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Opinion

Opinion

Invisibility deadly to teen

March 18, 2012

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They do not see you.

For every African American, it comes as surely as hard times, setback and tears, that moment when you realize somebody is looking right at you and yet, not seeing you — as if you had become cellophane, as if you had become air, as if somehow, some way, you were right there and yet at the same time, not.

Ralph Ellison described that phenomenon in a milestone novel that begins as follows: “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe. Nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”

Trayvon Martin was killed on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., fully 60 years after Ellison published Invisible Man. The circumstances of the unarmed 17-year-old’s death suggest that even six decades later, invisibility plagues black folks, still.

It happened like this. He was visiting his father, watching hoops on television. At halftime, he left his dad’s townhouse in a gated community and walked to a 7-Eleven for snacks. There was a light drizzle and he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. On the way back, he drew the attention of George Zimmerman, captain of the Neighborhood Watch. Zimmerman, who is white, called police from his SUV and told them he was following a “suspicious” character. The dispatcher promised to send a prowl car and told Zimmerman to stay in his vehicle.

He didn’t. When police arrived, they found him with a bloody nose and Martin face down on the grass not far from his father’s door, a gunshot wound in his chest. Zimmerman said he shot the boy in self defense. Police did not arrest him. At this writing, nearly three weeks later, they still have not, citing insufficient evidence. The case has been referred to the state’s attorney and the NAACP has asked the Justice Department to intervene.

All of which raises a number of pressing questions:

How can you get out of your truck against police advice, instigate a fight, get your nose bloodied in said fight, shoot the person you were fighting with, and claim self defense? If anyone was defending themselves, wasn’t it Trayvon Martin?

Would police have been so forbearing had Martin confronted and killed an unarmed George Zimmerman?

Of course, the most pressing question is this: What exactly was it that made this boy seem “suspicious?” The available evidence suggests a sad and simple answer: He existed while black.

The manner of said existence doesn’t matter. It is the existing itself that is problematic. Again: Sometimes, they do not see you.

That’s one of the great frustrations of African-American life, those times when you are standing right there, minding your business, tending your house, coming home from the store, and other people are looking right at you, yet do not see you.

They see instead their own superstitions and suppositions, paranoia and guilt, night terrors and vulnerabilities. They see the perpetrator, the suspect, the mug shot, the dark and scary face that lurks at the open windows of their vivid imaginings. They see the unknown, the inassimilable, the other.

They see every damn thing in the world but you.

And their blindness costs you. First and foremost, it costs your sacred individuality. But it may also cost you a job, an education, your freedom. If you are unlucky like Trayvon Martin, it may even cost your life.

He lay bloody and ruined in wet grass with nothing in his pockets but $22, a can of lemonade and a bag of Skittles, not a type, not a kind, but just himself, a kid who liked horses and sports, who struggled with chemistry, who went out for snacks and never came home.

Visible too late.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

abit_pssd 2 years ago

Am not sure where to go other than the Lawrence Journal World right now but no one will answer a call after 5. Sorry, I made a log on and got distracted. PLEASE, ANYONE. How do I stop having this stupid "Crave" paper stopped from being delivered in my mail? I really am not interested in "Kumquats."

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Roland Gunslinger 2 years, 1 month ago

Some controversy as to whether or not George Zimmerman said "f$#ing coons" or "f@#ing punks".

Also what did he mean when he said "These people always get away". Who are "these people"?

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observant 2 years, 1 month ago

Snap, you seem very aware of what it takes to be racist.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 1 month ago

If George Zimmerman had been shot by Michael Bloomberg, George would be considered an oppressed minority by the hysterical race-baiters on the sinister side of the aisle. It's all relative.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

3) Witnesses told ABC News they heard Zimmerman pronounce, "It was self-defense," and place the gun on the ground.

Another officer corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help. The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, that it was Zimmerman who cried for help, the witness told ABC News.

Lee publically admitted that officers accepted Zimmerman's word at the scene that he had no police record.

