Trayvon and Zimmerman: A “good faith” breakdown?

In the comboxes, someone wondered earlier today why I had not written anything about the killing of Trayvon Martin by a “neighborhood watch” volunteer named George Zimmerman. Since I don’t watch the news or read papers anymore, I only became aware of it yesterday, and it seems the political world was slow to come to it, too.

It’s a dreadful story; my heart cannot help but go out to the family of Trayvon Martin, and my prayer is that this case gets a thorough and honest investigation which will result in justice being done.

Much is being assumed of this case, when not everything is yet known, and some are flinging about rumors, and half-truths very easily. Justice for Trayvon Martin must be rooted in truth, or it can never be just. The reading I’ve done around the web these last few hours makes me worry if truth is going to be one of those stretchable things, if the case is permitted to be politicized.

Neighborhood watches can be good things — everyone wants to feel like they are secure in their houses — but I also think it’s possible that some people involved in them can fall into a trap of becoming too suspicious, too quickly. I have no idea if this is true in Zimmerman’s case; I’m not sure anyone else knows it with absolute certainty, at this point, either.

The other day in First Things, I asked whether assumptions of “good faith” are things Americans are willing to make, anymore. Is that what is at the root of this story — the inability of people to give the benefit of a doubt to each other? Was Zimmerman unable to make a good faith assumption that a “hoody-wearing” Trayvon was just hanging out?

If so, why not? Was he too gung-ho, too willing to believe the worst, incapable of assuming good faith?

Now, as this tragedy becomes more widely known and Zimmerman’s family attempts to defend him, is it impossible to give them the benefit of a doubt, at least until a thorough investigation is concluded?

These are serious questions. If society has devolved to the point where we can no longer extend an assumption of good faith to each other, to someone walking home from a convenience store, or knocking on our door; to our neighbors, or our police, or our civic leadership and so forth, then our entire society will inevitably and wholly break down. Indeed, I worry that this story may well be a micro-illustration of the macro-misery toward which our society — and our nation — is headed, if we cannot find a way to pull back from our growing (and sadly, often justified) instinct to distrust, and our unwillingness to extend to each other the benefits-of-a-doubt we all require, sometimes.

I am not sure we can do it; it may be too late — all too far gone. That’s a very disturbing thought.

One would have to be foolish to believe that racism is not still a problem in America. But I think one would have to be equally foolish to insist, as I heard on the radio this afternoon, that “American blacks are under attack.” That seems, to me, to be a dishonest and unhelpful idea to promote. As someone is quote as saying here, “this is not a black and white thing; it’s a right and wrong thing.”

Meanwhile, Ace is wondering why some things are so clear, to the press, while other things are so murky; a question that may also be connected with our inability to assume good faith.

Max Lindenman takes a look at two instances in his life that might have illustrated “white boy privilege” and writes:

In his short story “Sonny’s Blues,” James Baldwin has a black woman tell her son how a car full of white men ran over his uncle, killing him, with no other motive than they were drunk, bored, and assured of getting away with it. “I’m telling you this,” she explains to the young man, “because you got a brother. And because the world ain’t changed.”

Baldwin set that scene during World War Two. Nowadays, in Mississippi, running over a black man with racial malice aforethought will get you life in prison, as 19-year-old Deryl Dedmon just discovered to his sorrow. Interracial marriages among blacks, whites and Latinos have increased tenfold since the 1960s. The product of one such marriage is in the White House, his black authenticity publicly challenged by a black man who would unseat him. Where race relations are concerned, the world really does appear to have changed, at least a little.

That’s all great. I do wish, though, that things would change a little more, to the point where basically good black kids could expect to be sent home with a lecture when they’re acting like morons, or a friendly ride home if they find themselves caught in a nasty neighborhood. Maybe that kind of thing does happen, but not, apparently, with enough regularity to sooth the fears of Michelle Johnson. I’ll welcome the day she feels free to tell her kids what my mother told me, which was basically, “Close the door quietly when you come in.”

Attorney William Jacobson is hoping that justice will be thorough in its questions and answers:

Let’s allow the facts to come in before we opine on the legal significance of the facts. Did Zimmerman hunt Martin down, or did the two come into unexpected contact with deadly results? It could be important.

