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Apr 02 2012

The Dangers of Righteous Anger

I’ve written very little about the Trayvon Martin case, and here’s part of the reason why. I’m always uncomfortable when the mob forms and begins demanding retribution over almost anything. That’s how witches get burned and dissidents set on fire. And it’s happening on both sides of this situation.

Twitchy.com, which is owned by Michelle Malkin, published a photograph that they initially claimed was of Martin looking all thuggish. Turns out it wasn’t of him at all and they had to correct it. The photograph is still there, though.

And on the other side, Spike Lee retweeted a post that contained the address of George Zimmerman, the shooter in this case. Except it wasn’t his address at all, it was the address of an elderly couple that has nothing to do with it, who have had to leave their home and go to a hotel out of fear. Spike Lee has since offered a genuine apology, as opposed to a notpology:

“I Deeply Apologize To The McClain Family For Retweeting Their Address,” Lee tweeted on Wednesday. “It Was A Mistake.Please Leave The McClain’s In Peace.Justice In Court.”

Yes, the anger is entirely justified. Yes, anger absolutely has its uses. But just like fire, which can cook our food or burn us to death, it also has dangers and can get out of hand if not handled appropriately.

124 comments

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  1. 1
    Aquaria

    So the liberal gets called out for his mistake, apologizes and makes amends, and the cheerleader makes a correction?

    Yeah, totally the same kind of reaction on both sides.

  2. 2
    Michael Heath

    Ed opines:

    Spike Lee has since offered a genuine apology, as opposed to a notpology . . .

    I think what follows falls well short of a genuine apology. A genuine apology would also have Mr. Lee apologizing for attempting to publish Mr. Zimmerman’s address.

  3. 3
    Doug Little

    I agree with Michael,

    WTF did he think was going to happen tweeting an address in the first place.

  4. 4
    dugglebogey

    The anger should be pointed in the right direction. At the police.

    How has this guy not been arrested? Self defense is an affirmative defense. A COURTROOM defense. The guy admitted to killing the kid. And the guy is never arrested. How can this be?

    Arrested doesn’t mean convicted, it doesn’t mean he’s guilty. It just means he did something he needs to answer for.

    The guy STILL hasn’t been arrested!

  5. 5
    Eamon Knight

    Agree with @2. No matter how much you despise someone, and no matter how much they deserve your despite, publicizing their home address and phone number is out-of-bounds. It’s vigilantism — ironically, the behaviour Zimmerman is almost certainly guilty of. The pressure should be on the local authorities, through official and public channels (where “public channels” includes peaceful demonstrations in front of the police station, City Hall, etc).

  6. 6
    omnicrom

    Gonna have to agree with the above, trying to publish Zimmerman’s address was the wrong thing to do period.

    Righteous Anger can get out of hand easily, and there are people who you agree with that sadly are going to say stupid ugly things that hurts a good movement no matter what unfortunately.

    Nonetheless we should still be angry about the Trayvon Martin case. We should be angry until the police actually do their JOB and investigate the shooting of a human being. Until then I think there’s a good reason to be angry that a teenager was shot and noone of authority really seems to give a damn.

  7. 7
    cjtotalbro

    Thanks Ed, it is nice to know that if Malkin and Spike Lee are idiots regarding an issue you will refrain from commenting.

    Better end the blog now.

  8. 8
    Area Man

    Yeah, listing someone’s address is inexcusable. There can only be one possible reason for it, which is to see the person harassed or even harmed by mob justice.

  9. 9
    Ed Brayton

    cjtotalbro:

    That’s a very nice straw man you’re beating up there. I said no such thing. I’m just encouraging a little caution before jumping on these bandwagons of rage. I’ve been far too busy to really dig into this story and keep up with all of the information that comes out, so I’m not really prepared to take a bold position on it (that’s called intellectual honesty). My point here is simply that when these public lynch mobs form, it’s all too easy for it to go too far. We’ve seen it in situation after situation, from Richard Jewell to the Central Park jogger rape case.

    I am not arguing that anger isn’t justified in this case or that Zimmerman is not guilty of everything he is accused of. From what little reading I’ve been able to do on it over the last couple weeks, it appears to me that he should certainly be charged in the case. But I think we should approach such situations carefully and skeptically rather than as part of an angry mob carrying metaphorical pitchforks, as far too many people on both sides have been doing.

  10. 10
    Area Man

    “We should be angry until the police actually do their JOB and investigate the shooting of a human being.”

    In fairness, I believe the state has an ongoing investigation and so too might the local police department. These things take time. The local police, or at least prosecutors, clearly cocked things up from the beginning, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be set right. It would be best if everyone would chill out for a bit and allow the investigations to run their course.

    Though I must say I’m generally more repulsed by those overreacting to protect the killer than those overreacting on behalf of the guy who got killed. Leave it to conservatives to always take sides against the powerless.

  11. 11
    eric

    How has this guy not been arrested? Self defense is an affirmative defense. A COURTROOM defense.

    I’m inclined to agree with you. Having said that, IMO the ongoing issue is the prosecutor’s, not the police’s. If the police should have brought him in, and didn’t, that is one past mistake. We can probably all think of cases where they didn’t bring in someone that, in hindsight, they should have. The issue now is what the state’s prosecutors are doing about the incident.

    One thing is pretty certain in my mind – if there is a trial, it’s going to have to have a change of venue practically to the moon. The press coverage of this incident is going to make it impossible to try Zimmerman anywhere in FL or in any well-informed district anywhere else. In that respect, ongoing press coverage is not justice’s friend. Every day of coverage will make it harder and harder to get 12 generally-well-informed-but-not-about-this-case citizens to hear the case. It increases the chances that any future case will be determined by some mix of the completely ignorant, intentioally uninformed, and folks with an agenda who can lie well enough to get past the jury selection process.

  12. 12
    cjtotalbro

    I think it is actually pretty fair to say you might be putting up the straw man here, especially considering the fact that you admit you havent had time to keep up with what is actually going on. Posting about the ravings of hacks like Malkin and Lee as if they are representative just seems beneath you, as does the implication that the readers of your blog arent already approaching this case from a more measured and skeptical position.

    I apologize for the snark, but I always find your commentary on legal issues interesting and was a bit let down by this post. I saw it as a bit too much like something I’d hear on CNN but I could certainly be wrong.

  13. 13
    Chiroptera

    eric, #11: Every day of coverage will make it harder and harder to get 12 generally-well-informed-but-not-about-this-case citizens to hear the case.

    Surely, that is not an issue in jury selection, is it? When I was called for jury duty (admittedly for another state’s grand jury; it may be different for a Florida petit jury), I was never asked whether or not I was informed about the case. The main questions were whether I personally knew or was somehow indirectly but signicantly associated with the principals in the case, and whether I could render an unbiased judgement.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I always thought the search for the “uninformed juror” was a myth.

    On the other hand, I do agree that the media coverage will make it less and less likely to find jurors we can be certain are unbiased, and so I agree with your main point.

  14. 14
    Ben P

    The anger should be pointed in the right direction. At the police.

    How has this guy not been arrested? Self defense is an affirmative defense. A COURTROOM defense. The guy admitted to killing the kid. And the guy is never arrested. How can this be?

    Arrested doesn’t mean convicted, it doesn’t mean he’s guilty. It just means he did something he needs to answer for.

    The guy STILL hasn’t been arrested!

    Take a deep breath and repeat after me, “prosecutorial discretion.”

    Do you really want to live in a world where the prosecutors have no discretion to decide which charges they want to pursue and which ones they don’t? Every time a cop writes someone up, the prosecutors are legally obliged to press charges to the best of their ability?

    My state, along with many others, due to MADD lobbying, has a situation like this with respect to drunk driving charges. Once the police write a report alleging someone was DWI, the prosecutors cannot drop or decline to pursue the charges, it ends one of three ways, a guilty plea, a guilty conviction or an acquittal. The statute also has mandatory minimum sentences.

    I can fully believe that Drunk driving is a serious problem, but laws like the ones MADD pushes are simply bad laws.

    Getting back to Trayvon Martin’s case, as I understand the law in Florida, state statutes have basically shifted the burden of proof regarding self defense ton the prosecutor.

    That is, under common law, self defense was an affirmative defense. The prosecutor has to prove the defendant killed someone beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant has to prove, usually by preponderance of the evidence, that the killing was justified.

    The state of Florida (and some other states) is that if the defendant merely alleges self defense, the prosecutor must not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing occured, but that it was not self defense.

    Evidence suggests this has lead to a sharp rise in aquittals based on self defense. As often as not the shooter is the only witness to the shooting and claims it was self defense. Where does the prosecutor get evidence that it wasn’t?

    The media has brought forward evidence in this case, but I’d caution you that you don’t know whether any of that would end up being admissible in court.

    While I’m inclined to agree with you that this particular situation should result in charges being brought, a prosecutor is, and should be, within his rights to decide that he doesn’t feel he has enough proof to win a case and decide to not bring it in the first place.

  15. 15
    harold

    1) Spike Lee is not a consistent progressive, he’s something of an ass, with some racist tendencies.

    2) Neither the Martin family nor any other reasonable person has ever endorsed the idea of vigilante action against Zimmerman. The Martin family has condemned the New Black Panthers $10,000 “reward” for Zimmerman (and even the NBP only say that they want Zimmerman “captured”).

    What reasonable people want is a trial.

    Armed with an automatic pistol, in a car, Zimmerman followed walking, unarmed Trayvon Martin, who was doing nothing to bother anyone. Some kind of confrontation ensued, someone screamed for help, and unarmed Trayvon Martin ended up shot to death. Those undisputed facts indicate an arrest and trial, “stand your ground laws” or not. (If anything “stand your ground” laws work against the not very credible defense that Martin attacked Zimmerman, as such laws would give Martin the right to “stand his ground” against an armed pursuer.)

    The anger should be pointed in the right direction. At the police.

    The police wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, but were over-ruled by a prosecutor.

    While police brutality and misconduct should always be condemned, excessive focus of criticism on working class law enforcement personnel may sometimes represent the unconscious choice of a weak target, rather than an accurate target.

  16. 16
    tbp1

    I think Spike Lee’s apology falls short of the ideal, but I think it counts as an actual apology, in that he apologized for his actions, didn’t try to defend them, and didn’t say he was just sorry “If anyone was offended.”

    So it’s considerably better than what is usually offered from the right, even if it doesn’t go the distance.

  17. 17
    Ben P

    Surely, that is not an issue in jury selection, is it? When I was called for jury duty (admittedly for another state’s grand jury; it may be different for a Florida petit jury), I was never asked whether or not I was informed about the case. The main questions were whether I personally knew or was somehow indirectly but signicantly associated with the principals in the case, and whether I could render an unbiased judgement.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I always thought the search for the “uninformed juror” was a myth.

    I would guess that the case on which you were a juror was one that had either little media coverage or very summary media coverage. Where medial coverage isn’t detailed, its simply not a big deal so long as jurors affirm they haven’t made any conclusions and are willing to listen to the evidence before making a conclusion.

    We don’t do that many jury trials, but for example, I worked on one last year that was a fire case in a small town. 90% of the jury *knew of* the case because it was a fire in a commercial building in the downtown of a town of 10,000 people. The bank had been closed for two months for renovations. But the media reports were never more detailed than “a fire occurred,” and “estimated damage is” and “will be closed for 2 months.” We were fine in that case just asking jurors “do you know anything about what might have caused the fire? No, “will you listen to the evidence and make a fair decision about the cause?”

