Martin, Zimmerman Should Give Pause | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Martin, Zimmerman Should Give Pause

George Zimmerman and his gun are free to go home. It's hard to understand the Florida jury's decision given what we know about the night Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, shot and killed Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Martin, 17 at the time, was minding his own business and walking back from the store with snacks when Zimmerman, terrified at the sight of Martin's hooded sweatshirt, followed the boy, challenging him to a fight. When he started to lose, he drew his gun and fired.

It's equally hard to stomach that the judge's instructions made it difficult for the six-member all-female jury to find Zimmerman guilty of the crime with which he was charged, second-degree murder, beyond a reasonable doubt. (Jurors could have considered finding Zimmerman guilty of manslaughter).

Most difficult to stomach is the legal mechanism used to justify the actions of vigilantes like Zimmerman. Florida has what is known as a Stand Your Ground law, meaning that individuals are permitted to use deadly force if they fear their lives are in imminent danger. Mississippi has a similar law called the Castle Doctrine, passed in 2006.

Certainly, the right to self-defense is a cornerstone of our legal system, but the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws are not about preserving peoples' rights to defend themselves and their property against harm. They're about money and politics.

The involvement of organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council—which crafts generic laws that they hawk to state lawmakers—the National Rifle Association and Walmart in spreading stand-your-ground laws is 
well-documented.

These gun laws serve no function other than to give conservative lawmakers reasons to vote yes on "gun-friendly," "tough-on-criminals" legislation that look good on their annual NRA Report Cards, helping them in their re-election campaigns and, thus, in maintaining power.

In return, the gun lobby cashes in on the inevitable maelstrom that always results from the introduction of gun-related legislation and always touches off a buying frenzy of guns and ammunition.

Ensuring that the laws are concise and narrow in scope usually is of secondary importance to ramming them through the legislative process. We saw this with the passage of an open-carry law that has become the subject of a tug-of-war. The law purports to clarify existing laws, but raises just as many questions as it provides answers.

In the rush to approve whatever new gun law the NRA happens to be pushing at the time, legislators forget that the laws they create will lead to real-world confrontations, leaving teenaged boys and grown men with guns to figure out the limits of the law among themselves under the darkness of night skies.

We hope state officials bear this in mind as they aggressively pursue new gun laws.

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

bubbat 6 years, 7 months ago

Since Zimmerman didn't use Fla. "Stand Your Ground" law as part of his defense, it had nothing to do with the Zimmerman trial, need to get your facts straight.

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tstauffer 6 years, 7 months ago

Bubba: Nope... the jurors have specifically stated that they considered SYG in their deliberations.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013...">http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013...

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

bubbat - apples :: tstauffer - oranges

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wataworld 6 years, 7 months ago

what ISN"T about money and politics these days, the jury has spoken, unless we were with them or read the transcripts , how can people say what happened that night. EVERYONE LIES when they have to. does that make it right? no, if the shoe had been on the other foot, same thing. I hate we lost yet another young man to violence , we've lost SOOOO many it breaks my heart.
WHY is there no accounting for the murders in prison, a teeny news article , maybe someone charged, maybe not. was a person ever named for the one murdered at WCCF? OH, right, i think he may have been moved back to Parchman, and may have been murdered in retaliation.. where no one is talking. WHO looked out for him.. oh wait , right the guard, he even recieved a broken finger for his troubles. OR the gun that was found at MCCF a while back, oh I just bet all this info is on the media site with mdoc , right???? who crys for those guys??? whoooooooo, :(

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wataworld 6 years, 7 months ago

and while we are blasting someone, why not list all the incidences that were supposedly because of the verdict. ME, i think most didn't really care about poor Martin, they just used it as an excuse to plunder. so many , so filled with violence. so many.

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RonniMott 6 years, 7 months ago

Bubba, to say that Zimmerman's attorneys didn't specify Stand Your Ground in their defense and imply that it didn't have anything to do with the trial's outcome is--well, misleading. If Stand Your Ground wasn't the law in Florida, Zimmerman would probably have had a much tougher time with using self-defense as an argument for shooting an unarmed teenager.

