It’s really sad to see how society still remains divisive on the Trayvon Martin incident. The latest news on one of Zimmerman’s paintings has stirred up conflict again on an issue that none has healed from. With all of the vile and racist comments on news articles about the story, one of the main issues with this case is the law itself and one that doesn’t appear to be consistently addressed. Trying to find an unbiased article on this incident took some time but I was able to find a few. One of the articles that I found did address some of the problems that the State of Florida and the defense would encounter with the trial and caught within the legal, political and media circus is a Florida law, that in my opinion is unconstitutional and the reason that allowed an ordinary individual to dodge liability of any sort in taking the life of another in circumstances where the individual could easily have avoided a confrontation.
Consider the following written by Alan M. Dershowitz:
“These ‘facts’ give rise to several possible scenarios of what may actually have occurred on that dark rainy night. Under the Florida self-defense statute, it matters greatly what happened, most especially who ‘initially provoke[d] the use of force’, and who started the physical encounter. If Zimmerman initially provoked the deadly encounter, then he cannot invoke any ‘stand your ground’ defense. He would then be under a legal obligation to ‘exhaust … every reasonable means to escape’. Though this statute is anything but a model of clarity, it does suggest that whoever ‘provokes’ a deadly encounter has a heavy burden of justification in claiming self-defense. But the statute doesn’t define ‘provokes’, and that ambiguous word may hold the key to the outcome of this tragic case. If provocation is limited to a physical assault, and if Zimmerman’s account that Martin blindsided him with a punch is believed, then Zimmerman did not provoke the encounter. But if provocation includes following the victim and harassing him, then Zimmerman may well qualify as a provocateur. Moreover, a jury may believe that Zimmerman started the physical confrontation by grabbing Martin. This would almost certainly constitute provocation. But to complicate matters further, even a provocateur has the legal right to defend himself under Florida law if he can’t escape and if he is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, as Zimmerman claims he was. All this goes to show how factually driven this case is under Florida law. And we don’t yet know all the facts. The special prosecutor, who has said she will not use a grand jury to decide whether to indict Zimmerman, has an obligation to consider all the evidence and to apply the law to the facts. All she needs in order to indict is probable cause that a crime has been committed. A jury that ultimately decides whether the defendant is guilty needs much more: proof beyond a easonable doubt. But what if a prosecutor concludes that there is both probable cause and a reasonable doubt? That is the nightmare scenario that this prosecutor may well face. In ordinary circumstances, most prosecutors would not bring such a case, because it would be a waste of resources to indict someone who will probably be acquitted. But this is anything but a un-of-the-mill case”
Article can be found here.
Based on this article, one could conclude that a person is allowed by Florida law to not only provoke but be allowed to deflect the consequences of the provocation and kill the person that was provoked if the person believes that his or her life was threatened. This actually allows an ordinary civilian to unjustly violate the civil rights of another civilian. In our country, our constitution guarantees the right of innocence unless proven guilty. However, this law has proven that a civilian is allowed to act on suspicion alone and appoint themselves to be judge, jury and executioner; whether the person they suspect of committing a potential crime is innocent or guilty. People should be alarmed that such an unconstitutional law has been enacted.
The Zimmerman case is a perfect example of the majority of issues that contaminate our society. Issues of power, greed, racism, lack of responsibility, lack of respect for another life, & lack of morals and ethics. The facts are that Trayvon wasn’t committing a crime and there is no evidence to suggest that he even intended on committing a crime. Speculations brought about due to certain previous behaviors is not proof that he intended on committing a crime. It’s also quite ironic that most of those that keep using this fallacy as some vindictive justification for his death will also consistently scream “innocent until proven guilty” while defending Zimmerman and ignore Zimmerman’s imperfect past of alleged domestic violence and molestation which suggests a violent and deviant nature in itself. It’s not as if his alleged past victims had a crystal ball to see a future killing of a seventeen year old male and decided to go ahead an put in for their fifteen minutes of fame. These alleged incidents happened well before the incident with Trayvon took place.
Zimmerman spotted Trayvon and started following Trayvon. This is undisputed evidence until it becomes crucial to prove that Zimmerman had no criminal intent or ill will toward Trayvon. That is up until the point that Zimmerman claims that he only got out of his vehicle to get an address that he claims just happened to be in the same direction that Trayvon headed. From that point no one knows for a fact if Zimmerman attacked Trayvon or if Trayvon attacked Zimmerman. What is known is that an altercation happened and Trayvon was shot. Though Zimmerman apparently hasn’t been consistent with what he said happened (remember different versions have been reported throughout the media of Zimmerman’s account of exactly how Trayvon allegedly attacked him) there is still no evidence who started the fight. However, just as there is no evidence that Zimmerman started a fight, neither is there any evidence that Trayvon started a fight.
Another issue of contention is that Zimmerman’s injuries weren’t life threatening. If they had been life threatening then he would probably be dead or have spent some considerable time in the hospital or in need of rehab for these injuries if they were genuinely as extensive as he said the injuries were even with shooting Trayvon. Shooting Trayvon in no way lessens the threat or degree of injuries already inflicted. That aside, it didn’t matter if Zimmerman followed or not, it didn’t matter if Zimmerman started the fight or not, it didn’t matter that his injuries weren’t life threatening because all he had to say is that he shot Trayvon due to fear of losing his own life, regardless if he was responsible or not for the circumstances that put him in that place. Florida law was already on his side and no jury with a conscious could convict him on any charge based on that law.
What does this mean for the rest of us? It means that if your child is walking home and a stranger with a gun “suspects” that your child is guilty of INTENDING to commit a crime, then that stranger has the law to back him/her up that will allow pursuing your child. If your child tries to defend themselves and a fight ensues, then the pursuer can shoot your child and claim self defense and will walk free. The moral responsibility to not take a life and violate civil rights (you as a parent have the civil right not for someone to suspect your child for committing a crime, especially with no evidence to suggest as such and for that someone to take matters into their own hands and ensure that your child never walks home again) is thrown out the window. Though Zimmerman was found not guilty under a bullshit and unconstitutional law, it didn’t negate his responsibility to not place his life or the life of another in danger.
As an adult, as a civilian, and as a member of neighborhood watch he should have shown restraint and common sense. Suspecting someone of the intent to commit a crime based solely on a person not being known in the neighborhood and walking leisurely in the rain does not mean that a person is guilty of committing a crime or guilty of the intent to commit a crime. Sharing physical features of past criminals that did break in doesn’t mean that a person is guilty of committing a crime. It’s one thing to be cautious, keep a distant and safe eye until police arrive, but there was no need whatsoever to exit his vehicle or place himself in the path of someone he believes to be dangerous. Based on previous statements that Zimmerman has made, Zimmerman appears so convinced that Trayvon was guilty of the intention of committing a crime that one wonders if he at anytime thought if Trayvon might possibly be innocent (which is a constitutional right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty). Nor, is Zimmerman the only one that is apparently guilty of this sentiment. There have been so many comments on this particular story that have reflected the racist and dehumanizing beliefs about Trayvon by individuals that have convinced themselves that Trayvon’s murder is justified. These commenters ignore the constitutional rights of ALL and like Napolean from Animal Farm, appear to believe that some are more equal than others.