Given the high political profile the case already has taken, we owe it to the victim and the accused for there to be a professional investigation free from politics.

We owe it to the nation, too, I think.

Meanwhile, Bookworm, who is also a lawyer, is meanwhile disturbed by the way the media is reporting the story before everything is known. I don’t know if I agree with her re Obama’s remarks, today. Yes, they could have been politically motivated, of course — Obama has certainly proved himself capable of cynical maneuvering and it was his campaign that said no crisis should ever go to waste. But they could simply be his feelings, too. I’m going to give a benefit of a doubt.

This cannot be an easy thing for Zimmerman’s parents, either.

Sent in by reader Kate: I’d forgotten about this story — which, I guess, is what happens when a story does not become politicized.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Rhinestone Suderman

    None of us mere human beings possesses the power of mind reading—therefore, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and guess what was going in the minds of either Trayvon Martin, or George Zimmerman.

    I have heard many different versions of the story: Martin was talking on his phone, Zimmerman and Martin were found by cops, lying on the groud, fighting, somebody heard cries for hep, the neighborhood is one with high crime—and so on. When there are this many stories, you can be pretty sure that the truth hasn’t yet come out. Therefore, it’s really best not to say anything, and not to jump on any bandwagons.

    Not that this will stop anybody, especially the usual publicity clowns, like the Reverend Al.

    George Zimmerman, by the way, is Hispanic, and has black family members, so the racism charge doesn’t seem real likely.

    I think it would really be best if people don’t speculate, but wait for the facts to come out. (Yeah, like that’s gonna happen! /Sarc. )

    [Yeah. I think I said all that. But I also think it's not a bad thing to wonder, in light of all of this, whether we have lost our ability to assume good faith. It's a serious question. -admin]

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    It’s a good question, Anchoress, but this isn’t the right time for it—especially as we don’t know all the facts.

    Drudge is reporting that MSNBC blames Limbaugh, Gingrich and Santorum for the shootings. (What? They left out Bush, Sarah Palin and my dear old Aunt Jebadeesha!) Farakhan is talking about “Retaliation”; the new Black Panther party has put up a “Dead or Alive” poster for Zimmerman (“Sentence first, verdict afterwards”); Miami students are staging walk outs, and I’m beginning to feel like I’m living in Afghanistan, not the United States.

    Maybe we have lost the ability to assume good faith—but we just don’t know if a loss of good faith is what happend here. Zimmerman might have felt threatened; Trayvon might have been innocent. He may have been up to something. Zimmerman may have been up to something. The two of them might have been fighting. They might not have been fighting. They may have known each other before hand. They may not have. It may have been a high crime neighborhood (the kind of place where no can assume good faith); it might not have been.

    I think the question in this particular case is less one of have we lost the ability to assume good faith in our fellow man, and more—are we losing our minds?

    The good faith issue is a good one, but it might be better discussed at another time, or at least, divorced as far as possible from the Trayvon/Zimmerman case, which is already becoming a circus.

  • JDC

    While assuming the worst is often problematic, and indeed, we do not know all the facts of this case, one thing that we do know – and part of the reason this is such a huge story – is that Zimmerman was not even arrested. Maybe he was acting in self-defense, maybe not. It’s generally the kind of thing that might have been determined in, I dunno, a trial? Heck, we’d know a lot more about the actual events if we had so much as a pre-trial discovery on which to depend.

    If one of the effects of the Stand Your Ground law is that you can now make a self-defense plea to a cop, thereby giving judicial-branch power to an executive-branch functionary, then I would submit that it’s bad legislation. Innocent or not, if you pull a trigger and someone dies, an investigation is needed.

  • Peggy

    we have gotten into this pattern of rushing to judgment as fast as we can. Every fact and stray rumor makes it into blogs and newspapers. Every theory by absolutely anybody is thrown into a passionate but muddy discussion. The shooting in France followed the same pattern—in many reports, the suspected shooter was described as a green-eyed white man. Columns appeared decrying right-wing extremism. Accounts of the cruise ship sinking were similarly an indistinguishable mash of fact and fiction. It was all a waste of time.

    I decided long ago to ignore details on these high-profile cases as they are unfolding, because the truth is too often obscured. I do not want to be left with one of the half-baked early theories stuck in my mind. I wish that professional journalists and reporters were, well, more professional. I hope those who must tease out the truth and those who mete out justice will also be cool-headed, patient, and honest.