SYG was part and parcel of the defense--even if the lawyers never used those words--and, as Todd pointed out, the jury considered the law in their deliberations -- as did the judge in his instructions.

From the story Todd linked: "... the jury instructions contained the law’s key provision and instructed jurors that self-defense meant Zimmerman was entitled to “stand his ground” with “no duty to retreat.”

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bubbat 6 years, 7 months ago

Ronni, No its not misleading to say Zimmerman lawyers didn't use the Stand Your Ground law before or even mention it during the trial, if he had there would have been a hearing before the trial ever started and if the judge ruled it fell under the Stand Your Ground law all charges would have been dropped and there would have been no trial. So no it not misleading ya'll are just uninformed. His lawyer just use Fla self defense laws as a defense which I guess are different like in Mississippi, ours are a provision of our justifiable homicide laws.

Those laws weren't put in place because of money or politic, they were put in place to keep people who justifiably defended themselves won't being wrongly prosecuted which some states without Stand Your Ground laws do.

I am assuming since the article is credit to the Editorial Board that means Donna ,Todd, Ronni and a few others, and from the tone of the article each of ya'll are against a person having the right to defend himself.

Just what in the hell do ya'll expect people to do. Just stand there and let someone kill the them and not defend themselves?

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tsmith 6 years, 7 months ago

Martin, 17 at the time, was minding his own business and walking back from the store with snacks when Zimmerman, terrified at the sight of Martin's hooded sweatshirt, followed the boy, challenging him to a fight. When he started to lose, he drew his gun and fired.

I must have missed the part about Zimmerman challenging Martin to a fight?

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JLucas 6 years, 7 months ago

Despite the hopes and prayers of many Americans across the country, this case ended as I knew it would given the framework of SYG adjudication in the state of Florida. GZ stalked and killed an unarmed teenager who wasn't committing any crime, other than the one in GZ's mind of being a black kid with a hoodie who "fit the profile". Being that he was not a trained LE officer, he had no reason to get out of his truck (with a loaded gun in hand), follow, and confront Trayvon as he did. His job as a watchman was to contact and alert LE of a suspicious person in the neighborhood and let them do their job.

To make matters worse, the DA's office clearly never wanted to prosecute this case, and it showed in EVERY aspect of the trial. From the piss poor expert witness prep, their poorly defined narrative of events, and the decision to try the case for murder-2 instead of manslaughter from the start, I believe the prosecution never believed in its own case. And the defense did what I knew they would, used the media to flip this case on its head and make it a trial about Trayvon Martin, and by extension all young black men who fit the white racist’s image of young black men as low-bred common criminals.

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Scott1962 6 years, 7 months ago

First of all let me say that I have admired your reporting on this case over the past year which has been both fair and not geared towards controversy as so many other have been. It occurred to me a few days ago that Zimmerman / Martin wasn't about SYG or race or anything similar, it was about profit. It was about misrepresentation, misleading headlines, and anything that would result in angering white and black America. Nothing sells papers like hatred does and there was plenty to go around.

Having said that I would like to point out something I haven't seen discussed anywhere and that is the choices Trayvon Martin had that night. He could have continued home when he saw he wasn't being followed anymore or he could have done what most would have done which is confront Zimmerman and ask him why. Had he done that both of them would have gone home but he didn't. Instead he chose the sword, he chose violence because he came from a culture where being "disrespected" is the absolute worst thing in the world, and he made a mistake. Zimmerman's crime was being stupid and that's not illegal in the United States but they both had choices and it seems the wrong ones were made by both.

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justjess 6 years, 7 months ago

@Scott962

"Had he done that both of them would have gone home but he didn't. Instead he chose the sword, he chose violence because he came from a culture where being "disrespected" is the absolute worst thing in the world, an he made a mistake."