    On the other hand, in a case like this, you’d get very detailed questions about “have you heard about this case?” “What have you heard?” “have you formed any conclusions?” “will you be able to listen to the evidence in an unbiased manner.” Any of those can be used to disqualify a juror who may have already made a decision.

    While not precisely media coverage, there’s a well known case in my state that illustrates the point.

    It was a car wreck case that occurred over a multi-day trial. One evening a juror drove out to the scene of the accident and looked at it himself. He came back the next day and told the jury during deliberations “well I’ve looked at the accident and there’s a sharp curve in the road 100 yards up from the accident, the Defendant’ couldn’t have been speeding like the Plaintiff says or he would have run off the road there.” The jury came to a defense verdict. The Plaintiff found out about the juror, and the court ordered a mistrial. Jurors aren’t allowed to do their own investigation of the facts outside of the court. Media coverage works the same way.

    Take for example, the recent story by purported “audio experts” saying the scream on the 911 call is not Zimmerman like Zimmerman claims. Suppose the case goes to trial, Zimmerman testifies that it was him, a witness testifies that it was him, and the prosecutor doesn’t introduce any evidence like this (because it is inadmissible or turned out to be unreliable).

    If the juror is seen this report, how can the defense be sure the juror will put this purported “fact” out of their mind and not bring up “wasn’t there that voice expert that said the voice couldn’t have been Zimmerman?” That’s just asking for a mistrial.

  18. 18
    Modusoperandi

    I tweeted his address. And, no, I’m not apologizing. I did it, and I’ll do it again. I have nothing to apologize for. It was really my address. I’m ever so lonely.

  19. 19
    Ed Brayton

    Ben P wrote:

    Do you really want to live in a world where the prosecutors have no discretion to decide which charges they want to pursue and which ones they don’t? Every time a cop writes someone up, the prosecutors are legally obliged to press charges to the best of their ability?

    I don’t think anyone would take that position. But that doesn’t mean such discretion should always be respected and never criticized. That discretion is often abused. And there needs to be some oversight process to help prevent that abuse (I haven’t really thought through what that would look like, but I think it’s needed).

  20. 20
    Ben P

    Armed with an automatic pistol, in a car, Zimmerman followed walking, unarmed Trayvon Martin, who was doing nothing to bother anyone. Some kind of confrontation ensued, someone screamed for help, and unarmed Trayvon Martin ended up shot to death. Those undisputed facts indicate an arrest and trial, “stand your ground laws” or not. (If anything “stand your ground” laws work against the not very credible defense that Martin attacked Zimmerman, as such laws would give Martin the right to “stand his ground” against an armed pursuer.)

    With respect, where’s the evidence?

    Keep in mind, Zimmerman’s story is that he thought Trayvon looked suspicious, followed him, lost him, and then was physically attacked by Trayvon, and shot him in self defense. The police report purports to state facts which corroborate this story, injuries on Zimmerman, statements of individuals as to what they heard. This is all disputed, some of it very strongly, but you have to then contest with why the police wrote it down the way they did. I can tell you from experience that calling cops liars in open court is a difficult thing to do.

    There are no direct witnesses to the confrontation. There is however,

    1. at least one witness who says if there’d been a struggle, she thinks she would have hard it.

    2. the potential testimony of the girlfriend about what Trayvon told her, which may or may not be hearsay. And what do you want to bet a lawyer would cross examine her about her motive to be honest about the details?

    3. Various pieces of circumstantial evidence which dispute the prosecution’s case.

    Is this enough to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the incident was not self defense? I don’t know.

  21. 21
    Ben P

    I don’t think anyone would take that position. But that doesn’t mean such discretion should always be respected and never criticized. That discretion is often abused. And there needs to be some oversight process to help prevent that abuse (I haven’t really thought through what that would look like, but I think it’s needed).

    Oh I agree 100% that poor use of discretion should be open to criticism and I think the criticism is justified in this case.

    That’s precisely why the MADD laws exist. Thirty years ago it was not at all uncommon for Jim Bob GoodolBoy to hire a good old boy defense lawyer who cuts a deal with good old boy prosecutor and gets that 3rd or 4th or 5th DWI reduced to a traffic ticket because “it’s not like he’s really hurting anyone is it?” That is, until Jim Bob GoodolBoy gets in a wreck and kills a couple of teenagers.

    Even where I see the justification, I think it produces more unjust results than it produces just ones. Bad cases often produce bad law, because it’s so clear that D is guilty, everyone think sit doesn’t matter if they bend the rules a little to get him. The same is true in this case.

    I agree with you on review. Some prosecutors I’m familiar with have a sort of peer review system, internally or externally, but a lot of times that gets broken down with high caseloads. You also have the problem that ultimately its the (often elected) DA or city attorney that controls the budget and makes the decision about how resources are allocated.

  22. 22
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    A genuine apology would also have Mr. Lee apologizing for attempting to publish Mr. Zimmerman’s address.

    Right, because people who do horrible things should never have to suffer any consequences for it.

  23. 23
    Didaktylos

    BTW – I have recently seen rumours to the effect that Zimmerman’s not being arrested and charged may be (at least partially) due to the fact that his father was fomerly a Magistrate Judge.

  24. 24
    Raging Bee

    Take a deep breath and repeat after me, “prosecutorial discretion.”

    YOU take a deep breath and tell us who on this thread has argued against prosecutorial discretion. Here’s the quick and easy answer: NO ONE. We’re not saying prosecutors should have no discrecion; we’re saying the prosecutor in this case exercised absolutely LOUSY discretion, and was very likely influenced by racism and by Zimmerman’s family connection to the police.

    And this is why our righteous anger is getting out of hand in this case: anger over the killing itself is compounded by anger — and, yes, well-grounded fear — at the inexcusable failure of the state to do its job. This was a HOMICIDE — the alleged shooter should have at least been arrested and closely questioned, and probably released on bail.

    With respect, where’s the evidence?

    “With respect,” the evidence is in a) phone conversations between Zimmerman and the 911 operator, in which Zimmerman was explicitly advised not to approach his victim; b) inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s story; and c) lack of any of the physical injuries Zimmerman allegedly got from his victim.

  25. 25
    Pteryxx

    In fairness, I believe the state has an ongoing investigation and so too might the local police department. These things take time.

    While that’s true, and I agree with it, there was no investigation until the Martin family started pressuring the Sanford police with media attention. Unfortunately, the only safeguard available to them IS publicity.

    Also FYI, reports are that Spike Lee not only apologized but paid the mis-identified family “an undisclosed sum” for their trouble.

  26. 26
    Who Knows?

    I hope we never get to the point where we are no longer outraged when a 17 year old is killed walking back from a convience store carrying a can of iced tea and a package of Skittles.

    There are quite a few things in the world worth being outraged about, this is one of them.

  27. 27
    ema

    The main questions were whether I personally knew or was somehow indirectly but signicantly associated with the principals in the case, and whether I could render an unbiased judgement.

    Not a problem in my state where a juror who failed to disclose that he was the DA’s friend 1) was allowed to stay on the jury, 2) was the driving force in acquitting a cop of rape (a witnessed rape, I might add) based on his theory that since the rape victim couldn’t remember the correct color of a car parked nearby she clearly couldn’t remember if she was vaginally penetrated.

  28. 28
    Pteryxx

    Also unfortunately, the only way to ensure that evidence isn’t *ahem* overlooked, lost, forgotten or ignored in this case, is to focus public attention ON that evidence so that the public can hold the investigating departments accountable for that evidence. The public should not have to be doing this. It’s a fix of last resort that has potential mob behavior as a side effect. But again, there would be no investigation at all without the public pressure.

    Fortunately there’s an impending DOJ investigation into possible corruption in the Sanford PD, so with any luck the public can expect accountability via the organization whose job it is.

  29. 29
    slc1

    Here’s a link, which was posted on Prof. Singham’s blog here, that attempts to state the facts as we know them in an objective manner.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2012/03/31/the-facts-on-the-trayvon-martin-case/

    Re Raging Bee @ #24

    My neighbor, Mr. Bee, states with total assurance that there were no injuries on Zimmerman. However, apparently he was given some sort of treatment at site by ambulance technicians who had been called there by the police. The claim of no injuries is based on a videotape, which is unclear, in that no injuries are seen. However, this may be due to the treatment he was given at the scene.

  30. 30
    harold

    Ben P. –

    One of the more shocking aspects of this affair has been watching some people either display or feign ignorance of the difference between “arrest”, “trial” and “verdict”.

    Is this enough to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the incident was not self defense? I don’t know.

    Neither do I, as my comment made clear.

    Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is a verdict, verdict, verdict, verdict, verdict.

    It can only be arrived at by a judge and/or jury through a trial, trial, trial, trial, trial, trial, trial.

    You can’t have a trial unless there is an investigation and an arrest/charge.

    Armed with an automatic pistol, in a car, Zimmerman followed walking, unarmed Trayvon Martin, who was doing nothing to bother anyone. Some kind of confrontation ensued, someone screamed for help, and unarmed Trayvon Martin ended up shot to death. Those undisputed facts indicate an arrest and trial, “stand your ground laws” or not. (If anything “stand your ground” laws work against the not very credible defense that Martin attacked Zimmerman, as such laws would give Martin the right to “stand his ground” against an armed pursuer.)

    With respect, where’s the evidence?

    What the hell are you talking about? Those FACTS are not in dispute. The evidence for those facts is that Zimmerman said he was following Martin, Zimmerman moved from his original location by following Martin, Martin was shot dead with a bullet that can be traced to Zimmerman’s gun, Zimmerman says he shot Martin, etc., etc., etc.

    This would never happen, but if I were pack some heat, get into my car, and follow you when you were walking and minding your own business, at some point get out of my car and confront you, and then you ended up shot to death, I would have earned myself an ARREST in any reasonable jurisdiction.

    Would I be guilty? Not necessarily. That’s for a TRIAL to decide. An ARREST is not a GUILTY VERDICT. The threshold for an ARREST must be lower, otherwise there could never be any “not guilty” verdicts. Is this confusing? It does not seem confusing to me.

    Keep in mind, Zimmerman’s story is…

    I’m going to be incredibly optimistic and generous here, and assume that you are genuinely confused, rather than a consciously or unconsciously racist hypocrite.

    The police do not need “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” to arrest someone.

    If they did, they could almost never arrest anybody, and we would live in the midst of a constant crime spree.

    Again, being an extreme optimist, I’ll repeat what I said before, on the crazily hopeful whim that maybe you missed it rather than deliberately ignoring it.

    No reasonable person is saying that they know that Zimmerman is guilty.

    Reasonable people are saying he should be arrested and have a trial so that we can find out whether or not he is guilty.

  31. 31
    Taz

    And it’s happening on both sides of this situation.

    What’s fucking amazing about this case is that there are “sides”, and the “sides” seem to correspond to political ideology.

  32. 32
    flherp

    The “Stand Your Ground” law has had some strange consequences, this is Florida after all. Consider this verdict: http://tinyurl.com/6tatnho . The comments are quite telling as well.

  33. 33
    Raging Bee

    I agree with Peteryxx: the only reason there’s any movement on this case is because of all this “righteous anger” that some people are now calling dangerous and unhelpful. Notice how the DOJ investigation didn’t start until AFTER the event got national attention?

