Saturday, March 31, 2012

You can't provoke a fight, then shoot someone and get off free -- can you?

R.D. Hohenfeldt

I get my national news from the Sean Hannity and Fox News Channel, and from what i’ve heard, my understanding is that this black kid Trayvon Martin was visiting his father one night in Florida in February when he walked after dark to a neighborhood store to get some Skittles and tea.
As he walked home, a guy named George Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch captain out looking for trouble and suspicious characters, spotted the kid and started following him. He called the police who told him to get out of there and let them take care of it. Intead, he kept following the boy and there was a confrontation and a fight. The kid, reportedly a football player in great shape, got the better of the out-of-shape Neighborhood Watch volunteer and wound up on top, pounding the crap out of him.
According to Hannity, the kid said he was going to kill Zimmerman, who started screaming for help, then pulled out a pistol and shot the boy dead. I didn’t know Neighborhood Watch volunteers carried firearms.
Zimmerman was taken to the police station, questioned and released because he shot the boy in self-defense under the authority of a law, popularly known as the “stand your ground” law.
More information came out Thursday; I won’t say facts, I’ll just say information. Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, a retired Virginia judge, gave an interview to the Fox affiliate in Orlando, which was played on the Hannity radio show that I listened to while driving home from my day job in Pulaski County.
That was such a bizarre interview that i had to look it up on the Internet, and I found a report of the Fox interview in the Miami Herald. Here’s a quote from the paper, attributed to the elder Zimmerman: “Things were not going to go well. One of them was not going to walk away,” he said, so George had no choice but to kill Martin.
The Miami newspaper quoted Robert Zimmerman as saying George was on his way to a store when he spotted Trayvon, who he thought looked suspicious because he wasn’t walking on the main sidewalk; he was walking on a paved path behind two sets of townhouses. (I wonder if that was a shortcut back to his dad’s house? The Miami Herald doesn’t say.)
George called the police and started following Trayvon. On Fox News Channel, I heard Zimmerman’s 9-1-1 call, and the police definitely told him not to follow the boy. He ignored that order, though, and at some point on the trail, Trayvon approached George and said, “Do you have an f-ing problem?” according to Robert Zimmerman.
George said he didn’t have a problem, then he reached for his cell phone.
Now, let me stop here a minute and say that I once heard a verified report that a policeman -- yes, a policeman -- shot and killed a man as that man reached for his cell phone. is it possible that Trayvon thought George was reaching for a gun? I think so.
Trayvon “punched him in the nose, his nose was broken, and he was knocked to the concrete,” Robert Zimmerman said, according to the Miami paper. “It’s my understanding Trayvon Martin got on top of him and just started beating him in the face, in his nose, hitting his head on the concrete.”
The Miami Herald continues: “‘After nearly a minute of being beaten,’ Robert Zimmerman said George tried – with Trayvon still on top of him – to move away from the concrete onto the grass. In doing so, the gun he kept in a holster on his waist was exposed.”
That’s when, Robert Zimmerman claims, “Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of ‘you’re going to die now’ or you’re gonna die tonight’ -- something to that effect,” he said. “He continued to beat George. At some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did.”
What would you do? Most of you are lily white like me. What if you were out for a walk at night in a city and a black man started following you? Now, personally, I would run. I’d be angry that my freedom to walk in the community was being infringed on, but I’d run home like a scared rabbit. Some of you, though, are braver than I and you would stand your ground, confront the black man following you.
If the black man reached toward his pocket, you’d assume he was reaching for a gun and you’d strike him. Hard.
If in the scuffle a gun was exposed, verifying your belief the guy was going to kill you, you’d fight even harder, you’d threaten to kill him and you’d try to knock him out. You’d try to get the gun away from him, but if he got ahold of it and shot you, then got off scott-free, what would you want your family and the media to do? If your family demanded justice, would it be fair for them to be accused of hate?
That’s exactly what Robert Zimmerman is saying. According to the Miami Herald, he said, “I hope at one point everyone will go beyond the hate. At some point when all this settles, they’ll say, ‘George Zimmerman is a pretty nice guy.”
About all I can say about George is he is a busybody do-gooder (like so many people you and I know in Rolla) who let things get out of hand because he didn’t listen to the police. I think he is getting away with murder or at least manslaughter.
He needs to be chargedand taken to court.

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