This is the most insensitive and racist statement I have read on this case. Let's look at a few facts:

  1. Martin was killed by Zimmerman, so how could a dead child profit?

  2. Most black people face some form of discrimination on a daily basis and to know that someone's kid had been shot and killed for NOTHING is both hurtful and angering. Should this have remained Florida's secrete? The Mighty Mississippi River remains a burial for many blacks who were killed by whites and there weren't any news stories ever reported. Families just bore their pain.

  3. Martin, like Emmitt Till, had no choice: One WHISTLED- the other wore a HOODIE.

  4. Zimmerman's crime was taking the life of an unarmed teen after being told to stay in his car and not follow. Zimmerman was the one person who had a choice and the one he made was to take the life of a black kid- one fitting HIS discription of a "FUC###G A$$ HOLE" who didn't belong in HIS community.

  5. Positions like Scott's only widen the racial divide.

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

"This is the most insensitive and racist statement I have read on this case."

No...this is.

  • I hate using this neucular racial slang, but, "IT IS A BLACK THING!"*
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Scott1962 6 years, 7 months ago

Your first question where you ask how a dead child can profit pretty much destroys any credibility you have with me as well as exposes your determination to read the absolute worst thing you can into my comment. Let me respond to your facts.

  1. The profit I spoke of was the profit being made by the media by keeping the hatred alive. You would be a prime example of that one.

  2. The Mighty Mississippi doesn't flow through Sanford Florida and therefore doesn't have a damn thing to do with this case.

  3. Trayvon Martin was no Emmitt Till

  4. Zimmerman did have a choice but as was my point to the story so did Martin. Because I am a fair man I'd like very much for you to explain to me why Martin did not have any choices that night

  5. Positions like mine you say, only widen the racial divide because I don't agree with you. And anyone who doesn't agree with you is a racist by default.

You know, if you have a valid argument then use it. I'm not here to insult people or call them names and frankly your calling me a racist embarrasses me for you. The word means nothing anymore and is usually used to deflect blame or hide the truth not to throw at someone because they disagree with you. Just like bringing up past injustices to validate your lack of facts does. If that's all you have I'll step away from the plate on this one because I'm not wasting my time on people whose heart is full of hatred towards people they don't know.

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833maple 6 years, 7 months ago

@Scott962, You are right. I come from a culture where being disrespected is the worst thing in the world. But let’s examine why I am being disrespected. Is it because of something I’ve done or something I said. NO! It’s because I don’t look like you, Scott, and when you see me, you immediately make assumptions about my character, my intellect and my values. And if this happens to a person on a constant basis, then you learn to deal with, ignore or confront white entitlement and privilege that whites think is innocent and well-meaning.

And let me point out that you are making assumptions about TM’s choices that night and those assumptions are based on what GZ has said. Well the evidence from the 911 call leads me to believe that GZ was lying about the circumstances. And if you were facing time in jail, you would lie to. And if GZ had not had a gun, I don’t think for one minute that he would have gotten out of that car and confronted TM. TM chose a sword? Since when did a can of tea and a bag of skittles become a sword?

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Scott1962 6 years, 7 months ago

You mean in the exact same way that you're making assumptions about me? About what I see when I see you? Is that what you mean?

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justjess 6 years, 7 months ago

@darryl

Get over it!

For some folks, there will never be any empathic feeling for black people as it relates to our lives or our losses.

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

All this outcry over a single, unfortunate incident. Where's your black anger over the dozens of black-on-black crime seemingly every day in this nation? What, exactly, about your lives or losses deserves my empathy? When you value one life more than another, you deserve no empathy. To retort in kind, get over yourself.

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justjess 6 years, 7 months ago

Darryl, I have not asked for your empathy: I simply acknowledged the fact that many are without it; You included yourself!

Just remember that we all die alone; however, the thoughts, behaviors and feelings become the identity of ONE. Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King was an individual but, his life and death empacted the world.

