Once again the internet is in total outrage over something and that would of course be the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. This time though there are two schools of outrage. One side says that George Zimmerman is a racist who was looking to a kill a black kid while the other says that Trayvon Martin was a thug and that Zimmerman was well within his right to defend himself. However even with two avenues of outrage both sides are wrong.
On the one side George Zimmerman was clearly in the wrong. He contacted police about a suspicious character in his community and the police instructed Zimmerman not to follow him and that they would be there soon. Zimmerman willingly chose to ignore that recommendation by police and took matters into his own hands. On most levels that makes Zimmerman a vigilante. While there had been a spate of burglaries in the community it wasn’t Zimmerman’s job to apprehend anybody. In the worst case scenario if Zimmerman stayed put some property may have been damaged or stolen. Now you can give me Martin’s alleged criminal behavior at school all you want but that’s immaterial. Zimmerman had no idea who Martin was or his supposed history.
On the other hand this had nothing to do with race. Last year I spent the better part of the year in my late mother’s development. I’ve seen how people in these communities act. No matter how affluent or not outsiders are always viewed as intruders no matter what color they are. Add the rash of robberies that I mentioned before and you could see why Zimmerman called the cops. Adding race into the mix doesn’t help anyone. For each false claim of racism a true hate crime may be doubted because of it.
Here’s how I think it went down. Zimmerman sees the 6’2″ Martin and calls police. Police tell Zimmerman to stay put, instead he pursues Martin in his SUV. Zimmerman gets out and Martin asks him why he’s following him. Words are exchanged and a scuffle ensues. Martin gets the best of the less than athletic Zimmerman. Zimmerman pulls his gun and shoots Martin. Now from what I understand about Florida’s self-defense law according to the law Zimmerman was within his right to protect himself. Agree or disagree with it, that’s the law. You can’t go back in time to change it. Morally though Zimmerman was definitely overstepping his role as neighborhood watch by pursuing Martin.
What will probably happen is the same thing that happened to Bernie Goetz. While Goetz was only charged with illegal possession of a firearm he lost a $43M civil suit to one of the men he shot. Zimmerman will rightly lose a wrongful death suit when it’s brought against him.