Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Zimmerman verdict: Recognizing the injustice in the system

Post by Brian O'Neill on July 17, 2013 at 9:08 am with 11 Comments »
July 19, 2013 5:48 pm

For all our disparate values, when Americans go to the movies we all crave one thing when the credits roll. A good end to the story.

The need to have loose ends wrapped up, to bring a sense of closure, is endemic. Perhaps the best evidence of this need is the collective response when people don’t get it. They generally don’t react well.

Such was the case when six Florida jurors acquitted George Zimmerman of all criminal charges in the death of Trayvon Martin last Saturday (TNT 7/14). When word of the decision spilled out, those who had waited patiently for the criminal justice system to hold Zimmerman accountable for Martin’s death, and thus complete the story arc, were left hanging.

Protesters in Detroit/ an AP Photo
Protesters in Detroit/ an AP Photo

Without that release, those who viewed the trial as a real life docudrama came unglued. Protests erupted in Florida and Texas, violence followed in Los Angeles and Oakland, as people lashed out against their perception of a storyline gone horribly awry.

Race is the reason this story continues to captivate public attention, of course. Unfortunately, whether Zimmerman saw Martin only as a black man in a hoody is a question that may never be answered. But there is much more to this story than the ethnic background of either Zimmerman or Martin.

The gut wrenching despair that protesters from Los Angeles to New York voiced so loudly is, at its source, a cry for justice for an unarmed youth killed by an armed adult.

Let’s back up. When Zimmerman made his initial 911 call to report a suspicious subject, exactly how and why 17-year-old Martin’s actions were suspicious was left unsaid. The call receiver next instructed Zimmerman not to approach the subject,  a directive he obviously and tragically ignored. At some point, Zimmerman approached Martin close enough that the young man turned to face him.

Let’s stop here and ask a couple questions. First, does anyone honestly believe Zimmerman would have had the temerity to confront Martin without a firearm? No? Me neither.

Second, would it be reasonable to think that Martin, walking alone when he was suddenly confronted by an unknown adult male, might have reverted to “fight or flight” mode? Yea? I think so too.

By failing to wait for the police to respond, by provoking a confrontation with Martin, Zimmerman’s own hubris transformed an unremarkable situation into a tragic incident. How did this fact escape the notice of the court? The answer is that none of Zimmerman’s provocative actions were deemed criminally negligent or even unreasonable in the eyes of the court.

Florida’s “Stand your ground law” is part of the problem. This statute blessed Zimmerman’s stupid behavior as it gave him the right to respond with deadly force when attacked. In other words, Zimmerman was given a broad license for poor judgment and a “get out of jail free card” just in case things got sticky.

It is also ironic that this incident played out while Beltway politicians fought to preserve Zimmerman’s gun rights, and advocates promised that private gun ownership saved lives. In reality, the presence of a firearm in a “stand your ground” state failed the real world litmus test just as it failed Trayvon Martin and his family.

Regardless of race, regardless of the details of the ensuing fight between himself and a black youth wearing a hoody, George Zimmerman should be forced to own the consequences of his decision.

If we refuse to recognize that our cultural bias towards armed confrontation has insinuated itself into our legal  system, this storyline may very well play out again. The closure we seek for Trayvon Martin will remain just beyond our reach.

And we need closure.

Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. We have a gun style of government and justice.
    It only helps those that own the country.
    If you’ve been around older, white guys
    you’ve heard the talk. Racism runs deep
    in America.

  2. reformedliberal says:

    For all our disparate values, we all want the movie to end on a final, conclusive note.

    It did end on a conclusive note. Some people just don’t respect our legal system, that’s all.

    I expect a police officer to honor the results of a jury verdict, by the way. If you don’t, then you might not be fit to serve.

    When Zimmerman made his initial 911 call to report a suspicious subject, exactly how and why 17-year-old Martin’s actions were suspicious was left unsaid.

    This is a nakedly false assertion. I expect a police officer to be honest. If you aren’t, then I question your fitness for the office you hold.

    And we need closure.

    Again, you should have closure. It didn’t come out the way you were hoping. Deal with it.

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    Despite questioning my integrity, reformedliberal, you missed my point. The jury reached a fair verdict under the current statute. My point was that the jury operated under a statute and set of instructions that provided Ziommerman with an unfair escape clause.

    The man made a horrible decision and a young man is dead. If current Florida law holds that to be a legitimate action, then the law should be changed.

    And besides, jurors are not infallible – respecting a jury’s decision and disagreeing with it are not the same thing.

  4. simonsjs says:

    Brian if you really believe what you wrote, you are not fit to be a cop. You are part of the race baiting media, period.

  5. smokey984 says:

    OUTRAGEOUS
    TYPICAL
    INSPIRING
    ENLIGHTENING

    So this guy’s neighborhood has been burglarized off and on and the residents are very concerned for their safety and well-being. Neighbors agree to upkick their vigilance and overall level of awareness to watch out for each other and keep an eye out for suspicious individuals and behavior. It could be considered by an official designation such as “Neighborhood Watch”, but officially labeled or not, it is the purest form of Americans watching out for each other and being good neighbors.

