I read an article today that was in the flyby media (NYT) that was essentially telling the world how the so called “system” failed Trayvon Martin. I wanted to weigh in on it and respond to a lot of what this gentleman has to say, so there will be a lot of quoting (in italics), and I will weigh in on them.
I firstly will say this – I have no race bias whatsoever, people of different colors and cultures are my brothers and sisters in this world, and I mean that. It pains me to see people of other cultures do nothing with the opportunity they have in this country of ours – and I will say this about the “system” – it may not be perfect, but that is because people are not perfect.
“The system began to fail Martin long before that night.
The system failed him when Florida’s self-defense laws were written, allowing an aggressor to claim self-defense in the middle of an altercation — and to use deadly force in that defense — with no culpability for his role in the events that led to that point.”
Let’s talk about these self defense laws that he is talking about – the so called “Stand your Ground” law where an “aggressor can claim self defense in the middle of an altercation”. In states that do not have a stand your ground law, you have what is called an “obligation to retreat” – or in other words, if there is way to get out of the situation, you are obligated to do so before you use deadly force. If there is no way to retreat, you would be able to use deadly force (at least as far as the law is concerned), and most likely plead your case to a jury in the event that it comes to that.
Let’s look at the facts of this case: A witness claimed he saw Trayvon Martin on top of Zimmerman – the injuries Zimmerman had, according to another witness confirmed that. A different witness said that his injuries do not, but other evidence (pictures) refute that. Even with a stand your ground law, is retreat, at the point when and slightly before that shot was fired, an option for George Zimmerman? If there is a man (and I say man, because at 17, I personally was 6′ 1″ and 220 pounds, and I know this case is not about me, but this kid was also about 6’1″ and 180 pounds) on top of you beating you, is retreat an option?
I also don’t personally think stand your ground is a good law to have – the reason being is not because I am in a hurry to shoot someone, but because if someone is threatening to harm you, beat you, coming at you with a cricket bat or a machete, you are not the one breaking the law.
“The system failed him because of the disproportionate force that he and the neighborhood watchman could legally bring to the altercation — Zimmerman could legally carry a concealed firearm, while Martin, who was only 17, could not.”
In other words, it’s bad that legally Zimmerman had a gun and Martin could not? That is the way societies work nor should they be, things are never equal. There is a little term called “escalation”. It means that you get a bat, they get a shovel, you get a knife, they get a gun, you get a bigger gun, they get an assault rifle, you get a bigger assault rifle, they get body armor with a trauma plate. Is this guy saying that it would have been better if they both had guns? If they neither had guns? I’m can’t fault Zimmerman at all for carrying a gun – there is crime in this country, there are people who want what you have – and those situations will come to you when you list expect it. My father always told me that it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
” The system failed him when the neighborhood watchman grafted on stereotypes the moment he saw him, ascribing motive and behavior and intent and criminal history to a boy who was just walking home.”
Where is there any proof behind this claim? There had been a rash of crimes committed in Zimmerman’s neighborhood by young men of African American descent. I don’t think that is “profiling” or “stereotyping”. I think that it is logic to look for someone of that descent if you know or suspect that is who behind the crimes. I know it’s hard to accept, but things identify you – the color of your eyes, tattoos, markings, skin color, height, weight, etc… Are the cops profiling me for blowing a red light because I am red / green colorblind?
“The system failed him when the bullet ripped through his chest, and the man who shot him said he mounted him and stretched his arms out wide, preventing him from even clutching the spot that hurt.”
This entire statement has nothing to do with the system. This is a fallacy called “appeal to emotion“. It is a horrible tragedy when anyone dies, especially a younger person. But this is nothing but trying to get your emotion out. Dying and pain are a terrible thing, there is no doubt about that, but at this point for Zimmerman, I could see that shock and instinct would take over. I’ve never been a situation like this (thank God) but I can only imagine the trauma and shock that both of these guys were going through at this point. I don’t think you can judge a guy based on what he did right after he shot someone. I hit a deer once and I stepped out of the car and threw up because of the shock of what happened. That was my first instinct. I think that if, what the jury found, that Mr. Zimmerman was in fear for his life, he was protecting himself at this point and that was his instinct.
“The system failed him in those moments just after he was shot when he was surely aware that he was about to die, but before life’s light fully passed from his body — and no one came to comfort him or try to save him.”
Yet another appeal to emotion – a fallacy to get you to stop thinking and to start feeling. The media does this all the time because for most people, emotion will feel stronger than logic.
“The system failed him when the slapdash Sanford police did a horrible job of collecting and preserving evidence.”
And of course, the usual media swing of “when you can’t think of a verifiable fact, just call someone a name”. Someone had just been shot and killed. Another man was bloody and in shock. I can’t say that the police did a perfect job in this case, but from all evidence we saw and testimony we heard about that evidence, things added up. The jury thought so too.