  • Mandy P.

    Two things:

    First, I currently live about 30 minutes away from Sanford, where this took place. I used to live significantly closer and drove through there all the time. It’s a bad area. Very run down. Very high crime. And from reading local news reports (which are reporting the facts of the case, unlike the sensationalizing of the national media) in just this one neighborhood alone there were over 200 crimes reported in the past year. That’s a lot. So, I’m not really sure if it’s a matter of not being personally capable of assuming good faith so much as circumstances making it difficult to assume good faith, if that makes sense. This isn’t a low-crime area and it’s much safer to be cautious and more attentive to the actions of others- actions people in low-crime areas wouldn’t even notice but may seem suspicious or out of place in higher-crime places. So, it’s very easy for a lot of folks to take what they hear of the situation and apply it to their nice neighborhoods and assume someone acted irrationally or what not. We have to be careful of that- and I think the Anchoress *is* being careful but I also think this point needs to be reiterated.

    Second, is that, as I said the local media is reporting quite a bit here that’s not gotten out into the national media. For instance, you can listen to ALL of the 9-11 tapes, including those of the witnesses that saw what was going on. You can also read the police reports, which include the interviews that night with Zimmerman himself and those other witnesses. I was fully prepared to see and hear some horrible stalking followed by the brutal slaying of the boy after listening to the nationals and was very surprised to find something different entirely. The reason why Zimmerman wasn’t arrested was most likely because the facts of the case- the physical evidence that Zimmerman had been attacked from behind (bloodied back of the head) as he was returning to his vehicle and was being beaten on the ground (wet back of clothes with grass stains, bruised and bloodied nose, bruises and cuts on face) as well as eye-witness statements reporting the same thing in addition to the 9-11 calls where you can hear Zimmerman screaming for help in the background all match that as well. That all squares with what Zimmerman says happened. The investigation may be on-going but it’s pretty obvious if you view all the available information- and not just what’s been cherry-picked by the nationals- that the self-defense story is the most probable and actually matches what all witnesses say happened that night. Zimmerman not being arrested is pretty reasonable, actually. The only reason to arrest him is if there were some doubt as to his story and there was not any presented that night- and frankly, there hasn’t been any new evidence *that’s been made public* that would change that outcome.

    I would like to see justice done for BOTH men involved, but unfortunately this is being so politicized that I don’t know if true justice will be accepted. As was pointed out, the histrionics going on over this case have reached an insane level and I fear that nothing but this man Zimmerman’s head is going to satisfy some.

  • Debbie

    It’s not fair to be playing the race card at Trayvon’s expense. We’re Americans; we want justice.

  • Mike

    Regarding your idea, Elizabeth, that President Obama’s comments on this case may not have been politically motivated, I’d like to quote Rex Murphy who says,”Blindness as a form of social or ethnic courtesy is never good policy.” The reason Obama is in office is because too many people – all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding – said, “I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.”

  • Mandy P.

    For anyone who’s interested, you can get all the information that police have made public at the above link, in addition to a FAQ on the case.

  • Elizabeth K.

    I, like many others, am concerned at the way this is becoming a media driven politicized circus. And I’d like to extend good faith to our president on this re: his comments, but I have to admit I have become cynical about the idea that we ever just hear his feelings raw and unadorned. Because of that, my question is this, and I mean it seriously, as I’ve been wrestling with it: when does it become dangerously naive to assume the good faith motives of others? When do we reach the point that we are doing violence to our reason to do so? This isn’t a challenge to what you’re saying, because I agree with you; but as Christians, are we always required to extend the assumption of good faith, or does wisdom sometimes require that rescind that assumption? And where is that line?

  • Pingback: “Justice for Trayvon Martin must be rooted in truth” | Wizbang

  • Bender

    Zimmerman not being arrested is pretty reasonable, actually.

    When you are placed in handcuffs, taken into custody, driven to the police station, and questioned, that is called being under arrest. (For various reasons, though, e.g. Miranda, police do not like to that term to describe what is, as a matter of law, an arrest.)

  • doc

    The lynch mob doesn’t demand justice. They will demand blood.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Yes, doc—justice isn’t what the politicized media circus is all about.