    If we’d all held our tongues like good accomodationists, there’d be no movement on this case at all.

  34. 34
    Raging Bee

    I’m always uncomfortable when the mob forms and begins demanding retribution over almost anything.

    Sounds like a good reason to get rid of “stand your ground” laws altogether. The way they’re being applied (see the NPR link cited by flherp above), that’s what they’ve become: mob justice unchecked by law-enforcement.

  35. 35
    Taz

    One thing that stands out to me in this case (and that differentiates it from the one flherp links to) is that before Zimmerman acted, there was no crime, nor any reason to suspect one. Zimmerman initiated the incident and reason for it came only from his own head.

  36. 36
    tomh

    Area Man says:

    In fairness, I believe the state has an ongoing investigation and so too might the local police department. These things take time.

    The killing happened on February 26 but they apparently couldn’t find anything to investigate for the first month. Well, except for testing the victim for drugs, but not testing the killer. Other than that, Zimmerman claimed self-defense and that was the end of it. Now that the media has found it, they need lots of time to investigate.

  37. 37
    Raging Bee

    Keep in mind, Zimmerman’s story is that he thought Trayvon looked suspicious, followed him, lost him, and then was physically attacked by Trayvon, and shot him in self defense.

    Keep in mind, a) it’s pretty absurd to think an unarmed teenager would attack a guy who was twice his size, and probably armed, in a neighborhood that was not his own, after running away from said guy; and b) Martin’s girlfriend credibly disputes this story, based on what she heard on the phone with Martin during the incident.

    (Anyone want to bet on what Rush Limbaugh will call Trayvon’s girlfriend?)

  38. 38
    harold

    Keep in mind, a) it’s pretty absurd to think an unarmed teenager would attack a guy who was twice his size, and probably armed, in a neighborhood that was not his own, after running away from said guy; and b) Martin’s girlfriend credibly disputes this story, based on what she heard on the phone with Martin during the incident.

    I completely agree that Zimmerman’s claims don’t sound credible on superficial examination.

    However, let’s also keep in mind that the problem here is not lack of a verdict, it is lack of an investigation, arrest, charge or trial.

    The racists are trying to confound merely arresting and charging Zimmerman (which the police actually tried to do, by the way), with finding him guilty.

    He looks pretty guilty to me, but I could be wrong. That’s why he needs a trial before an impartial jury and/or judge.

    However, for that to happen, he needs to be arrested.

    Although this could border on first degree murder, depending on how one interprets what is available in the media, the manslaughter charge that the cops wanted seems like a good starting point.

  39. 39
    Ben P

    “With respect,” the evidence is in a) phone conversations between Zimmerman and the 911 operator, in which Zimmerman was explicitly advised not to approach his victim; b) inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s story; and c) lack of any of the physical injuries Zimmerman allegedly got from his victim.

    I want to make clear from the outset, I’m doing this to make the point that the facts are nowhere near as clear as you imagine them to be, not to defend Zimmerman.

    1. The phone call with the 911 Operator is not inconsistent with Zimmerman’s version of the facts. Sure, he was advised not to follow Martin, the phone call reveals almost nothing about what actually occurred once he did. Again Zimmerman’s story is that he was attacked by Martin.

    2. Inconsistencies (and I think you’re probably misusing the word) are not themselves evidence of anything. They are useful to impeach Zimmerman’s version of the facts but they don’t show a thing about what actually happened.

    3. The police report says Zimmerman has a specific set of injuries, you contend the police report is wrong, more I believe you’re contending the police lied. I believe you.

    However, it is very easy to sit here on the internet at insist that cops are liars. It is another thing entirely to stand in front of a crowd of people, look a police officer in the eye, and assert that the officer, after having sworn to tell the truth, is lying. Police officers uniformly act rather hostilely to this sort of thing, and an officer on the stand in uniform has a base level of trust among a certain segment of society. You very rarely win any sort of case by calling a police officer a liar.

  40. 40
    eric

    Sounds like a good reason to get rid of “stand your ground” laws altogether.

    Yes, this case seems to be two problems for the price of one: a law that lets people get away with literal murder + endemic bigotry in our justice system that seems to enforce such laws differently depending on the color of your skin.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law allows pistol duels and western-style shootouts? Let’s imagine being in such a duel: that guy 50 paces away from me is armed. And he’s twitching his hand towards his holster. And I have foreknowledge that he intends to shoot me – since the two of us agreed beforehand that he would try! So I am fully justified in shooting him, right? Its self-defense.

  41. 41
    Ben P

    What the hell are you talking about? Those FACTS are not in dispute. The evidence for those facts is that Zimmerman said he was following Martin, Zimmerman moved from his original location by following Martin, Martin was shot dead with a bullet that can be traced to Zimmerman’s gun, Zimmerman says he shot Martin, etc., etc., etc..

    I’m going to be incredibly optimistic and generous here, and assume that you are genuinely confused, rather than a consciously or unconsciously racist hypocrite.

    The police do not need “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” to arrest someone.

    If they did, they could almost never arrest anybody, and we would live in the midst of a constant crime spree.

    Again, being an extreme optimist, I’ll repeat what I said before, on the crazily hopeful whim that maybe you missed it rather than deliberately ignoring it.

    No reasonable person is saying that they know that Zimmerman is guilty.

    Reasonable people are saying he should be arrested and have a trial so that we can find out whether or not he is guilty.

    For making such patronizing assertions and veiled suggestions that I’m being racist you don’t have a particularly solid grasp of the facts yourself.

    Zimmerman was handcuffed, placed in a squad car, taken to the police station, interrogated, held for a number of hours and then released. How exactly do you think the video of Zimmerman in the police station appearing to be uninjured came about?

    By most definitions, he was arrested. He was however, not indicted, or charged, and as a result there was no bail hearing or arraignment. The case appears to be that the prosecutor declined to file any charges and Zimmerman was released on his own recognizance.

    You can absolutely say that the prosecutor made a bad call. I would agree with you 100%.

    However, if you insist that on the night of the incident the prosecutor had no factual basis to decide that he didn’t have enough evidence to overcome a self defense claim, you aren’t paying attention to the facts.

    1. Zimmerman states to the police that after he followed Martin he was attacked and acted in self defense. That Zimmerman was told on the 911 call he didn’t need to be chasing people is not inconsistent with this story.

    2. The police report states Zimmerman’s back appeared to be wet and he was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. Maybe this is a lie, do you expect the prosecutor to fundamentally distrust the officers? If it is a lie, why did the officers lie?

    3. Zimmerman told the police he yelled for help, witnesses recounted hearing a yell. Again consistent. Perhaps you have reason to believe it was Martin yelling, again, this provides reason to dispute Zimmerman’s story, but you’re assuming proof the police didn’t have.

    I firmly agree with you that Zimmerman should be charged, and that a decision not to charge him was wrong, but pretending like it didn’t have a basis is to make an awful lot of assumptions that aren’t borne out by evidence.

  42. 42
    robertfaber

    I’m concerned over the stand your ground law. It appears to be the case, even if Zimmerman’s story is absolutely true, that you can stalk a person, chase them down, start an altercation, and when you start getting your ass kicked, you can “shoot in self-defense” and walk away with no charges filed. That’s if his story is true. It’s even worse if he is lying.

    The left is playing up the racism element, and while an element of racism (profiling at the very least) is obviously there for anyone who isn’t an imbecile, it’s not the most important part of the story. It’s the badly written and implemented law, and partly (possibly) police corruption or incompetence.

    The right, on the other hand, in its attempt to tell everyone that guns are great and there is no racism left in America, are slapping the slime job on Martin as fast as they can. Shamelessly so, and it is vile. It doesn’t matter if he did smoke weed, and it wouldn’t even matter if he were a convicted felon (which Martin was not). No one should have the right to chase down and shoot an unarmed pedestrian walking down the street based on a gut feeling.

  43. 43
    harold

    Ben P. –

    You continue to conflate a discussion of whether or not Zimmerman is guilty – which can only be determined at trial – with a discussion or whether or not Zimmerman should be arrested.

    That is either extremely ill-informed, or deliberately dishonest.

    So please – shut up about whether Zimmerman is guilty.

    Let’s stick only to what is unequivocally known.

    Based on what is unequivocally known, do you think it is reasonable that Zimmerman should not even be charged?

  44. 44
    harold

    Ben P –

    Let me repeat my question, but this time quoting from Robert Faber’s comment, almost every word of which I strongly agree with. Emphasis mine.

    I’m concerned over the stand your ground law. It appears to be the case, even if Zimmerman’s story is absolutely true, that you can stalk a person, chase them down, start an altercation, and when you start getting your ass kicked, you can “shoot in self-defense” and walk away with no charges filed. That’s if his story is true. It’s even worse if he is lying.

    Having charges filed is not the same thing as being found guilty.

    Ben P, do you agree that there should be no charges filed against Zimmerman?

  45. 45
    dontpanic

    harold,
    I agree with pretty much everything you said. But before Ben P get in a huff about:

    I’m going to be incredibly optimistic and generous here, and assume that you are genuinely confused, rather than a consciously or unconsciously racist hypocrite.

    I’m going to suggest another alternative, which again might not apply to Ben P but definitely seem to be a trend: those are very ready to dismiss this case and want to get it out of the harsh glare of public attention because they really, really like the “Stand Your Ground” laws and worry that this kind of attention could cause them to be rolled back to the more common doctrine of an obligation to retreat. Some of them, in some forums that I’ve read, are quite clear that they’ll readily slander and smear Martin, not (necessarily) because they’re racist but because they’re gun nuts.

  46. 46
    Eamon Knight

    @44: See Ben’s @41, last paragraph (note that he appears to have munged the blockquote).

  47. 47
    d cwilson

    I think we can all agree that what Spike Lee did was asinine, even if he had tweeted the correct address. On the other hand, Malkin’s use of that pic was just plain moronic. Even if it had can Trayvon Martin, so what? All it proves is that he posed for a picture. Pics of Bristol Palin making gang signs hit the web during the 2008 campaign. What did they say about Sarah Palin’s fitness for the VP job? Nothing. People make goofy poses for pictures all the time. Malkin’s attempt to deflect blame onto Trayvon because he allegedly posed for a pic just makes her look stupid (not that she needs help in that regard).

    All of this nonsense is just a distraction from the main issue, which is whether Zimmerman committed murder or acted in self-defense. To say that the initial police investigation was half-assed is an insult to the people who make half-assed efforts every day.

    I’m not for making a rush to judgment or (as Spike Lee did) calling for vigilante action. But I don’t think it’s too much to expect the police to do their job right the first time, rather than wait for media pressure to force the state attorney and the feds to get involved.

  48. 48
    Pteryxx

    This is part of why there’s a problem:

    However, if you insist that on the night of the incident the prosecutor had no factual basis to decide that he didn’t have enough evidence to overcome a self defense claim, you aren’t paying attention to the facts.

    1. Zimmerman states to the police that after he followed Martin he was attacked and acted in self defense. That Zimmerman was told on the 911 call he didn’t need to be chasing people is not inconsistent with this story.

    Whether or not it’s consistent, you would expect just about EVERY person who’s just shot and killed someone to claim self-defense. That claim doesn’t need to be accepted at face value without investigation and corroborating evidence.

