Friday, July 19, 2013


Did anybody here actually look at the evidence in the case?  GZ had authority to watch and report. That's what neighborhood watch does. He was celebrated for reporting past activity, which resulted in arrests.  Hence, he carried a gun.  He saw a person he didn't know and watched, deemed him suspicious, and called the cops.  He followed, though the dispatcher told him, "we don't need you to do that."  He didn't describe the person he was following until asked by the dispatcher.  GZ described being attacked, hurt, yelling for help, and feeling he had no choice but to fire his weapon, only after having his head slammed into the pavement several times.  He called and reported the incident.  He was interrogated, given polygraphs, and released, based on a lack of evidence that he broke any laws.  
Then the media, selling papers and internet views, cherry picked text and photos in a way that portrayed the incident as a race based murder of a profiled innocent child by a white wannabe cop, and people hungering for just such a story jumped on the bandwagon, screaming for justice and the end of oppression.  All the usual race baiters and reactionaries (both sides) weighed in. Sadly, even the president interjected.  Unfortunately, that is as far as many of the most vocal pursued the truth, which was slowly released over the next year and through the trial.  It was a month before we heard of GZ's injuries.  More recent photos of TM were released.  GZ and TM both had past run-ins with authorities, and TM's suspensions from school for theft, drug residue, and violence came to light.  His website pics holding a gun and describing fights were published.  TM's girlfriend described their conversation as containing the only racist term of the incident.  GZ was portrayed as a "wannabe" white cop, which was true in that he did wish to follow that career path, and is as anglo, DNA-wise, as president Obama.  TM was portayed in some circles as an innocent, and others as a wannabe thug.  We'll never know how that would have played out.  
Based on public outcry, GZ was charged, and tried by an appointed special prosecutor.  The jury found what the investigating police did, that there was insufficient evidence to convict, even of manslaughter.  
What did I miss?  That GZ's wife lied about the amount of money in their defense fund? That TM was wearing a hoodie? That on a rainy night, ear witnesses couldn't identify who was yelling, or who was beating who? That forensic evidence and time lines supported nearly every facet of GZ's version of the story?  
I feel badly for the prosecutor who was tasked to stir enough emotion to overcome actual evidence for a conviction, though I thought he did a credible job, while crossing some ethical lines for which he should be accountable.  
Now we're seeing the tweets that threaten Zimmerman's life.  We're seeing celebrity athletes suggest the jury kill themselves.  We're seeing the hate groups and the anti-hate groups ramping all their passion into media events sure to sell like tabloids at Wal-Mart. But the reaction I was most interested in was a website that photo-shopped different colored skin onto the faces of GZ and TM, asking how things would be different.  Now it's my turn to speculate. I believe if Trayvon were white or hispanic, we'd never have heard of this case.  I can't know Zimmerman's mind, but I doubt he would have hesitated reporting a white or hispanic figure the same way he did Trayvon, and I suspect out of fear he'd have shot anybody pummeling him, no matter their race.  I can't see into Trayvon's soul either, and I wonder if he'd have responded differently to a black person following him, instead of a "creepy ass cracker." (his term)  Might he have responded with words, rather than fists? 
One more point.  I keep hearing that Trayvon did nothing wrong to deserve being followed.  The next time you are in your favorite department store, see if you can spot the security guy. They profile, and follow.  You are followed, on cameras everywhere, at your ATM, on-line by marketers and the NSA, by police in patrol cars, and by just plain nosy normal citizens.  It peeves me, too.  But as much as I dislike being watched, I can't punch the guy at Wal Mart.  It's wrong, illegal, and he might be packing. 

I feel badly for the police chief who lost his job for mishandling the case.  Did he?
I feel badly for GZ.  He was not being paid for taking on the liability he did.  He made decisions that put him in a position of risk, and is paying the price.  He will always be looking over his shoulder, because hate knows no melanin level.
I feel badly for Travon, because his own bad decision killed him.  Most of us make immature decisions when we're seventeen, and most of us get the chance to recover from them.  
I feel badly for people of race in America, because the facts and feelings of opression are still so strong that solidarity trumps truth.  Don't get me wrong; there's no denying prejudice exists, profiling is common, economic opportunity is still unbalanced.  But I wonder if personal accountability and community support are more important than divisive rallies and threats of violence. What worked in the past may not be as effective in what most see as a better, if not perfect, world.  I'm still looking for the leader, black or otherwise, who has the wisdom and charisma not to have to pander to any block vote, extreme PAC, or corporation.  
I feel badly for our system of justice, badly damaged by the OJ trial.  After all this time, folks still roll their eyes at any verdict that involves race and press.  Media trials are expensive, divisive, and patently unfair.  The acquitted can be subjected to double jeopardy civil action. Judges and juries can be manipulated by the press.  Public opinion trumps valid jurisprudence.  "Winning" trumps justice. 
I feel badly that people expect a payoff after every incident.  Trayvon's parents lost their child, and no amount of dollars can bring him back.  The homeowner's association "settled" for over a million dollars, probably weighing the cost against litigation.  It could be argued, now that more facts have surfaced, that a troubled teenager was brought into the community, who attacked a legitimate neighborhood representative, resulting in his own death and the devalution of GZ's life and neighborhood properties.  I'm not advocating the parents and girlfriend are liable or guilty of anything, but enriching them sends the wrong message, in my opinion.  It would be different if the HOA were to reach out, offering support with funeral expenses, meeting places, meals, etc. as a gesture of community support for one of their own.  To those who would suggest I'm blaming the victim, I'd offer that there are multiple victims here, and dying in the act of making poor decisions, possibly criminal ones, should not qualify you or your family for a payday.  Settlements like the one paid to Trayvon's parents create more victims, whether the check is written by the HOA, an insurance company, or the government.  We all pay, and perhaps we need to better understand that, no matter the size of the pooled fund, the cost is real, and affects each of us more than we know.  
I feel badly that so many are so willing to act based on what they "feel" must have happened that resulted in the death of Trayvon, instead of what the jury saw and felt they could act upon.  It's true Trayvon is unable to tell his side of the story.  It's also true that the police and the prosecution could not disprove the version told by GZ and the other evidence. That so much emphasis was placed on the street sign and arm placement inconsistencies tells me that actual incriminating evidence did not exist.  The special prosecutor assigned to the case told the real story; "It was our job to make sure that George Zimmerman got his day in court. We did that."  

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