Two days after the incident, during a meeting with the victim's father, Tracy Martin, an officer told the father that Zimmerman's record was "squeaky clean."

Yet public records showed that Zimmerman was charged with battery against on officer and resisting arrest in 2005, a charge that was later expunged.

"That was my baby, my youngest son," his mother, Sybrina Fulton, told ABC News in an interview in Miami. "He meant a lot to me, I don't think the police department really understands that. ... I need justice for my family, I just want justice for my son."

Fulton is incensed that Zimmerman left his car despite being urged by dispatchers to stay put.

"My son didn't do anything," she said. "He was walking home from the store. Why would the neighborhood watch guy would have a weapon? ... It's just crazy. You are supposed to watch the neighborhood, not take the law into your own hands."

ABC News' Matthew Rosenbaum contributed to this report.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

2) The Sanford, Fla., Police Department, relenting to massive public pressure, plans to release parts of the 911 tapes pertaining to the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News, but wanted the boy's family to hear the tapes before they were released to the public, according to a family source.

A week after ABC News uncovered questionable police conduct in the investigation of the fatal shooting, including the alleged "correction" of at least one eyewitness' account, outrage that the shooter remains free is intensifying.

"It's surprising. It's shocking," said Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father. "It lets me know that justice is just not being served here. All we want is justice for our son. We're not asking for anything out of the ordinary."

In an interview with ABC News, Martin's mother, Fulton, tearfully said she only seeks an arrest.

"Let a judge and jury decide the rest," she added.

In the meantime, outrage is spreading across the Internet.

A dispatcher told him to wait for a police cruiser, and not leave his vehicle.

But about a minute later, Zimmerman left his car wearing a red sweatshirt and pursued Martin on foot between two rows of townhouses, about 70 yards from where the teen was going.

Zimmerman's pursuit of Martin did not of itself constitute a crime, Lee said.

Witnesses told ABC News a fistfight broke out and, at one point, Zimmerman, who outweighed Martin by more than 100 pounds, was on the ground and that Martin was on top.

Austin Brown, 13, was walking his dog during the time of the altercation and saw both men on the ground but separated.

Brown, along with several other residents, heard someone cry for help, just before hearing a gunshot. Police arrived 60 seconds later and the teen was quickly pronounced dead.

An officer at the scene overheard Zimmerman saying, "I was yelling for someone to help me but no one would help me," the report said.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

This is heavily edited: 1) Series of Calls to Police Record Events Leading Up to Shooting

On one call to a non-emergency dispatch number, according to Julison, Zimmerman says, "He's checking me out," and then, "This guy looks like he's on drugs, he's definitely messed up."

"These a**holes always get away," he adds.

The dispatcher is heard trying to discourage Zimmerman, asking, "Are you following him?.. Okay, we don't need you to do that."

Within minutes, however, 911 calls are being made to police reporting the two are fighting.

"They're wrestling right in the back of my porch," one frantic caller says. "The guy's yelling help and I'm not going out."

On a second call someone's screams for help can be heard and what sounds like two gunshots.

The caller's boyfriend shouts, "Get down," and after the second apparent gunshot, the shouts for help cease, Julison told ABC News.

"There's gun shots. Uh, I'm pretty sure the guy is dead out here, holy sh**," a caller says into the phone.

Martin's family listened to eight tapes, Julison said. At one point, Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, ran out of the room screaming and crying, barely lasting through half the tapes.

The boy's father, Tracey Martin, stoic and measured until then, erupted, Julison said.

"He killed my son," Martin said, according to Julison. "He killed my son. He couldn't control himself."

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

Breaking News From 'ABC News':

A few clips from: http://news.yahoo.com/neighborhood-watchman-allegedly-shot-trayvon-martin-wanted-cop-211535382--abc-news.html

Neighborhood Watchman Who Allegedly Shot Trayvon Martin Wanted to Be a Cop By MATT GUTMAN (@mattgutmanABC), OLIVIA KATRANDJIAN and SENI TIENABESO (@senijr_abc)

A self-appointed neighborhood watchman who pursued and then shot dead an unarmed 17-year-old boy outside his stepmother's home last month in Sanford, Fla., reportedly wanted to be a police officer and had called 9-1-1 50 times in the last year.

Trayvon Martin, a black high-school junior, was making his way home with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea on Feb. 26 when George Zimmerman spotted him, called a non-emergency dispatch number to report Martin looked intoxicated, followed him, and then minutes later after an altercation, shot him.

Zimmerman, 28, who is white, claimed self defense. He was never arrested and has been charged with no crime, sparking national outrage.

ABC News has learned police seemed to accept Zimmerman's account at face value that night and that he was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, even though it is standard procedure in most homicide investigations.

The night of Feb. 26, Zimmerman made a non-emergency call to police before fatally shooting Martin, in which he told a dispatcher, "This guy looks like he's up to no good, on drugs or something."

But law enforcement expert Rod Wheeler who listened to the tapes tells ABC News that Zimmerman, not Martin, sounded intoxicated in the police recordings of the 911 calls. "When I listened to the 911 tape the first thing that came to my mind is this guy sounds intoxicated. Notice how he's slurring his words. We as trained law enforcement officers, we know how to listen for that right away and I think that's going to be an important element of this entire investigation," Wheeler said.

But Zimmerman was not tested.

Martin's family is now calling on the FBI to take over what they say is a botched investigation. "We've got a fair investigation, it was the best we can do, it's in states attorney hands now," Sanford Police Department spokesman Dave Morgenstern said.

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Katara 2 years, 1 month ago

George Zimmerman was looking for a confrontation that night and he had to pick on an unarmed 17 year old boy to get it.

"According to 911 recordings released late Friday by Sanford police, Zimmerman said the person was walking slowly, looked drugged and appeared to be looking at people’s houses. Police would later learn that Trayvon had gone to 7-Eleven during the NBA All Star game halftime to get Skittles and Arizona iced tea.

“These a--holes always get away,” Zimmerman complained."

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/17/2700249/shooter-of-trayvon-martin-a-habitual.html

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 1 month ago

Nutty gun-toting misguided vigilantes are a protected class in many states including Florida.

They must be protected.

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Katara 2 years, 1 month ago

Not only was this boy unarmed, George Zimmerman was also physically much larger. News reports state that George Zimmerman outweighed Trayvon Martin by at least 100lbs.

And it is starting to appear that the police were using questionable conduct in regards to witnesses.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/neighborhood-watch-shooting-trayvon-martin-probe-reveals-questionable/story?id=15907136#.T2Z8m9mt0RQ

This isn't apparently the first time Zimmerman has used violence.

"Yet public records showed that Zimmerman was charged with battery against on officer and resisting arrest in 2005, a charge which was later expunged. "

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50YearResident 2 years, 1 month ago

How would we know if Martin had a long history as a Juvenilr offender? No way would this information be made public and if it were might shed a lot of light on the possability of what actually happened.

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 1 month ago

Police arrest people on suspicion all of the time. There was plenty of evidence to suggest that Zimmerman confronted the boy (a 17-year old, not a racial epithet), which led to Zimmerman shooting the kid.

If police only arrested anyone after all of the evidence was in, no one would ever be arrested.

There was plenty of evidence and suspicion to arrest Zimmerman.

I think we all know why it didn't happen.

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goodcountrypeople 2 years, 1 month ago

Kansans and Missourians and those from southern-influenced cultures have the same delightful way of aggressively responding to other people in a one-dimensional, pre-programmed ways that Mr. Pitts points out in his column. True invisibility in the face of such frightening ignorance would be a gift. Street harassment seems to be an ingrained part of southern culture. These people give themselves way too much credit too. They insist they are "helping" when it would be obvious to any thinking person the attention is an unwanted and intrusive form of terrorism. Until such offensive hicks get a lot of needed help with brains they will always lack the awareness, good judgment, and understanding it takes to "help" others in any authentic and meaningful way.

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DillonBarnes 2 years, 1 month ago

Zimmerman perceived Martin as a threat, we can assume that from the 911 call. We assume Zimmerman initiated the confrontation because he was following Martin. Initiating a unnecessary confrontation with someone you perceive as a threat doesn't grant you a right to fire in self defense (in my opinion).

Those are just assumptions though, as another poster said, this is far from over. Especially with the national attention, it's doubtful this case will be swept under the rug.

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its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

More abjectly corruptly reporting in this matter......if you do not see the slant, you my dear friend are lacking any modicum of reasoning skills.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/peter-cukor-killed-berkeley-occupy-oakland_n_1291667.html

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its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

If you want to know how the inner-workings of the twisted leftist minds of the corrupt liberal media and race-baiting liberal zealots works, check this out. So in the face of more of Fleabagger rioting, in Berkeley, cops are being blamed for a young black thug's murder of an elderly man. The police could not respond fast enough to a 911 call due to mobilizing for Fleabagger riots and this young black thug, Daniel Dewitt, beat 67 year old Peter Cukor, a white male, to death with a flower pot.

Whatcha got to say 'bout this Pitts, you scumbag?

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/02/21/ignored-911-call-turns-fatal-in-berkeley-police-busy-with-occupy-protest/

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its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

"If the boy had been wearing khakis and a sport shirt, this likely would not have happened.

Just another day in America. The lesson is: don't dress like an urban poor black youth unless you want to feel the heat." ywn

You're exactly right. But he chose to go down the street in a white, suburban gated community looking like a gang-banger. Do we know what his intentions were?

And as far as "poor"? Many of your so-called "urban poor black youth" have a wad of cash in their pocket from selling crack cocaine big enough to choke a horse.

Pitts and his devotees are acting as judge, jury and executioner. I thought you lefties hated it when right-wingers did that?

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verity 2 years, 1 month ago

We are not the judge and jury, but that doesn't mean we can't look at the known facts and make a judgment. I would even venture to say that we all do it quite often.

The problem here is that if the public doesn't get outraged and demand more investigation, this episode might just be quietly put aside. An innocent person, apparently minding his own business, was shot in a gated (protected?) community by somebody who was "protecting" said community.

And blacks are being paranoid thinking that racism has something to do with it. Just like women are being paranoid thinking men are making war on them. Maybe it wasn't racism, and maybe not all the laws being passed are misogynistic, but when you're the one being attacked it certainly feels that way.

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50YearResident 2 years, 1 month ago

Another unanswered question from the Orlando Sentinel story. How did this happen to Zimmerman? Did he do this to himself or did the victim cause it? Just asking, because none of us were there to know.

When police arrived, Trayvon was face down in the grass with a fatal bullet wound to the chest. Zimmerman was standing with blood on his face and the back of his head and grass stains on his back, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

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overplayedhistory 2 years, 1 month ago

Say race was not a factor, it is possible. Drizzling rain, hoody and dark out, I have read no account that says Zimmerman was aware of Martin's race.

Everyone here is focused on Race. Missing is the mind of Zimmerman and its relevance to lots of discussions of CC laws and gun restrictions we have had on here. The argument coming from the NRA crowd is, how those of us who don't see the logic have their positions out irrational fear.

All this talk about thorough back round checks the clean records one must have. Yet right here we have a situation that even if it had nothing to do race, it clearly had to do with an overactive paranoid imagination, who had been adequately (what ever that means) scrutinized. It sounds like Zimmerman suffered from the type of unhinged hero fantasy, that ruffles feathers when suggested here, when trying to understand the mind, of someone who feels need to pack heat, when attending dinner theater. In other words, Hedge please do not become a neighborhood watch captain.

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Liberty275 2 years, 1 month ago

The police don't have the authority to tell you over the phone that you must stay in a car. Period. We don't know he got out by choice but even if we accept that he did, and that he even said something to the young man, we still don't know he did anything wrong. It isn't against the law to talk to people on sidewalks. Pitt's is too short on detail regarding anything that was said, or who instigated what, for us to form any valid opinion. Of course, that didn't stop him from using it to serve his. That's what partisan hacks do.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

I have often thought about why some situations or cases, such as this one, garner so much attention, and others that are different in no substantial way seem to get no attention at all.

The Casey Anthony trial is a case in point. She was a nobody and no one had ever heard of her before her very public trial. And then, countless hours showed her on trial, live. Stories, interviews with people who knew her, it seemed there was no end to it.

But the crime she was charged with, while not common, is certainly not rare. There were hundreds of similar cases that got very little public attention. No one ever heard of them.

The case of William Kennedy Smith was different. Unfortunately, the crime he was accused of, and later found not guilty of, is very common. The only reason his trial was on television for many days was because his family is famous, one of his uncles or great uncles was former President John F. Kennedy. Everyone wanted to hear about the son of a famous family that got into some kind of trouble.

What I think it has to do with is the media picking up on some stories, but not others, and then generating the public's attention on them in order to attract viewers, and in so doing, also attract advertisers who make the whole circus possible.

After all, we never had to pay to watch Casey Anthony or William Kennedy Smith on trial, we just had to watch the ads of the companies that sponsored the programs.

I'm not sure what kind of conclusions can be reached from this. As I pointed out at first, I have only thought about it. But my thoughts are that a rather limited number of media people draw attention to particular cases, and then other media people also pick up on the story, a few people start talking about it, then everyone has to cover the story.

And it all ends up with this: It's all about a push to get you to buy a particular product. Because after all, it's the advertisers that are paying for it, and thus making it all possible.

But, only for some cases.

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 1 month ago

Race is part, but not the only part. Economic class is the factor, which transcends race.

The boy by all accounts looked like an urban poor black kid. All races in a higher income class, white, black, hispanic, martian, fear this kind of person.

It is a sad fact of human nature that we fall prey to our prejudices without demonstrated reason, and often act on our unfounded prejudices, as Zimmerman likely did.

If the boy had been wearing khakis and a sport shirt, this likely would not have happened.

Just another day in America. The lesson is: don't dress like an urban poor black youth unless you want to feel the heat.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 1 month ago

End of story, that's what one poster said. As in; "I've heard enough evidence. I have enough information to make a definitive conclusion."
The local authorities have yet to decide how to proceed, whether or not charges will be filed and if so, what charges. Of course, the state can proceed should local authorities choose not to. And of course, the Dept. of Justice can file their own charges, especially if they believe civil rights violations have happened. In any of these situations, trials will be held, evidence heard, testimony given and a jury will be given a chance to decide. The fact is that we are not at the end of the story. We are at the very beginning. Prior to passing judgement, perhaps we should all take a step back and let the process play itself out. Everything else is second guessing, or if you are getting your information from second or third sources, then you're third or forth guessing. I'd hate for our judicial process to play out with those standards.

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 1 month ago

invisibility plagues black folks, still.

Muhammad and Malvo tried their darndest to stay "invisible"

Lee Boyd Malvo (also known as John Lee Malvo) (born February 18, 1985), is a spree killer[1] convicted, along with John Allen Muhammad, of murders in connection with the Beltway sniper attacks,

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.nuttynewstoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/lee-boyd-malvo.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.nuttynewstoday.com/%3Fm%3D201007&h=240&w=320&sz=8&tbnid=ITREv0pRnT6z5M:&tbnh=90&tbnw=120&zoom=1&docid=0-UKExQ1P-XzJM&sa=X&ei=NPdlT5ecC-yqsALfnMm3Dw&ved=0CFoQ9QEwBQ&dur=4839

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booyalab 2 years, 1 month ago

The media loves stories like this. Which is too bad considering real people, not propaganda puppets, were involved.

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its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

Furthermore, Pitts told Knoxville TN residents to "cry me a river" when five blacks slaughtered a young white couple, while he spun it as a white supremacist witch hunt intended to whip up hatred towards blacks in their community.

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its_just_math 2 years, 1 month ago

These types of stories are unique. They're unique because A. Some race-baiting editorialist like Pitts will pick up on it and , B. The innumerable black-on-white crimes in the US just make it as far as the police blotter.

None of you Pitts fans were there, so put a lid on it.

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sundancewierdo 2 years, 1 month ago

Leaving all of the racial stuff aside, you cannot call what happened here self defense. He shot an unarmed man, that is not self defense. None of this would have happened if this vigilante had not stuck his nose in someone else's business...

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 1 month ago

In all the "get whitey" frenzy, don't overlook that "...George Zimmerman is Hispanic and grew up in a multiracial family...". http://www.sun-sentinel.com/os-trayvon-martin-shooting-zimmerman-letter-20120315,0,757781.story

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Gandalf 2 years, 1 month ago

Sorry Ron, I still have a problem with the race card. The following is from the father's statement

Statement of Robert Zimmerman, father of Neighborhood Watch volunteer:

“The tragic events of February 26 are very sad for all concerned. The Martin family, our family, and the entire community have been forever changed.

The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting are false and extremely misleading. Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have used this tragedy to further their own causes and agendas.

George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. One black neighbor recently interviewed said she knew everything in the media was untrue and that she would trust George with her life. Another black neighbor said that George was the only one, black or white, who came and welcomed her to the community, offering any assistance he could provide. Recently, I met two black children George invited to a social event. I asked where they met George. They responded that he was their mentor. They said George visited them routinely, took them places, helped them, and taught them things and that they really loved George. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/os-trayvon-martin-shooting-zimmerman-letter-20120315,0,1716605.story

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

3) Zimmerman has not released a statement, but his father delivered a one-page letter to The Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. According to the newspaper, the statement said that Zimmerman is “Hispanic and grew up in a multiracial family.” The paper quotes the letter as reading, “He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever” and continues, “The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.” And disclosures made since the shooting complicate people’s perception of fairness in the case.

According to Crump, the father was told that one of the reasons Zimmerman wasn’t arrested was because he had a “squeaky clean” record. It wasn’t. According to the local news station WFTV, Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for “battery on a law enforcement officer.”

Furthermore, ABC News reported on Tuesday that one of the responding officers “corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.” And The Miami Herald published an article on Thursday that said three witnesses had heard the “desperate wail of a child, a gunshot, and then silence.”

WFTV also reported this week that the officer in charge of the scene when Trayvon was shot was also in charge of another controversial case. In 2010, a lieutenant’s son was videotaped attacking a black homeless man. The officer’s son wasn’t arrested until the television station broke the news and asked about it.

Although we must wait to get the results of the investigation into Trayvon’s killing, it is clear that it is a tragedy. If no wrongdoing of any sort is ascribed to the incident, it will be an even greater tragedy.

One of the witnesses was a 13-year-old black boy who recorded a video for The Orlando Sentinel recounting what he saw. The boy is wearing a striped polo shirt, holding a microphone, speaking low and deliberately and has the heavy look of worry and sadness in his eyes. He describes hearing screaming, seeing someone on the ground and hearing gunshots. The video ends with the boy saying, “I just think that sometimes people get stereotyped, and I fit into the stereotype as the person who got shot.”

And that is the burden of black boys, and this case can either ease or exacerbate it.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

2) Trayvon was buried on March 3. Zimmerman is still free and has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

Yet the questions remain: Why did Zimmerman find Trayvon suspicious? Why did he pursue the boy when the 911 operator instructed him not to? Why did he get out of the car, and why did he take his gun when he did? How is it self-defense when you are the one in pursuit? Who initiated the altercation? Who cried for help? Did Trayvon’s body show evidence of a struggle? What moved Zimmerman to use lethal force?