    2. The police report states Zimmerman’s back appeared to be wet and he was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. Maybe this is a lie, do you expect the prosecutor to fundamentally distrust the officers? If it is a lie, why did the officers lie?

    You shouldn’t expect the prosecutor to fundamentally TRUST the officers, either. In this case, several witnesses came forward to the media to say that the police on scene had pressured them to give certain answers and/or change their testimony. Again, there should be an injury report from the medics, if any, who attended Zimmerman, including documentation of the injuries such as photographs. There should be photos of Zimmerman while he was in police custody, better than the leaked video, which would show any visible injuries. If such evidence helped back up the police report, why would they not gather or include it?

    3. Zimmerman told the police he yelled for help, witnesses recounted hearing a yell. Again consistent. Perhaps you have reason to believe it was Martin yelling, again, this provides reason to dispute Zimmerman’s story, but you’re assuming proof the police didn’t have.

    Again, the admitted killer is the one claiming self-defense. Why should this be automatically credible without investigation? The police don’t know who was yelling, either. Why should they take Zimmerman’s word for it that it was him?

    All these facts come down to believing Zimmerman, THE SUSPECT, without investigating his claims. It’s also a fact that lax investigating by the police who responded has compromised the evidence that a prosecutor COULD have used to make a case against Zimmerman. That alone should be reason not to trust the police on their word.

  49. 49
    Ace of Sevens

    Calls for Zimmerman’s blood are definitely inappropriate, but we haven’t seen a lot of that. Criticizing the police for closing the case without even making an effort to ID the body and find relevant witnesses are quite reasonable. Although, based on what’s come out now, it looks like the police wanted to charge him and the state attorney shut it down before their investigation got off the ground.

  50. 50
    raven

    A key question. Was Martin shot in the back or the front?

    This is a simple fact immediately ascertainable. It has a bearing on any self defense claims. It’s harder to claim self defense when you shoot someone in the back running away from you.

    I’ve asked this before and no one seems to know, nor have I seen it on the news. Anyone know? Criminal forensics is a well developed field.

  51. 51
    Ben P

    Again, the admitted killer is the one claiming self-defense. Why should this be automatically credible without investigation? The police don’t know who was yelling, either. Why should they take Zimmerman’s word for it that it was him?

    I think you overestimate the *investigation* most prosecutors do. This ain’t law and order. Granted, when I worked in a prosecutor’s office, I was not working on murder cases. A college town city attorney’s office does a lot of drug crimes, DWI’s, assaults, public intoxication etc.

    For the most part, you have very little time to determine probable cause. There are typically prosecutors on call, but you have 24 hours at most to decide to file charges or release the suspect. You can always go back and file them later if you get additional evidence. There is minimum investigation you do in that space that the police haven’t already done.

    There’s an important background point here. For many lesser crimes the decision to charge is easy, because prosecutors know that the charge can always be reduced and plea bargained out. That’s the dirty secret of the awful state of the plea bargaining system. Prosecutors donn’t often bring cases they can’t either win or plead out.

    That is, if prosecutors had to go to trial on every single charge, (a) they would lose a whole hell of a lot more cases, and (b) they wouldn’t bring nearly as many cases to begin with.

    Where do you go from a murder charge? The only real bargaining chips are at the “life vs death” line and the “manslaughter vs negligent homicide” line.

  52. 52
    slc1

    There is a report that an enhanced version of the video which appeared to show no injuries to Zimmerman, appears to show a head wound.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/enhanced-video-shows-zimmerman-head-wound-trayvon-scuffle-abc-article-1.1054625

  53. 53
    harold

    Dontpanic said –

    Some of them, in some forums that I’ve read, are quite clear that they’ll readily slander and smear Martin, not (necessarily) because they’re racist but because they’re gun nuts

    That’s a good point, although most of what I have seen has seemed to be racist in tone.

    I have nothing against legal gun collectors or legal gun owners. I like guns myself, although I don’t have any right now.

    I’m a very strong believer in legitimate self defense.

    However, if “gun nut” means “looking for an excuse to shoot somebody”, I have a major problem with that.

    Pteryxx –

    I completely agree, except to note that what seems to have happened is that the police, or at least, the only homicide investigator involved, did want a charge. A prosecutor shut that down.

    Otherwise, complete agreement.

    It is for a jury and/or judge to decide if Zimmerman is guilty.

    However, as you note, the fact that someone who kills in highly suspicious circumstances claims “self defense” does not make sense as a reason to not even charge or investigate.

  54. 54
    eric

    Ben P (I think):

    Zimmerman states to the police that after he followed Martin he was attacked and acted in self defense. That Zimmerman was told on the 911 call he didn’t need to be chasing people is not inconsistent with this story.

    I think there’s a serious argument to be made that chasing someone down is absolutely inconsistent with a 20th century definition of self-defense. You are intentionally and unnecessarily putting yourself in harm’s way, provoking violence from someone in order to respond to it with lethal force.

    Shooting someone in a pistol duel is not self-defense, because you chose to put yourself in that situation. You chose to make the other guy shoot or run, knowing that if they shoot, you’ll shoot too.

    Martyn was chased down and turned on his follower. Perfectly normal and self-defensive behavior – if you can’t run, turn and face your attacker. Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense after pursuing this person and forcing a confrontation doesn’t wash with me. Unless you want to go back to a self-defense definition that makes ‘pistols at dawn’ self defense?

  55. 55
    raven

    Zimmerman states to the police that after he followed Martin he was attacked and acted in self defense. That Zimmerman was told on the 911 call he didn’t need to be chasing people is not inconsistent with this story.

    This right here is pretty flakey. It doesn’t look so good.

    1. What right or reason does Zimmerman, a civilian have to follow anyone, especially in the middle of the night.

    2. What would you or anyone think or do if a strange man started following you in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.

    Most of us would think someone malevolent who wishes us harm and be right a lot of the time.

    For the gun carriers out there, what would you do? Most people with a gun would have it ready if needed. Some might confront the stalker with it and if Zimmerman was also holding a gun, shoot. What else are you supposed to do when an armed stranger is following you in the middle of the night.

    I’m not seeing how an armed stranger following someone in the middle of the night is going to claim self defense. Seems to me if Martin had shot Zimmerman, he would have a far stronger case of self defense.

  56. 56
    tomh

    Ben P says:

    Zimmerman told the police he yelled for help, witnesses recounted hearing a yell. Again consistent. Perhaps you have reason to believe it was Martin yelling

    Well, two independent voice recognition experts have analyzed the 911 call and said unequivocally that it is not Zimmerman’s voice screaming for help. So that at least casts some doubt on his story. This is the kind of evidence that needs to come out at a trial so there can be cross examination and the facts can be determined.

  57. 57
    raven

    I think there’s a serious argument to be made that chasing someone down is absolutely inconsistent with a 20th century definition of self-defense.

    At one time that wouldn’t fly out here. These days, who knows? It might but not easily.

    Martyn was chased down and turned on his follower. Perfectly normal and self-defensive behavior – if you can’t run, turn and face your attacker. Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense after pursuing this person and forcing a confrontation doesn’t wash with me.

    Right. What I said. If you look at the situation from the perspective of a kid walking down the street, Martin could reasonably think he was in imminent danger of being attacked by a stranger. As it turned out, he was eventually atacked and killed.

    Zimmerman can’t claim the same. You don’t follow people around if you are afraid they are going to attack you.

  58. 58
    Pteryxx

    A key question. Was Martin shot in the back or the front?

    Word is that an autopsy was done, but no conclusions released or even hinted at. One witness, the funeral director who prepared Martin’s body, has come forward stating that because of the autopsy wounds he couldn’t determine an entry or exit wound.

    Source

    Re who decided to drop the case:

    Zimmerman was not arrested although ABC News has learned that the lead homicide investigator filed an affidavit urging Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter. The prosecutor, however, told the officer to not file the charge because there was not enough evidence for conviction.

    Source

    I don’t expect a prosecutor to go out and collect evidence themselves. I do expect a prosecutor to know what evidence OUGHT to have been collected by the police on the scene of a shooting death, and to raise an appropriate fuss when a case has been mishandled.

  59. 59
    raven

    Word is that an autopsy was done, but no conclusions released or even hinted at. One witness, the funeral director who prepared Martin’s body, has come forward stating that because of the autopsy wounds he couldn’t determine an entry or exit wound.

    Good find. Thanks. Someone knows a key piece of evidence about the bullet’s path and they aren’t saying anything.

    The prosecutor, however, told the officer to not file the charge because there was not enough evidence for conviction.

    Until the evidence has been collected, how would a prosecutor know that there wasn’t enough evidence for an indictment? This prosecutor had no way of knowing that unless he can predict the future. This is, at best, incompetence right there.

  60. 60
    tomh

    eric says:

    I think there’s a serious argument to be made that chasing someone down is absolutely inconsistent with a 20th century definition of self-defense.

    Look at the link in comment #32. That’s exactly what happened. A man saw someone trying to steal his car radio, chased the unarmed kid for at least a block, and stabbed him to death. It was all caught on tape. The judge threw out the charges after she decided his claim of self-defense was credible, citing Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law.

  61. 61
    harold

    Raven –

    Although I agree with your comments, as usual, I believe that this incident took place fairly early in the evening (which if anything looks slightly worse to me).

    It took place around half time of the NBA 2012 all star game, which started at 7 PM EST.

  62. 62
    harold

    Incidentally, someone in another venue noted that the right wing was rather quiet about this until Obama made a comment, and then went crazy. Whatever that means, it’s a valid observation.

  63. 63
    d cwilson

    @harold:

    Keep in mind that the president had only commented on the case because he’d been specifically asked about it by a reporter. And he only made an expression of sympathy for the family and refrained from speculating on Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence.

    Of course, in the Bizarro World of planet Wingnuttia, that Obama had commented was seen as a signal that it was now a political issue. Since their reflexive response is “Anything that Obama says, we have to say the opposite”, that meant they had to go after Martin with guns blazing.

  64. 64
    raven

    Although I agree with your comments, as usual, I believe that this incident took place fairly early in the evening (which if anything looks slightly worse to me).

    It took place around half time of the NBA 2012 all star game, which started at 7 PM EST.

    OK. I didn’t pay much attention to the times.

    That would still be 8 or 9 PM EST. That would be night and dark out.

    A man saw someone trying to steal his car radio, chased the unarmed kid for at least a block, and stabbed him to death. It was all caught on tape. The judge threw out the charges after she decided his claim of self-defense was credible, citing Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law.

    That is interesting but not quite the same circumstances. The kid was trying to commit a property crime and the man was defending his property. Martyn was just walking down the street carrying a bag of candy.

    Out here, if someone is prowling, trespassing or breaking into your house at night and you shoot them, the police almost always review it and do nothing. Even if they ended up shot in the back. The reasoning is that the homeowner is defending themselves and their property and it’s night out and they don’t always know which way the perpetrators are facing or what they are doing.

  65. 65
    Michael Heath

    I don’t understand all the attention on whether Mr. Zimmerman had injuries. If he did they were at best trivial. Even if those injuries as he’s claimed are determined to have existed at the point of his being taken into custody by the police, I don’t see how one can then leap to the conclusion he was justified in killing Mr. Martin.

  66. 66
    Who Knows?

    Of course, in the Bizarro World of planet Wingnuttia, that Obama had commented was seen as a signal that it was now a political issue. Since their reflexive response is “Anything that Obama says, we have to say the opposite”, that meant they had to go after Martin with guns blazing.