“The system failed him when those officers apparently didn’t even value his dead body enough to adequately canvass the complex to make sure that no one was missing a teen. The system failed him when he was labeled a John Doe and his lifeless body spent the night alone and unclaimed.”
I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say this: His parents failed him for not giving a rat’s ass about where he was for the night. His friend Rachel Jeantel failed him because she heard a scuffle and didn’t bother to call his parents or even the police to let them know what she heard.
“The system failed him when the man who the police found standing over the body of a dead teenager, a man who admitted to shooting him and still had the weapon, was taken in for questioning and then allowed to walk out of the precinct without an arrest or even a charge, to go home after taking a life and take to his bed.”
The system allows this if the evidence matches the story. If you are involved in a self defense shooting, you have not broken the law – you have only broken the law if you lie about what happened, and even then, you’re only in trouble if the figure out that you lied. If the evidences suggests that you are telling the truth (which in the case, the officers had no reason to believe otherwise), they would have sent him home.
“The system failed him when it took more than 40 days and an outpouring of national outrage to get an arrest. The system failed him when a strangely homogenous jury — who may well have been Zimmerman’s peers but were certainly not the peers of the teenager, who was in effect being tried in absentia — was seated.”
So what is this gentleman saying? That the jury had to be black for for Zimmerman to have a fair trial? I personally was a little shocked when I read that it was 6 women, but the selection process was extremely thorough and I really think they did the best they could to find an unbiased jury. I also think that he was not arrested because there was no evidence to do so. If they would have found any piece of hard evidence against this man who would have put him at the spot of the shooting, with ill will or malice on mind, intent on killing a kid solely because he was a black kid, there would have been an arrest. No such evidence was found.
“The system failed him when everyone in the courtroom raised racial bias in roundabout ways, but almost never directly — for example, when the defense held up a picture of a shirtless Martin and told the jurors that this was the person Zimmerman encountered the night he shot him. But in fact it was not the way Zimmerman had seen Martin. Consciously or subconsciously, the defense played on an old racial trope: asking the all-female jury — mostly white — to fear the image of the glistening black buck, as Zimmerman had.”
That’s because all in all, there is was no racial bias in this case. Let’s look at Zimmerman for a moment and what know about his race relations.
1. He is half Hispanic and more or less a minority himself. I just want to touch on something here that is a huge double standard. Why is it that the we have a half-black President, and he is the first “black” President, yet George Zimmerman is clearly half Hispanic, yet he is labeled as “White-Hispanic”.
2. He took a black girl to prom.
3. He tutored less privileges black kids
Even with those three things, does that fit the profile of a racist? Someone who dislikes someone for nothing more than the color of their skin? It just doesn’t pass the smell test to me.
Now that I have discredited most of this guys article, I will put my own bit in here.
A court of law found Mr. Zimmerman to be not guilty. I understand that there are people who really don’t like that. I don’t like that our President is our President. It’s true. It’s not because he is black, or that he is a democrat. He is probably a really nice guy in person. What I don’t like is divisive stands on racial issues just like these, his policies that are keeping black kids in the ghetto, or his fiscal policies. I don’t think he is a good leader or a friend to business. But the law, and an election, put him in that office.
What we, as Americans, need to do, is to get over this. We can’t be divided by such stupid things as skin color, race, eye color, or anything. None of that matters, and for that matter, it never has mattered. People who are ignorant make it matter, but the truth is that it does not matter and those ignorant people need to be shown that it does not matter. Show them – show them your culture, show them your customs, show them your food and religion – if they still hate you for nothing more than your skin color after that, they are clearly ignorant.
What matters is who you are and what you do with yourself. If you are black, don’t fall in to this mind trap of this country being a “white privileged” place. It’s not – it’s equal for everyone.
We may never know exactly what happened – I personally believe Mr. Zimmerman, and it’s not because “oh he is half white and I’m white, so I guess I’ll go with what the white guy says”. It’s because what he says adds up with the evidence that was presented. I watched the case religiously. I listened to the testimony of both the prosecution and defense. Zimmerman’s lawyer was no better than the prosecutor, but the facts of what Zimmerman say happened were on his side.
We need to mourn the death of every black kid, white kid, Asian kid, Native American kid, Hispanic kid, every kid that dies here or anywhere and not because of the color of their skin, but because every life lost to violence is a terrible loss. It doesn’t matter who does the killing, or even the reason – what matters is a soul is no longer on this earth. You may notice that the Reverend Jackson and the Reverend Sharpton never come out to shake the tree when black kids kill black kids, or white kids kill white kids, or Asian kids kill Hispanic kids. It is all to divide people.
I’m not writing all this to divide people. I’m writing this because what this gentleman wrote in his piece is there to divide you and to make you different from me if you have different color skin from me. You can’t fall in to that trap. You may read it as being a “dang the black kid got screwed”. Don’t take it that way, that is not what happened.
Read the facts, and decide for yourself what the truth is. Don’t listen to the flyby’s or the Reverends. Make up your own mind about who you are and who you will be.