The shooting death of a black teenager in Florida brings forth the issues of black people being suspect for just being black or racial profiling, stand your ground gun laws that give citizens wider leeway is shooting people and race relations in general, but it seems to me one of the more pressing issues is self-appointed, armed citizen cops.
The only people who really know or knew what happened in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida are him (but he is dead) and George Zimmerman, the shooter.
There is a lot of conjecture, much based on racial prejudice and animosity on both sides.
And on the web you can find character assassinations (based on truth or not) on both characters.
The victim was a black teenager and the shooter is described as being of Peruvian and white descent, 29 years or so old.
The truth likely is that there was blame on both sides, although since Martin was reportedly unarmed, the weight falls heavily on Zimmerman. Zimmerman claims he was attacked and was acting in self defense. But some of what has come out so far makes it appear that it was not as simple as that or at least complicated by the fact he may (or not) have provoked the attack.
But what bothers me in all of this is that besides the worst thing, a teenager is shot to death walking down a street, is the idea of vigilantism — a Neighborhood Watch commander, as Zimmerman is described as being, carrying a gun and going after someone. While he claims he was attacked, I believe it has also been established that he took it upon himself to follow young Martin and bug him about what he was doing at night in the neighborhood.
Excuse me. I think Neighborhood Watch people are just supposed to observe and report things to the authorities. In fact, I heard part of a 911 tape and the person representing authority on the other end was telling Zimmerman to stay put and not follow. Zimmerman complained that “they always get away…” and did not follow that instruction.
Supposedly Young Martin was doing nothing more than carrying back snacks from a store to where he was staying. Zimmerman claimed the young man was poking around the area, which in and of itself, depending on what he meant, is not illegal (unless you’re trespassing, I guess), but at night is not a good thing to do — you might get bit by someone’s dog at the least or killed at the most (even if shooting you is not legal).
I won’t even go into the subject of a hoodie, the garment that Martin was wearing, and which some contend led Zimmerman to rightly surmise the young man was up to no good because some so-called “ganstas” wear them, except to say I wear a kind of light sweat jacket with a hood in my work (a kind of hoodie, I guess). Oh, and I am white and I am not a gangsta.
Okay, I will say something more on that. If you dress like a bad guy (or gal) you might be taken for one. But that has nothing to do with whether Zimmerman or anyone else in his position should have shot someone. Again, what bothers me is regular citizens acting like the police or for that matter self-appointed militias. I’m no more afraid of bad guys or big government than I am of so-called citizens committees (or I guess Neighborhood Watch in the Zimmerman manner) or militias.
As far as the Stand Your Ground doctrine that allows citizens to use deadly force in some jurisdictions, to include Florida, and in some situations, I think the burden has to weigh somewhat heavier on the shooter and should only hold in clear self-defense situations, if not we have a shooting free for all with a lot of innocent victims.
But in cases where there is an intruder into or onto someone’s private domain (to include inside and outside) and such person can show that he or she logically feared for his or her life, I think that should be seriously considered in exonerating the shooter — but of course that has nothing to do with the Trayvon Martin case.