Poring through coverage of the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, I've felt like my heart was playing tennis. I can go from wiping tears from my eyes at the horrors of a 17-year-old's death to wrapping my hands into angry fists in seconds. That's what the claims from George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community who admitted to police he shot Trayvon, will do to you.
George Zimmerman's claim that he shot an unarmed kid in self-defense is sounding more and more like a load of hooey. Trayvon is black. George is Hispanic. Trayvon was carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. George was carrying a gun. Trayvon is dead, and George has not been charged.
Huh? Is there a state in the nation where a bag of Skittles is a weapon you have to defend yourself against with deadly force?
The preposterousness of Zimmerman's claims would actually be laughable if this whole case wasn't so unspeakably sad. A child is dead, and the man who is open about the fact that he caused the child's death has yet to be taken to task for it. It's a smack against a justice system where self defense as a reason for the use of deadly force has to be measured carefully against a person's right to live. If this ridiculous case stands without resolution, we're on pretty dangerous footing in America.
Zimmerman's claims from the get-go have been troubling ... at best. A chilling 911 call revealed a man claiming that he saw a "suspicious" guy walking through the neighborhood. He didn't go into specifics, just telling the operator that "he looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something." His reasoning? Trayvon was walking in the rain and looking around. Geez, sounds like any other kid in America who doesn't have a car, doesn't it? Couldn't be because he was a black kid, could it? Hmm.
Then, before noting any criminal activity of any kind, Zimmerman told the 911 operator that "these (unintelligible), they always get away." Really, he hadn't seen Trayvon do a thing, and he'd already labelled him as a criminal. And he followed him! He certainly sounds like someone itching for trouble.
Seems to me like Zimmerman shot his own self defense claims in the foot on that 911 call. He told the 911 operator he didn't know what was in the boy's hands, meaning he didn't have evidence the boy was holding a gun. He was also told by the 911 operator not to follow Trayvon, but he did it anyway. That's not Trayvon's fault. That's his.
Common sense tells us when 911 operators tell us to do something; you listen. They're the experts! Heck when you don't know what someone you've deemed "suspicious" might be carrying, you don't go after them. You call the professionals, and let them take care of it. By George Zimmerman's own admission, nothing done here describes self defense, and letting him walk off is not just an insult to the grief of Trayvon's family but to the integrity of the entire justice system.
Self defense is used in court fairly regularly, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. We need it in a world where you sometimes feel like it isn't your own sense of right and wrong that you question but someone else's. But when it's abused, it sullies the system.
Listen to some of the 911 excerpts yourself below. What do you think should be done to George Zimmerman?