The Trayvon Martin Tidal Wave

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Trayvon Martin Tidal Wave

If the name "Trayvon Martin" doesn't resonate with you, the you've probably been too caught up with "March Mad­ness," "Timsanity" or Westhampton Free Library's move to usurp the prerogatives of the Village.

It also means that President Obama's statement, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," either escaped your atten­tion, or failed to pique your curiosity.

Trayvon Martin and his kid brother

It's a terrible story: a 17-year-old black in the Orlando suburb of Sanford, Florida, was on his way back to his father's home from a 7-Eleven where he had pur­chased a bag of Skittles for his younger brother and a can of Arizona iced tea for himself.

George Zimmerman 2005 mugshot

A 28-year-old of mixed Hispanic heritage, George Zimmerman, acting as a volunteer for the homeowner's association of the gated Twin Lakes community, observed Martin and began following him.

Shortly thereafter, young Martin was dead of a single gunshot to his chest, delivered by Zimmerman.

Martin had been unarmed. Zimmerman was not, being legally in possession of a pistol.

This being 2012, Martin and Zimmerman were both using cell' 'phones at the time of the incident, Martin with his girlfriend and Zimmerman with a police 911 operator.

Authorities have audio recordings from each man's mobile device at the time of shooting.

Martin's body was taken to the morgue with a "John Doe" tag attached to his toe.

Zimmerman, invoking Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law1, stated that he had "acted in self-defense," and was not charged.

The event occured around 7:00 pm on Sunday, February 26th, and what to responding police had seemed a relatively simply matter, began to build and surge, aided by talk radio, the Internet and, of course, the Reverend Al Sharpton2.

What is known at this point is this:

  • Trayvon Martin had no criminal record.
  • George Zimmerman had a 2005 charge of Battery on a Police Officer while interfering with the arrest of a friend, but entered a pretrial diversion program by which he avoided a conviction on his criminal record3.

    Zimmerman had previously been accused of domestic violence4 by an ex-girlfriend, who had filed for a restraining order against him.
  • The Sanford Police did a dreadfully unprofessional job of investigating the circumstances of Trayvon Martin's homicide, because of the increasing num­ber of unanswered questions.
  • Police Chief Bill Lee, following a 3-2 vote of "No Confidence" by the Sanford City Council, stepped down... temporarily.

    Following the shooting, when asked why no arrest had been made by responding police, Chief Lee had incorrectly stated that his officers had been pre­cluded by Florida law from making such an arrest.

By the end of this week, this was a common headline:

Outrage over Trayvon Martin shooting spreads

(The story has also gone international, courtesy of Reuters: "America's Wild West gun laws.")

In short, there is a media feeding frenzy, and in case anyone's wondering which way the media is going on this, consider the photos displayed... those seen above.

[Continued... with the other photos.]

  1. §776.012, Justifiable Use of Force reads in part: "a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another...."
  2. Where, O Lord, would any racially sensitively high profile incident be without "Reverend Al" arriving to make it even higher?
  3. Such a conviction would have made Zimmerman a "Prohibited Person," and unable to possess a firearm.
  4. This is potentially the more serious of Zimmerman's brushes with the law. Under Title 18, USC, §922(g)(9), the Lautenberg Amendment, individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence is prohibited from possessing a firearm. This includes police officers and military personnel.


1. Mattie said...

The police officer who was on the phone with Zimmerman told him not to use his gun and he shot him anyway. Additionally, neighborhood watch people are not supposed to carry guns.

  1. I don't know that the 911 dispatcher was a "police officer," but what is clear from those recordings is that Zimmerman was instructed to not engage with the person later identified as Martin.
  2. The "neighborhood watch" is an ad noc group of volunteers, and their position on their members being armed is unclear.

2. Jeanne Speir said...

You're right, Dean, a previous charge of battery and a restraining order should have rendered Zimmerman ineligible to carry a firearm, even in Florida. This is an awful occurrence.

May truth and justice and the rule of law prevail.

Well, that's going to be increasingly difficult now... the media is now flogging this to the point that there's a burgeoning lynch mob calling for Zimmerman's head on a pike, and mob mentality is never a good thing!

3. Champ19 said...

Hopefully the attention to this sad and tragic event will lead to a much more thorough investigation into exactly what happened. The Sanford PD appearing woefully inept at this point apparently dismissing any sort of investigation out of hand, if what we are reading is true.

One has to wonder what the actions of the PD would have been had the shooter been black and the unarmed civilian been white.

Everytime some nut with a firearm goes "postal" it threatens my right to keep and bear arms. The gun lobby will hopefully add voice to concerns and objections that these incidents are a greater threat to firearm ownership than the usual "gun control" drivel that drives their membership.

We are very much of a like mind on this... the fact is that the Martin shooting has absolutely nothing to do with with Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" legislation, but it's a popular "sound byte" with the media.

And when the phrase "gun lobby" is used, everyone thinks "NRA," of which organization I am a long-disgruntled 25-year Life Member. They need to stay out of this other than to reinforce what former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has just asserted: "This law does not apply to this particular circumstance."

Interestingly, even Zimmerman's attorney, Craig Sonner, agrees.

