The Case For Trayvon Martin

by Angie on March 21, 2012

in Daily Curve, Real Life

Seminole County, Florida, is not immune to racially-heated debates associated with its governmental agencies. The county Sheriff’s office has been under particularly harsh criticism as of late, and with the recent shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the county is seeing a microscope being placed over its ways of conducting itself. Just 20 miles north of downtown Orlando, Sanford is the largest incorporated city in Seminole County. Though its proximity from the progressive metropolitan of Orlando is close, its recent history is wrought with allegations of racial biases.

On the night of February 26th, 17-year-old black high school student, Trayvon Martin, walked to a nearby 7-11 from his father’s girlfriend’s townhouse located in a gated community in Sanford. On his way back, he had a bottle of iced tea in his jacket pocket and a bag of Skittles for his younger brother in his front pocket while talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone. During that walk back, Trayvon was noticed by “neighborhood watchman,” 28-year-old Hispanic man, George Zimmerman. While on the phone, Martin’s girlfriend stated that Martin told her that he was being followed, and she encouraged him to run, but Martin refused.

Zimmerman, known for his self-appointed position as head of the community’s watch, was carrying a licensed and registered gun, something that is forbidden by the official USAonWatch-Neighborhood Watch Program, of which Zimmerman was not a member. While Zimmerman was watching Martin walk home from the store holding his drink, candy, and cell phone, he called 911 as he had done over 45 times in the previous 13 months to report “a real suspicious guy” in his neighborhood.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something,” Zimmerman told the dispatcher. “It’s raining, and he’s just walking around looking about.” The man tried to explain where he was. “Now he’s coming towards me. He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male…Something’s wrong with him. Yup, he’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands. I don’t know what his deal is…These assholes, they always get away.”

After discussing his location with the dispatcher, Zimmerman exclaimed, “Shit he’s running,” and the following sounds suggest he left his vehicle to run after Martin.

“Are you following him?” the dispatcher asked. Zimmerman replied: “Yep.”

“Okay, we don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher warned.

After the dispatcher tells Zimmerman specifically not to pursue Martin, Zimmerman exits his car with his gun. What is reported to be an argument and physical altercation between the two, Zimmerman shoots Martin in the chest, killing him instantly.

A 2005 Florida state law “allows Florida residents to use deadly force against a threat without attempting to back down from the situation. (More stringent self-defense laws state that gun owners have “a duty to retreat” before resorting to killing.)” [MotherJones] This basically means that if you hold a legal handgun, you are not responsible for leaving a dangerous situation before acting, however you may discharge that gun in self-defense.

The “stand your ground” law is keeping George Zimmerman out of jail without being charged for the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman (arrested in 2005 [charges later dropped] for resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer) claims that the 17-year-old high school junior was a threat to his life, and to “stand his ground” in defending himself, he used deadly force against Martin.

Since the February 24th shooting, Sanford police have been under extreme scrutiny by community leaders that has grown into a worldwide press investigation into the incident. Through the media and online social media, Trayvon Martin’s name is known around the world as a victim at the hands of who many call a vigilante, demanding the arrest of George Zimmerman.

Thanks to Florida’s “stand your ground” defense, Zimmerman remains free as of the publishing of this article. But because of the overwhelming amount of international media coverage, social media mentions, and local protests, the US Department of Justice announced on March 20th they opened an investigation of the Seminole Sheriff’s office and their handling of Martin’s death.

UPDATE (3/22): Sanford Commission approves a “vote of no confidence” in police Chief Bill Lee. “Commissioner Mark McCarty said Lee, who was hired in May 2011, should resign from his position.” -WESH

If you’ve been watching the news or reading the facts of the incident and the subsequent outpouring of support in favor of further investigation, what is your take on the incident?

Angie Lynch is the founder and managing editor of the powerhouse women’s literary community, Smut Book Club. She is a Native Floridian without a tan, probably because she spends her days hard at work on the magical internet. For the past several years, Angie has worked way too hard at building clout as an influencer in food and margaritas as well as being a source for laughable pop culture commentary. You can read more from Angie on her blog, A Whole Lot of Nothing.

sources: Reuters, MotherJones, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald  photo: Associated Press

rachel March 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

It is so horrifying. Treyvon was killed for WWB (Walking While Black). Mr. Zimmerman sounds like he is just overly paranoid in his “self-appointed” position. So so sad.

Jennifer March 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I have been reading about it, well, I’ve been reading about it a little bit. When I start to try to find out more I just get sick to my stomach and really, really sad and have to back away.

I think that Zimmerman should be charged for a hate crime. I’m sure the investigators would not have to dig very far to find proof that his actions were racially motivated. Also, I think the local police/sheriff’s office should be investigated for dropping the ball and reasons behind why they did that.