You can not continue to listen to Bill O'Riley, Rush Limbaught, Ann Colter and others of the Racist Famous Fox Gang and expect to broaden your knowledge/understanding about what is being said or done relative to crime. Poverty is the germ of this so called "black-on-black crime" issue. POVERTY has a greater effect on the life of an individual than CRACK!

I AM TRAYVON!!!!!

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

Nor can you continue to listen to Dewayne Hickham, Anderson Cooper, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and expect to see the other's side as well. You're as unwilling to consider our viewpoint as you claim we are of yours. Well, there you are. Stand-off. C'est la vie.

You are Trayvon? Puh-leez. What about the two children murdered and left in a ditch last weekend? What about the carjacker that got killed (not inappropriately, I must say) the other day? Your indigence over this unfortunate incidence, and not the everyday goings-on in your own community, suggests that you're just as bad as Jackson/Sharpton et al.

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Scott1962 6 years, 7 months ago

So why are you not out marching, boycotting, and raising hell about poverty instead of George Zimmerman? By your logic poverty will kill 100 young black men this very weekend and none of them will be compared with Emmitt Till or Medgar Evers. Why is that? And please try to refrain from calling me a racist when you answer. You've already established that fact.

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

Scott, many people understand that white supremacy was behind both the deaths of Emmett and Medgar and the poverty and thus crime that plagues black communities. It is an apt comparison.

If any of you Zimmerman apologists were serious about us being past racism, you would understand and help address that fact. Instead, you blame black Americans for pointing out obvious facts and pick the least effective killer ever to turn into a saint. It's astounding to watch and proves how far America has to go yet on racial issues. The pro-Zimmerman tirades belittling reality for black Americans are some of the most openly bigoted and ignorant public statements I've seen in a long time. But please keeping making them and help inspire deliberate change.

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

Those serious about overcoming the poverty-crime (and race) cycle should read:

http://www.jfp.ms/crime">http://www.jfp.ms/crime

Start on page14

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bill_jackson 6 years, 7 months ago

What I find to be interesting in all of this is that the jury returned the verdict they did after the media had pretty much found GZ guilty all on their own. You had MSNBC altering the 911 recording and CNN releasing Zimmermans' personal info etc etc.

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curiousobserver 6 years, 7 months ago

Some one please tell us what the leaders of the black "community" are doing to prevent the cycle of black on black crime/ teen pregnancy out of wedlock/ and the breakdown of the black family unit......nothing thats what. 73% of black children are born to out of wedlock mothers!! This is the root cause of the problem. Fatherless black boys grow up resentful and often turn to the streets as their life, leading to poverty, crime....and the cycle continues. As Chicago struggles with its own apartheid obliteration of young black males ,where is the Rev. Sharpton ( non ordained by the way) and Jesse who calls Chicago home??? Black males are 10 TIMES more likely to commit homocide than white or hispanics combined.

No one really knows what happened between Trayvon and Zimmerman....who knows who threw the first punch?? Nobody... not even the JFP who insists Zimmerman challenged Trayvon to a fight. If Zimmerman were black too, the race hustling Sharpton would be nowhere to be found. His selective justice is an insult to all Americans..... remember Tawanna Brawley??? exactly....

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tsmith 6 years, 7 months ago

You don't suppose Zimmerman actually told the truth?

Nah, "white" folks, the truth ain't in them...

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

Actually, that's not racist. Bigoted, yes. Meanings matter.

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bill_jackson 6 years, 7 months ago

Differentiate, please. A broad sweeping statement regarding an entire race of people seems to me racist. But I am not quite the wordsmith. So enlighten us all as to how that is not racist.

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

We've discussed this many times, Bill. Racism is a systemic approach to keep a race out of power--meaning the victims can't already enjoy majority culture status. Bigotry is individual and require the power component and bad too. Just not the same thing. Mixing them up solves nothing and provides cover for actual racists to insist that they are victims of racism, too, when they're not. It's a semantic game that can set us back decades if we dont get more educated on it.