    Yes. My feelings on what President Obama said about the incident were he gave a very tempered response. His comments were basically, as a nation we are really going to have to think about our ideas on self defense. The Federal government is goint to do a fair and thorough investigation. Finally, on a personal level I can identify with the family and what they are going through because I can imagine Trayvon being my own son.

    Wingnuttia of course was angry that he didn’t stand up for George Zimmerman’s right to kill who he wants. Outright deny any possible connection to race. And call Trayvon Martin a gangbanging thug who either has done something, or would have done something deserving a bullet to the chest so it is just as well he is dead.

  67. 67
    slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #65

    Zimmerman claims that he followed the victim for some distance, then broke off his pursuit and was returning to his vehicle when the latter attacked him from behind, punched him in the nose knocking him down, and then began banging his head against the ground.

    If, in fact, there are injuries, e.g. a bloody nose and a cut on the back of his head, this would appear to support Zimmerman’s version of the events. That’s the issue of whether there were injuries. The question as to whether Zimmerman was acting in self defense when he shot Martin is a matter for the jury to decide.

    I think that, at this point in time, it is irresponsible to opine, given that we don’t have all the facts. What is required is an independent investigation by an impartial entity, clearly not the local police department and local prosecutor’s office. One need only recall Richard Jewell and the Duke lacrosse players to remember that a rush to judgement is not a good idea.

  68. 68
    slc1

    By the way, it is interesting that the police officer who was in charge of the crime scene wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter but was overruled by the prosecutor. As a part of the investigation I suggested above, the police officer should questioned why he wanted the shooter arrested and charged with manslaughter and the prosecutor should be question as to why he overruled the officer.

  69. 69
    harold

    One need only recall Richard Jewell and the Duke lacrosse players to remember that a rush to judgement is not a good idea.

    Yes, I completely agree. I have repeatedly stated my opinion that Zimmerman should have been arrested and charged. Of course, that is not at all the same thing as being found guilty. A verdict can only be delivered by a jury and/or judge.

    The court system exonerated the accused in both of the cases you mention.

    A difference here is that Zimmerman did, armed and in his car, stalk an unarmed individual who was walking, get out of his car, in some way confront the individual, and in the end, shoot the individual to death. Those facts are not in dispute. Therefore, I think, “stand your ground” law or not, lack of arrest or investigation in this case not very acceptable. Those circumstances are just too extraordinary. Certainly, a court might find Zimmerman not guilty. That seems like a stretch to me but that is for an impartial jury and/or judge best to decide.

  70. 70
    Modusoperandi

    robertfaber “The right, on the other hand, in its attempt to tell everyone that guns are great and there is no racism left in America, are slapping the slime job on Martin as fast as they can.”
    There isn’t. That’s why the Rightwing Noise Machine’s actions would be exactly the same if Trayvon was 18, licensed to carry, armed, and killed Zimmerman. Exactly the same. Heck, word has it that the NRA and GOA are teaming up to write legislation to allow 17 year olds to carry. “Trayvon’s Law”.

    harold “Incidentally, someone in another venue noted that the right wing was rather quiet about this until Obama made a comment, and then went crazy. Whatever that means, it’s a valid observation.”
    It’s not a source of faux outrage until Obama picks a side. I mean, a hispanic shoots a black man? That’s like a homosexual killing a Muslim or a public school teacher shooting an atheist! What side of the line is the modern American reactionary supposed to pick?

    d cwilson “Keep in mind that the president had only commented on the case because he’d been specifically asked about it by a reporter.”
    Pah! Typical Liberal Media, trying to make an issue out of something!

    “And he only made an expression of sympathy for the family and refrained from speculating on Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence.”
    Pah! Typical Obama, being so divisive!

    “Of course, in the Bizarro World of planet Wingnuttia, that Obama had commented was seen as a signal that it was now a political issue.”
    This is because EODIW, which is roughly the opposite of IOKIYAR.

  71. 71
    DaveL

    Zimmerman claims that he followed the victim for some distance, then broke off his pursuit and was returning to his vehicle when the latter attacked him from behind, punched him in the nose knocking him down, and then began banging his head against the ground.

    A simple scenario that merely requires us to believe that the gun-toting cop wannabe who was upset at “these assholes” always getting away was merely a passive victim, and that a young man, alone and unarmed, who had never been arrested before, took it upon himself to kill a stranger 100 pounds above his weight class with his bare hands on his way back from a snack run, for reasons unknown.

    I find it hard to wrap my head around the kind of unspoken assumptions that would make this account seem credible.

  72. 72
    tomh

    The kid was trying to commit a property crime and the man was defending his property.

    Chasing him for a block and stabbing him to death is defending his property? That seems a bit of a stretch. And the judge dismissed it on grounds of self-defense. I mentioned it when someone said that chasing a person doesn’t seem like self-defense. Which it doesn’t. These stand your ground laws are just an invitation for vigilantes to run amok.

  73. 73
    Childermass

    What Mr. Lee did is really pushing a call for mob justice. If the person living at the address had gotten hurt or even threatened,Lee should have been charged.

    But let me chime in with the people who say that Mr. Zimmerman should have been charged.

    I often walk at night. Most of it is done in neighborhoods which I don’t live in. I dare say that 99% of the people who see me, don’t know who I am. I have done this in many distinct neighborhoods including some with neighborhood watch signs. I have been doing this for a decade.

    I have never attracted the attention of the police, security, or anyone else. Do I need to tell anyone that I am white?

    Mr. Zimmerman had no reason to even as much as call the police on Mr. Martin. Indeed if Mr. Martin had been arrested rather than shot, than it would have been a clear-cut case of false arrest. It is extraordinarily clear that Zimmerman had convicted Martin in his own mind for nothing more than how he looked. Wearing a hoodie is simply not a reason to suspect someone especially when it was weather-appropriate attire. If you want to suspect someone, it better be like wearing a trench coat when it is 100 degrees outside, not a cloud in the sky, and he is in a retail store. (And if one feels one must call the cops when one only suspects, then one must be up front about this.)

    And I dare say if someone starts tracking me, attempting hurt them is something that I would consider to be a legitimate option. Now I hope I would be smart enough to make it an option of last resort. Mr. Martin clearly did not make it the option of last resort before he turned on his pursuer, but damn it, that “Stand Your Ground Law” should cover him. I would have felt threatened by Zimmerman and can’t think of a reason why Martin would not have felt threatened. Thus under that law Martin had the right to use deadly force. He clearly used far less.

    (Though I did have the right to turn on Zimmerman, it would have been better if he just ran and/or called 911 and not a girl. If he had, he would be alive. Standing your ground is usually just plain bad advice.)

    I will let the lawyers argue between manslaughter and murder-2.

    Meanwhile, it is clear that while Zimmerman might have received a punch or punches, he did not have his head repeatedly smashed against a concrete sidewalk as was claimed. One must also question why the cops never checked Martin’s cellphone. These days, those should be checked automatically. That alone makes me suspect the quality of the police investigation. And it is hardly the only puzzling thing about the investigation.

    Zimmerman should be arrested now. That he had not is just grounds for the black community to think that their lives are not considered as important as the lives of others. This will increase the distrust between the black community and law enforcement. Such distrust is a threat to everyone, and not just those with dark skin tones.

  74. 74
    Ace of Sevens

    If I’m putting the pieces together right, he did run and only turned and fought when Zimmerman grabbed him.

  75. 75
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Michael Heath @65:

    I don’t understand all the attention on whether Mr. Zimmerman had injuries. If he did they were at best trivial. Even if those injuries as he’s claimed are determined to have existed at the point of his being taken into custody by the police, I don’t see how one can then leap to the conclusion he was justified in killing Mr. Martin.

    –Excellent point.
    I still can’t imagine how (assuming this goes to trial), he could claim “self defense”. He was stalking the kid. He doesn’t get to say “Look at these bruises. He attacked me. I shot in self defense” when he was the instigator of the entire situation.
    Although now that I think about it, even if he’s charged, his case goes to trial, and he’s found not guilty, Zimmerman would likely find himself in the same kind of situation as Casey Anthony. This case has national coverage. He killed a kid (I’d add the skittles and tea, but I wonder how many of the smaller details the average person would remember after a lengthy trial). The kid was black. No, Zimmerman wouldn’t be known by everyone in the US (many people who have heard about the case, may not know what Zimmerman looks like), but I’m thinking he’d need to move to a different state (or country). He’d have the knowledge that he killed a child for the rest of his life.
    How would that affect your dating ability?
    How does it affect your relationship with your family and friends?
    What about his job?
    Your ability to raise children?
    I’ve heard that killing another human being changes you. What changes might happen to Zimmerman’s long term mental health?
    What about guilt? Many people have done things illegal at one point in their lives and later come to regret those things. Murdering someone, even if you’re found not guilty (through some miracle of the FSM), could leave tremendous guilt with Zimmerman throughout his life.
    Of course, I don’t give two shits about difficulties and challenges and guilt he might feel. It doesn’t change the fact that he killed a kid…wearing a hoodie carrying skittles and tea.

  76. 76
    Who Knows?

    DaveL @71 says:

    I find it hard to wrap my head around the kind of unspoken assumptions that would make this account seem credible.

    Me too.

  77. 77
    raven

    Chasing him for a block and stabbing him to death is defending his property? That seems a bit of a stretch. And the judge dismissed it on grounds of self-defense. I mentioned it when someone said that chasing a person doesn’t seem like self-defense. Which it doesn’t.

    Yeah, I tend to agree with you.

    I was just trying to wrap my mind around what the judge’s reasoning was.

    I assume if he had chased a kid a block and stabbed him and the kid hadn’t been trying to steal his car radio, then that would be murder.

  78. 78
    Ace of Sevens

    That’s because Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law allows deadly force to stop any forcible felony. Reasonable fear for someone’s life is not a requirement. I could build a legal argument that any law that allows citizens to kill each other outside of the legal system without a necessity requirement violates the fifth amendment, but I don’t know if the courts would buy it.

  79. 79
    eric

    Tomh @60 and @72 – I don’t doubt you. I fully believe that Florida’s law is being interpreted in a way that takes “self defense” back to the 1800s. I’m just pointing out that (a) that’s what it’s doing, and (b) this is a bad thing.

  80. 80
    raven

    That’s because Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law allows deadly force to stop any forcible felony.

    Oh.

    Is stealing a car radio a “forcible felony”? I thought it was a misdemeanor property crime.

    What happens if you see someone smoking a marijuana cigarette? A “reefer” or “joint”? Can you shoot them?

    It’s a wonder Florida hasn’t turned into a New Cambodia by now.

  81. 81
    Ace of Sevens

    http://law.onecle.com/florida/crimes/776.08.html

    Burglary is a forcible felony under Florida law, so if you break into the car to steal the radio, it would count.

  82. 82
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    slc1 @21:

    Thanks for the link (none of my comments are directed at you; they’re just observations-of the “perhaps TL:DR” type- I’ve made through the link you provided).

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/03/trayvon_martin_george_zimmerman_basics.php

    Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, told his son’s side of the story to an Orlando television station. “It’s my understanding that Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him,” Robert Zimmerman said.

