Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trayvon Martin: A Perspective on Objectivity


Note: I know this subject and all of what I’ve written here has appeared 10,000,000 times over in national media already, but 1) I found it important that I state somewhere my opinion on the matter thus far and 2) I refuse to assume that all of the random people who may come across this blog are familiar with the case.

What most comes to my attention about public opinion concerning the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is this sentiment of “let’s wait until we know all the facts before we make a judgment” Now, objectively this is fine. In all cases, no one should be rushing to any conclusion until there is a clear path of evidence leading to it. But…..what new possible piece of evidence will turn up that can show that Zimmerman did not make a terrible, terrible judgment call? So far none that I can see. I would love to be able to say that I’m being objective about this, but George Zimmerman’s guilt appears way too clearly in order for me to make that claim. Wait……unfamiliar with the case, you say? Well, let me brief you:






On the raining night of February 26th, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an African-American high school student, was returning to his father’s girlfriend’s house to watch the NBA All-Star Game with a group of tremendous Weapons of Mass Destruction such as: a bag of Skittles (an oddly vibrant confection for its attachment to such an event), a can of Arizona Iced Tea, and an ongoing conversation with one of his 16-year-old friends on the phone.
Around this time, armed, self-appointed Neighborhood Watch Captain George Zimmerman, 28 years of age, was cruising by at some distance in his vehicle when he spotted Martin and thought he was “suspicious” because he was “wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking slowly in the rain”.
Mr. Zimmerman contacted a dispatcher at a non-emergency police number about his “observation”, since he knew of a small history of break-ins in this area. Trayvon Martin reportedly appeared to be up to no good and “on drugs or somethin’”
Martin then noticed Zimmerman in his car and came closer to check him out. I have to guess Trayvon’s analysis of what he saw was not good.
Because he then ran off in between the surrounding suburban homes and Zimmerman, still on his cell phone with the dispatcher, got out of his car to chase him.
Upon hearing the wind hit the speaker of the phone (I think), the following exchange happened:

911 dispatcher:
Are you following him?

Zimmerman:
Yeah.

911 dispatcher:
OK. We don’t need you to do that.

Zimmerman:
OK. 

Meanwhile, Martin, who is still on the phone with his own friend, purportedly told her that he was being followed and was trying to escape.

Here’s one of the many points where the stories differ:
Martin’s phone friend later testified that Martin had got away, when Zimmerman caught up to him again. Martin asked him why he was following him. Zimmerman asked him what he was doing there. There was a scuffle and the phone call was ended.

According to Zimmerman, Trayvon had escaped. Zimmerman returned to his car when he was suddenly confronted by the “suspect” and asked “Is there a problem?”. Zimmerman then attempted to reach for his phone. Trayvon initiated a fight in which the teenager, around 6 feet tall and 160 lbs, punched Zimmerman, 5’7” - 5’9” and 200 - 225 lbs., knocked him to the ground and began beating his head on the pavement. Zimmerman began reacting in self-defense.

Either way, at the end of this, George Zimmerman produced a 9mm handgun and shot Trayvon Martin once in the chest.

Since a clear path of evidence detailing what really happened does not exist, the media has resulted in a campaign of two things:
Speculation of the Variables
  • Numerous people in the neighborhood called the police to report the sounds of screaming, scuffling and the gunshot when it happened. But no one knows who was screaming. Trayvon’s mother said it was her son, and Zimmerman (as well as friends of his) is saying it was him.
  • There’s a witness who says he saw a person in a red shirt (Zimmerman) on the floor being beat up, and when he went upstairs to report it, Trayvon Martin was on the ground. There’s also a kid who, walking his dog at the time, told the police he saw someone with a red shirt (Zimmerman) on the floor.
  • When Martin was shot, narcotics cops showed up on the scene instead of homicide…for some reason. The mother of the boy with the dog mentioned above says that the police pressured him to say that he saw the person in a red shirt on the floor. In addition, they asked him for his testimony five days after the incident happened and his memory naturally began to compromise itself. Another witness, a teacher, reported to the police that she heard the teen cry, and the cops corrected her saying that it was Zimmerman. The case was fresh, and they had already began to attempt to manipulate witnesses’ stories to their own end.
  • Fresh from killing an unarmed, solitary high school student, Zimmerman was arrested, brought into the police station……and then released. That night. Yes, just like that. He told cops he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense, aligning himself with the “Stand-Your-Ground” law which states that a person can use deadly force if they REASONABLY believe it is NECESSARY to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm. Cops in Florida just up and trusted that Zimmerman’s reasoning was correct. So they let him go.


After that, the media has begun Profiling The Victim and The Perpetrator:
Trayvon Martin was a High School Student in Miami, living with his mother and older brother. He was visiting his father and his father’s fiancĂ©e on the night of his death. His history includes him being caught with women’s jewelry in his backpack by school police last October (jewelry that wasn’t claimed to be missing by anyone) and being suspended from school because he was caught with a baggie that had traces of marijuana in it. He was also busted for scrawling “W.T.F.” with some friends of his on a school locker. He’s gotten in trouble for truancy and tardiness.
So, clearly: stolen jewelry, skipping school, weed, and amateur graffiti now composes the portrait of an insane bomb-plotting Anarchic terrorist……instead of an immature boy.

