I’ve watched the run up and the trial of George Zimmerman carefully. I started getting interested in this case when the Martin Family hired an attorney to push for charges. To be honest I started researching it to figure out what mistakes Zimmerman made, what decisions were wrong. I initially went into it thinking that Zimmerman had done something wrong; that he had screwed up in a major way.
Michael McDaniel provided a running commentary on the case but his wasn’t the only source I used. I’ve listened network news reports, I’ve read local and national print/online media, I have actually read many of the documents released through discovery. On the points I raise, I will try to link to as many sources as I can. On some, I will not cite sources; like in the case of a alumni from High School that not only unfriended me last night, she actually blocked me. All because I asked her to support with evidence her belief the jury made the wrong decision.
What I’ve learned is many people are unwilling to see the issues from both directions. They want to approach the information as if it flows only one way — against Zimmerman.
First block — What Zimmerman didn’t know.
Many people point to the legal proposition that information about Trayvon’s past couldn’t be used by Zimmerman. I’ll cover what information later. This is where the one way street starts; Zimmerman couldn’t know that Martin was in Sanford because he was suspended (and possibly kicked out of his mom’s house) from school.
Fine but doesn’t that also point out the simple fact that Zimmerman could not have known Martin was staying in a town home there?
There isn’t a shred of evidence to indicate that Zimmerman had ever seen Martin before that night. Certainly nothing to indicate that Zimmerman had seen Martin dressed in a hoodie that covered his face.
Zimmerman could not have known that Martin was ‘just going to the store for Skittles and Iced Tea’.
Basically Zimmerman could not have known that Martin was NOT one of the people responsible for the rash of break – ins at the gated community.
Second block — Profiling
Mirriam Webster defines profiling as:
The act or process of extrapolating information about a person based on known traits of tendencies, specifically: the act of suspecting or targeting a person on the basis of observed characteristics or behavior.
Okay, let’s assume that Zimmerman is ‘guilty’ of profiling. McDaniel points out that profiling is normally done by law enforcement; think New York City “stop and frisk’ program. Is profiling wrong ? Most people would say no; simply abusing the power is wrong. The F.B.I. Behavioral Analysis Units are a great example of using profiling to help solve crime.
In conjunction with other government and academic entities, NCAVC personnel conduct research into violent crime from a law enforcement perspective. Of primary interest to researchers are how offenders commit their crimes, how they attempt to avoid detection, and how they are identified, apprehended, and convicted. The research is designed to gain insight into criminal thought processes, motivations, and behaviors.
Long way to get to the point but needed to get to the point of raising the point where the narrative flows only one way — Was Zimmerman accurate in this case of profiling Martin?
The burglary of Olivia Bertalan’s home was just one of at least eight reported over the previous 14 months—several of which, neighbors said, involved young black men. On Feb. 26, the odds were stacked against Martin: he was a young black man in a neighborhood that was feeling besieged by crime and blaming it—fairly or not—on people who looked like him.
Three weeks before Martin’s death another Twin Lakes resident arrived home to discover a kitchen window open and a laptop and gold necklaces missing. Two witnesses said they saw a young black man standing nearby, but they did not see the man break into the home, according to a police report. One witness said he believed it was the same man who had stolen his bike. The next day officers responding to a call confronted three black men and one white man on bikes near the neighborhood. The same witnesses identified one of the men as the same man they saw near the burglarized home. The officers found the laptop in the man’s backpack.
If people want to accuse Zimmerman of profiling; we have to, simply have to determine if the person observed met the profile of the people recently committing crime in the area. Unless you are the TSA then it makes sense to strip search babies and elderly grandmothers in the pursuit to reduce terrorism. But many people don’t want to take that view; do they?
And let’s not forget that a trained dispatcher agreed enough with the ‘profile’ that Zimmerman presented to send out a responding officer. Should the dispatcher face charges also?
Third Block — Ancient (and not so Ancient) History Matters
Unless you are talking about Martin; right? Zimmerman’s two brushes with the law were used to paint him as physically violent or aggressive. Never mind the reality of the charges. One was a domestic violence issue which while serious was also 8 years prior and mutually dropped. Given what passes (and some day I will tell you exactly how I know — but things aren’t resolved at this point) acceptable charges regarding domestic, I find it difficult to label the man as a physically violent based on that alone.
The other charge should have been accurately described as ‘contempt of cop’ charges
For those unfamiliar with the case, Zimmerman was with a friend in a bar when several plainclothes alcohol agents, without identifying themselves, drug Zimmerman’s friend out of the bar. Thinking his friend under assault, Zimmerman followed and placed his hand on one officer’s shoulder. He was arrested for assault on a police officer, a felony. The charge was quickly changed to a misdemeanor, and Zimmerman was allowed to participate in a pre-trial diversion program. He completed it, and the charge was dropped entirely. Zimmerman has no criminal record.
Ohhh, such a scary violent man. Too bad the narrative wouldn’t allow anything other than that one way street; information regarding Trayvon’s brushes with the law, not allowed. Nope, ‘an innocent boy’ was simply walking home.
The new claims, revealed in a leaked report, paint a different picture of a teenager who frequently found himself in trouble with authorities.
It was also revealed that he might have attacked a bus driver, according to a Twitter account that it is claimed belonged to the teen.
The Miami Herald claims that in October, he was caught with a ‘burglary tool’ – a flathead screwdriver – and 12 pieces of women’s jewellery. Martin insisted that they did not belong to him.