A good warning sign of a possible racist-in-denial is someone who insists that bigotry and racism are the same thing. That's either ignorant or nefarious and very telling.

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

Dear Bill,

I am saddened to learn that you may be a racist-in-denial, as well as the many, many others not privy to the arcane semantics that Ms. Ladd and the rest of the JFP staff so carefully enumerate within their issue. As the definitive, authoritative text on this issue, I encourage you to carefully consider their words within.

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

Not sure what you mean, Donna, but I'm pretty sure Mr. Jackson knows exactly what I mean.

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm sure he does. Y'all seem cut from a similar cloth. But it isn't the only one. Even in Mississippi.

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

And that, dear friends, is bigotry.

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

No, that's reading your posts and noting the similarities. It's logical reasoning. Thank you for providing such a large pool for analysis.

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

Ah, so based on our collective musings you leap to a generalized conclusion and assume that we are "cut from a similar cloth." Hmm... Where have we heard that so recently? Were you perhaps implying a certain shade and cut of cloth? Now, that would be both racist and bigoted.

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bill_jackson 6 years, 7 months ago

I too am curious as to this cut of cloth.

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

Nope, fellas , the impressions are based on your voluminous words here and the fact that y'all back each other up constantly. If you don't like the impressions you give off, consider your words and arguments more carefully. Take personal responsibility. As for my impressions, why should you care so much? You come on here to try to tear down my and the jfp's stances constantly. You take sadly predictable positions and belittle actual critical thinking and research on causes effects of racism in America--information that can actually help us get past it. You reject any discussion of differences between racism, prejudice and bigotry because it does not fit your clearly stated agenda that race problems are behind us, unless black against white. Nothing today that plagues black America can possibly result from centuries of legally enforced oppression, a horribly inequitable criminal justice system and laws designed to keep families of color from acquiring wealth. Do y'all seriously not see what this makes you look like with no help from me or anyone else? You act like because you weren't taught it, it can't possibly br true. Y'all might as well be the jerk kids in schools making fun of the kids who actually want to get educated and rise above their upbringing. And they refuse to see what they're doing either. It's sad.

You never succeed with your old-school approach here and end up making yourselves look like exactly what you claim you're not -- but regardless I'm surprised y'all are so offended that I say you have succeeded in defining yourselves as a different cloth from those who take an active, progressive approach to addressing racial disparities and divides. Its weird and schizophrenic to work so hard to define yourselves in such an obvious way and then yelp and whimper someone points it out.

Let's leave this personal tangent here: y'all prove the work yet to be done. I thank you for that. Onward to a better and less divided future for us all.

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darryl 6 years, 7 months ago

Here we go again. You're making the assumption that our words and arguments are not the products of critical thinking and research. You could have saved all of that banging about on your computer by just saying, "You know what fellas, we disagree." But, alas, that is not what happened. By disagreeing with you we are simply deluded and misguided. Whatever.

Oh, and please do not misunderstand this, (I hope I can speak for you Mr. Jackson) we are not offeneded by ANYTHING (that was for you justjess) that you guys say or think of us.

As for your personal tangent, by all means, keep making the wheel rounder. Just don't get upset it we actually make it roll.

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donnaladd 6 years, 7 months ago

Darryl, y'all whine at the mere suggestion that racism and bigotry might have nuanced meanings and that they might be useful to intelligent race dialogue. Critical thinkers you're not, at least on this website. Your arguments are barely warmed over versions of the ones we've heard for years in this state. Fortunately, today more people recognize them for what they are.

But they're still useful, just not in the way you hope. You're preaching the same sermon to a shrinking choir. Have fun with that.

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bill_jackson 6 years, 7 months ago

I get the impression that I am considered to be some kind of right wing extremist, which is far from the truth. I think of myself as a pragmatic moderate. I am left leaning on some issues and right leaning on others. It is the wack jobs on either end of the political spectrum that are the problem.

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