    Which is one of the things that makes me feel like I’m living in Afghanistan at the moment.

    Elizabeth K., to me, whether Obama was speaking from his raw, naked feelings, or politically, is almost beside the point. Either way, what he said was unwise.

    A president is supposed to lead. In a situation like this, a leader is supposed to try and defuse hostility and unrest, not add fuel to the fire by (rather maudlinly) comparing the deceased to the son he might have had. If his statement was political, it’s heinous; if it wasn’t, it he was speaking from raw, naked feelings, it was still thoughtless and unwise; leaders should be able to resist the temptation to personalize events like this.

    This is not a time for for our leaders to counsel us to remain calm, to keep clear heads and not get carried away by mob frenzy, and to have faith in the American judicial system. This is what Obama should have told us.

  • kenneth

    The “stand your ground” law itself is rooted in a lack of good faith. It assumes that police can’t or wont provide a reasonable level of protection in our society. By basically legalizing summary execution by aggrieved citizens, it assumes that the criminal justice system can’t or won’t act in good faith to try and punish criminals.
    By shifting from the ancient self-defense standard in which deadly force is a last, not first, resort, the law presumes that prosecutors and juries will not have the judgement to know a clean kill from a dirty one. This law is not about any reasonable self defense. It enables anyone to deputize themselves and act as un-trained and un-accountable law enforcement. With no uniform or badge or any way of knowing they are in fact “the good guys”, any person dealing with them has no idea if the gun holder is in fact just another thug.
    This law, as it has been employed in Florida, allows an armed citizen to provoke a confrontation with someone and then execute them on the spot. No questions are asked as long as you made the kill “look” clean by claiming you were afraid of your assailant. The other party is dead, so no one can offer a different account, so the guy with the gun is always right. This is the same breakdown of good faith that we see in tribal Afghanistan or Somalia, and it is the bare minimum level of good faith that is needed to sustain a civil society.

  • Bender

    It takes a lot of gall — and I know he has it in abundance — to cry about a lack of good faith and then, in all bad faith, smear and defame and slander.

  • Mandy P.

    Yeah, I actually live in Florida and Kenneith doesn’t have any idea what he’s talking about in reference to this law or to how it is applicable. Here’s a hint: it’s not applicable in this case and the local police and state authorities have all said that not only is it not applicable, it wasn’t even considered here. That this was a *standard* case of self-defense. But please continue to demonize the laws of my state.

  • Mrs. O

    I am saddened by what happened in FL. As a member of a neiborhood watch, we have NEVER been told to shoot, etc, suspicious looking people, let alone kids. The only use of guns was on personal property and it was to scare them away, never aimed at them. I wait to see what his reasoning was IF any could explain it because our duty is to WATCH and CALL not shoot.
    Unfortunately where we are, majority of violent crimes are committed by young African Americans. Is is not being racists when we feel or become suspicious of some people. Unfortunate, yes. In our area, a lot of work goes in to trying to help the youth not take that path to begin with. We haven’t seen the fruits yet but hopefully soon, will see something. It is sad.
    Now, racism goes both ways here and the majority of the people are not like what is reports on the news. You have blacks who hate whites with a passions and the other way. It is something that has to be worked on, with yourself and family, as it can creep in.
    There are some really sad things happening. We may never have the full story either I just hope it doesn’t hurt neighborhood watches as they do work.

  • Elizabeth K.

    I agree, R.S. This was the time to support law enforcement, and to tamp down the crazies–and it seems to me that he did quite the opposite. It also seems to me that we see a lot of this from Obama–statements that essentially fan the flames of those who are speaking, shall we say, from a very angry and emotional place.

  • doc

    Remember Kenneth, when seconds count, the police are minutes away. Now the kid didn’t appear to be armed, but at least one account has him beating the tar out of the shooter, so this may be more complicated than you’d like it to be.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Yes, Elizabeth K., Obama always seems more eager to increase hostilities, rather than ease them.

  • Rosamond Long

    Amazing video, absolutely amazing. I was smiling all the way through. Highly professional production with a great idea and you have a very unique and personal memory that will make the bride and groom smile for many many years to come. Well done guys. I like the way that the chairs are placed around the ceremony area and the floral display on the ground is really beautiful. Thanks to Style Me Pretty and the Bride and Groom for posting this, very inspirtional.