    Even *if* that was exactly what happened, it doesn’t make Trayvon the instigator of the situation. Not with Zimmerman’s own 911 call:

    • 0:04 – “Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy…This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”

    • 1:35 – “These assholes, they always get away.” Zimmerman says this in the middle of reporting what Martin looked like and where police could find him.

    • 2:05 – “Shit, he’s running.” You can then hear the sound of a door open and a beeping from inside a vehicle.

    • 2:20 – Possible racial slur. The phrase is hard to hear, but CNN had an audio specialist zero in on it and the possible slur sounds clearer. (Video embedded at right.) There is some debate over what exactly he said, but some listeners hear Zimmerman saying “fucking coons.”

    • 2:22 – “Are you following him?” the dispatcher asks. Zimmerman replies that he is. “OK, we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman responds: “OK.”

    –I wonder how hard it was raining for him to be able to make out details of what Trayvon looked like? Zimmerman doesn’t give enough details in the 911 call to justify being worried about anything.
    If it looks like you’re doing drugs, how does one walk? I mean I’ve walked some straight lines while high before. I’ve also stumbled when I’m stone sober.
    What exactly does “look suspicious” mean? I’ve worn hoodies before. I’ve walked in the rain in a hoodie. Does that make me look suspicious?
    Where was Trayvon walking? In the street? The sidewalk? Was he peering through houses? Was he on his phone lost in conversation? Was he disoriented by the rain and briefly forgot which direction he was headed? Zimmerman gives no description of what suspicious activity Trayvon is up to. Perhaps he thinks his >one-night-a-week, 14-hour “citizens’ academy”>
    training qualifies him to determine suspicious activity in someone walking with a hoodie in the rain. If he didn’t give any clear explanation of the suspicious activity, his motives for his subsequent actions are highly questionable.
    Robert Zimmerman’s “side” of the story doesn’t hold water with me. Was his son being honest about his actions?


    http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/trayvon_martin/032812-exclusive-robert-zimmerman-interview
    Because there has been a lot of break-ins in the area, Robert said George thought it suspicious that someone would not be walking on the street or the sidewalk on a rainy night — that Martin would be walking between the town homes.

    –This shines a little light on what Trayvon was doing. It was night (still haven’t found out a firm time though). Trayvon was wearing a hoodie. He was walking between town homes. Oh yeah, and there were break ins in that neighborhood. To an extent I can see where Zimmerman might be coming from. Of course he has the prior incidents in mind during that, so its sensible that he would be worried about a lone individual walking around at night in the rain between town homes. But again, what was Trayvon doing? Just walking? Did he inspect the homes? Or was he just taking a shortcut home? Moreover, it was night and raining. How clearly did Zimmerman see Trayvon?
    Then there’s this:

    Even though a dispatcher told George Zimmerman not to follow Martin, his father said his son continued his pursuit to locate an address to give to police.

    So did he keep pursuing Trayvon or did he stop? If he kept following him, he’s making the situation even worse. The 911 call is unclear as to Zimmerman’s actions after he was told to stop following Trayvon.


    As for accounts from Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend, who claimed she was on the phone with Martin right before the altercation, he said, “I don’t believe that happened. I don’t believe she was on the phone with him, and I find it very strange with the publicity involved… that all of a sudden, after three weeks, someone would remember that they were on the phone.”

    Does this guy believe in any woo? He seems to be a denier type like a lot of woo-ists. The freaking cell phone logs given to ABC indicate that she was on the phone with Trayvon five minutes before the police showed up. I’d say he might be a father in denial about his child’s guilt (understandable), but I wonder if he just hasn’t been told the truth (telling your parents a lie about your actions so they’ll be on your side is a “tried and often true” method employed by kids the world over).


    Robert said Trayvon, “continued to beat George, and at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did.

    –”did what he did”. Great way to downplay the murder of a 17 year old kid carrying tea and skittles!
    Perhaps someone should tell him that his own son admitted to killing Trayvon. I wonder what defense his lawyer will put up if Zimmerman is charged with his crime. Is “stand your ground” a viable defense here?

  83. 83
    democommie

    @ Childermass:

    “it would have been better if he just ran and/or called 911 and not a girl”

    If a black teenager wearing a hoodie calls the cops and reports that he is being followed by someone who “looks suspicious” what do you suppose might happen? How quickly do you think that the cops would respond? Once they arrived, what are the odds that they would be interested in doing more than turning the teenagers pockets inside out and asking him why he’s in the neighborhood? Now, maybe Mr. Martin didn’t have a record for violent crime, but if he had any sort of record at all–or none at at–he could easily wind up in jail for several hours.

    To those who wonder why Zimmerman wasn’t arrested (and to those who insist he was):

    I think that Zimmerman was taken into custody, questioned and released WITHOUT being arrested.

  84. 84
    cjtotalbro

    To borrow the words of someone else:

    If you are committed, as the right seems to be, to selling the idea that racism is no longer a factor in America then it helps to believe that Treyvon had it coming- even if the only evidence of this is an empty bag of weed and the words and Internet pictures of a teenager trying to sound cool.

  85. 85
    Pteryxx

    “it would have been better if he just ran and/or called 911 and not a girl”

    Martin was already on the phone with his girlfriend when he became aware that Zimmerman was following him.

    ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Crump about the last moments of the teenager’s life. Martin had been talking to his girlfriend all the way to the store where he bought Skittles and a tea. The phone was in his pocket and the earphone in his ear, Crump said.

    “He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said. “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run.”

    Source

  86. 86
    harold

    Childermass –

    Mr. Martin clearly did not make it the option of last resort before he turned on his pursuer, but damn it, that “Stand Your Ground Law” should cover him.

    Also, neither you nor I can possibly know whether or not Martin made it the option of last resort. (They do seem to have struggled before the shooting.)

    It’s quite possible that he did. That should be for a jury and/or judge to decide, if it’s even relevant. As you note, it may not be.

    Martin should have called 911 when he detected that Zimmerman was following him.

  87. 87
    harold

    Harold said –

    Martin should have called 911 when he detected that Zimmerman was following him.

    Oh, no, now someone will try to be “down with the revolution” by posting “do you seriously believe that racist cracker police would have helped him” type comments.

    1) As long as they didn’t shoot him to death and stopped Zimmerman from doing it, it would have been better.

    2) In general, when you are legally minding your own business and a car starts stalking you, you should call the police if you can. There may be rare exceptions to that, but they would be pretty rare.

  88. 88
    Who Knows?

    harold @ 71

    So, it’s Trayvon’s fault that Zimmerman stalked and shot him?

  89. 89
    Who Knows?

    harold @ 87.

    shouldn’t comment on my phone.

  90. 90
    democommie

    Harold:

    You’re certainly “in the know” as much as I am about Mr. Martin’s situation prior to his being shot. I am not trying to pick a fight with you.

    You are white and you live in Canad, correct? You very likely do not live in an area where there is intense racial strife. I’ve lived in Tampa, Fl where there is plenty of racism. Non-whites, as a matter of course, do not call the police as readily as whites when they might.

  91. 91
    harold

    Who Knows?

    You damn moron son of a bitch. I have comments all over this page supporting Trayvon Martin and saying that Zimmerman should be arrested and charged.

    You god damn misrepresenting punk. Fuck you for lying about me. Don’t you ever fucking accuse me of something like that again, you jackass.

    Let me tell why I’m so angry, beyond the fact that you have arrogantly accused me of an attitude which is the offensive antithesis of my actual attitude.

    Because, even though it doesn’t take much guts to make an internet comment, and even though there are right wing rationalization comments on this very thread, you somehow managed to find a progressive who is horrified by the shooting and pretend to think that I am in favor of it.

    Either you’re a coward who is literally afraid to even take on a real right winger in a comments section, or you are trying to declare that Trayvon Martin’s family can only be supported by people who you think are “pure enough” or both. In any case, fuck you.

    Or maybe you just can’t read very well. In that case, I partly retract some of the curses. Now learn how to read for comprehension.

  92. 92
    harold

    democommie –

    Please read my comments for comprehension. Sometimes I make logical points that do not conform to stereotyped expectations. However, confusion can be avoided by reading for comprehension. I happen to know that we tend to agree. But even when reading others, try not to jump to false conclusions.

    You are white and you live in Canad, correct?

    I am a white dual US Canadian citizen living in the US.

    You very likely do not live in an area where there is intense racial strife.

    Irrelevant, but I have lived in New York City for many years.

    I’ve lived in Tampa, Fl where there is plenty of racism. Non-whites, as a matter of course, do not call the police as readily as whites when they might.

    I know that. That is an unfortunate product of racism against those communities, historic and ongoing. It is BAD that they feel excluded from the protection of the law. It is not good.

    I am not blaming of judging Trayvon Martin in any way, and even if I did judge him in some trivial way, it most certainly would not mean that I believe he should have been gunned down unarmed. Fuck anyone to hell who is liar enough to remotely suggest that I in the most minimal justify or rationalize this horrible crime. I’m not talking about you. You didn’t do that.

    Now, which of these statements do you disagree with?

    1) As long as they didn’t shoot him to death and stopped Zimmerman from doing it, it would have been better.

    2) In general, when you are legally minding your own business and a car starts stalking you, you should call the police if you can. There may be rare exceptions to that, but they would be pretty rare.

  93. 93
    Who Knows?

    Harold @ 91

    Clearly you’re just as big of asshole as I thought you were.

  94. 94
    harold

    Who Knows?

    Let me re-post my comment, mainly for emphasis, but also to associate it with a blockquote, so that you can’t miss that I am talking to you.

    Usually I try to make peace with people who seem to be humane and progressive, but have misunderstood one of my comments. I write at a high level and sometimes make subtle points.

    In your case, I’m not interested. I want my curse-out to stand, and it’s pretty much how I feel going forward.

    You accused me of in some way rationalizing, justifying, or supporting the gunning down of an unarmed seventeen year old boy. That’s an accusation I can’t forgive.

    So, it’s Trayvon’s fault that Zimmerman stalked and shot him?

    You damn moron son of a bitch. I have comments all over this page supporting Trayvon Martin and saying that Zimmerman should be arrested and charged.

    You god damn misrepresenting punk. Fuck you for lying about me. Don’t you ever fucking accuse me of something like that again, you jackass.

    Let me tell why I’m so angry, beyond the fact that you have arrogantly accused me of an attitude which is the offensive antithesis of my actual attitude.

    Because, even though it doesn’t take much guts to make an internet comment, and even though there are right wing rationalization comments on this very thread, you somehow managed to find a progressive who is horrified by the shooting and pretend to think that I am in favor of it.

    Either you’re a coward who is literally afraid to even take on a real right winger in a comments section, or you are trying to declare that Trayvon Martin’s family can only be supported by people who you think are “pure enough” or both. In any case, fuck you.

    Or maybe you just can’t read very well. In that case, I partly retract some of the curses. Now learn how to read for comprehension.

  95. 95
    harold

    Clearly you’re just as big of asshole as I thought you were.

    You’re the asshole.

    You falsely accused me of supporting the killing of Trayon Martin.

    You did so, apparently, because I happened to note that if Trayvon had called the police about Zimmerman he might have lived.

    I wish Trayvon had lived. I wish he had called 911. If he had, he might have lived.

  96. 96
    slc1

    Petryxx @ #85

    He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said.

    This would appear to support Zimmerman’s claim that he had broken off his pursuit of Martin and was returning to his vehicle.

