In the Name of Justice

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.

Onyx Truth Contributor:  Star Seed
Header pic:  Joe Lurato
Articles submitted by freelance writers. If you would like to submit an article to the Onyx Truth, please click on the SUBMISSIONS link at the very top of the site for more info.
  • shamrock

    Aside from the fact that this article is several months late, you’re missing a big piece of the picture. George Zimmerman did NOT use “stand your ground” as his defense during his trial. He used “self defense” which is actually different. “Stand your ground” involves the ability to retreat from a situation if possible. Zimmerman argued that since Martin was on top of him beating on his head and face he had no ability to retreat thus making it a case of “self defense” rather than “stand your ground”. The “stand your ground” law had no bearing on his case because it was never used during the trial to defend his actions.

    That said, you’re arguing that “stand your ground” is unconstitutional. I believe otherwise. Ask yourself this: say you’re in a bar and you’re drinking and having a good time. You start to get a little buzzed and start to shoot your mouth off a bit. Then say you insult a very large patron who decides to get back at you by kicking your ass, he throws the first punch. This large man is really beating you badly and is now on top of you punching you repeatedly in the face to the point where think he may actually kill you or at least cause you serious injury. Do you think you have the right to reach into your pocket and pull out your knife and stab this person to defend yourself or should he be allowed to kill you since you’re the one who started the confrontation? Should this man be legally allowed to kill you simply because you’re an asshole and you picked a fight or do you have the right to defend your own life?

    And before you say this scenario is different, it really isn’t. Zimmerman followed Martin, he provoked a confrontation through non-physical means, meaning he didn’t throw the first punch. Martin turned the tables and beat the hell out of Zimmerman to the point where Zimmerman began to fear for his own life. All the evidence, the ballistics report, coroners reports, and medical reports all indicate that Martin was on top of Zimmerman when he was shot. The scenario is the same. Zimmerman may be an asshole who initiated the confrontation but does that mean he automatically loses his right to defend his own life?

    Your emotional reaction to this case may be that this law is unconstitutional but this is an emotional reaction. This law does not give anyone the “right to become judge, jury, and executioner” as you say. People in Florida (or any of the many other states that have these laws) are not allowed to run around killing people due to “stand your ground”. What these laws do is allow people to become responsible for their own safety. Many people think the police are supposed to protect us but in actuality it’s not the function of the police to “protect” people. There are simply not enough cops in the entire country to actually protect the populace. Instead their actual job is to deter and solve crimes and apprehend criminals. Protection is actually the responsibility of each citizen. Your safety is on you, it’s not up to anyone else. These laws give people firm legal ground to take positive control of their own safety. Are there abuses? Sure, but there abuses of many laws all over the place. Is the Zimmerman/Martin case an example of such an abuse? No, because “Stand your ground” was not even used during the trial.

    • Star Seed

      Stand Your Ground wasn’t used in court but it was initially what Zimmerman started with and why he wasn’t arrested. I also stand by what I wrote. As a civilian, I have no right to threaten another individual and provoke them into life or death circumstance and place them in a position where they feel they have to defend their own life. You also left out that we have the constitutional right to be innocent until proven guilty. We have the right to walk outside without being harassed by a paranoid individual. We have the right to walk to the store and come safely home. Another civilian doesn’t have the right to follow, give chase or put us in a life threatening situation. Enacting a law that grants civilians that right is unconstitutional just like enacting an extreme version of “Duty To Retreat” that would rather place a threatened individual in harms way before being able to justly defend themselves is unconstitutional. However, thank you for commenting and though I don’t agree with your opinion, I do respect it.

  • It is true that Zimmerman didn’t use SYG in his court case, but he didn’t have to because SYG was largely enacted by the police officers BEFORE the court case even took place.

    And when police officers exercise an incompetence to not do the due diligence to investigate, and simply take a murderer’s “word for it”, that’s a huge problem.

    • thekid7777

      What the police did makes no difference. He still went to trial. Charges were still filed. Whatever the cops did does not matter one bit. SYG was not “enacted”, the police determined that Zimmerman acted in self defense due to the evidence they collected and decided not to pursue the issue. They were overruled and he went to trial. What they did has nothing to do with anything. SYG was not a factor in this instance.

      However, if he had decided to use SYG as his defense he would have been within the law because according to testimony he did not throw the first punch, he did not initiate the actual fight. He may have provoked a confrontation but a confrontation is not the same as a physical fight. Martin threw the first punch which means Zimmerman would have been covered. Had Zimmerman thrown the first punch and started the physical fight he would not have been eligible to use SYG since it would not have protected him in that instance. SYG does not give you the right to start a physical altercation and it does not protect those who do.

      • “What the police did makes no difference. He still went to trial. Charges were still filed.”