  • FirstDance

    Here are some of my thoughts:

    1. Since when did Neighborhood Watch start carrying guns?! Update: Zimmerman was not a member of Neighborhood Watch. He was a lone wannabee.

    2. Zimmerman is a loser, a ne’er-do-well with a recorded history of violent behavior and failure. Maybe he wanted to be a hero. I know we can’t read his mind, but we can listen to those awful 911 tapes and catch a glimpse of his mindset at the time.

    3. Whether or not Sanford is a “bad” area is irrelevant. Leave such an area to the care of professional law enforcement. Zimmerman certainly did nothing to improve the area’s situation by chasing down and murdering a child.

    4. I’m NOT a big Obama fan, but I found his comments measured and quite touching. I know some people believe he was being overly political (cue frightening music!), but I don’t see that at all. He certainly didn’t say anything so egregious that he fanned any flames, at least not among sensible people. Those who accuse him of purposely inciting tensions are probably dealing with their own ugly issues. Or they think Obama is a Muslim.

    And for those who wonder about Trayvon Martin’s past, his English teacher said he was an “A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” Unlike his killer, he had no criminal record.

  • FirstDance

    I don’t know if this is relevant, but I’m white.

  • Ari Tai

    Curious political dilemma the dems face. They’ve got those on the plantation in the bag (even happy to proclaim they have “Mr. O’s back.”). But they are now offending the larger population of the Hispanic and Latino voter. Here’s someone doing what he can for his family and neighbors’ security and a ton of bricks is about to fall on him for doing his part in helping voluntary (civil) society sleep a bit easier at night.

    Will make a good movie someday. Neighbor sees what appears to be a stranger, perhaps a gang-member hiding his identity in the area, at a time and in weather that raises questions. Gets out of his vehicle and asks him if there’s something he can do to help, offers to drive him home or to wherever he’s going. He’s met with vitriol and language that would make anyone but Maher blush. As he turns to return to his vehicle he says something in kind under his breath at the stranger who has just reconfirmed what a large number of his family and neighbors believe about the underclass of any race (while they are working three jobs to make ends meet, helping each other and paying their taxes, they have to worry about the safety of their neighborhood and children because of these types).

    Next thing he knows he’s been hit on the back of the head with a can of soda and knocked senseless, kicked in the face and then beaten while he’s waking up on the ground.

    Assuming the facts support the above it’s now time for an “I am Zimmerman” campaign. And the dems to lose what few Hispanics remain in their camp.

    Not that what happened to Martin isn’t its own tragedy – and all those in his life that contributed to him wandering where and appearing in a manner that he would naturally be a “person of concern.”

  • EBL

    Unfortunately, the reaction to this is very much escalating this. No one really knows yet what happened (other than perhaps George Zimmerman and maybe a handful of other people). Yet we have people who should know better calling for Zimmerman’s head. It is a tragic situation and we should let the investigation sort out what happened before jumping to conclusions.

  • SKay

    The media reaction to this reminds me of the Duke- lacrosse case.
    In the end — all the MSM assumptions along with the very political prosecutor were proven wrong. I don’t remember hearing the usual suspects who fanned the flames or the media ever apoligizing to those whose lives were turned upside down. It seems like they just said –Oh–nevermind.

    I am sorry that this teenager was killed–that is a tragedy. Since there does seem to be a witness that we have not heard from but the police have–I would prefer hearing the whole story before passing judgement.
    Will Obama make a comment about the Black Panther’s Dead or Alive posters or their supposed $10,000 reward? Will Holder condem it? Given their track record reguarding this hate group–it would be surprising. I agree with Rhinestone about the President’s statement–but it is so typical of him.
    Thank you Mandy P for giving a little more context to the story since you are familiar with the area.

  • Andy

    This tragedy presents what is wrong with America, and it is not a secular vs. Christian battle it is the ease with which we accept violence and the ease with which we intellectualize violence, the way in which we as a people have become inured to violence. Rather than condemn violence I see in many of the comments a desire to politicize, to demonize people we don’t agree with – in other words to do verbal violence.
    Maybe a time of repentance for the country and its love of violence is in order – maybe a time to truly examine what “pro-life” means beyond being “anti-abortion”is in order. Maybe we need to turn of the TV and radio and get away from the screaming and yelling that occurs. But I think that most of all we need to recognize that every time we embrace violence physical, emotional, or verbal we are doing harm to another person – hardly Christian.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    SKay, the media reaction is actually beginning to remind me of the uproar in Afghanistan, over the burned Korans.

