Monday, April 2, 2012
TRAYVON MARTIN was not an angel
TRAYVON MARTIN was not an angel
By now everyone knows the story. February 26, a 17 year old black teen was coming back from a store to his fathers home. He was carrying a bag of skittles and a soda. The young man was cutting through yards, wearing a hoodie style sweatshirt, the preferred apparel of hoodlums. He was unarmed.
George Zimmerman, a white man (half Hispanic) was on neighborhood watch. There had been break-ins in the area and Zimmerman was looking for suspicious people.
Trayvon appeared to be suspicious. A black teen in a predominantly white neighborhood cutting through yards in a jacket designed to cover his identity is suspicious. Zimmerman rightly called into 911 to report a suspicious person. He was told not to follow the stranger, the police would come; the police would handle it.
Zimmerman followed Trayvon. At some point there was a confrontation. Trayvon was shot and killed. Zimmerman was questioned, released, and remains free based on a Florida law which allows deadly force if someone’s life is in danger.
Groups around the country are demanding Zimmerman’s arrest. The shooting of a young black teen by a white man seems to be clearly racist and people are demanding justice.
Trayvon was no angel. He was out of school, suspended for possession of traces of marijuana. Schools do not check angels for traces of marijuana. He also had a history of fighting and clearly was not the kind of kid to back down from a confrontation.
Trayvon was no angel. Trayvon should be alive today to perhaps grow up into a productive citizen. Lots of seventeen year olds are not angels. Most of them grow up and become productive citizens. Many of our brave military men today were no angels at seventeen. Many of our police and firefighters were not angels at seventeen. It is part of the personality trait of heroes. Many start out as tough kids with a chip on their shoulders. They ought not to be shot at seventeen.
I don’t think George Zimmerman is a racist. I think he is a wannabe hero who also has a chip on his shoulder. Why did he continue to follow Trayvon? Why did he carry a gun? Approaching a potential criminal takes training. Police know how to stop and question someone without causing a confrontation. Zimmerman obviously did not.
Apparently Zimmerman and Trayvon got into an altercation of some sort. Was Trayvon concerned that Zimmerman was a threat to him: a white guy calling out "hey you?" Probably. By what authority did Zimmerman have to follow Trayvon? None.
If the police had been allowed to do their job, they would have stopped Trayvon in a non-threatening way; they would have asked a few questions and maybe escorted him to his father's house to confirm his story. They would have ended the incident with “Sorry to have bothered you; you have a nice day now.”
Trayvon and his father would have thought the stop an example of racism and to an extent would probably be correct, but Trayvon would be alive to grow perhaps into a troubled adult, more probably into a productive citizen.
This whole incident is a tragedy. It is a tragedy for Mr. Zimmerman. I am sure he wishes he could have that day back. Whether he is ultimately arrested or not, his life is and will remain a mess. I don’t think he is a bad or evil man; I think he is a stupid man with a hero complex.
Should Mr. Zimmerman be arrested and be charged with a crime. I don’t know. All the facts are not in. With all the publicity I am sure that his actions will not be whitewashed.
Regardless of the outcome for Mr. Zimmerman, I hope this tragedy will help assure that police actions are taken by trained police, and not armed untrained self-appointed vigilantes with a hero complex.
It is not surprising that subway vigilante Bernard Getz pulled his gun and fired when in a confrontation. It is not surprising that George Zimmerman pulled and fired his gun when Trayvon apparently challenged his authority.
There is a reason that most police officers retire without ever discharging their weapon while on duty.