When I first heard about Trayvon Martin’s shooting I was incredibly shocked, hurt and angry. Nothing justifies such a senseless taking of a life. That child, (yes no matter how tall he was or how much he weighed or even how “menacing” he looked, he was a child) should not be dead.
I pride myself on not hyping up murder cases or researching or diving into them- because I see them everyday. My defendant, the victims’ family, the emotions these cases are wrought with- I see it and I don’t want to read some pumped up version of a case. This case is different, because it concerns an issue that I feel strongly about.
Zimmerman is not your typical defendant. My defendants are often young, black or Hispanic and the current case is not their first time around. I have defendants who’ve been in the system since age 8. can you imagine. Aggravated assault at age 8.
Zimmerman, on the other hand was employed and seemed to have his shit together. He does not fit the profile of a criminal. He was serving to protect with that gun.
The facts are splashed all over the internet and this small, insignificant Blog post will not rehash and analyze the facts of the case.
The verdict for Zimmerman came in late yesterday night. I was at dinner with my boyfriend’s family, and both sides of the case were thoroughly represented over pasta and a background of Frank Sinatra. Bets were placed on the verdict- and when it came- not guilty- I was not shocked.
Zimmerman had a great self-defense case. We can’t KNOW what happened that night because Trayvon is dead. Lack of knowledge cannot be the basis of a conviction, thank goodness. If that were the case many of MY defendants would be serving incredibly harsh and punishing terms. I think the trial was an example that- even through social pressure, the legal system works. It works because my next client who’s been in the system since age 8 will have a fair trial and the reasonable doubt standard will aptly apply. Legally, the outcome of the case is exactly what I thought it should be. Legally, like it or not the man had an incredibly convincing self-defense case.
Morally, the verdict tastes all wrong. It tastes bitter and terrible. A child is dead and no one is punished?? That seems backwards.
The Martins can probably file a civil negligence suit. They might win and might find some justice and comfort in that. I doubt it. That family is forever heartbroken.
People are furious with the verdict. They call racism. They point out that it’s everything wrong with the system.
Is race a factor? Maybe- but there are more startling and stark examples of racism than this case. Look at any given statistic on New York’s stop and frisk practices and you’ll find blind racism. Racism is very VERY much still a problem in our society and it is something that VERY much needs addressed- I’ve dedicated my life to working with our troubled population to try and fight what makes most of our prison population a minority of young, black males. Racism and racial profiling are enormously sad events that still occur today. Young black men are distrustful of the cops and white people. It’s true. It’s awful and it’s ugly. It needs to be stopped and soon.
While race was probably a factor here, the real heartbreaker in this case is the gun. Zimmerman should NEVER have been armed.
Look at it this way… Zimmerman was a vigilante. There were burglaries in the neighborhood. Regardless of race I am willing to bet my precious Teddy that he would have followed, stopped and asked questions of the person. Regardless.
Why? Because he felt empowered by his firearm. He felt, that with that firearm, the person in the hoodie, white or black or yellow or red or a happy mixture would respect his random authority. He didn’t need a police uniform with a firearm. With the gun, here was justice, defined. Working all hours of the day. Zimmerman got out of the car because he was armed.
A tussle ensued and now a child is dead.
Without the firearm- he wouldn’t have left the car. He would have used his cell phone to call the police while monitoring the hoodied figure in his car. He wouldn’t have left the car because you don’t just go approaching people. If the police fucked up because Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon, then his family could have brought a 1983 suit. Trayvon would not be dead- maybe a little roughed up by the police and another example of why we need to STOP racial profiling. But Zimmerman was armed.
Trayvon Martin. Sandy Hook Elementary. Shopping Center, Anytown USA. Columbine.
Let’s have the death of this child as another example of why we need to absolutely STOP STOP STOP arming citizens. As an example of what happens with conceal and carry laws. We have a police force. We have stun guns and mace and judo and hell, even pocketknives in a pinch.
WE DO NOT NEED GUNS TO PROTECT OURSELVES.
Trayvon Martin died, not because of his skin color, but because some yahoo who thought he could bring justice to the streets on his own, without proper training, without any sort mental health check had a gun. This gun was like an extra shot of testosterone. Like a beautiful woman whispering in his ear about what a big, strong protector he was.
It breaks my heart that a child died- so let’s focus on the issue. Gun violence, guns in the general society DO NOT PROTECT. How many more tragedies do we have to have before people see this?
I hope we can learn from this- and take the opportunity to do something about it.
** Note: I am getting a decent amount of flack about this from guns right’s folks. Which is great, the internet is a great forum for debate. I posted this for two reasons:
1. many people think this is a big racial issue. I wanted to point out there are more issues than race here.
2. Guns are incredibly lethal. While I do recognize there is a second amendment right to bear arms, and guns have their place in sports & hobbies, I just don’t know that it is right to arm lay people- this isn’t the wild west. There are many alternatives to guns- non lethal. I’m not sure why it’s OK for people to romp around with guns. People have emotions. People are unstable. Not saying that ALL people are- but some. so why take the risk?
3. For those arguing you protect your home with a gun, That’s great. Not saying you shouldn’t keep your guns at home if that’s what makes you safe. My father keeps one and my ex-Marine grandfather keeps about 10 of them. But a gun in the home is not the same as a gun on the streets.