Earlier, he had been suspended for skipping school and showing up late to class. And most recently, in February, he was suspended again when officials found a ‘marijuana pipe’ and an empty baggie with traces of the drug.
Did the media who knew about these issues report them? Did the Martin family lawyers discuss them as the reason why Martin was even in Sanford Florida? Nope, that wasn’t allowed ! Because Trayvon’s past didn’t matter because Zimmerman couldn’t have known about it — more cynically I believe they didn’t report it because it would have destroyed the narrative of the “innocent child”.
I don’t see how it is fair to claim events 7 and 8 years prior are relevant to Zimmerman’s frame of mind and not show recent events in Martin’s life may have shaped his frame of mind.
Fourth Block — Fight Club Rules
At least for Trayvon Martin – No One Talks About Fight Club. Zimmerman’s training was covered in depth at the trial and before hand. Everyone was willing to discuss how much training and what type of shape he was in.
But Trayvon’s texts discussing his fights; given to the defense days before the trial began and little media coverage. Travyon’s texts about how he will fight a guy again because he didn’t bleed enough; not admitted into evidence.
How about the cousin asking if Trayvon took a swing at the bus driver; not discussed in the trial.
Mark O’Mara covered why those texts and school records were relevant in a press release
They argued, in part, that George Zimmerman did not know Trayvon Martin before the night of February 26, 2012, and so the nature of Trayvon’s character as revealed in the school records is irrelevant to the case at hand.
The Judge ruled that the defense should have the records. This ruling was based, in large part, on a case called State v. Munoz, 45 So 3d 954 (3 DCA 2010). That case holds that, under the right circumstances, a person’s reputation for violence may be admissible in a case, even if the person accused of the crime was unaware of the reputation. The case focuses on the issue of the whether the person with the reputation may have acted aggressively in this case.
Have to ask even if the court didn’t allow the information; why did the media keep quiet about it? Even now after the trial few of the news reports or opinion sections I’ve seen even acknowledge that Trayvon could have been anything other than a perfect angel.
Fifth Block – Racism
Zimmerman’s racist, uh, well…he….em — well because Trayvon was BLACK. NBC edited the non-emergency dispatch call in order to make Zimmerman appear racist and that impression has stuck with millions.
Zimmerman: 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.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy – is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
But even the admission in court, under oath (something that came out for the first time in court) that Martin called Zimmerman a “creepy ass cracka” isn’t sufficient for most people to even consider that Martin was exhibiting a little racism.
Sixth Block — Following Orders
This is one that really I don’t understand; Zimmerman should have followed the orders of the 911 dispatcher/police. First, as the testimony in the case showed, the dispatcher isn’t a law enforcement officer and his statements or suggestions carry no weight of law. Second, people simply get the timeline wrong ! They keep saying that “Zimmerman got out of his truck after the dispatcher told him not to do it.” – Simply not true listen to the call tape (link courtesy of Weerd Beard). Zimmerman was out of his vehicle and walking long before the dispatcher said “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.” And Zimmerman said “Okay” then started discussing where to meet the cops.
But let’s back up — something the media and the people pushing the narrative don’t want us to do. Let’s back up to the conversation before Zimmerman got out of his vehicle.
Zimmerman -Somethings wrong with him. Yup, he’s coming to check me out, he’s got something in his hands, I don’t know what his deal is.
Dispatcher – Just let me know if he does anything, ok?
Zimmerman – (unclear) See if you can get an officer over here.
Dispatcher – Yeah we’ve got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does anything else.
Twice Zimmerman is asked to ‘let me know’ if he does anything else. Wouldn’t running away and where he ran to fall into that category?
Something to think about; Zimmerman could not have known Trayvon was staying in a townhome there (Go back to the 1st Block). For all Zimmerman knew, it could have been either an innocent person or another attempt at a home invasion like the one that was discussed at the trial. How would you feel if you had driven on and the person you saw broke in and terrorized a neighbor?
Last Block is Poor Decisions
Everyone wants to castigate Zimmerman for making bad decisions and there is an element there. At least I would argue he might not have made the best decisions but certainly he didn’t make — as far as we know and the evidence shows — any illegal decisions.
Every decision Zimmerman made; Carrying a gun, how he loaded the pistol, starting the neighborhood watch program to getting out of the vehicle has been scrutinized and Zimmerman blamed for contributing to the chain of events.
Does anyone want to look down the street and examine Martin’s actions, his decisions? Very Few. But those decisions hold as much of an influence over the chain of events as Zimmerman’s, if not more.
Had Trayvon not had a bag with marijuana residue he might not have been kicked out of his mom’s house and school.
Had this been the first brush with breaking the rules; he might not have been packed up to serve his suspension in Sanford nearly 250 miles away.
Had Trayvon not gone to the store to purchase two of the three ingredients needed for “purple drank” or “lean” — whether he intended to make it or it was simply a coincidence — then nothing might have happened
Had Martin followed the advice of his friend to head straight to the house he was staying at; then nothing might have happened.
Who started the actual physical confrontation? I don’t know. I do know the evidence supports Zimmerman’s account that it was Trayvon’s decision to assault him.
I did start reading about this to find out what I would do or try to differently and there are a couple that I came up. I’ll discuss those later. What really struck me as I watched this case evolve was just how much effort went into not looking at the whole picture.
It does the country and our society no good to insist on presenting only one side of the issue. It divides the country and casts people in the worst possible light without the opportunity to show what really happened.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there shouldn’t have been a two way review of this. What do you think?
Please join the discussion.