On Feb. 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was visiting his father’s house in a gated community just outside of Orlando. He decided to leave his father’s house and grab some snacks for his little brother so they could enjoy them during this year’s NBA All-Star weekend.
Upon returning to his house, Martin was confronted by 28-year-old, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Before following Martin to his father’s home, Zimmerman called 911 to notify Sanford police that a suspicious person had entered the community.
Zimmerman followed Martin as he entered the gated community and an altercation shortly ensued. Before the Sanford Police Department (SPD) arrived to the community, Zimmerman wielded a 9 mm handgun and shot Martin once in the chest. Martin died from the gunshot wound.
A young man, Martin, who was excited to spend time with his father and younger brother during All-Star weekend lay lifeless on the ground with nothing in his pockets but a bag of Skittles and a can of tea.
As of March 13, no arrests have been made and Zimmerman still remains without a charge. Zimmerman claims he was defending himself.
Sanford Police Chief Lee said during a press conference on Monday,
“It is with that thought that we want to make sure that we do a fair and complete and thorough investigation so that we can reach some form of justice with this event.”
He then added,
“That there is the right for someone that has a concealed weapons permit to carry that weapon” and that they support neighborhood watch.
From what Police Chief Lee said, no charges can be brought to a man who shoots an unarmed boy in his neighborhood as long as the perpetrator says he or she did so in self-defense.
As devastating as all this sounds, it gets worse.
Zimmerman, who is a white and Hispanic man, killed Martin, a black boy. As anyone probably expected, there are many who believe this killing was racially motivated.
It’s hard to see how this wasn’t racially motivated, but this could also be a case where Zimmerman was unhinged and too mentally unstable to have been using a gun. But when Zimmerman is alleged to have said he had no intention of letting Martin out of his sights because “these assholes always get away,” the line between a racially motivated killing and an honest mistake becomes blurred. The question is, who is the “these” Zimmerman was referring to?
Though Zimmerman’s charges were dropped, he has doesn’t have the “squeaky-clean” record the SPD claimed he had. He was arrested in Orange County in 2005 and charged with resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer. According to other neighborhood watch members, Zimmerman patrols the community in his car (What? Does this guy think he’s Batman or something?)
Also, on March 1, a member of the neighborhood watch was asked to leave a meeting after expressing frustration with Zimmerman’s previous actions which allegedly include stalking that member and following him to his home.
I’m left with too many questions. The main one I have is why Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested, detained or held in custody. Why is Zimmerman taking the law into his own hands and taking deadly actions before the police show up to the scene? This is not a lawless society, despite those who want it to be.
Is the police department experiencing such drastic budget cuts that it hired a neighborhood watch captain, who hasn’t been trained by law enforcement, to do the work the department is unfit to do?
So I guess we’re at the point in America where if you legally protest, are a whistleblower or get caught with a personal amount of marijuana, you can be detained, arrested and/or tortured without charges or due process. And if you’re deemed a terrorist (even if you’re an American citizen) you can be killed by a drone attack without due process, but if you shoot a kid in cold blood, you will essentially be protected by police so long as you claim it was self-defense (even if you were the aggressor).
I also can’t help but think of how different this situation would be if Zimmerman was a black male and shot an unarmed white boy. Would the police have believed Zimmerman’s case then? Would the State Attorney’s Office have said, “[the case] will be thoroughly digested and we will make decisions”?
The saddest thing about all of is what young black men still have to go through in America on a daily basis. Medgar Evers, Emmett Till, the Tulsa race riot anyone? This time, a young black man didn’t “whistle at a white woman.” Martin’s crime was buying Skittles and ice tea without asking the neighborhood watch captain for permission to enter his own home.
RIP Trayvon Martin and may you and your family find peace and justice.