        Only after a social media outcry did that trial happened. If NO ONE made any noise, he would have walked Scott Free, all from the Sanford PD’s blessing, not a court of law. That, is the problem. What the PD does makes a huge difference, because without due diligence of an actual investigation, evidence will deteriorate.

        • thekid7777

          The point here is that the police already knew what jury decided for themselves. There was not enough evidence to convict Zimmerman of a crime and based on all the evidence collected there was no reason to suspect him of murder. The police knew all that long before the jury reached the same conclusion. The police were merely trying to save the city millions of dollars in unnecessary court costs. The PD conducted a thorough investigation, collected all relevant evidence, interviewed witnesses and interrogated Zimmerman. Based on all the evidence the jury came to the same conclusion the police did. The trial was unnecessary. Anyone who knows anything about criminal justice knew at the time that there was not enough evidence to prove he murdered Martin in cold blood, not enough evidence to prove that his story was a lie. All the evidence, the ballistics, medical and coroner reports all support Zimmerman’s account. And to top it all off, the FBI even investigated and determined there was no evidence to support a murder charge or a hate crime. The trial was ultimately a waste of time. The real crime is that social activists used race based accusations to override the criminal justice system that did exactly what it was supposed to do. If Zimmerman was guilty why did the jury decide otherwise?

          • I’m sure like most you are a fan of the Constitution, correct?

            Well, based on the guidelines of our Constitution, there is a Executive, Judicial and Legislative Branch at all levels of Government in the United States — that’s Federal, State, and Local.

            Police? They are in essence part of the executive branch of local or State government. The Federal level has the FBI. They are not “politicians”, but they do function as AN ARM of executive government.

            They are NOT JUDGES OR JURIES. That’s the JUDICIAL BRANCH. Judge, Jury and Lawyer exist within the Judicial services.

            Police are NOT Judicial Services. Therefore, they are infinitely WRONG to render judicial judgement calls of who’s innocent or who’s guilty in the field. That is not a field call. Whether there was enough evidence or not is irrelevant; they have NO BUSINESS becoming judge and jury at the scene of the crime.

            That’s practically the end of it. The majority of police officers are not 100% top notch savvy of their own local, State, or Federal laws to render judgement; that’s why lawyers and judges exist.

            So no, the Sanford Police Department in the event of the murder of Martin is only an example of police incompetence, and should be studied as of something police services are NOT to do when there’s a slain child on a sidewalk.

            He was in the morgue for 3 days until they realized who he was. Don’t police knock on doors anymore? Everything about that event was lazy, and incompetent. No police officer should decide who’s innocent and who’s guilty at the crime scene, ever. Our Constitution isn’t built that way.

          • Star Seed

            You do realize that the police has no authority to make decisions based on what a jury probably would decide? Or that ALL evidence is relevant evidence? While there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that Zimmerman murdered Trayvon in cold blood there was enough evidence to prove manslaughter/negligent homicide. However, thanks to Florida law, a killer escaped.

  • Star Seed

    There is no proof that Trayvon threw the first punch. Nor, would it had mattered. Zimmerman claimed that he couldn’t escape because Trayvon allegedly was beating his head against the pavement. No escape from potentially bodily harm or death is justifiable homicide according to Florida law.

    • thekid7777

      You’re right in saying that the first punch didn’t matter here because the defense used was “self defense”, not “stand your ground”. No escape from potential death or bodily harm does pave the way for justifiable homicide based on self defense. Stand your ground has nothing to do with this case at all. The proof that Martin through the first punch comes from Zimmerman’s testimony; obviously it’s not rock solid proof but it’s the only evidence there is. The medical, ballistics and coroners reports all support Zimmerman’s claims.

  • We all know that Martin was officially reported as a John Doe for three days.

    But how is this possible, when the police at the scene of the crime already KNEW HIS NAME, and logged it into the report BEFORE he was described as a John Doe?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2012/03/26/Editorial-Opinion/Graphics/Sanford%20Police%20Report.pdf

    His father called his phone multiple times. Why didn’t the police answer the phone? Honestly, Zimmerman is not the only one who need a court arraignment. I smell conspiracy.

    • Star Seed

      Yes, that is very suspicious. The death of a youth apparently didn’t phase them.

  • StarS

    “While Zimmerman did not ultimately use the “stand your ground” defense in his case, Sanford police did not arrest him until almost two months after the shooting because of the Florida stand your ground rules that require police to have specific evidence to refute a self defense claim in order to arrest someone claiming self defense” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/15/stateline-zimmerman-stand-your-ground/2517507/).

  • Star Seed

    Also, Zimmerman’s statement isn’t proof that Trayvon struck first. There are no other testimonies to back this statement, nor is there any hard evidence that supports his statement.

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