Early afternoon on March 29th, I read on Facebook “There is finally justice for Trayvon Martin” alleging that the 17-year old’s murderer had been finally arrested over a month after his brutal hunt & subsequent senseless racially-motivated killing.
Alas, after a thorough internet search and connecting with some key sources down at a Florida state police department , I regret to inform that unfortunately, this is not the case. The fact of the matter is, the Trayvon Martin murder – for let’s call it what it is, a murder – is much more intricate than “just another black kid who got shot”. This travesty has garnered world-wide attention in a matter of days from when the story first leaked and from when the parents of the boy murdered decided to start a petition on Change.org. Then the fabulousness of social media and outraged citizens did the rest – and rightly so. However, true justice in this case, has yet to be served.
Amoung all the rumours, the outrage, and the allegations, the lines between fact and hearsay can become blurred. As a matter of fact, as soon as you type in his name beginning with “T-R-A-Y-V…” into the Google search engine, this is what comes up: About 1,260,000,000 results (in 0.12 seconds). As such, it can be difficult to discern fact from opinion. But just in case you are one of the few individuals who hasn’t been following the story, or just can’t get a clear grasp of the outrageous and enraging absurdity of it all, let us give you the 411 with this case, starting with the call to 911.
On February 26th, (yes we know, its been over a month ago, yet still no arrest…) 2012, a 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida. This was not just a “regular” shooting that you hear about on the news or a report about drugs, gang violence, or a police raid gone wrong in a rough neighbourhood. The majority of us may have just become desensitized to such type of news stories. This on the other hand, was a shooting involving a 17-year old high school boy visiting his dad, carrying a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles, walking through a safe, gated community in Florida, where mostly retirees live. How could this happen, you may ask?
George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white man, and a self-appointed “neighbourhood watchman”, who had a history of criminal/mental behavioural issues, prior criminal charges and a motive. Not a motive against Trayvon, let’s be clear. But a motive against any man who happens to be black. The real person who needed to be watched here, was Zimmerman. According to neighbors, Zimmerman was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.” [Source: Miami Herald].
THE EVENT IN QUESTION:
It started off with Zimmerman in his car, watching Martin walk down the street with that can of iced tea we mentioned earlier, and that bag of Skittles. To Zimmerman, Trayvon looked suspicious. After all, he was wearing a black hoodie, jeans and sneakers. (I wore that the other day to the laundry but hey, I digress). Zimmerman saw the boy walking down the street and immediately called the police stating: “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good…on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about… these a**holes always get away”.
Question: By what exactly did Zimmerman mean by “these a**holes always get away”? Young boys in hoodies carrying Arizona cans and Skittles packets? Or young black men being in a neighbourhood he shouldn’t be in?
As the 911 tapes are now available publicly through a simple Google search, you can hear the 911 dispatcher explicitly telling Zimmerman not to pursue Trayvon. However, Zimmerman was not in the mood to follow instructions that day. When Trayvon noticed Zimmerman stalking him in his car, he called his girlfriend on his cell and told her he was being followed. It was at that time, Trayvon Martin put his hood on and starting walking faster to his father’s house in an attempt to lose Zimmerman.
This is the moment Zimmerman ignores urgent pleas from the 911 dispatcher, gets out of his car carrying a 9mm handgun, and starts chasing Trayvon on foot. This led to Zimmerman shooting Trayvon, point blank, while the teenager pleaded for his life.
Jasiri X sums up the incident in this video:
Isn’t it obvious? More of a calamity than a controversy, is the fact that Zimmerman pursued, shot and killed an unarmed innocent teenager who just went to get a bag of Skittles for his little brother. Zimmerman was never questioned, arrested, charged or tried. But this is NOT the only controversy in this story. The issue of a complete failure of the application of an out-dated, unclear, abhorrently scapegoated Florida statute known as the “stand your ground” law isn’t the only controversy here. The fact that this incident is a blatant example of a real failure of the American justice system isn’t the only controversy either. The fact that proper procedure and protocol was not followed by the Sanford police department in this case, unfortunately, isn’t the only controversy.
From all the news reports, coverage, world-wide attention sparking deeper analysis, and thorough investigation into this incident by everyone else BUT the Sanford police department it would seem, evidence of what went down that day and how this case was handled is all available with just a click of a button. But just for recapping’s sake, here is a list of what is controversial in this case.
1. Zimmerman WASN’T questioned at the scene.
2. A written statement and interview WASN’T conducted at the scene by the attending officers or at the station shortly after the murder.
3. Witnesses offering their testimony about the crime WEREN’T contacted. They WEREN’T called back after numerous attempts to get ahold of officers to offer their accounts of the murder. The witnesses WEREN’T taken seriously and in fact, their accounts of Trayvon shouting for help before the boy was killed were “corrected” to one that would match Zimmerman’s story more closely. Police also took Trayvon’s cell phone but DIDN’T contact the girlfriend who he was speaking with and heard the incident take place over the phone when Zimmerman took chase. Here is video of a key witness to Trayvon’s murder.
