff down our throats.
Yes, Zimmerman pushed when he did not need to. We will never know what Travon did in response other than get on top and pound on the "crazy-ass cracker."
One appears to have had too much testosterone and the other had a gun.
I feel sad for both families. One lost a son and the other, from remarks posted about this, will probably soon lose theirs.
2013-07-17 04:30 pm (UTC)
We know the police did not perform the tests on Zimmerman that would have been performed (and some were performed on the dead person) because they said so at the time--they didn't see the need. The initial police response, when asked why they had not questioned Zimmerman more closely was that they believed what he said and didn't need to. The police were the originally digging into Travon's record. If you had been following this in detail from the beginning you would know that. You would know that Zimmerman had a prior conviction for assaulting police officers during a legal arrest--although he got "education" instead of jail time.
Diverting for a moment to the kid with the bone condition: his medical records had the diagnosis--by multiple doctors--of osteogenesis imperfecta. He had had many hospitalizations, as such kids do, and they all carried that diagnosis. By doctors. The judge ruled the medical records and that diagnosis inadmissable. Parents went to prison, their other kids were farmed out to foster parents, the kid with the problem stayed in the hospital where, predictably, more of his bones broke. Children were deprived of their parents, parents of their children, and a child with a serious condition had to stay in the hospital with strangers. I have no idea why the judge ruled the diagnosis inadmissable and said the kid's own doctors could not testify, other than a desire to show himself tough on bad parents (though these were not.) Judges can rule out ANY evidence they choose to, either on request of one of the parties, or just for the hell of it. They don't answer to anyone--that's part of the problem with the so-called justice system.
Back to Zimmerman: the fact that both parties can and do withhold information from juries, and the prosecution can even manufacture false information (as in several child-murder trials in Mississippi, and the "ham sandwich" way of dropping evidence into a crime scene in Louisiana and probably other places.)--and judges can withhold information as well--means that a "jury trial" is nothing but a dramatic performance which cannot possibly reach--by means of reason and logic--reality.
I find it interesting that you say "one had too much testosterone and one had a gun." Both were male. BOTH had testosterone. One ALSO had a gun. And used it.
You can think what you think. But you've had your say now.
I got from the jury that it is justified to kill anyone, even a teenager if they are mounted on top of you and bashing your head into the ground.
I got from Zimmerman's original call that,
1) There had been breakins
2) Someone he didn't recognize from the neighborhood in a hoodie, walking in the rain, looking around (tourist) and off the sidewalks was considered suspicious due to the breakins.
3) Travon wasn't afraid of confrontation if he approached the vehicle.
4) Zimmerman didn't know where Travon was towards the end of the call and so he started talking quieter and was to give out his entire address in case Travon was nearby.
5) Zimmerman probably wasn't racial profiling as he wasn't even sure the kid was black when he initially called and was asked.
6) Zimmerman is obviously upset that the people breaking in always get away with it (which he categorizes the suspicious person that approached his vehicle and then ran as possibly one of those people).
Only Zimmerman and God know the full truth of what happened. The prosecution of Zimmerman was a best effort. They didn't bother with grand jury, and they provided an affidavit of their probable cause leaving out any exculpatory evidence.
So was it Travon's fault? It may have been. If Zimmerman was returning to his car and was attacked, it is very hard to argue that it wasn't Travon's fault.
Unfortunately, we can't know. All we can know is that the police and the FBI interviewed people and that of all the evidence presented, the jury didn't think he was proven guilty without a doubt.
Most of Zimmerman's violent history was from his own teenage years, and a lot of it read that he was more intimidating/hostile than actually violent (as many teenage boys are). This incident could leave him traumatized for many years, regardless of his guilt or innocence. He won't be the same person, either way.
My question to you is this: What evidence do you have that he was guilty beyond a shadow of doubt? Never mind any mistakes made by police, prosecution, etc. Why do you assume he is guilty? Is he not to be considered innocent until proven guilty?
Also, do you think Florida treats their Hispanics good?
I have listed what I consider evidence of guilt. You are free to disagree. However, you have now stated your opinion on this issue and that's your limit.
How I think Florida treats anyone is beside the point. From the evidence I've seen (conviction rates, sentences imposed, hassling by police, non-prosecution of crimes against, hassling over voting registration and enforced limitation of voting access) I'd say Florida law is biased against all poor people, all black people, nearly all brown people especially if they're also poor and have a Hispanic name...and maybe more.
2013-07-16 08:02 pm (UTC)
My thoughts to those who call George Zimmerman a murderer
I originally posted this to a Yahoo group, and someone who read it on there asked me to repost it on here. I am gladly doing that based on the vitriol that I am sensing here.
I do not wish to post my name on here due to the fact that I have some involvement with my local city government and public safety entities, but I will gladly state that I am Mr. T of Central California.