A white supremacist hacker also claimed to have hacked into Trayvon Martin’s e-mail, and spread photos across the web of him with his middle fingers up, pants extremely sagged, and flashing his gold teeth, in attempt to lend some criminal or misfit credence to Martin’s name. Of course, the photos are not of him, but of some other teenager with the same name. And of course, anyone taking the claims of a White Supremacist seriously should probably shoot themselves.

Talk Show Host and right-wing commentator Geraldo Rivera said that the shooting was Trayvon Martin’s fault because Rivera thought “the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” He purportedly does not allow his own children to wear hoodies because “there is no rehabilitating the hoodie…unless it’s raining out or you’re at a track meet, leave the hoodie home.” In addition to my personal offense at this since I always wear a hoodie when it’s cold or raining out and I’m of much darker complexion than Trayvon Martin, I think it’s fun to note that it was raining the night Trayvon Martin was killed. So then, anyone listening to Geraldo Rivera should also conclude that their life has no value.

What has been assembled on his side of things is that he was walking home when he began being followed by a strange man. He went over to get a clearer look at his possible stalker (he probably first thought it was someone he knew) and then ran away. When Zimmerman caught up with him, Trayvon asked why he was being followed, and Zimmerman began to interrogate him out of the imaginary authority in his head that was telling him he could do such a thing. The next thing you know, they’re scuffling. I mean, I imagine that if you were a boy walking home at night and being stalked by some fat, presumably white guy in a car who runs up to you and starts questioning without identifying yourself, your defenses would go up as well. Presuming you’re aware the history of crimes against innocent minorities by lawkeepers. And you’re, you know, a minority.

28-year old George Zimmerman, half Peruvian and half white, lived in The Retreat at Twin Lakes with his wife. He is an ex insurance underwriter who was pursuing an Associate’s Degree in General Studies at Seminole State College while working as a Neighborhood Watch Captain. He’s been described as having a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality, due to his history of violent outbursts. 7 years ago, working as a security guard, he responded to a drunken woman’s disorderly conduct by “picking her up and throwing her”. He was subsequently fired. In July of 2005, Zimmerman was arrested on charges of resisting arrest against a police officer with assault and battery. A month later, his ex-wife filed an Order of Protection against him, which included that he was not allowed to own a firearm, although this was later repealed. His friends and family swear that he’s not a racist, but before this incident, Zimmerman purportedly had a long record of reporting young minorities as suspicious to the police.
So, yes: after assaulting a police officer, being fired from security, being ordered by the courts to stay away from his ex-wife, being forbidden to own a gun, and having racial paranoia, it makes perfect sense to let this man get a hold of a Kel Tec PF-9 and let him administer justice according to his own judgment.

Zimmerman says Martin approached him when he was trying to get back into his car, punched him and began slamming his head on the floor, resulting in a bleeding head and a broken nose. A video taking place half an hour after the altercation showed Mr. Zimmerman handcuffedat the police station with no bruises of any kind on his head or face. Various reports later said that they could make out what might have been some slight bruising, but no bandages. At the police station, a lead homicide investigator listened to George Zimmerman tell his side of the story and thought he was full of shit. So he tried to file charges of manslaughter against him, but the State Attorney’s office overruled this and said there was no evidence to go against Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. When they brought him in, they didn’t even bother to take a drug or alcohol test, so Zimmerman could’ve been blasted sky high on P.C.P. and Jamaican White Rum for all they knew and no one would’ve caught this.

What new piece of evidence can pop up that will turn this against Trayvon Martin? What facts can turn Zimmerman’s guilt around? Did Trayvon throw an AK-47 down the sewer before Zimmerman approached him? Did Trayvon begin ninja-star throwing the Skittles at the Watch Captain, prompting Zimmerman him to defend himself from death-by-candy? Was the Iced Tea really radioactive waste being sold to North Korea for a new global Communist uprising? Is Trayvon Martin the Son of Sam?

You can imagine the various pieces of public reaction that has sprouted thus far: there have been numerous rallies across the nation pushing for justice for Trayvon Martin, some of which have been attended by Trayvon Martin’s parents. Famous basketball players and Harvard students have taken photos of themselves wearing hoodies in support of him. Famous film director Spike Lee (who, ironically, my next post will be about) tweeted the address that he thought Zimmerman might’ve been hiding at, but he was wrong and the family living there was forced to move. He later apologized. Black Nationalist political group The Black Panthers put a $10,000 bounty out for Zimmerman’s capture, while White Nationalist political group the National Socialist Movement went down to the area of the crime to make sure no white people were hurt in any upcoming riots. In all this, I sincerely hope George Zimmerman is brought to justice, if not because his terrible judgment has caused an innocent young person to die, but because it will set some sort of standard for cops in the future thinking they can freely make up shoddy reasons to kill unarmed teenagers and then execute. This case can be one step towards preserving some sort of stability or giving the police another piece of authoritarian rule. In the case of the latter, I absolutely expect riots. Meanwhile, I shall leave you with this creative Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King Jr. take on the subject: