Opinion

Opinion

Florida teen was a victim of fear

March 28, 2012

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One month later, some of us fail to understand what this is about. One month later, some of us are using the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to advance our own selfish aims or are throwing up smoke to divert our attention from what matters. One month later, a reminder seems sadly necessary.

Though, perhaps it is easier to explain what this is about by explaining what it is not about.

For instance, GOP presidential aspirants have sought to incorporate the tragedy into their Obama Always Does All Things Wrong narrative. As in Rick Santorum blasting a moving statement from the president — “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon” — as “divisive” and “tragic.”

But this is not about the furtherance of Santorum’s fading political hopes.

Meantime, an African-American hate group, the so-called New Black Panther Party, has put a price on the head of George Zimmerman, the white Hispanic police wannabe who shot the unarmed teenager.

But this is not about the promotion of some oppor tunist’s extremist agenda.

This week, someone leaked information that Martin had been suspended from school for possessing an empty marijuana baggie. It was also reported that Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him from behind, a version of events supposedly corroborated by witnesses. This would contradict other witnesses (the ones police initially blew off or never even bothered to contact) who paint Zimmerman as the aggressor who followed and shot a black kid he found “suspicious.”

And beg pardon, but if some armed, unknown person were stalking you for some unknown reason, might you not choose to hit first and ask questions later?

But this is not about Trayvon Martin being an angel.

Geraldo Rivera of Fox “News” said last week that Martin died because of his choice of clothing. “His hoodie killed Trayvon Martin as surely as George Zimmerman did,” he said, arguing that seeing a “kid of color” wearing a hoodie ignites certain feelings of “scorn” and “menace.”

Rivera called the statement, for which he later apologized, “politically incorrect.” Actually, it was just cowardly and dumb. Unlike, say, sagging pants, a hooded sweatshirt is a functional garment, (i.e., it provides protection against cold and wet) that is worn by black, white, male, female, young, old, college kids and street kids. Martin wore his against a persistent drizzle as he walked home from 7-Eleven, but apparently, Rivera finds something sinister in black and brown kids wearing what everybody else wears in the rain. Shall we restrict them to umbrellas from now on?

But this is not about a fashion statement

As to what it is about, consider a passage in Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow,” in which she argues that “what it means to be a criminal in our collective consciousness has become conflated with what it means to be black, so the term white criminal is confounding, while the term black criminal is nearly redundant.”

Nearly redundant.

This, then, is what killed Trayvon Martin, the fact that we are so stubbornly convinced of that redundancy that a boy walking home carrying nothing more threatening than Skittles and iced tea can become a source of terror sufficient for a George Zimmerman to stalk him and to kill him.

It doesn’t matter if he wore a hoodie.

It doesn’t matter if he punched Zimmerman.

It doesn’t matter why he was suspended from school.

What matters is that he is unavailable for comment about those things, and always will be. What matters is that none of them changes the essential truth of what this is about.

Though innocent of any crime, Trayvon Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman. He was sacrificed for all our fears.

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

Comments

observant 3 years, 3 months ago

Can't wait for all the nutcases to show up defending this racist murderer.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

Can't wait for all the racists to convict this person without the benefit of a trial.

oldvet 3 years, 3 months ago

Because we know those Duke lacrosse players were guilty of raping that black stripper... right?

Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

Why would bigotry against Latinos exist? They are the same human as we all are. This world is pretty confusing.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 3 months ago

What trial? He hasn't even been arrested on suspicion.

Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

Then the DA has found no laws broken, or the DA is not prosecuting the case for a nefarious reason. Which do you think it is? Do district attorneys often refuse to charge murderers?

50YearResident 3 years, 3 months ago

The new avatar is more suited to your posts! Good Job...........

50YearResident 3 years, 3 months ago

I wonder who's post was deleted for violation of the use policy? MY,my now I will never know.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 3 months ago

If you are committing assault and battery on an armed man, you just might wind up with a new aperture in your carcass.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Damn, Mr. Pitts, thought you were going to come through on this one. Not so much.

"the term white criminal is confounding, while the term black criminal is nearly redundant.”

That's a heaping pile of horse excrement. Unfortunately, it's the linchpin of your argument. I do love that after stating that's your premise, you immediately contradict your earlier declaration of:

"But this is not about the promotion of some oppor tunist’s extremist agenda."

with: " the fact that we are so stubbornly convinced of that redundancy that a boy walking home carrying nothing more threatening than Skittles and iced tea can become a source of terror sufficient for a George Zimmerman to stalk him and to kill him."

So black men are all a "source of terror", therefore Zimmerman "stalked" him and killed him because he was black. Huh. Sure sounds like the promotion of an opportunist's agenda to me.

It seems that nobody knows exactly what transpired except Zimmerman at this point. If the evidence does point to his guilt I'm all for severe punishment. If it's proven that Zimmerman had turned back to his car and Martin came back to confront him, then I really don't know where to go from there. But there's been absolutely NO evidence that this tragedy was racially motivated in ANY way. Just because one person's black and the other one's not doesn't automatically make it a hate crime. And to aver that sort of rhetoric is certainly the act of an opportunist promoting his agenda.

Do better.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry for the duplicate, no idea how that happened.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Damn, Mr. Pitts, thought you were going to come through on this one. Not so much.

"the term white criminal is confounding, while the term black criminal is nearly redundant.”

That's a heaping pile of horse excrement. Unfortunately, it's the linchpin of your argument. I do love that after stating that's your premise, you immediately contradict your earlier declaration of:

"But this is not about the promotion of some oppor tunist’s extremist agenda."

with: " the fact that we are so stubbornly convinced of that redundancy that a boy walking home carrying nothing more threatening than Skittles and iced tea can become a source of terror sufficient for a George Zimmerman to stalk him and to kill him."

So black men are all a "source of terror", therefore Zimmerman "stalked" him and killed him because he was black. Huh. Sure sounds like the promotion of an opportunist's agenda to me.

It seems that nobody knows exactly what transpired except Zimmerman at this point. If the evidence does point to his guilt I'm all for severe punishment. If it's proven that Zimmerman had turned back to his car and Martin came back to confront him, then I really don't know where to go from there. But there's been absolutely NO evidence that this tragedy was racially motivated in ANY way. Just because one person's black and the other one's not doesn't automatically make it a hate crime. And to aver that sort of rhetoric is certainly the act of an opportunist promoting his agenda.

Do better.

mom_of_three 3 years, 3 months ago

no, it isn't racist at all to say "they always get away with it." who is they? teenagers, blacks, people with hoodies.
and why would anyone trust what zimmerman says at this point? His victim can not speak for himself. He can "paint" whatever version he wants.

This was a tragedy, because one man was suspicious of a black teenager in a hoodie. IF he would have left well enough alone, this never would have happened.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

"no, it isn't racist at all to say "they always get away with it."

You're right, it's not racist at all to say such. Perhaps with some context it might have been, but we don't have that, now do we?

"and why would anyone trust what zimmerman says at this point?"

What point is "this"? Has he been shown to be a pathological liar? How rational and fair-minded of you to assume he's a racist and a liar with absolutely no basis for such.

This was a tragedy PERIOD. And all you know is that one man was suspicious of a person. You nor anyone else except Zimmerman knows why. And if it plays out that he truly was heading back to his vehicle and Trayvon instigated the confrontation it never would have happened either.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

None of us know what really happened. How rational and fair-minded is to opine the child was looking for trouble and instigated the altercation? mom_of_three is correct - IF Zimmerman had followed police orders, we would not have a story, would we?

50YearResident 3 years, 3 months ago

A 17 year old is hardly a child. Most kids at that age have had quite a few adult experiances and with that comes an adult mentality. Did you consider yourself still a child at age 17?

50YearResident 3 years, 3 months ago

So vertigo, are you in favor raising the age to join the military to 21?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

There are many inconsistencies in our system. Simply recognizing them does not make one a hypocrite. Drive at one age, cigarettes and military at another, alcohol at another. It's just the system we have. It's no more hypocritical to agree with those than to recognize that to be a member of the House you need to be 25, 30 for the Senate and 35 to be President. Are you suggesting the Constitution is hypocritical? You know, the one that had the 3/5 rule for slaves?

50YearResident 3 years, 3 months ago

Why dignify your meaningless question with a response when you are going to (ass-u-me) your own answers to fit your agenda?

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

He was not of the age of majority, he was a child. Next question.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

And I assume you make that same distinction when it comes to pregnant 17 year olds. As children, they should not be making decisions for themselves. Parents, guardians, courts, etc. should ALWAYS be making the final decision for these children, right?

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

" How rational and fair-minded is to opine the child was looking for trouble and instigated the altercation?"

It's not. That's why I did no such thing. And from the little we do know, it SEEMS possible that Zimmerman did follow the dispatcher's request to stop pursuit. Sorry, the only thing mom was correct on was calling this a tragedy.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

OK - I shouldn't have used the word opine but "AND if" instead..

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, Kathy, I'm not understanding that exactly. Please understand me, I don't know which version is true: whether Zimmerman chased him down or Trayvon doubled back to confront, or any variation of the two. I was merely rebutting mom's contention that it all could have been avoided had he "left well enough alone." There's the possibility that he actually did, and that Trayvon's the one that came back. In that neighborhood I don't think anyone was going to "leave well enough alone." They'd been burned too often and they were vigilant.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

I know that is what you were and-iffing, and if that did happen and Martin punched him, is it then ok that he killed him? The fact that Zimmerman got out of his car against police order makes very clear to me, since he was carryng the weapon, it all could have been avoided. Are you sure the neighborhood was vigilant or vigilante?

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

No, I don't think any of this is okay and I'm in no way looeking to justify Trayvon's death in any way. But if it did go down the way Zimmerman says it did, I'm not sure they'll be able to prosecute due to the 'stand your ground' law. As to the vigilant or vigilante - clever! And probably a not too far off insight into their collective psyche, something to think about. I know how on edge my community has been w/ just a an incident or two. If we'd had 8 in 14 months..............I imagine we'd be pretty darn uptight and not just a little angry. I was thinking earlier how the unmentioned accomplices in this were the people that were robbing that neighborhood in the past. Without them, the watch doesn't start, Zimmerman's not carrying a gun (maybe), and Trayvon's never followed.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

The "stand your ground" law, as I understand it, only applies on your own property, so it wouldn't apply here.

Zimmerman wasn't on his own property when he acted.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

I don't know much about this "stand your ground" law, other than what I've heard in the media. That said, your comment is the first I've heard about the need to be on your own property. From where did you get that information?

Liberty275 3 years, 3 months ago

"why would anyone trust what zimmerman says at this point"

OK, you don't believe hm. He's lying about what happened. That still gives us ZERO indication of what did happen. Now you may be one that thinks it's OK to imprison people without proof of a crime, but I don't think that's a very good system of justice.

"IF he would have left well enough alone, this never would have happened."

LOL. So your solution to the problem is to not talk to young black men in hoodies while they are on a public sidewalk or road? Wonderful.

John Hamm 3 years, 3 months ago

Most reasonable response I've seen here.

geekin_topekan 3 years, 3 months ago

In fearing the armed attackers that he scanned the neighborhood for- in his escalating fear, the shooter became the attacker that he feared so much. ++++ Such is the Repub's way of doing things.

asixbury 3 years, 3 months ago

This has nothing to do with his gun. If he didn't have a gun, he would have sought out another weapon. Guns don't kill people, the people holding them do. People are still murdered in Europe, where most countries have strict regulations on guns. I know thousands upon thousands of instances in which guns are used safely. If someone is set on killing someone else, they are going to do the deed with whatever weapon they can obtain.

asixbury 3 years, 3 months ago

You did make a good point about the shooter becoming the attacker he feared...excellent observation!

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

And yet, it's much easier to kill somebody with a gun than with your hands, or a less powerful weapon.

If I remember right, the statistics on homicides show that our rate is significantly higher than most other developed nations.

eatatrex 3 years, 3 months ago

Lets be honest here, the media treated this like the Duke La cross case only to find out how far from the truth the story was !! No one talks about how this kid hit his buss driver also. I guess as far as Mr.Pitts goes he would rather except the words of people that wouldnt make a police report as a witness than people that were willing to sign there name to there statement.Its the media that got the price put on the shooters head !!! Remember the Olympic bombings ? realy people the media is entertainment not news wortyh anymore !!!!!!! Hey but what ever gets you covrage right Mr.Pitts ?

heygary 3 years, 3 months ago

What a tortured argument Mr. Pitts! I am wondering when guys like you will direct your efforts and intellect toward addressing the things that actually keep the black race down instead of perpetuating the black as a victim cause.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

heygary - do tell what actually keeps the black race down?

oldvet 3 years, 3 months ago

Liberals, and their entitlement mentality that keeps people in government slavery.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

As are the usual posters who are willing to jump to conclusions without having all the facts in hand.
That would be you, just in case you don't see your behavior being as bad as the behavior of others that you are so quick to condemn.

somedude20 3 years, 3 months ago

"white Hispanic " Hardly. Have you seen a picture of George Zimmerman? He is not white. If you saw a pic of him and were asked, "hey, does this dude look white" and you said no, time for an eye check. You want to see white, find me. I make white paper look dark. Stop trying to make this about white and black, Pitts because it is not! You are acting like the people you claim to dislike. Jesus, you are acting like a gosh darn Mitt Santorum

somedude20 3 years, 3 months ago

Marksman? That is the worst in the USMC (I know, you are in the Air Force). I never earned Expert but I did get Sharpshooter (which is 2nd best) Congrats MSgt, I was only one off. Aim high, aim for E-8 http://www.trbimg.com/img-1332543851/turbine/george-zimmerman-20120323 still looks non-white to me

Peacemaker452 3 years, 3 months ago

They made me try that once but didn't have the eyeglass inserts. The breadside of the barn was quite safe.

jonas_opines 3 years, 3 months ago

Too depressing to even be a good popcorn thread. Sighs and laments.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Armstrong 3 years, 3 months ago

Pitts has become as predictable as death and taxes. Enter the clowns Lenny, Jessie, Al , nothing like turning a tragedy into a circus and shameless selfpromotion. Popcorn anyone ?

voevoda 3 years, 3 months ago

Zimmerman is a walking advertisement in favor of gun control. He shouldn't have been allowed to carry a weapon, because obviously he misused it. If he hadn't been armed, the kid would still be alive.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

"He shouldn't have been allowed to carry a weapon, because obviously he misused it."

Post hoc ergo proctor hoc = therefore because of this. Your assertion is a fine example of that logical fallacy.

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

Anybody watch the "Newly released video of George Zimmerman at the Sanford Police Department the night he shot Trayvon Martin to death show the neighborhood watch volunteer without blood on his clothing or bruises on his face or head. His clean-shaven picture seems to contrast with the violent beating he told police he endured at the hands of Martin, 17, who Zimmerman said attacked him from behind."?

Interesting.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Just watched the video and you must have 6 million dollar man eye sight. Otherwise there's no way anyone can tell anything from that video.

Not so interesting.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I'd really like to know the disparity of opinion between the AG and the man on the scene, but then when it's a matter of law you'd have to believe the AG knows more about that material. In any case, whole thing makes me sick to my stomach.

jonas_opines 3 years, 3 months ago

It looked a little clearer, at least to me, than you are making it out to be. He's wearing a light colored shirt, absent of any signs of blood (that wouldn't be able to be cleaned up at the scene, and that you would think might be there if he had a bad, bloody nose), and you get a clear look at the back of his (very shaved head), and there's no visible damage worth noting there.

I understand your desire to not try and convict him, so to speak, without facts. I also understand that you, somewhat reflexively, react against the resident race-baiters, but I think there's enough here to poke some reasonable holes in this guys story. Perhaps I Do have really good eyes (they're good enough), but when I look at that tape I certainly don't see a person who was beaten and then had his head slammed into pavement. Unless his skin is made of titanium.

jonas_opines 3 years, 3 months ago

No way to tell anything definitively, of course. I doubt he'll ever get charged with anything, and based on the story I don't think he should. But it certainly makes the "thug got what coming to him" narrative a little more problematic.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

"but I think there's enough here to poke some reasonable holes in this guys story"

Couldn't agree more. I think everything in this case is on shaky ground. Seems the only things we know for certain is that he called 911 and was armed, and Trayvon's dead. Anything else seems debatable. As to the video, it reminds me of my early videotaping days when the resolution wasn't great. And I remember how often I was amazed at details that didn't show up when you thought there was no way they could be missed.
I just heard that apparently Trayvon called 911 himself, really curious to hear that audio if there is any.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

And I agree at the least Zimmerman didn't look roughed up from what we were able to see.

Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

The lack of blood on his shirt troubles me. If you shoot a guy who is on top of you banging you head on the pavement, wouldn't there be blood on your shirt from the guy you shot?

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Angles. Don't know, but I imagine his injuries or lack thereof are going to play a big part moving forward. I wouldn't trust anything from that police video except that he appeared to be moving around just fine.

Geiiga 3 years, 3 months ago

I can see by the fact that he's there that he hasn't been in a fight for his life. I can see that he never had his head pounded into the pavement, because if he had, he'd have at least an inch square bandage covering any lacerations. And he wouldn't have been there in the first place because if he'd had a brain hemorrhage and died in police custody they'd be on the hook for wrongful death.

Nope, dude just flat out murdered a teenager and was set free.

Armstrong 3 years, 3 months ago

FYI it was the prosecutors office that refused to persue charges

asixbury 3 years, 3 months ago

So is it alright for men to have "carnal knowledge" whenever they want because they can't get pregnant? But since women can get pregnant, they aren't allowed to have sex whenever they want (like a man is almost expected to by society)? You, sir, are a misogynist pig if your statements are made seriously and not sarcastically. I do not know you by your comments well enough yet to determine the answer to my pondering.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

A 260 lb. man sounds like a guy who's very obese, likely out of shape, the kind of guy who would get winded if he were to run up one flight of stairs. He was probably huffing and puffing after the first punch was thrown. On the other hand, the 160 lb. 17 year old sounds like a guy in the prime of his life, fit as a fiddle. Of course, that's just a huge guess. As is you assessment, deathpenalty. Perhaps it's best we take a step back, let the process play itself out. Let the facts come out in a judicial process. Then we can give opinions based on facts, rather than on guesswork.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

My point still stands. Just throwing out a number, how much each person weighs, says little about their relative abilities should a fight break out.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, you lost me with that one. Football player for the 49ers? If he stepped into a ring with Manny Pacquiao, I'd bet money on Pac-Man, despite the huge weight difference.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

Maybe. Now we're talking about two professional athletes in the prime of their lives. Is that what happened in Florida?
I see now the original comment has been removed. But the supposition that the heavier man had a distinct advantage is something that may or may not be true.

Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

If you watched video from ABC news, you'll notice Zimmerman looks pretty fit and not at all obese.

And Zimmerman is 28 years old. Hardly an old man.

costello 3 years, 3 months ago

I just looked at the video of Zimmerman right after the homicide, and I don't see any signs of blood or bruises either. Someone here suggested the possibility that the bruises were showing yet. It seems to me that if bruises did eventually show up, then a good investigation would have included photographs of those bruises and collecting any other evidence - torn and bloodied or soiled clothing, medical records, etc.

The other thing that struck me about this video is that Zimmerman is not wearing a red t-shirt as the witness who supposedly corroborates his story said. His t-shirt is gray.

asixbury 3 years, 3 months ago

Not true. Royce Gracie could attest to that; it is not your size that counts, it's how you use it! Ha!

But unless you were trained like Gracie was, to take on a person much larger than you, you are probably correct in your assumption.

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

A little inconvenient fact that so many seem to want to ignore:

There was absolutely no reason for Mr Zimmerman to get out of his vehicle the day that Trayvon Martin ended up dead.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Maybe not. But he was living in a neighborhood that had been burglarized multiple times, that's why they'd set the watch up. Me and my neighbors have followed strangers in my neighborhood before, some walking, others driving. And we've only had one incident since I've been here. I was curious as to what led him to making 46 calls to police and I found the link to why. I'll post it at bottom of string.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Is that really legal, for citizens who aren't police officers to follow people around who are doing nothing except walking through a neighborhood?

If there's some sort of suspicious activity, wouldn't the better procedure be to call the police?

Seems just a bit funny to me.

If I were walking or driving through a neighborhood and was followed by unknown civilians, I'd feel a bit like they were possibly dangerous to me, and wonder why they were doing it. I might even call the police and report them.

What happens if that happens?

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Don't know how it could be illegal, might not be the smartest move in the world, though. Like I said, I've followed suspicious cars into our neighborhood a few times, as well as walkers and joggers. We've had an elderly lady robbed by, ironically enough, a man wearing a full sweatsuit including a hoodie covering his head. Put everyone on edge. And we've had a "mobile panhandler" that was more than a little loco and became a threat. So everyone is always on their toes now.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

He did. And I have. Depends on the situation and the individual, I guess. I think everyone including Zimmerman wishes that's all he'd done at this point.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

That has to be true!

As I was doing some errands, I heard something on NPR - apparently the police think that neighborhood watch groups should just be their "eyes and ears", and call them if they see anything suspicious.

Sounds like what I was thinking.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

I'm sure you're right. We have never organized an official 'watch' and I don't know what the guidelines are, but seems logical the police wouldn't want you taking things in your own hands. But as I've been speaking w/ Valkyrie about, hard to fathom the collective psyche in that neighborhood when they'd been struck so many times. Might be hard to sit idly by in that kind of environment. And that's certainly an unconsidered factor in all this.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I understand that would be difficult.

But calling the police isn't sitting idly by - it's taking action, and a much less risky sort of action than chasing people, or following them.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

I can agree with that to a point. Like I've been saying, my neighbors and I are ever vigilant and we haven't had near the problems this community has. There's a point when many take it on themselves, wise or not, the options seem insufficient. I/we have followed cars and people just to make sure they have a legitimate destination. I suggested and implemented a city sign that warns we have surveillance cameras, even though we don't. You have to put yourself in the position of a community that's had these kinds and this multitude of crimes. The mentality is going to be highly paranoid. Sitting back isn't going to be the attitude of many. And rightfully so.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

I understand.

But, it seems to me that following people to determine a "legitimate" destination is a bit over some sort of line.

People have the right to walk freely around the streets without being hassled like that.

If I saw somebody following me like that, I'd think they were the ones up to no good, and I'd probably react accordingly.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

I guess it depends on the neighborhood. But even an organized neighborhood watch MUST be vigilant and follow suspicious behavior, otherwise what's the point? I'm not going to just stand in my driveway when an out of place vehicle that's somehow raised my suspicions slowly drives deeper into our area. And if I'm walking 100 yards behind someone that can hardly be considered "hassling them."

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

No - according to the police, you're supposed to "report" suspicious behavior to them.

That's rather different from "following" it, don't you think?

If I were being followed, either on foot or by car, by people with no official designation as police officers, I would assume they're bad guys.

It's not really up to you to determine what's "legitimate" and what's not, I think. What if I'm simply wandering around the neighborhood taking a walk?

I'd really suggest consulting with the police, and forming an official neighborhood watch.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the lecture, but I'm going to keep doing things the way we have been. I'm fairly certain none of the people we've trailed thought that's what we were doing. I'm also certain no body could look at me or my neighbors strolling through the neighborhood as "bad guys." And I'm confident I can discern when it's appropriate to contact the police.

Of course it's up to me to determine what's "legitimate" in my neighborhood, again: what's the point of a watch otherwise? Allowing a suspicious person or vehicle out of sight would be irresponsible. It's not like the police have 10 second response times. Confronting someone is for the police, but we're their eyes and ears until that point comes.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like a recipe for more tragedies and disasters like this one to me.

Do whatever you want, of course.

If you haven't consulted with the police, though, how do you really know what's appropriate?

By the way, and this is a hard one, even "bad guys" have the right to walk/drive on public streets and sidewalks.

Sorry you have to deal with this - it sucks.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Why? I'm not confronting anyone nor putting myself in their way. Nor am I infringing on anyone's rights in any fashion or form. How are you picturing this? That I'm right on their heels? Not too difficult to look nonchalant and non-threatening strolling down my own neighborhood block a good distance behind someone.

You are right, though. It does suck. More than anything the vigilance is mostly to protect the kids. No one's snatching a child if I can help it.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

You also mentioned following somebody in a car, which would be more obvious, I would think.

Have you discussed this with the police, to make sure your actions are legal and appropriate?

I think that these days, with increased economic and other tensions, this sort of thing has the potential to be tragic. Your feelings are understandable, but so are the feelings of those who are followed for no reason, who are doing nothing wrong.

Add a few guns into the mix, and it can easily become a mess.

Why not form an official neighborhood watch? I believe you can register with the police as one, get signs, etc. that way - then you know for sure that you and the police are on the same page, and create a structure for these sorts of things - maybe you could even get some sort of identifying badges or something, so that people know you're part of that.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Why not organize an official neighborhood watch group, and consult with the police on how to do that?

Then you can post neighborhood watch signs around the neighborhood.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

"size can matter" - Right, maybe. But you're making that comment with no insight, no information. Your guess might be correct. It might me wrong. In the end, it's nothing but a guess.
"In the absence of evidence" - Right again. There has been no evidence presented. None, Zip. Zilch. There is exactly the same amount of evidence to suggest Zimmerman could defend himself as there is evidence that he was unable to defend himself.

Geiiga 3 years, 3 months ago

All the evidence suggests that Zimmerman picked a fight. The "he should have shot that kid" side's suggestion is that Zimmerman picked a fight and lost and that the proper thing to do when losing a fight you started is to kill the other guy. The "he shouldn't have shot that kid" suggests that stalking a child through his father's neighborhood and then shooting him in the chest probably warrants an arrest, and given the poor history of the Sanford Police in investigating crimes committed against African-Americans, their releasing a child murderer onto the streets with no charges against him reeks of a racial injustice, and are befuddled and a bit enraged at the "It's generally okay to shoot a black kid" attitude of the first group.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Gotta know the situation, death. IF Martin did strike first with an unexpected punch to the nose, it can be very disorienting, particularly so if you've never been in a fight or haven't fought much. Everyone reacts differently to combat. Everyone has a plan. Until they get hit.

beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

If someone is following you -- first in a vehicle and then on foot -- as you legally walk down the street, then that person starts chasing you for no apparent reason, can you really say that a punch to the nose of the person pursuing another is unexpected?

I see on this board all the time where people say those who are picked on by others should stand up for themselves. If picked on, fight back is the common line. If the scenario as it is being told now holds to be true, isn't that exactly what happened here? If you follow and chase people for no good reason, at the very least expect to get hit on the nose.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Can't argue with any of what you said as it stands, except the scenario I've been reading and hearing is the opposite of what you propose. I would say if it is found that Zimmerman chased him down and initiated the confrontation, he has to go to jail in my opinion. But if he'd broken off pursuit and headed back to his car and then was confronted by Martin who initiated the confrontation......? I don't know. Need more info.

beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

It is that first pursuit by Zimmerman that is troublesome.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps. There's certainly a much higher probability that we're not having this conversation if he'd stayed in his car. I certainly wish he had.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

One of the many things that's been bugging me about this case was the volume of calls Zimmerman made to police. This article explains that.

"Conversations with several residents, however, suggest that Zimmerman’s calls reflect a wider feeling of concern and distrust in the community. For years, Twin Lakes residents had been on edge—demonstrated by their decision last September to start a neighborhood-watch organization, which was initiated by Zimmerman himself. The burglary of Olivia Bertalan’s home was just one of at least eight reported over the previous 14 months—several of which, neighbors said, involved young black men. On Feb. 26, the odds were stacked against Martin: he was a young black man in a neighborhood that was feeling besieged by crime and blaming it—fairly or not—on people who looked like him."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/28/zimmerman-s-twin-lakes-community-was-on-edge-before-trayvon-shooting.html

beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

In other words, Martin was guilty by association for being young and black -- this is exactly what Pitts has said all along.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

No, it's not what Pitts asserted. First of all, the association for being young and black is drawn here by the writer, not the residents. Granted, it's a reasonable assumption.
Pitts' assertion is that ALL black men are subject to this instant correlation all the time, and that's not remotely true.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

Nice try, but no cigar. Unless you have walked in someone's shoes, you have no way of knowing the truth.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for that, 'cept I don't know what you're talking about.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

Do you know what it is like to be black and male?

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Male, yes. But I know I'm not alone in NOT assuming that every black male I see is a criminal. And before you try, just because Pitts is a black man doesn't mean he knows the other 88% of the country's mindset. This has nothing to do with 'walking in another man's shoes'.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

Yes, it does. Unless you have experienced it, you can't know how Pitts or others may feel. I don't think the quote about black criminals was meant to infer ALL, but instead to point out that value judgements on color have been placed where they don't belong. Ideas about human nature and a distorted view of good and evil (black and white) are in error. The only way to fix it is to change core beliefs, and that takes honesty.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

I can agree with you on your point on value judgments. But Pitts isn't speaking about the black man's mindset, he's speaking about everyone who isn't black and their mindset, so it isn't about walking in a black man's shoes. He's saying you, I, and every non-black sees "black criminal" as redundant, therefore Trayvon was de facto suspicious/guilty in all non-black eyes. And that's simply not true.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

The use of absolutes in any debate is unfortunate, but I don't seem to be able to determine where you are pulling "all" and "every" from the article. It is important to understand the context of Ms. Alexander's quote. I would like to think you would read the book to understand this a bit better. Or, read some about the War on Drugs which has been nothing more than a form of social control. Something had to replace the Jim Crow laws, didnt it? As I said before, Americans are generally ashamed of our racial history, refuse to discuss it and choose to believe all are equal and anyone can "move up" if they put enough effort into it. Why, just look at Oprah!! Along comes the election of Obama and many feel racism no longer exists - how could it?
So, Pitts is not saying what you purport, he is saying until we can change core beliefs and racial ideaolgy, there will just be a new, more invisible form of social control to replace the old.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

"As to what it is about, consider a passage in Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow,” in which she argues that “what it means to be a criminal in our collective consciousness has become conflated with what it means to be black, so the term white criminal is confounding, while the term black criminal is nearly redundant.”

Nearly redundant.

This, then, is what killed Trayvon Martin, the fact that we are so stubbornly convinced of that redundancy that a boy walking home carrying nothing more threatening than Skittles and iced tea can become a source of terror sufficient for a George Zimmerman to stalk him and to kill him."

Pitts is saying our collective consciousness views all young black males as criminals. It's "redundant." And that's what killed Trayvon. He has absolutely NO idea of Zimmerman's motivations or suspicions or where they stem from, and he certainly doesn't have a grasp on the collective consciousness. I don't view young black males as de facto criminals. Do you? That's two of us proving him wrong right there.

And I've read "The New Jim Crow."

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

Yes, you are right - that is what Pits was talking about. - collective consciousness.

The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness. —Emile Durkheim

So tell me how you arrived at the term "all" in your explaination? I am not an avergae member of society and obviously neither are you, or you would not care to discuss this in a civil manner.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

I certainly hope that's not true. And it's from that hope I believe Pitts is dead wrong. Racism will never die. Ever. You can't fix stupid. But the worst thing you can do in attempts to correct a wrong is pound your "point" relentlessly; it can only breed resentment. And Pitts "all'' is pretending black people are all viewed the same by non-blacks. Pretending the racial divide is still a chasm is just plain dumb. And while I think Pitts believes he's doing the work of the angels, his columns are at best 1 in 3. But that's one step forward two steps back.

beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

"On Feb. 26, the odds were stacked against Martin: he was a young black man in a neighborhood that was feeling besieged by crime and blaming it—fairly or not—on people who looked like him."

That is quoted from your link. Martin was targeted (followed, tracked, identified as "suspicious") simply for walking down the street while young and black. That is indeed what Pitts has said on more than one occassion.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

I know where the quote came from and I'll reiterate: that's the reporter's words, thoughts, and assumptions. It's not a statement of fact. And nobody other than Zimmerman can answer what made him suspicious.
The reason this is not the same as Pitts assertion is that he purports that all young black men are always viewed in that manner. But the people of this community had specific reason to be wary of such; it wasn't a de facto mind set, but one that had been enforced because in their community it has played out that way. If the community had been repeatedly burglarized by old rednecks in overalls, then such people would of course draw a suspicious eye.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Couldn't agree more. And while the article does explain the calls and even the officer believed it wasn't excessive in context, it certainly seems Zimmerman was still overzealous at the very least.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Is that SOP for neighborhood watch? Didn't know that.

Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

It is. Most police departments have a liaison that helps people set up neighborhood watches. The liaison explained to them what their duties are and any liability issues. People are advised not to be armed as that can escalate a situation. They are advised to contact the police anytime they see something suspicious.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

Good to know. But I'm not in complete agreement w/ the not being armed part.

Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

I think it is more not being armed with a gun or something along those lines. My understanding from my mom when theirs was set up years ago, pepper spray was ok.

They were also encouraged to take self-defense classes too in case they were in danger.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

It's a tough one. I can definitely understand the rationale for not having a gun, but then we had an experience w/ a deranged man a while back who was a significant threat. If my neighbor's son hadn't had a gun, I don't know what might have happened. The guy still was aggressive after seeing the weapon but ultimately backed down.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 3 months ago

Had Trayvon not gone to assault and battery mode, he'd still be sloping around in his hoodie munching skittles.

Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

According to Zimmerman's lawyer, he had a gash on his head that was deep enough to require stitches. At a minimum, there would have been some sort of dressing on the back of his head.

There would have also been blood on his shirt from his nose and also from shooting Trayvon Martin.

jonas_opines 3 years, 3 months ago

Assume guilty thug until proven otherwise, then continue to assume it, still. Eh, Snap?

beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

Wow, snap. "Sloping?" Truly pathetic. Try "walking down the street."

Please remember that the kid you are bad-mouthing was killed at the age of 17. He was killed only after being followed by an armed adult for doing nothing other than walking down the street.

You may not like it, but black kids are allowed to walk down the street in America.

50YearResident 3 years, 3 months ago

Bea, Remember the Juvinile Detension Centers are filled with innocent 14, 15, 16 and 17 year olds. Of course all of them are innocent. None of them were guilty of anything, we know that.

Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

They aren't in Juvie for walking down a sidewalk late at night.

Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

It would be the ultimate "Stay off my lawn".

kcowsert4 3 years, 3 months ago

Regardless of whether this 17 year old boy was "suspicious" or not, Zimmerman should be in jail at this very second. It doesn't matter who it was, he killed an innocent 17 year old kid for no apparent reason other than wearing an article of clothing. He was unarmed and not dangerous in any way, therefore Zimmerman should be in jail for murder. If the victim was still alive, he would possibly have another version of the story, and the witnesses' stories don't match up so it is hard to tell what actually happened. But the fact of the matter is that Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed Trayvon Martin, and that is called murder.

jaywalker 3 years, 3 months ago

You admit we don't know what actually happened and attribute Zimmerman's rationale to Geraldo's hoodie comment two weeks after the incident. Perhaps Zimmerman should be in jail, but not based on anything you wrote.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 3 months ago

Get the rope ready, kcow has made up his/her/its mind!

50YearResident 3 years, 3 months ago

I see a lot of posters have positively determined what happened here and who is innocent and who is guilty, You must be eye witnesses to the event, so all you need to do now is go to the police station and set the police straight with your facts. Otherwise these positive facts you are posting are all speculation and not worth a plugged nickel, including mine.

juma 3 years, 3 months ago

Anything to make this a 'white/black' issue. Zimmerman has gone from an 'Hispanic' to a 'light-skinned Hispanic' to now, according to the racist Pitts; a "WHITE hispanic' . The BBC today when reporting this story referred to Zimmerman as "a White OR Hispanic" person. The racist propaganda machine by Pitts, et. al. can NOT continue with their one-sided view of the world until Zimmerman is declared a totally white caucasian of German heritage. Anything else would not fit their agenda.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Also, of course, the police were involved here, and the kid ran from them, etc.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, wrong story.

There's another one about a kid who was killed by police that's currently being investigated.

Kathy Getto 3 years, 3 months ago

Better to have a revolution to stop the attacks on human rights than to allow the current right wing mind-set which only wants to find new ways to restore their "social order".

verity 3 years, 3 months ago

Why does it matter whether Zimmerman is white or brown? Can only whites have prejudice towards blacks? That makes no sense whatsoever.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

They've been arrested, and an investigation is ongoing.

Sounds like the right outcome to me.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 3 months ago

I did qualify as expert back when I was wearing the green suit everyday. Marksman is still the lowest qualification, isn't it?

Flap Doodle 3 years, 3 months ago

They're still using Zimmerman's old mug shot and the innocent angel photo of Trayvon?

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