4. Rich W. said...

Just some observations to ponder. Media reported this event in a manner to achieve the desired result. Examples:

  1. Zimmerman whose father is Caucasian and mother Peruvian is described as "white." Zimmermans photo clearly displays his Hispanic heritage. After all the storyline is more enticing when its a "white man" who is the bad guy.
  2. Martin who was 17 and 6'-2" is presented as a "child." Every photo of him presented for public display is of a 12-13 year old boy.
  3. Zimmerman had a bloody nose, was bleeding from the back of his head and had wet grass stains on the back of his shirt.
There's more to this story than has been carefully presented to the public by media sources. Perhaps Zimmerman was an overzealous wannabe but the "one saint, one sinner" storyline being force fed to us stinks.
  1. Of course they do... if they don't have a story to flog, they'll create one. Just listen to the off-camera female voice trying to lead the very patient attorney during that six-plus minute interview.
  2. Yes, the fact that the relative sizes of the two actors has not been reported, makes me suspicious.
  3. That element has yet to be explained, though a report has just surfaced of a witness previously unheard from.
Lemme know where you got Martin's height from... couldn't find that anywhere.

5. Seeker said...

I listened to this story over and over on the radio all weekend and not once did I hear Zimmerman reported as anything but Hispanic. I also read on-line yesterday that it was not Zimmerman, but Martin who had a bloody nose and was bleeding from the back of the head according to eyewitnesses.

There could be nothing more dispositive of the fact that you need to seriously consider a change of "news sources."

I'm serious! I don't know what you listen to (though I suspect it's NPR), but it's clearly one with an agenda and "truth" be damned!

Or, you mis-heard. Your choice.

6. Charlie Clifton said...

I didn't know whether to pour a shot of Havana Club for Elegguá the trickster or run around screaming, "Conflict of interest!!!" when I learned that the co-sponsor of Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law" was none other than state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, whose real profession is undertaker.


I've always know you're a little weird around the edges, cuz, but that's on the far side of cynical even for you!

But haven't you figured out by now that the "Stand Your Ground Law" law has nothing to do with the Martin-Zimmerman event.

Either Zimmerman was attacked and fired in fear for his life and safety, or he was in all respects the aggressor, and needs to stand trial for homicide.

All the rest is speculative B.S., and in service to someone's agenda that has nothing to do with either Zimmerman or Martin.

O, and Baxley wasn't "the co-sponsor" of that legislation, he was a co-sponsor.

7. Charlie Clinton said...

[eyes roll toward ceiling]

I think your third sentence indicates why your second sentence is erroneous.

You acknowledge the possibility that Zimmerman was the aggressor.

The Sanford authorities cited the "Stand Your Ground Law" as the reason for not charging Zimmerman, hence ending the investigation.

The lack of investigation surrounding Martin's death, eliminating any possibility of trial for the killing, is the reason the incident became so inflammatory.
Please provide a citation for your assertion that "the 'Stand Your Ground Law' [was] the reason for not charging Zimmerman."

"Self-defense" was an affirmative defense in Florida long before §776.012 was enacted.

You seem to be of the opinion that Zimmerman's use of Deadly Physical Force was not justified in his encounter with Martin, yet you have nothing substantitive on which to base that opinion.

There will be a trial, whether a Criminal one under Florida statutes, or a Federal one under some form of "deprivation of Civil Rights" act. How 'bout everyone skip the tabloid stuff, ignore Nancy Grace and Sean Hannity, run Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson out of Florida, and wait for the process to complete itself.

8. Charlie Clifton said...

Citation for my assertion of the reason not to charge Zimmerman is the three page written statement issued by the City of Sanford through City Manager Norton Bonaparte on March 23, 2012.

You make an assumption (that which I "seem to be of the opinion") which is speculative and then proceed to argue that I have not substantiated an opinion which I did not opine.

But let's avoid the red herrings and return to the crux of the discussion and that which I did opine.

Perhaps your citation of Florida §776.012 is an indication of why, "What we got here, Luke, is a failure to communicate."

The egregious part of the "Stand Your Ground" law is not §776.012. It is §776.032.

The latter not only gives law enforcement wide latitude in deciding whether or not to pursue investigation and charges in the event of a fatal shooting; it actually discourages that course if an argument of self-defense has been made.

I agree with your suggestion to allow "the process to complete itself."

My point is that without the outcry on the part of Martin's parents and the subsequent outside scrutiny, there would have been no process. Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger had effectively ended the investigation.

If you had spent the last 24 years in Florida and had the occasion to make numerous visits to Sanford, you would understand that the area has more in common with Alabama than it does with coastal Florida. Law enforcement officials in that area are more like Bull Connor than Conrad Teller.

To give these law enforcement officials the discretion imparted by §776.032 is to return to the southern justice of 1962.

But regardless of the propensities of particular law enforcement agencies, all fatal shootings merit a thorough investigation.

Well done, cuz!

But please note that §776.032, Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force, refers directly back to §776.012, Use of force in defense of person, and §776.013, use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm, as predicates.

All this may be academic at this point... Zimmerman, after following his legal team's counsel for the past seven weeks, forget the first Law of a Potential Defendent, succinctly encapsulated by your late sister-in-law: "Shut the front door!"

His legal team has resigned, and he's going it alone... and Florida special prosecutor Angela B. Corey is holding a press conference this evening, and I suspect that she smells "white Hispanic" blood in the water.

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