I watched HLN this morning, a day after the not-guilty verdict came down for George Zimmerman. A few points came up during the HLN discussion panel that really struck me.
My view of the Zimmerman – Trayvon case:
- Recent criminal activity in area. Zimmerman was vigilant of strangers in the subdivision because a number of crimes had been committed in the area recently.
- Racial profiling. What was going on in George’s head when he saw Trayvon? Did he profile a young black male? In my opinion, probably so, but only George knows his true mindset. Friends of George say he doesn’t have a history of being racist. The act of following Trayvon and calling the police suggest he either profiled this young man or he was doing his version of color-blind due diligence for the watch dog program.
- Vigilant or vigilante? In my view George was justified to call in any and all suspicious behavior he noticed whether from a black, white, female or male. But what behavior was suspicious about Trayvon, exactly? He was walking home with snacks in hand. His hoodie was up because it was drizzling. If George was suspicious of Trayvon because he didn’t recognize him in the neighborhood so he felt compelled to call the police, George still should have stayed in his car. He clearly overstepped his role as a HOA volunteer. Bad, bad move.
- Scared teen turned angry. In my view Trayvon had every right to feel profiled, stalked and scared. He was simply walking home minding his own business. If however, Trayvon assaulted Zimmerman after their verbal exchange because his fear turned to anger (Trayvon referred to George as a “creepy ass cracker” which is a racial slur) then Trayvon initiated violence, violence that Zimmerman set into motion by confronting him in the first place.
- George’s injuries don’t add up. The medical examiner reported that his injuries weren’t life threatening, that they likely resulted from only one blow. George’s injuries don’t suggest Trayvon bashed his head into the concrete multiple times as he claimed, or that he was brutally beaten as he claimed. And yet, the desperate cries for help? Evidence suggest they came from George. We’ll never know.
- Stand your ground vs. duty to retreat. This is tricky. Florida law allows citizens to “justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first.” (Wikipedia). If George even thought his life was in danger, he was allowed to pull the trigger. I’m unsure how I feel about this large wiggle room for deadly force.
Why did George pull the trigger?
1. He felt his life was in danger
2. His life was in danger. (George claims Trayvon told him he was going to die that night and that Trayvon held his hand over his nose and mouth as he repeatedly bashed his head against the concrete).
3. He was trigger happy and a vigilante hellbent on killing this kid, a teen, a black teen.
Where do we go from here? Commentary from political science professor
- A black political science professor on the panel said he doesn’t have issue with HOA watch dog groups, his issue is that George Zimmerman crossed the line by getting out of his car rather than waiting for the police to arrive.
- Racial profiling isn’t the core issue he said; it’s what you DO once you’ve mentally racially profiled someone. Don’t assume all blacks will commit a crime and then act from your assumption.