This case has reignited a furor about vigilante justice, racial-profiling and equitable treatment under the law, and it has stirred the pot of racial strife.

As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.

That is the burden of black boys in America and the people that love them: running the risk of being descended upon in the dark and caught in the cross-hairs of someone who crosses the line.

The racial sensitivity of this case is heavy. Trayvon’s parents have said their son was murdered. Crump, the family’s lawyer, told me, “You know, if Trayvon would have been the triggerman, it’s nothing Trayvon Martin could have said to keep police from arresting him Day 1, Hour 1.” Even the police chief recognizes this reality, even while disputing claims of racial bias in the investigation: “Our investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color. I know I can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

This is all clipped from: http://ontd-political.livejournal.com/9451295.html

1) The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin (trigger warning: gun violence) By CHARLES M. BLOW

“He said that Tray was gone.”

That’s how Sybrina Fulton, her voice full of ache, told me she found out that her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, had died. In a wrenching telephone call, the boy’s father, who had taken him to visit a friend, told her that Trayvon had been gunned down in a gated townhouse community in Sanford, Fla., outside Orlando.

“He said, ‘Somebody shot Trayvon and killed him.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Fulton continued in disbelief. “I said ‘How do you know that’s Trayvon?’ And he said because they showed him a picture.”

That was Feb. 27, one day after Trayvon was shot. The father thought that he was missing, according to the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, but the boy’s body had actually been taken to the medical examiner’s office and listed as a John Doe.

The father called the Missing Persons Unit. No luck. Then he called 911. The police asked the father to describe the boy, after which they sent officers to the house where the father was staying. There they showed him a picture of the boy with blood coming out of his mouth.

This is a nightmare scenario for any parent, and the events leading to Trayvon’s death offer little comfort — and pose many questions.

Trayvon had left the house he and his father were visiting to walk to the local 7-Eleven. On his way back, he caught the attention of George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain, who was in a sport-utility vehicle. Zimmerman called the police because the boy looked “real suspicious,” according to a 911 call released late Friday. The operator told Zimmerman that officers were being dispatched and not to pursue the boy.

Zimmerman apparently pursued him anyway, at some point getting out of his car and confronting the boy. Trayvon had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman had a 9 millimeter handgun.

The two allegedly engaged in a physical altercation. There was yelling, and then a gunshot.

When police arrived, Trayvon was face down in the grass with a fatal bullet wound to the chest. Zimmerman was standing with blood on his face and the back of his head and grass stains on his back, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

Trayvon’s lifeless body was taken away, tagged and held. Zimmerman was taken into custody, questioned and released. Zimmerman said he was the one yelling for help. He said that he acted in self-defense. The police say that they have found no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s claim.

One other point: Trayvon is black. Zimmerman is not.

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Gandalf 2 years, 1 month ago

Somehow I don't think race was the motive. It's hard to call a person from a bi-racial family (hispanic and black) racist.

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skinny 2 years, 1 month ago

The events of the case have not been released. Until you know the whole story it is advisable to not react irrationally, as you were not there!!

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grammaddy 2 years, 1 month ago

"I swear to the Lord I still can't see Why Democracy means Everybody but me"-- Langston Hughes

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Roland Gunslinger 2 years, 1 month ago

If anyone has read the transcript of the 911 calls... it's harrowing.

The kid was heard by many witnesses screaming for help. Then the gunshot. Then no more noise from the kid.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 1 month ago

I seldom agree with Pitts on political issues and find that he often distorts or omits facts, but this account is nonetheless deeply disturbing. It needs to be fully investigated by top professionals in order to ensure that as much as possible about what really happened can be determined.

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observant 2 years, 1 month ago

Seems a little early for the racist Pitts haters to be in full rant. Primary question Pitts and normal people have is simple. Why was Zimmerman not arrested immediately?

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