Fanny March 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I read this yesterday. It’s a poignant read… It also reflects a lot of the issues that still plague colored people in North America…
http://www.urbancusp.com/newspost/the-bullet-next-time-an-open-letter-to-my-unborn-black-son/

Fanny March 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Ok, so I just want to point out that I really had no idea the C word I used was derogatory in ANY way! I really hope i did not offend any one, as I just wanted to refer to “all people who do not describe themselves as ‘white’…” (quote taken from Wikipedia)

Being of a very mixed heritage and living in the caribbean, the terms vary from country to country… and english is my third language… I’m very sorry! :)

Angie March 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Thanks for clarifying, Fanny. We don’t want you to change who you are, but we want to make sure you’re clear on your intentions.

Neeroc March 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Thank you for posting this! This has been bothering me since I first heard about it, and I cannot believe (I’m not a lawyer nor do I live in a country with laws anywhere near this so it’s really all very strange to me) that ‘stand your ground’ would apply when you actively chase the person down. I’d see how he might have a case if Trayvon had approached him…maybe. But to ignore clear instructions not to follow someone, then follow them, get in an altercation, and be able to kill them? Seems sort of convenient.

And I can’t imagine, even leaving race out of it, that if a 17-year old boy had gunned down the neighbourhood watch ‘captain’ he’d be given the same benefit of the doubt.

Rachel March 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I am a lawyer, and though I am not familiar with the doctrine (we have different laws here regarding deadly force), I agree that it should not apply in a case where you are, in fact, the aggressor. A 17 year old was running from an older man who was acting suspiciously. Zimmerman was the pursuer. He was the aggressor. Even after the 911 operator told him to desist.

I’m probably going to open up a huge can of worms with this one, but this is EXACTLY why I’m in favor of stricter gun control laws. It is too easy in this country for people to obtain a permit to carry a gun. It’s pretty obvious that Zimmerman likes power. He likes the power he gets from his self-appointed neighborhood watch role. He likes the power he gets from carrying a gun. He shouldn’t be allowed to carry a gun.

SMB March 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I have a hard time with this. This is a he said/he said thing, and without Trayvon’s voice the only side they have is Zimmerman’s. I’m not sure you could find him guilty on a beyond reasonable doubt case.

This is how the anti-gun groups make their case. If you have a law that allows you to shoot in ‘self defense’, then when one person shoots another, the event may not be prosecutable.

However, I do think he should be tried under some sort of vigilante rule. There’s careful, and then there’s calling the cops 45 times in the last year

Ashley March 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I’d assume a jury could find him guilty the way any jury finds a murderer guilty – the victim is never there to tell their side of the story, right?

SMB March 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm

But with a most murders there is evidence. Even in the ones where they don’t have a body, there is still usually enough evidence to be beyond reasonable doubt. With this case you have nothing. You have an account by a friend on his cell phone, which we can’t verify what the conversation was about, and his word. Even with the cell phone witness, it’s still a he/he/she said thing. Hard to prove. Not impossible, but hard.

Kristie March 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Trayvon doesn’t get to tell his side of the story. Just this asshole who elected to kill a child. And now the guy gets to run around and do it again, because he’s “protecting the community.” Awesome, America.

Boot~C March 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I find it hard to believe the stand your ground law was meant for it to be so easy to kill. all you have to do is say you were threatened & there is no investigation? I keep hearing how because of this law it is doubtful, if not unlikely that he can be charged, once ‘syg’ is invoked no other recourse will be followed? the fact that carrying a weapon is frowned upon by watch groups & he was told to not follow the person he was calling about makes the ‘syg’ defense very suspicious to me. this is not a case of he said/he said but a case of he said/he’s dead

Erin @ Miss Lifesaver March 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm

It makes me so angry that the assumption was a black teenager must not be “one of us” in this gated community and is, therefore, a “suspicious person.” My neighborhood has a group page on Facebook where I’ve challenged similar thinking when it comes to groups of black teens “loitering” in the neighborhood (several of whom, by the way, live here). Would there be such concern over white kids hanging out in the gazebo? I don’t think so.

Here’s a great post on this topic:
http://globalgrind.com/news/michael-skolnik-trayvon-martin-george-zimmerman-race-sanford-florida-photos-pictures

Ashley March 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Zimmerman committed murder, in my opinion, and should be tried.

I’d be blogging about this but my blog is out of commission at the moment. Instead, I’ve been tweeting & posting on FB. I’ve been met with mixed responses – some agree we need to talk about this more, some feel I am targeting & attacking them.

I think we need to talk about racism in general and specifically way more. It is the elephant in the room & we need to stop pretending it’s not there.

Crystal March 24, 2012 at 7:11 am

I honestly think this lunatic Zimmerman would have shot and killed any kid carrying Arizona tea and a bag of Skittles because he felt “threatened.” I really don’t want to think it had anything to do with the fact that Trayvon was black. What pisses me off is the way they are just writing off the witnesses like they are full of crap. One lady specifically said she heard Trayvon screaming for help and that the screaming stopped after the gunshot. This Zimmerman asshole claims he was the one screaming, and people are buying it!

There has to be SOME WAY to put this psycho in jail. Also, they better make sure he is never allowed on “watch duty” again, he should move out of that neighborhood, never be allowed to own a gun again, and of course, be arrested for murder.

I’m soooooo angry about this case. SO angry!

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