  • Mary

    Every day people are killed. Many of them are teens and young adults that live in the inner cities of America where violence is a way of life. It is appalling that President Obama got involved in this at all and perhaps we should look at what his motivation was. I also question why someone who is not a police officer is even permitted to carry a gun? Pointing fingers and saying this was racially motivated does nothing but fuel the flames of hatred. It must stop. We must allow for the investigation to continue and for justice to be served.

  • Dan C

    1) Any thought that racism is not a possibility for an Hispanic man is out of touch. Get out of your house and meet people. Hate is a powerful force, and maneuvers strategically into every corner of our brains.

    2) As someone who negotiates “high crime” areas all the time, the first presumtpion dbeing made is that it is all right to presume African-American hoodied folks are criminals. This is a presumption made each time the “high crime” term is thrown around. I negotiate daily tougher neighborhoods than Sanford. The use of deadly force, period, was unwarranted. Fear is the work of the Devil promoting these images and presumptions. Fear coupled with hate is at play here.

    3) This death is the consequence of an armed man without training and who may not be “quite right”-28 yo, never employed, etc. With an uber-machismo culture of “stand your ground” and permission to carry deadly weapons, this scenario was very likely eventually. Such is the consequence of hysterical imaginings of paranoia of one’s safety, without consideration of the common good. To “carry” in order to feel safe so that one day we read about such tragedies is an expected, predictable catastrophe that is nothing but another human sacrifice to our culture of fear and hate. ( I hate the term “culture of death” because it masks the true vices at work to promote such chaos. In this case, a culture of fear and hate were at work.)

    “Fear not” is a Gospel command, not “stand you ground” with a pistol. This horror is a tragic yet predictable consequence.

  • Bender

    Mandy, above, explains why legitimate charges will never be brought, and if illegitimate charges are brought, there will never be a conviction — the presence of conclusive reasonable doubt.

    If you read the initial police report (at the link provided above), you see that Zimmerman was taken into custody for suspected negligent homicide / manslaughter. The officer who first encountered Zimmerman and took him into custody reports, “his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground. Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head. . . . I over heard him state ‘I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me.’”

    Right there is your reasonable doubt. That Zimmerman’s back was wet, covered in grass, and he is bleeding from the nose and back of the head indicates that he had been in a struggle. That is, it is not the case of him simply walking up to Martin and shooting him for the crime of being black. And if Martin did get into a physical struggle with Zimmerman, during which Zimmerman received bloody injuries, a lack of self-defense cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That Zimmerman may have been following Martin earlier is not a material fact if Martin turned and attacked Zimmerman, as the physical evidence suggests he did (having a gun, Zimmerman would have had no reason to start a physical stuggle with Martin).

    The observations of the physical evidence by the responding officer are corroborated by other undisputed evidence. On the 9-11 tapes, you can clearly hear someone calling for help. And now at least one eyewitness has stated that he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman.

    Here again, this supports Zimmerman’s version of events and prevents any proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not defending himself.

  • Bender

    Leaving aside the whole question of why one is referred to by his first name in the headline, and the other by his last name, here is some background information on George
    He comes from a multi-racial family, with his immediate family being bi-racial. He was active in his parish, All Saints Catholic Church, serving both as an altar server and volunteer in the parish office. Their pastor, Father Robert Cilinski, says that the Zimmermans “were known and respected in the community for their dedication and service. His mother worked as a court interpreter in Prince William County, Virginia, and his father is retired military.

  • SKay

    Will this horrible story be covered by the MSM with similar outrage?
    Will the President make a statement about it? Will the Justice department get involved?

    I doubt that the three who are being sought by the police in this case had a “right to carry” Dan C I also doubt that the student was allowed to have a gun on campus and could not “stand his ground”. So he is dead.
    Another tragic death.

  • daisy

    Can a black kid walk down the street without one of the neighborhood busy bodies freaking out? No? Well I have a problem with that. I come from a multi racial family and I want to be able to believe that my black nephew will be able to go to the 7/11 and make it back home without someone like Mr. Zimmerman calling the police on him.

