The Trayvon Martin Case: Thoughts about Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, and Justice.
I received an interesting response to my tweet regarding the Zimmerman verdict. It reminded me how easily social media posts are misread. The original conversation is on my twitter feed, but this is basically how it went:
Me: I’m sad – This decision will further divide America. Guys like Zimmerman will continue to inflict power and control over our people. #NoJustice
Tweeter: Troublemakers like you are stirring up the pot so you can start a race war to divide America.
Initially, I wanted to engage and tell her “you don’t know what your talking about.” After all, I’m on her side AGAINST stirring up racial conflict – two wrongs don’t make anything right. But I chalked it up to the “heat of the moment” and let it go. Engaging in arguments doesn’t usually bring about positive change.
People today thrive on conflict, constantly consuming it to fuel their overblown self-esteem. I realize that everyone has self-righteous moments, but as adults we should LEARN to keep them in check, instead of speaking (or typing) before we THINK a situation over. The problems facing mankind aren’t simple ones. Each “side” of a social issue has it’s good points and bad points. Isn’t it about time people start using their brains and working constructively towards the resolution of social problems?
Did race and civil rights play a part in the killing? Probably. As a Florida resident, I can personally attest that racism is still prominent there. Racial profiling by police is statistically verified, and Zimmerman appeared to have taken on the “role” of neighborhood cop. Why did he choose a confrontation with Martin instead of with a white teen? It’s a question that, in light of the evening’s circumstances and the current tide of social unrest, needed to be asked.
There is another neglected issue in this case – the pathological behavior that caused Zimmerman to act. In my personal opinion, he had a variety of OPTIONS other than confrontation, but his personality type craves power and control. When he rejected the authority of Sanford law enforcement to “handle the situation” on his own, he should have been charged with obstruction of justice, harassment, assault with a deadly weapon, and voluntary manslaughter.
We tell our kids to beware of strangers, but that alone can’t protect them. Perhaps Martin attacked Zimmerman in a futile attempt to overpower the gun-wielding aggressor. We will never know the truth, but here’s what we do know: Zimmerman made a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to disobey the police dispatcher when he stepped out of his car, then ENGAGED with a teen who was OTHERWISE ENGAGED in a cell phone conversation. I think this action alone proves Zimmerman had a MOTIVE to commit manslaughter – to exert power over someone he perceived to be weak with intent to kill.
The ball was dropped more than once in this case. If we’re going to pass blame, let us spread it across the legal system, the political system and the entire culture. Most of us have experienced chaos in our job, government, or community. It’s that feeling of being on a sinking ship, and knowing your only alternative is to jump off and swim as hard as you can. Yet, in our denial, we continue to cling to it even after the opportunity to fix the leak passes.
Unchecked, chaos leads to complacency and mismanagement – the unwillingness to step up and do the RIGHT thing regardless of the personal cost. For instance, the rising crime rate in the town of Sanford, is skyrocketing. Unless you live near the area, you have no idea how much daily crime taking place there: mobile meth labs, bank robberies, and carjackings. Law enforcement officials have trouble keeping up with calls, let alone spending an adequate amount of time on casework. MOST law enforcement personnel did the best they could with the situation they were given. Some officials swept it under the rug, choosing to focus instead on what they perceived as more serious crimes.
The jury has decided in favor of Zimmerman, and I respect that decision. His defense team proved there was reasonable doubt, and the jurors followed due process, as required by law. This is what ensures freedom and liberty for all Americans – we all have civil rights because of the law. But sometimes bad guys do get away with crime due to an unsatisfactory investigation or if the prosecution doesn’t prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Unfortunately, the jurors decision was based only on what happened DURING the confrontation. I don’t understand why. I’m sure Zimmerman received a pummeling, but his I feel that his willful actions show evidence of premeditation – just enough to tip the scales of justice away from him. Although justice was served according to the law, a young man is still dead, and a killer is free. As a result of the trickle down failure of the MULTIPLE systems, the Martin family was endured trauma twice; once by the death of their son, and again by a lack of justice for his killer.
Protests so far have been peaceful so far. Many feel the same sadness that I do over a teen’s senseless killing. The gatherings are small; most of us don’t want to get very involved with the controversy. Instead, we hide behind our computers and state our opinions. In doing so, we are either growing wiser about the struggles of mankind, or playing “the blame game” as we fling outbursts of anger across our screens.
Yes, I know this posting is going to be judged before it it read, but maybe a few will take the time to HEAR my reasoning. The truth is, we ALL have the responsibility to save our youth, our people, and our country. Isn’t it about time we reign in our exaggerated self esteem and start behaving like mature adults?