Two Wrongs Won’t Make This Right

March 26th, 2012 by Tim Leave a reply »

Trayvon_Martin

Trayvon Martin - 17-yr old shooting victim

The news channels, the newspapers, and the Interwebs remain abuzz over the tragic Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.  An online meme of pictures of people in hoodies has taken hold as a collective call for justice.  And a current CNN poll finds that 73% of Americans are calling for the arrest of Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman.

Based on the publicly known elements of the case I personally think Zimmerman was carrying out some sort of misguided, and maybe racially motivated, vigilante justice.

I’m personally horrified that laws exist that allow a person to use deadly force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. It seems that’s just begging for situations like this to happen.

And I find it unbelievable that a 250 pound 28-year old man driving an SUV and armed with a semiautomatic pistol felt threatened by a 17-year old pedestrian who weighed all of 140 and was armed only with Skittles.  There’s no indication he was a trained ninja or the apprentice of a Sith Lord.  So what reasonable threat could Martin have posed?

Further, it’s not at all clear the Sanford Police have handled the case well, or even within established guidelines, and the investigation and intervention by higher legal authorities seems absolutely warranted.

Yet I’m also very aware that these are my opinions based on a very possibly slanted news cycle, and based on absolutely no legal expertise with how the Stand-your-ground law in Florida is adjudicated.  I completely get why everyone is up in arms about this.  I very much want due process and justice to occur here.

But I also want to be very careful that we don’t create a vigilante mob of public opinion to go after a man because he himself was a vigilante.  Those two wrongs will not add up to a right.  Zimmerman should be arrested and subsequently tried based on the merits of the case and the law of the state.  He should not be arrested because a CNN poll says it’s the will of the people.

We also need to be ready and aware that the result of all this could be a repeat of the Casey Anthony verdict.  Justice may be served, and yet not serve up the verdict the public wants.  It may well be that the Florida law, however misguided, allows for exactly what happened.  If that turns out to be true, I would hope for and support the repeal or modification of that law.  But that wouldn’t make Zimmerman guilty after the fact.

In the end, we are a country of laws. The implications of that are not always what feels right. I remain hopeful this is not one of those cases.

9 comments

  1. Yes, absolutely. However, it’s incumbent on citizens to keep this alive and to fight for justice for an unarmed 17 year old boy. Those are facts. If it wasn’t for the court of public opinion, betcha I wouldn’t be able to vote.

  2. The real shame is the shooter hasn’t even been arrested!

  3. I agree the citizen movement is important. It’s gotten a lot of the scrutiny on the PD, and may ultimately get the law changed. All good stuff. But more and more groups seem to be calling for Zimmerman’s head, and I think that’s premature and dangerous.

  4. Kimborlea Jester (via Facebook) says:

    Yes, but in the mean time, there are many Florida politicians, even ex-gov Jeb Bush, that indicates the law doesn’t apply. That in itself should at least get him arrested and that’s what has outraged people even more, that he hasn’t been. If he ever is, he likely will get off just because of the law but hopefully that will get it tossed out… another victory. Nothing will bring him back and a hoodie and reaching in his pocket does not make him a threat. And a gun shot when he was retreating (if they are the real facts) does not make it self defense. They needed to do much more investigating and the fact that they didn’t is playing into the “black man in a hoodie” stereotype that is shameful. I recall when I was younger, Police coming to do the door for my brother because he was spotted walking wearing jeans, a green parka and had longer dark brown hair, and that’s what they were looking for. Every kid in town fit that description at the time, but they saw one walking and it must have been him. Fine to question that, but Trayvon will never be able to field those questions now. Even if he beat the guy up, the other guy had a gun and he couldn’t have been that threatened by this little kid when he himself was twice the size, carrying a gun and obviously wanting to chase this kid down. You are right that someone going after him isn’t going to make it right, but it will come to that if real justice isn’t even being considered. If something happens to they killer of Trayvon, someone will be guilty of it personally, but the Sanford Police Department can claim blood on their hands as well for how they handled it all.

  5. Kimborlea Jester (via Facebook) says:

    P.S… Personally, I’m loving all the solidarity hoodie pictures. Even as much as I hate the Miami Heat, the full team picture they did was awesome!

  6. Karen Livebetter (via Facebook) says:

    Tim, I agree completely. We (citizens) are seeking justice; and it works both ways; I believe we want a proper investigation, and with what information we have received, an arrest then trial if warranted. Furthermore, you are correct, if all these things take place in the days and months ahead and a verdict proclaims Zimmerman is not guilty of charges brought against him, then citizens must embark on changing the law–peacefully and as law abiding citizens. I am proud of the citizens of our community- demonstrating peacefully on the behalf of a youngman, who’s last hours of life should be examined carefeully and respectfully, at the very least:’-(

  7. Keith Mosher (via Facebook) says:

    The shooter hasn’t been arrested because they have no witnesses and no evidence. There should be a VERY thorough investigation, and then, if the evidence warrants, an arrest. A man simply saying, “He attacked me, so I killed him”, shouldn’t be the end of it. The call for his arrest is premature at this point.

  8. Kimborlea Jester (via Facebook) says:

    The was a 911 call where a woman saw the shooting. That’s a witness

  9. Keith Mosher (via Facebook) says:

    Well, if the cops have a witness, either she didn’t have much to say, or they’re ignoring her. Either way, it’s not good.

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