  • Manny

    It’s a sad situation, and I certainly feel bad for the poor boy and his family. The circumstances are not clear, and Zimmerman (who happens to be a minority himself) will either be exonerated or locked up or worse. From a political angle though, Obama and the Democrats are taking a tragedy that could have happened anywhere across America to almost any ethnic kid in a bad neighborhood and making it a bloody shirt event. Obama was looking for a “lynching” event to motivate the black and Liberal communities and by golly he found it. It’s so distasteful when politics is played this way.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Dan C., please read Mandy’s, and Mrs. O’s, posts above. They describe the real situation in Florida.

    Even if it turns out that Mr. Zimmerman is guilty—do we really want our trials to be decided, not by rule of law, but by passionately inflamed lynch mobs, all pushing their own agenda? Because it looks like this is the way we’re headed. The New Black Panther Party has already put out a wanted poster, putting a bounty on Zimmerman, and calling for him to be captured “Dead or alive.” ( “Sentence first, verdict afterwards!” “Off with their heads!”) This is deadly serious.

    And what happens if Zimmerman isn’t turned over to them, or if they think his sentence wasn’t harsh enough? Riots? More violence, more people being hurt in the name of “Justice”?

    As I said earlier—are we all losing our minds here? Do we really want to run our society like Afghanistan?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Manny, I really am beginning to think this was chosen as a “Lynching event”, something to whip up the mob, just when the Republicans may actually have chosen a candidate, and people might be paying too much attention to HHS—not to mention Iran getting nukes.

    Thousands of people are shot every day—some of them, sadly, black kids. But none of these cases have created the mass hysteria this one has. (And, yes, I noticed the constant harping on the last name, “Zimmerman”, and the attempts to hide the fact that he’s a minority himself.)

  • JDC

    I am a little baffled, why are we all now under the impression that he was arrested when the Sanford PD has been entirely up-front about the fact that he was not arrested?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    JDC, because all the stories coming out about this seem to be confusing and contradictory, and nobody really seems to be know what’s actually happening, despite all protestations to the contrary.

    In the meantime, Spike Lee has been tweeting Mr. Zimmerman’s home address; The New Black Panther Party has stated that they will recruit 10,000 men to go hunt him down. (“Doesn’t matter if he’s arrested or not, let’s just go get the *&&^%$!”) OWS of Oakland—a pretty violent crowd, by the way—has announced they will do a “Spring Offensive” for Trayvon.

    And Christians in the Syrian city of Homs are being driven out by an Islamic brigade. Not being on the Approved Victims’ List, however, and not being politically useful, there will be no protests for them, or even a small weekend “Offensive.”

  • Mike R

    when any young person, no matter their race, creed, or ethnicity is killed it is a tragedy. My first thought were to pray for him and his family- not what color he was. Why would the POTUS chose to speak out the way he did on this case? Unfortunately, in our country there are many murders happening evryday that involve race or some other form of hate. Why choose to speak to this case before anyone knows ALL the deatils. He had to know by doing this it would just race tensions even more. And quite frankly if he did not, then it once again shows an utter lack of leadership. Look, one can understand the POTUS’s feeling here, but he simply should have kept it to himself until the case moves along. Didnt he react the same way with the AA professor in Boston and then had to back off after facts and audio came to light? Finally, yes, the POTUS should show concern for the AA community who in many cases still deal with racism in our country. But from a priority perspective, one wonders why he has not looked at PP and the fact that the vast majority of their clinics are located in inner city and AA communities where the abortion rate is 1 out of every 2 pregnancies! The murder of Trayvon Martin is a tragedy and justice should be done, but so is the murder of thousands of AA babies every year in our inner cities. Where is the POTUS on that?

  • JDC

    Yes, I am not disputing that some people are getting way ahead of things by declaring guilty verdicts and such. This is just a sad fact of life in any publicized trial.

    My concern is not to seek to assign immediate blame, nor to contemplate possible racial implications of the event. I won’t even touch that stuff yet. Before anyone begins to tackle those questions, we have before us a serious procedural matter to address, and it is one that is entirely unambiguous: the fact that, by law, the police are not allowed to make an arrest in a case like this.