4. Zimmerman WASN’T tested for drugs and alcohol by police at any point.
5. Zimmerman WASN’T arrested, charged, held, nor tried for the pursuit and murder of Trayvon Martin.
But, let’s not just list what didn’t happen. Here’s a quick recap of how things DID go down with this case. Unfortunately, this list isn’t much better in terms of justice being served.
1. The lead investigator in the case, Chris Serino, stated he was “unconvinced about Zimmerman’s version of events.” But Serino’s recommendation for a manslaughter charge was overruled by state attorney Norman Wolfinger. [ABC News]. Also, Zimmerman’s parents are retired Supreme Court Magistrate Judge Robert J Zimmerman (father), and Gladys Zimmerman (mother), a court clerk.
2. Police surveillance video, taken the night that Zimmerman murdered Trayvon, shows no blood or bruises on Zimmerman. This is contrary to his allegations that he was only acting in self-defence because Trayvon “attacked him from behind”, “punched him in the nose and repeatedly slammed his head into the sidewalk”. Zimmerman DOES HAVE however, three closed arrests: One on 7/18/05 for resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer, Division 10; one on 8/9/05 for domestic violence, Division 44, and one on 8/10/05 domestic violence, Division 46.
3. Police DID amend the initial police report regarding this incident in order to support Zimmerman’s self-defence claims. Also, prior to the Trayvon Martin murder, the officer attending the scene also DID fail to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man back in 2010. [New York Times].
4. 17-year old Trayvon Martin was tested for drugs, and reports of the teen being suspended from school as a result of being found in possession of marijuana in an unrelated school incident was released, after the travesty of Trayvon’s murderer not being arrested went viral. As if Trayvon’s school suspension had any relevance at all! (Watch the very moving, poignant video of Rev. Al Sharpton addressing this issue below and try not to get as enraged as I did when I first saw it.)
5. Zimmerman IS still a free man. He has yet to be arrested or charged with the death of Trayvon Martin. And yes, Zimmerman STILL has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the State of Florida.
The first of many problems with this case, is that Zimmerman is still a free man, even after an entire month has crept by since Zimmerman hunted, shot and killed the boy we now all feel is a part of us. But perhaps the bigger problem isn’t just that of this crazed maniac. It’s the fact due diligence was not taken. Proper procedure and protocol were not followed by the police attending and investigating this matter. Written statements were not recorded. Video interviews were not conducted. Witness statements weren’t documented and there was no follow up. Documents were altered. Recommendations (for manslaughter charges) were overruled. The assailant was not given drug or alcohol testing prior to release. Zimmerman’s permit to carry a concealed weapon was not stricken nor revoked considering his criminal history. Furthermore, the fact that his criminal history wasn’t taken into consideration for a charge to even have been laid following a shooting death by his hand, boggles my mind!
The biggest implications; the most serious of calamities; the most monumental problems resulting from this tragedy, are the legal implications in how this case was dealt with. It directly affects each and every one of us. The biggest problem here, is not just that Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon and hasn’t been arrested or charged for it, but that he was allowed to twist a law designed to protect an individual from an aggressor, as a defence for his blatant disregard for human life. The Sanford police department supported him and failed to follow proper procedures and protocol. They have not arrested Zimmerman based on an extremely foul and demented application of the “stand your ground” statute. But the biggest and perhaps most frightening problem of Trayvon’s murder, is that it sets a dangerous precedent for murderers, psychopaths, sociopaths alike. It’s tells these individuals that they can hunt, shoot and KILL ANYBODY – even you or I – for ANY REASON and not be arrested. Not be charged. And NOT be held accountable for their actions. Zimmerman certainly wasn’t. More than a month after the murder of Trayvon Martin, an arrest or charge has yet to be made.
Even, after the story of Trayvon’s murder has gone viral; after all of the marches, all of the protests and demonstrations of public support from people everywhere, George Zimmerman has yet to be charged and arrested.
We live in an age where peaceful protesters in Toronto can be arrested during the G20 summit, or a crazy chick throwing a bag of flour on Kim Kardashian can be arrested, but a crazed gunman with a criminal history can murder someone and walk free. It’s hurtful in every way. Blatant disregard for humanity, respect and mostly justice has occurred here. The way this case is being handled shows that it’s okay to shoot someone – as long as he’s a little black kid.
If Zimmerman is not held liable for his actions, we will see the legal implications in the future. We might as well throw civilized society out the window. We might as well have anarchy or take up arms. Because if Zimmerman is not arrested, this case WILL set a dangerous precedent, and none of us will be safe. From anyone.