    So far so good.

    So George Zimmerman sees what he believes is a suspicious individual in suspicious circumstances, and intelligently and responsibly pays attention and calls 9-1-1 to report what he sees to the officials. This gesture is proof positive he was not looking to do anyone harm or break any laws, but rather perform the fundamental responsibility of a neighbor who cares.

    Doing nothing illegal or improper, he follows the individual while answering all the questions from the 9-1-1 operator to the best of his ability, keeping an eye on the individual so the authorities can hopefully intercept and determine exactly what is going on.

    For reasons unknown, though I will comment on momentarily, after expressing racism and hostility on the phone to a friend in response to being followed, the suspect now changes course and turns towards George and immediately initiates a hostile verbal confrontation that quickly escalate to a violent physical assault. Within seconds, the suspect has overwhelmed George, has gained the advantage on top, pinning George to the ground, and further escalates the assault to deadly force by smashing George’s face, breaking his nose, and violently slamming his skull onto the concrete with all his youthful athleticism.

    George screams frantically for help as Trayvon Martin pummels his face and head furiously, inflicting damaging and potentially life threatening wounds. Fearing for his life and about to lose consciousness at the hands of an enraged, violent attacker, George Zimmerman does what anyone who wishes to live would do, and he reaches for his concealed handgun, firing a single shot to neutralize the deadly force being wreaked upon him.

    This represents the purest form of self-defense there is. It is exactly why people who believe in good over evil carry a gun to protect themselves from the well documented violence that plagues our country, in order to save our lives from a life threatening attack. Period.

    Based on all evidence available to them, the professional law enforcement officers did not hold George Zimmerman on charges later that night. They saw it for what it was: cut and dried self-defense.

    And so it was for a few weeks until the race-baiting industry saw an opportunity to further the racist careers of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, et al, who then swept down on the Florida community refusing to admit that the 17-year-old dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe Trayvon Martin was at all responsible for his bad decisions and standard modus operendi of always taking the violent route.

    With an obvious racist chip on his shoulder, referencing the neighborhood watch guy as a “creepy ass cracker” to his fellow racist female friend who admitted under oath that that is how non-blacks are referred to normally in their circles, Trayvon had no reason not to attack, because it was the standard thug thing to do. See Chicago any day of the week.

    With nearly 700 examples of this truism played out in Chicago in 2012 alone, no one can possibly dispute the recent surge in black racism increasing throughout Barack Obama’s presidency. To attempt to claim otherwise is a laughable lie.

    The jury got it right, and non-racist America rejoices that there is still common sense, honesty and decency aware of identifying justice in this country. America also believes that the entire prosecutorial team should be ashamed of themselves and disbarred for ignoring the obvious and kowtowing to the pure racism that forced the politically correct lie that only black lives killed by non-blacks matter, which is why there are no headlines, no protests, no prosecutions and no Barak Obama or Eric Holder meddling in the nonstop black-on-black slaughter in their gun-free zone of Chicago.

    Martin Luther King Jr. is rolling over in his grave that he sacrificed his life for the cause of judging people by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin, as so many of his own race carry in in self-destructive behavior while professional race mongers blame everything on racism. It is painful and heartbreaking to say and write this, but horrifically it is true. Blacks kill more blacks in a weekend in Chicago than the evil, vile Ku Klux Klan idiots did in 50 years. Truly earth shattering insane. And not a peep from Obama or Holder. Tragic.

    The only racism on that night was perpetrated by Trayvon Martin, and everybody knows it.

    Here’s the lesson from all this, America: Teach your children to not attack people for no good reason whatsoever. Conduct yourself in a responsible, civil manner, and everything will be just fine. Try to kill someone and that someone just may be exercising his or her Second Amendment rights and you could get shot. It’s called self-defense, and it is the oldest, strongest and most righteous instinct and God-given right known to man.

  6. smokey984 says:

    While Hollywood and the media puppets play their harps, write their poetry, and weep gracefully over the Zimmerman verdict, riots erupt across the United States.

    Except, as any mom or dad who has ever raised a child through the toddler years will recognize, they aren’t really “riots” but temper tantrums. It is like a bunch of hungry, overtired children, melting down and having a big, screaming hissy fit.

    Basically, these people who are angry about the Zimmerman verdict are stomping their feet, running around, shouting, crying, and breaking things…just because they’re mad.

    They are doing absolutely nothing that will effect a change, nothing that will increase their own credibility, and nothing that will prove to the world that they are right and the Zimmerman jury was wrong.

    Wouldn’t peaceful protests with large numbers of citizens standing in unity get across the point that they are trying to prove with more clarity? Aren’t these people trying to show that an injustice was done, that Zimmerman should not have been fearful of Trayvon Martin? By rioting through city streets, threatening and hurting innocent bystanders, aren’t these “protesters” proving the complete opposite of their alleged point?

