Considering the incident in question occurred several weeks ago on February 26, the fact this story has anymore legs than the dozens of other shootings which occur each day makes me ponder why.
I will grant that there are a number of interpretations about what happened, but the end result is that a 17-year-old is dead and there is a bounty reportedly placed on the head of the shooter. But what makes it any different than another case where a teenager is gunned down? In my mind there are two key reasons, and both have significant political import.
First of all, alleged shooter George Zimmerman seems to be hanging his case on the self-defensive concept of “stand your ground”, which is a Florida law allowing one to use deadly force whenever they feel their life is in danger or they run the risk of serious bodily harm. Police in Sanford, Florida where the incident occurred did not charge Zimmerman because their investigation led them to believe he was acting in self-defense.
But some who have butted into the proceedings are using this as a call to eliminate “stand your ground.” According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. noted yesterday, “(w)e need a uniform law in the U.S. to keep wannabe cops from standing their ground – to eliminate the ‘Stand Your Ground’ wannabe cop statutes in America. The state system is wrong and it’s unfair.”
Of course, by enacting such a law it’s my belief Congress would run afoul of the Second Amendment, but denying people the right to self-defense has been the goal of gun grabbers for years. Just remember: when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. It doesn’t often make news when the bad guys are scared away as a weapon is brandished, and in the case of Martin there’s evidence of a struggle between he and Zimmerman. Whether there was a struggle and how the events of the evening are pieced together will certainly come out when either the civil or federal trial begins – we can count on the fact that this incident will somehow end up in a courtroom despite the Sanford Police Department not pressing charges against George Zimmerman.
At the same time there’s also the easy, almost casual use of the race card by certain people who, if the public were more sensible, would realize that they have way overdrawn its limit. The Sun-Times story also quotes the Rev. Jesse Jackson (father of the Congressman I quoted earlier, just to be clear):
He said that if the 10 people who were killed in acts of violence in Chicago last weekend were all white, “We would have turned the town upside down,” as opposed to the lack of attention paid to the victims because most of them were black or Hispanic.
Of course, this relates to the classical race-baiting the elder Jackson is known for, as even though Zimmerman is part-Latino (born of a Peruvian mother and American father) he’s considered to be white for the case. If not, the Sanford Police Department was enough of a surrogate for a white person based on previous incidents. Add in the statement from President Obama comparing Martin to the son he never had and guess what? We have a full-blown hate crime on our hands. Yes, the only reason Trayvon Martin is dead is because he was black. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that simple.
And then we have the hoodie aspect, where people are wearing hoodies in solidarity with Martin under the belief he was killed because he was a black man in a hoodie.
I did a quick bit of research, and according to weather.com the high in Sanford for February 26 was 71 degrees with a low of 52, and some rain also fell. So it wouldn’t necessarily be inappropriate to be out wearing a hoodie when walking around during the early evening hours insofar as personal comfort is concerned. I may have been inclined to do the same and I’m a middle-aged white guy who actually owns hoodies myself. (Here’s proof.)
Instead, the problem is the thug culture now associated with the hoodie. Obviously I can walk around in one and not be perceived as a threat, but it’s just a sad fact that some people cannot because enough crimes have been committed by black men wearing hoodies that it’s been placed on the radar screen to be suspicious of them. And being in charge of security within the housing community, that awareness is probably what put Martin in contact with Zimmerman. We know what happened next.
Yet what we are being set up for is one of three conclusions, none of them good.
The first possibility is that Zimmerman is railroaded through a federal trial on violating Martin’s civil rights or some other ‘hate crime.’ If this is so, then there’s also grounds for weakening or eliminating the “stand your ground” rule, which will limit the ability of those citizens who own weapons to use them for self-defense.
The second is that Zimmerman is a dead man walking. Do you honestly think he doesn’t have a target on his back now? There is now a financial incentive for Zimmerman’s “capture” but there’s no specific mention that he be taken alive. And who do you think would prosecute that case given the racially charged atmosphere?
Lastly – and this partially relates to possibility number 2 – let’s say Zimmerman is tried by a court but successfully defends himself. Or, on the flip side, someone who murders Zimmerman is somehow convicted of the crime – good luck finding an impartial jury for that after all the news coverage. One needs only think back to the Rodney King case, with the rioting over the outcome perhaps affecting another black man who stood trial, O.J. Simpson. There was fear a guilty verdict in that case would made Los Angeles burn again.
You know, I thought Barack Obama was supposed to be the post-racial president. But once he opened his mouth on the subject it went from a tragic shooting to another so-called ‘hate crime.’ (That’s why the narrative of white-on-black is important, even though the shooter is part-Peruvian.) The best way out of this tragedy is not to make it yet another ugly racial incident because Zimmerman seems to have the conscience which will make the shooting a nightmare he will have to live with for the rest of his life.
It’s more remorse than many race hustlers and those who live by the thug culture would show for their victims, and the memory of Trayvon Martin is quickly joining that victim list.