  97. 97
    harold

    Democommie –

    Just for the record, if I were a white, obese, gun-toting, Ron Paul-supporting deputy sheriff from East Texas and I supported the Martin family, I would be someone who supported arresting and charging Zimmerman.

    I have seen supporting comments from people like that.

    I am sick and tired of “purity tests”.

    It never even occurred to me until last night that hey, it’s too bad Trayvon didn’t call 911, he might have lived :-(.

    This would appear to support Zimmerman’s claim that he had broken off his pursuit of Martin and was returning to his vehicle.

    Yep, that’s why Zimmerman should be tried before an impartial jury and/or judge, so his story can be fully and fairly evaluated.

    His claims seem like a load of shit to me, but he deserves a fair trial before a jury and/or judge.

  98. 98
    Who Knows?

    Harold, you’re just one of the many perpetually outraged out there just waiting to blow your top over any perceived insult.

    You make a statement that had Trayvon Martin dialed 911, he would have likely lived. You further clarify your statement with that truly bizarre ‘down with the revolution’ ‘racist cracker police’ shit implying any black American must be a fool to not trust the police.

    Then you go off like a fucking lunatic insulting not only me, but my mother because I asked if you were saying it’s Trayvon’s fault for getting shot, because he didn’t call 911.

    Well Harold, I’m glad I’m not anywhere near you because I have a feeling I’d be laying on the ground with a bullet hole somewhere in me by now you fucking loon.

  99. 99
    Chiroptera

    For those who might be interested in another perspective on whether Martin should have called 911, the Crommunist has a post that discusses possible outcomes when people of color try to avail themselves of our professional emergency services.

  100. 100
    Raging Bee

    Yo, Ed, check out what your fellow FTBer Crommunist has to say about police misconduct in Canada:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/04/03/failure-to-shuffle-bow-and-scrape-the-fatal-consequences/

    Here’s just one of many money quotes:

    This is not the deep south, where we can blame “racists”. This is not 50 years ago, where we could say “it was a different time”. A man was murdered by cowboyed-up cops who burst into his home and, for reasons that beggar understanding, shot him to death in his underwear. He was not carrying a weapon, he had broken no laws, and the police had no warrant. There have been no charges brought against the police officers involved, and the case is nearly 6 months old. This is despite the fact that the entire encounter was caught on a live microphone in the form of the medical alert device.

    Out-of-control “cops” AND legalized vigilantism. Still think “righteous anger” is dangerous?

  101. 101
    harold

    Harold, you’re just one of the many perpetually outraged out there just waiting to blow your top over any perceived insult.

    This statement is incorrect.

    The Trayvon Martin shooting is one of the worst things I have seen for a long time. A seventeen year old boy was gunned down unarmed and there wasn’t even an arrest or investigation. You accused me of supporting, rationalizing, or justifying that shooting, you did so despite numerous comments from me right here condemning the shooting and calling for an arrest or investigation. THAT made me lose my temper.

    You make a statement that had Trayvon Martin dialed 911, he would have likely lived.

    No, I stated that he might have had a better chance if he called 911. That statement is clearly 100% correct. He was shot to death. It might have helped if he had called 911.

    You further clarify your statement with that truly bizarre ‘down with the revolution’ ‘racist cracker police’ shit

    That was insulting, and maybe I shouldn’t have led with the first insult. What happened is that it occurred to me that if Trayvon had called 911 he might have (not “probably would have”) lived, and then it occurred to me that that simple factual observation would result in me being attacked, and that annoyed me.

    implying any black American must be a fool to not trust the police.

    I never said anything of the sort. Nor do you or I have any way of knowing whether Trayvon Martin trusted the police.

    It is very unfortunate that some Africa-American communities, due to past and ongoing racism, do not feel confident in the equal protection of the law that they deserve. That is an injustice.

    In fact, the issue here is that Trayvon Martin is being denied the protection of the law that he deserved. Ideally the law should have protected him from Zimmerman, and failing that, it should arrest and charge Zimmerman and arrange a trial.

    Then you go off like a fucking lunatic insulting not only me, but my mother because I asked if you were saying it’s Trayvon’s fault for getting shot, because he didn’t call 911.

    I went off like a reasonable person who has been falsely accused of something horrible.

    It was unethical of you, to say the least, to accuse me, on the flimsiest of reasons, of supporting the shooting.

    Well Harold, I’m glad I’m not anywhere near you because I have a feeling I’d be laying on the ground with a bullet hole somewhere in me by now you fucking loon.

    There you go again. This is an incredibly unethical and hateful thing to say.

    What makes you throw out such outrageously unfair lies about people you have never even met?

  102. 102
    harold

    Chiroptera –

    It’s largely irrelevant whether or not Trayvon Martin called 911. I just had the passing thought that it might have been better if he had. That thought is highly reasonable.

    Nevertheless –

    For those who might be interested in another perspective on whether Martin should have called 911, the Crommunist has a post that discusses possible outcomes when people of color try to avail themselves of our professional emergency services.

    No-one is denying police racism.

    In this case, an unarmed, walking seventeen year old was being followed in a car by an armed man.

    Is it your position, yes or no, that black people should not call 911 even in a situation like this?

    I’m going to go ahead and say that I advise everyone to call 911 in such a situation. I am NOT criticizing Trayvon Martin here, nor would I be justifying his killing even if I did criticize him, nor am I saying that such a call would have magically saved his life.

    I am going to go right out on a limb and say that if you are being followed by a menacing stranger’s car while you are walking, you have the right to the protection of the law, whether you are black, white, brown, green, gay, straight, GLBT, whatever.

    I’m going to go ahead here and repeat that the problem is that the law did, so far, not protect Trayvon Martin’s rights.

    Ideally, he deserved to be protected from Zimmerman, and failing that, the law should address his killing adequately.

  103. 103
    democommie

    Harold:

    I don’t disagree with the two points that you asked me about in your reply. And I agree that it is unfortunate that Mr. Martin did not feel that calling 911 was a viable option (if the thought ever occurred to him).

    Not to start another fire…SLC1′s comment that suggests that Mr. Martin had “lost” Zimmerman? I thought that there was testimony by the young lady who spoke with him on the cellphone in the moments before his death that Zimmerman had, in fact, confronted him, after Martin thought he had “lost” him. Is this information, from a story that I read a week or so back, incorrect?

    On the local morning drive-time show there was a short piece about someone at ABC selectively editing the tape to make it appear that Zimmerman was a racist. I had never heard the recording that contains the words, “he looks black”, with or without any prompting or question from the 911 dispatchers. Apparently Zimmerman’s answer to the 911 dispatcher’s question, “Does he look black or white?” was, “he looks black”. I’m wondering why he “looked black”. I mean it seems that the proximate cause of Zimmerman following him was that he was wearing a hoodie–how could he tell what color Mr. Martin was?

  104. 104
    harold

    democommie –

    One final comment.

    I thought my previous comments made this clear.

    I am utterly appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin and subsequent lack of investigation.

    I do have an emotional response to it, I admit. It is highly disturbing that the shooting death of an unarmed seventeen year old was not even fully investigated. Zimmerman should have been arrested and that scene should have been locked down, and full forensics should have been initiated.

    Based on what I know, Zimmerman undeniably showed unspeakably wrong and irresponsible behavior. It strikes me as unlikely that Martin tried to tackle him, but even if that happened, Zimmerman is the one who followed and menaced Martin. If strange guy follows me in a car while I’m walking, then gets out and confronts me, he has forced me into a violent situation, not the other way around. And that’s Zimmerman’s own best case scenario. Every aspect of Zimmerman’s story sounds like shit to me.

    But I am a civil rights absolutist. I believe that Zimmerman deserves a trial before an impartial jury and/or judge.

  105. 105
    dingojack

    Harold you actually said:

    “You did so, apparently, because I happened to note that if Trayvon had called the police about Zimmerman he might have lived.
    I wish Trayvon had lived. I wish he had called 911. If he had, he might have lived.” [emphasis mine]

    What probability are you assigning to this possibility, 10%, 20%, 50%, greater?
    You are (IMHO) much more sanguine about the police’s reactions toward minorities than myself. My limited experience is that their response toward an emergency calls from 17 year old kids from a minority (whether real or perceived) are phlegmatic at best (if they come at all). Pack up your choler and face facts, Had he called 911, the evidence is that it would have made little difference, he would have been shot by one or the other.
    Melancholically, Dingo

  106. 106
    tomh

    What probability are you assigning to this possibility, 10%, 20%, 50%, greater?

    What’s the difference? Even 1% would have been an improvement. No matter what the result of calling 911 it couldn’t have been any worse.

  107. 107
    Pteryxx

    Harold, look at your own statements in #101.

    You accused me of supporting, rationalizing, or justifying that shooting, you did so despite numerous comments from me right here condemning the shooting and calling for an arrest or investigation. THAT made me lose my temper.

    That was insulting, and maybe I shouldn’t have led with the first insult.

    I went off like a reasonable person who has been falsely accused of something horrible.

    No, you don’t get to claim that someone else’s comment – not even an accusation, at most an inference – MADE YOU lose it. It’s your temper, YOU are responsible for it.

    Besides, the question “So, it’s Trayvon’s fault that Zimmerman stalked and shot him?” is not at odds with your statement in #102:

    No-one is denying police racism.

    In this case, an unarmed, walking seventeen year old was being followed in a car by an armed man.

    Is it your position, yes or no, that black people should not call 911 even in a situation like this?

    Police racism exists, and it is KNOWN that some classes of people, including black people, immigrants and families of immigrants, and rape victims, are much less likely to call the police for help because they justifiably fear being mistreated. You should read Crommunist’s post and try to understand it.

    Re Trayvon’s case, I’ll also point out that he had no way of knowing the man following him was armed. Even when Zimmerman left the car to follow Trayvon, his gun was concealed in a waistband holster.

  108. 108
    Pteryxx

    What’s the difference? Even 1% would have been an improvement. No matter what the result of calling 911 it couldn’t have been any worse.

    Trayvon could not have known that.

  109. 109
    kermit.

    tomh: The killing happened on February 26 but they apparently couldn’t find anything to investigate for the first month. Well, except for testing the victim for drugs, but not testing the killer.

    So… if they had found intoxicants in Trayvon’s body, it would have looked better for Zimmerman. But if they had found drugs in Zimmerman, it would not have looked better for him.

    Surely that kind of thinking would have had nothing to do with the decision you mention. /sarcasm

    I also note that time is of the essence only in living bodies; corpses can be tested for most drugs many days or even weeks later. Cops would know this.

  110. 110
    caseloweraz

    The autopsy results will be key in this case. If Zimmerman is telling the truth about Martin attacking him, there should be (make that “should have been”) telltale marks on Martin’s hands.

    This is in addition to the nature of the bullet wound in Martin’s chest, of course — and any traces of gunpowder on his clothing.

  111. 111
    dontpanic
    He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said.

    This would appear to support Zimmerman’s claim that he had broken off his pursuit of Martin and was returning to his vehicle.

    Ah, I’d certainly disagree with support … how about isn’t inconsistent or doesn’t directly contradict?

    Alternatively, Martin could have temporarily lost (or thought he had lost) Zimmerman; Zimmerman continued to search and pursue and reacquired his target and advanced on Martin. That too is consistent with Martin’s friend’s statement. And, well, just a wee bit more plausible than Martin suddenly switching from a mode of running away to aggression and Zimmerman tacking the opposite way. Zimmerman had already been told to stop the chase by the police; does anyone really think he’d just immediately quit once Martin gave him the slip?