    With this complete lack of dignity, you can’t even call these actions “protests” – you have to call them what they are – temper tantrums

    Reporters were also a target in Oakland…but why? Those are the people who were there to do what the protests were allegedly supposed to do – get the story out about the outrage at the verdict

    Some of the riots resulted in serious harm…but what is the point of injuring a person because of the color of his skin? Isn’t that what the “protesters” are protesting against?

    So, clearly, it should be judged a hate crime when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, but it should be considered an act of protest when they beat up a bystander “for Trayvon”, selecting their victim just because he happens to be white or Hispanic.

    There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who are peacefully protesting the verdict, as is their Constitutionally protected right to do. Unfortunately, the positivity and unity that they are trying to convey is being overridden by a bunch of kids having a tantrum.

    The people participating in this big national melt-down are actually doing more to vindicate George Zimmerman’s actions last February than the jury did when they acquitted him. They are, without direct provocation, destroying property, committing arson, beating the daylights out of people because of their skin color, and purposely attempting to incite fear. They are perpetuating the racial stereotypes they claim to be railing against.

    So, judging by these childish and vicious tantrums, why wouldn’t people be feeling rather suspicious?

    Someone needs to take away their spray paint and their matches, and then send them to their rooms so the adults can have a conversation..

  7. Brian O'Neill says:

    Gotta lotta rage there, smokey.

    While you’re passing judgment, consider Zimmerman’s approach from Martin’s point of view. Walking alone, in an area where he had a legal right to be, he is followed by an unknown adult who eventually confronts him. Has this happened to him before? Has he been jumped by individuals, even robbed, in similar circumstances? Was he perhaps tired of being singled out because of his clothing or his color?

    Painting Trayvon Martin with the same brush used to describe gang members and other violent criminals is a wild leap. Nothing about his actions, as I understand them, suggest anything other than a 17-year-old walking by himself, and detaining a person in such circumstances would be a gross violation of his or her rights.

    Also, Martin was quite justifiable in feeling threatened by the unknown man following him and would have been further justified to defend himself. Florida’s “stand your ground law” works for everyone, not just Zimmerman. The only difference is that Zimmerman, not Martin, initiated this incident by following the young man despite the 911 call receiver’s directive.

    And there is this last “what if.” What if this situation had come out differently, and Martin had wrestled the gun away from Zimmerman and shot him? Well, unless the law works differently for African Americans in Florida, Martin would have used the exact same defense that freed Zimmerman.

    Except he can’t, because he’s dead. And all the assumptions about his character are nothing more than that.

  8. smokey984 says:

    Not a lot of rage from a personal perspective in my life to to speak if that’s what your referring to.

    I choose to the words in both of my posts to prove a point.

    In my first post you can see a logical perspective and my second post is more of an emotional rant keyboard bully perspective.

    Ive found it quite amusing over the years and have noticed that when a human being loses the logical/common sense argument they resort to the emotional plea as a last resort…a darn shame.

  9. smokey984 says:

    meant to say: “so to speak” in my opening sentence.

  10. Late to this party, but I have to correct Brian’s assertion that Zimmerman “confronted” Martin. No such thing happened. It’s apparent that Brian has not examined an ounce of evidence or listened to any of the actual testimony.

    Fact: Zimmerman was a vigilante wannabe cop that kills some little kid for no reason.

    Reality: Uh, not really. Zimmerman wasn’t even acting as a neighborhood watch person that evening. He had gone to the store and was on his way back when he spotted Martin apparently wandering around in the rain, walking slowly, and looking at darkened houses in a suspicious manner. Zimmerman calls (while still in his car) a non emergency dispatch to report it. It wasn’t until he lost sight of Martin and the dispatcher asked him which way Martin went did Zimmerman get out of his vehicle to find out. When the dispatcher asked Zimmerman what he was doing, and Zimmerman told the dispatcher that he had gotten out of his vehicle to follow (not pursue or stalk) Martin, the dispatcher said “We don’t need you to do that”. At that point, Zimmerman turns around and starts walking back to his car. At this point, Martin, who was just about home, turned around and decided to confront Zimmerman.

    Martin initiated the confrontation. Martin sucker punched Zimmerman, knocking him to the ground, and proceeded to beat Zimmerman nearly senseless. After enduring a beating for approximately 40 seconds (if you don’t think 40 seconds isn’t a long time, bang your head against the wall for that long and see how much of an eternity it is), and fearing for his life, Zimmerman reaches for his legally licensed firearm and shot Martin once in the chest.

    Those are the facts of the case, and the prosecuting office provided not a single piece of evidence to the contrary.

    I would also like Brian to explain just how the stand your ground laws applied to this case. I would expect a seasoned law enforcement officer in a state that has it’s own stand your ground case law would know the statutes and their application, especially in such an important legal precedent. Not an explanation of “well, Zimmerman could shoot without fear of reprisal”, which is patently idiotic liberal think-speak.

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