    As I said above, if a power reserved for the court (determination of guilt) has been assigned to the police, then the law responsible is an extremely poor one. I am rather amazed that the courts didn’t foresee this and strike it down as quickly as possible, considering how eager members of each branch are to maintain their respective purview.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Well, whether or not the courts should, or should not have struck this particular law down, doesn’t matter at the moment. The police report, which you link to, is pretty detailed, and sets forth their reasons why they didn’t arrest Mr. Zimmerman at the time. Whether or not the law is a good one, or bad one, is for the courts to decide—or, it would be, in a sane world.

    We’re not living in a sane world. None of this matters now. Seriously, it doesn’t. What is happening now isn’t really about Mr. Zimmerman, the Florida police or the law. And nothing that’s going on now is likely to help this situation. As I said earlier—even if Mr. Zimmerman is found to be guilty, is it really a good idea to try him by lynch mob? Because that’s what’s happening here—and, that’s what could happen to any one of us, in the future, if things keep going this way.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    At any rate, it does look like the police followed the law here, so the fact that they didn’t arrest Mr. Zimmerman doesn’t seem racist. If they had arrested him in, they might have been accused of racism for arresting a Hispanic when the law was on his side. So there you are.

    As for whether or not this is a good law, that’s for the courts, and the people of Florida to decide. (Heh! Yeah, like the current media circus is gonna go along with that!)

  • SKay

    The Mississippi State student-who was white- was shot several times in his dorm last night and later died.
    The police are looking for three black males who they do not think are students of the University. Apparently there are witnesses.
    This family needs prayers also.

    I hope we hear more about the investigation and the true reason for this murder.
    Will there be much coverage of the story?

  • Bender

    I am a little baffled, why are we all now under the impression that he was arrested

    Because some of us are people who know the LAW and, as a matter of law, when one is taken into custody, such that he is not free to leave, he is under arrest. What some police department wants to call it is irrelevant. What matters is the law. And this was an arrest.
    That he was later released without a charge does not diminish the fact that he was, in fact and in law, arrested.
    Words mean things.

  • Bender

    I really wish that we were not so loose with our language, especially the media, and especially those who follow the media’s lead on things.
    It does not take a law degree, much less experience as an attorney in criminal law, merely a commonsense understanding of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Sadly, such is lacking in our society.

  • Bender

    Some free legal advice here –

    If perchance you are ever handcuffed by the police, driven down to the police station, placed in a room, and you are not allowed to leave, but are instead questioned — you have been arrested. Anything you say can and will be used against you. If they later let you go without booking you or without formally charging you, you still have been arrested.

  • Manny

    “Manny, I really am beginning to think this was chosen as a “Lynching event”, something to whip up the mob, just when the Republicans may actually have chosen a candidate, and people might be paying too much attention to HHS—not to mention Iran getting nukes.

    Thousands of people are shot every day—some of them, sadly, black kids. But none of these cases have created the mass hysteria this one has. (And, yes, I noticed the constant harping on the last name, “Zimmerman”, and the attempts to hide the fact that he’s a minority himself.)”

    Yep, exactly what I was thinking and why I wrote what I did in my first comment.

  • JDC


    Because some of us are people who know the LAW and, as a matter of law, when one is taken into custody, such that he is not free to leave, he is under arrest.

    Words mean things.

    Evidently not to the police department in question?

    I really wish that we were not so loose with our language, especially the media, and especially those who follow the media’s lead on things.

    Or, again, the actual police department’s lead might be sufficient.

    Seriously, if I am given the choice to either trust a first-hand source from the organization responsible for the investigation or the word of a (frankly condescending) stranger on the internet who claims to know what they really mean, I wonder whom I shall trust…

    Something to consider: if he was never placed under arrest, he was free to leave at any time. This is Law 101 stuff. As such, any questions posed to him will be done knowing that if they push too hard, he’s out of there. Might you have access to any record describing the actual content of his time at the station? I would love to read what came of it. I cannot find any, and I suspect it’s because he basically filled out the necessary paperwork and otherwise revealed nothing remarkable. I welcome any evidence showing otherwise, however.

    What happened had an entirely different dynamic than what would have followed an arrest. The fact that your words can be used against you is a constant where police interviews are concerned, and does not by itself an arrest make.