None of the evidence supported the fact that Zimmerman was the instigator of the attack. Nor was there any indication of racism on Zimmerman's fact -- when the dispatcher asked what race the "suspicious man" was, Zimmerman had to look again and said tha the looked black. In fact, there are actually racist tendencies shown in Trayvon's comment of calling Zimmerman a "crazy-ass cracker."
Continuing this, Zimmerman is, according to the laws of Florida, -not- amurderer. He was found not guilty of 2nd degree murder, and is therefore, -not- a murderer. Yes, he is ultimately responsible for taking Trayvon's life. He will have to live with that decision for the rest of his own life, and I'm sure it will have an impact on him.
After hearing the evidence in the trial, I believe that -both- sides were guilty of poor judgment. Trayvon had the chance to go into his father's girlfriend's house and avoid the confrontation--instead he came back out looking to intimidate the "crazy-ass cracker". Zimmerman had the chance to pay attention to the -advice- (yes, advice. He was not TOLD by the police to not follow Trayvon, he was ADVISED to stay in his car. As the dispatcher stated, for liability reasons, they are not allowed to give commands.) of the police and stay in his car to observe. He chose to not follow that advice and we all know the end result of that decision.
Unfortunately, again as we have all seen, there are two sides to every story and we are only able to see one. We have absolutely no way of knowing what the absolute truth is in this matter, as only two people knew what that was, and one of them is dead. It COULD be just as Zimmerman stated -- Trayvon attacked him, and he was in fear for his life. It COULD be just like the other side states -- Zimmerman was mad because of all the breakins and saw an opportunity to take it out on someone. We DO NOT and will NEVER know which is the absolute truth. We must have faith in the justice system -- based on the evidence provided to the jury, there was insufficient proof that a murder was actually committed.
(Honestly, I believe that the proof that was lacking was intent. From the way he came across on the 911 calls and the testimony of the first detective on the scene, I don't believe that he intended to get out of the car to kill Trayvon. I believe he got out of his car to follow, and get an address, and advise the police of that address, as a good citizen. I believe that Trayvon got a bit spooked because Zimmerman was following him, went to the house, and decided that he wanted to put a bit of a scare into this "crazy-ass cracker" that was following him, and ended up dead. Again, this is all speculation, and it's all we will ever have is speculation.)
In finishing, several of the protests have called for violence or for killing Trayvon (or even for the jurors and Zimmerman and his supporters to kill themselves!), but that solves absolutely nothing. That ends up in an ugly cycle of violence and fingerpointing.
Yes, what happened was wrong and shouldn't have happened. Yes, it was a tragedy for BOTH families involved. The authorities were forced into prosecution (remember that they originally did NOT press charges) of a charge that was not backed up by the evidence, and the jury has spoken. We can not change that. It's settled. Period. We as a country need to move on and learn from our mistakes...
2013-07-17 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: My thoughts to those who call George Zimmerman a murderer
Unlike you, I do not go around posting on someone else's blog because a third person asked me to. This is my space. I don't trespass on others' space.
I'm sorry you feel that your position in city government obliges you to remain anonymous online. I didn't feel that way when I was on city council, but to each his own fears.
Your title implies that I said George Zimmerman was a monster. I did not. I think he was an ordinary garden variety bigot with a history of violence, anger mangement issues, and a gun he should not have been carrying, filled with self-righteousness and a desire to play the hero on a COPS-type show. Monsters are in a different category.
Your statement that "we must have faith in the justice system" rings really hollow in light of the experience of many with the justice system...the justice system includes humans, and humans are by nature imperfect. Some of them lie (a former judge and DA in this county lied, as a DA, and concealed evidence that would have exonerated Michael Moore of his wife's murder. In the meantime, the real murderer went free and committed more crimes." Many other people have been convicted of crimes they did not commit, and spend decades in prison--some were never released. In the meantime, those who committed their crimes went free and in some cases committed other crimes. As I have written in comments above, there is ample evidence that the justice system is not so perfect that it should move anyone to "have faith" in it. I have faith in God, not in fallible and sometimes deliberately dishonest humans.
You read the evidence differently than I do. That is your right. But it is not your right to assume that everyone must see it as you do.
You say "It's settled." If you were as old and experienced as I am, you would know that such things are never truly settled.
You have now had your say on my blog. That's it.
2013-07-17 04:12 pm (UTC)
Re: My thoughts to those who call George Zimmerman a murderer
By the way, you posted twice. Your post was in moderation. ALL the posts by anonymous posters go to moderation first. DUH. By your impatience to have your immortal words seen here, and posting twice, without even considering that "held for moderation" was a possibility, you have now seriously annoyed me. I have deleted the duplicate. Please do not post on this topic again.