  112. 112
    Pteryxx

    democommie:

    SLC1′s comment that suggests that Mr. Martin had “lost” Zimmerman? I thought that there was testimony by the young lady who spoke with him on the cellphone in the moments before his death that Zimmerman had, in fact, confronted him, after Martin thought he had “lost” him.

    According to the ABC story I linked in #85, yes, Martin’s girlfriend says that Zimmerman confronted Martin AFTER Martin says he lost him. SLC1 assumed my excerpt was all there was.

    From ABC:

    ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Crump about the last moments of the teenager’s life. Martin had been talking to his girlfriend all the way to the store where he bought Skittles and a tea. The phone was in his pocket and the earphone in his ear, Crump said.

    “He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said. “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run.”

    Eventually, he would run, said the girl, thinking that he’d managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.

    “Trayvon said, ‘What are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn’t answer the phone.”

    The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said.

    Trayvon’s phone logs, also obtained exclusively by ABC News, show the conversation occurred five minutes before police first arrived on the scene. Crump said the girl’s identity was being withheld because “her parents are gravely concerned about her health and her safety.” Her parents asked that only an attorney be allowed to ask her questions.

    The 911 calls, transcripts, and a link to the ABC cellphone report, as well as other documentation, are available at Mother Jones’ roundup site. Y’all can go look for yourselves.

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/what-happened-trayvon-martin-explained

  113. 113
    tomh

    Trayvon could not have known that.

    Of course he couldn’t, who said he could? We’re talking after the fact. No one said he should have called 911, in fact, I’m sure he had a lot of reasons not to, but if he had, he might have survived. That’s all harold said. This whole thread is filled with speculation – I don’t see how anyone can disagree with that one.

  114. 114
    dingojack

    The point is whether he had called 911 and if the cops had shown up and if Mr Zimmerman hadn’t shot Mr Martin, isn’t relavent. It’s moving the focus of ‘blame’ onto the victim of the crime. There are larger issues that are far more troubling than who called 911, and when.
    Mr Zimmerman confessed that he had shot Mr Martin, the police wanted to arrest him on a manslaughter charge, the Prosecutor said no, then nothing happened for a month or so.
    1) What pressure (if any) was brought to bear on the Prosecutor to refuse to pursue tha case and by whom (again, if any)?
    2) What pressure (if any) was brought to bear on the police officers to cause them to neglect their duty as an officer of the court, and by whom (if any)?
    3) Why did it take public outrage to motivate the police in such a clear test case of the ‘stand your ground’ laws, rather a sense of justice? And why would this be the case?

    The case is rather larger than saying ‘oh the victim should have called the cops’* The prepatrartor did call the the cops didn’t that work out well?
    Dingo
    —–
    * What are the reasons that minority kids don’t call the cops? What could be done to change that situation? More questions than answers

  115. 115
    Chiroptera

    In regards to the “Martin should have called 911″ business, the point isn’t whether the police have helped Martin had he called 911. The point is whether one can sort of understand why someone in a minority group might feel that calling 911 wouldn’t have been all that helpful.

  116. 116
    Pteryxx

    No one said he should have called 911, in fact, I’m sure he had a lot of reasons not to,

    That’s not accurate. (emphasis mine):

    Is it your position, yes or no, that black people should not call 911 even in a situation like this?

    There’s no point in speculating about what a person ought to have done, or even what their options were, in a given situation while assuming knowledge that the person IN that situation did not have.

  117. 117
    harold

    Pteryxx said –

    No, you don’t get to claim that someone else’s comment – not even an accusation, at most an inference – MADE YOU lose it. It’s your temper, YOU are responsible for it.

    This is correct.

    However, I don’t feel bad about losing my temper this time.

    Besides, the question “So, it’s Trayvon’s fault that Zimmerman stalked and shot him?” is not at odds with your statement in #102:

    No-one is denying police racism.

    In this case, an unarmed, walking seventeen year old was being followed in a car by an armed man.

    Is it your position, yes or no, that black people should not call 911 even in a situation like this?

    This part is illogical.

    You and others keep trying to pretend that saying “say, maybe Trayvon might have lived if he had called 911″ is the same as saying “the police always treat black people fairly”, or saying that “Trayvon deserved to die because he didn’t call 911″.

    But it isn’t the same.

    Answer the question or – is it your position that if a walking, unarmed black person is being followed by someone in a car, the should never call 911 (because police racism is so bad that the police will always be worse than whoever is in the car)?

    Police racism exists, and it is KNOWN that some classes of people, including black people, immigrants and families of immigrants, and rape victims, are much less likely to call the police for help because they justifiably fear being mistreated. You should read Crommunist’s post and try to understand it.

    You want to pretend that I denied that police racism exists.

    However, I did not deny that.

    In fact I said multiple times that it does.

    It is not logical to assume that, because police racism exists, no black person should ever call the police under any circumstances.

    What I said was that in this particular case, things could have turned out better if Trayvon Martin had called 911 on Zimmerman (whether he knew he had a gun or not).

    If you want to argue with me, argue with what I said. Is it your position that things could possibly have turned out better if Trayvon had called 911?

    I don’t understand this urge to attack other people who are on the same side. It makes no sense to me.

    I feel very strongly that you are consciously or unconsciously stereotyping me, and trying to deny that I feel that Zimmerman should be arrested and charged, as a result.

    It is very hard not to reach the conclusion. My comments are clear.

    You are trying to pretend that I denied the existence of police racism, or said that Trayvon Martin somehow deserved to be gunned down. I did not say those things.

    It looks as if you are trying to REDUCE support for Trayvon Martin by policing those who are outraged by his death for “impurity”.

    I said, to paraphrase, “It is an abomination that Trayvon Martin was killed, Zimmerman should be arrested, charged and tried, Zimmerman’s story sounds like shit, and say, maybe Trayvon Martin might have done well to call the police on Zimmerman”. Of course, I don’t know if Trayvon Martin had time or thought of it, or had a good reason not to. Of course, shooting him down unarmed is unjustifiable in my eyes no matter what.

    It looks to me as if you are trying to say that, because of the “say, maybe Trayvon Martin might have done well to call the police on Zimmerman“, you are trying to pretend that I support the killing of Trayvon Martin or deny the existence of police racism.

    It looks to me as if you may have a sign that says “we are the 99%”, but your other message is “only 1% are pure enough to be allowed to support any issue that we claim as our own”.

    I am getting sick of that.

    Hounding other people who agree with you over purity is extremely counter-productive.

  118. 118
    Pteryxx

    Answer the question or – is it your position that if a walking, unarmed black person is being followed by someone in a car, the should never call 911 (because police racism is so bad that the police will always be worse than whoever is in the car)?

    Your question is dishonest. I don’t care what side you say you’re on. Go read Crommunist’s article.

  119. 119
    harold

    In regards to the “Martin should have called 911″ business, the point isn’t whether the police have helped Martin had he called 911. The point is whether one can sort of understand why someone in a minority group might feel that calling 911 wouldn’t have been all that helpful.

    No, you are confusing “why didn’t Martin call 911?”, with “Martin should have called 911″.

    You seem to think that I am blaming Martin, or denying police racism, because I wish that the law had protected him as it should. I am not.

    I am not an anarchist (that may be the root of the issue here, perhaps).

    I believe in rule of law.

    Non-racist, non-sexist, non-corrupt, non-brutal law, but rule of law.

    I believe that if we have a system that makes some people feel that they are not being protected by the law, we should fix that system, so that everybody’s rights are protected by the law.

    While there will never be a perfect legal system, I guess that this puts me at odds with some ideological anarchists. So be it.

    I believe that there should be laws and that the laws should have protected Trayvon Martin.

    If you don’t, what the hell do you think should be done now? Who should arrest Zimmerman? Who should charge him? Who should try him?

  120. 120
    harold

    pteryxx –

    My question is honest, and your evasion is somewhat dishonest.

    Go read Crommunist’s article.

    I agree with the article.

    I recognize and despise the widespread existence of police racism.

    I always have, possibly since long before you were born.

    Nothing I have said here can possibly be interpreted as justifying, rationalizing, or condoning the vicious killing of Trayvon Martin.

    Nothing I have said here can possibly be interpreted as denying, minimizing, excusing, or condoning police racism.

    You don’t want me in your clique. That’s fine. We don’t have to be friends.

    You suspect of believing that “the police are not always wrong about everything every time by definition”. That’s true, I do believe that. (They were wrong in this case, not to investigate better and arrest Zimmerman.) Believing that may exclude me from some social circles. That’s okay.

    You probably suspect me of having a somewhat different clothing/hair style, social class, educational background, etc, than you and the people you like to hang around with. With the caveat that we both appear to be English speakers with access to the internet, that’s probably true, and that’s fine, too.

    What is not fine, in my view, is when you try to REDUCE the number of people who support Trayvon Martin or who are generally progressive, by looking for excuses to falsely accuse those who may not quite conform to your ideal of a social companion or whatever, of holding views that are actually appalling to them.

    Someone on this thread accused me of shooting people I disagree with. In a non-anonymous forum, that would be libel, and rightly so. I condemn all violence except in genuine self-defense.

    Please don’t put BS that I vehemently disagree with into my mouth.

    Call me out for my actual faults.

  121. 121
    gwangung

    (Though I did have the right to turn on Zimmerman, it would have been better if he just ran and/or called 911 and not a girl. If he had, he would be alive. Standing your ground is usually just plain bad advice.)

    I will point out that one major reason Martin probably didn’t call 911 is that he was 70 yards from home. If you’re that close to safety, you’re thinking more about getting home than calling 911.

    And if Zimmerman made a move to block Martin (I don’t think that’s a big if), that would be a threatening move and could conceivably construed as assault.

  122. 122
    harold

    pteryxx, Who Knows, Chioptera, everybody –

    Peace. Unilateral declaration.

    This case is very upsetting.

    It puts people on edge.

    It got worse when the right wing crap started flowing.

    I can state that every time I have seen some comment actually implying that Trayvon Martin “deserved” to be gunned down, something I never in a million years would say, probably some anger has built up. Not anger at the people who are appalled, anger at people like Michelle Malkin (one example).

  123. 123
    Raging Bee

    On the subject of whether Martin should have caled 911, my opinion is that, yes, that would seem a sensible thing to do; but staying on the phone with his GF was also sensible, and some decent evidence may come of it. Calling 911 may have made more sense, but a) it’s not that reasonable to expect a teenager to use adult tactical reasoning when he’s just walking home from a trip to a damn convenience store; and b) I’m pretty sure it would not have deterred Zimmerman from shooting him. Zimmerman was clearly irrational and out of control, and was willing to shoot someone who was clearly on the phone, so I doubt it would have made any difference who he was calling.

    I mean, what would a 911 operator have done in that situation? Asked Martin to put his assailant on the phone so they could talk him down? Told Martin to run or surrender?

  124. 124
    Childermass

    107:

    Re Trayvon’s case, I’ll also point out that he had no way of knowing the man following him was armed. Even when Zimmerman left the car to follow Trayvon, his gun was concealed in a waistband holster.

    If a stranger was stalking me at night, I would assume the person had some kind of weapon. Criminals often anticipate that having a weapon might be useful.

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