A friend of mine pointed out I used the term “murder” twice in my posting about Trayvon Martin when the more precise term should be “alleged murder.” I’ve erred on the side of caution and changed my terminology in that posting to “killing.” (Linked here:)
However the issue of self-defense in this case is as compelling as it is debatable. The photos of a slightly bloodied Zimmerman suggest he was injured in a scuffle when, as he claims, Martin attacked him after Zimmerman confronted him with his gun.
However the Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump questions whether these wounds were self-inflicted as a self-defense strategy. He comments: “If he had these injuries, why didn’t they take him to the hospital?” he said to to the Miami Herald.
“This happened at about 7:30. In the police surveillance video taken 30 minutes later, you can see with your own eyes that the fire rescue people didn’t so much as put a Band-Aid on his head.”
Reports that Martin had traces of marijuana in his system the night of his death would, if anything, undercut Zimmerman’s story that the youth attacked. It is common knowledge that marijuana — unlike alcohol — is an inhibitor to aggressive behavior. There are virtually no cases of murder committed under the exclusive influence of pot. Compare that to the staggering statistics of alcohol-related homicides.
The point of my original post column was that Zimmerman was an overly aggressive and overly suspicious provoker with a sense of moral purpose and justice that was self-delegated as a vigilante neighborhood protector with no legal authority. These circumstances allow an observer to easily imagine that he had anticipated and premeditated such a situation.
The thinking might go something like this: If I kill someone I think is dangerous to someone or myself, how precisely do I defend my actions legally?
Zimmerman is a premeditated actor in this scenario margin, even if Martin did assault him, reacting to the provocation. So for all its possible nuances of circumstance, the case still gets back to the premeditated provoker and his motivations to confront a person whose mere appearance and presence were presumed to justify his motive and subsequent deadly actions.
So What do we make of his judgement of Martin’s appearance and presence? This gets back to the startling act of apparent racial profiling by an Amtrak conductor I witnessed on a train, of a hooded black youth comparable to Martin.
Once a person is accosted in such a prejudicial manner the subject’s rights, and even his very life, are ripe for abuse by a person presuming in some manner of self-generated moral authority.*
So let’s not take our eyes off the ball in this case. Justice is so easily obscured by prejudice, whether the prejudice lies in the heart and mind of the defendant, the lawyers, the judge, the jury or Joe blow blogger.
Milwaukee Riverwest crimewatch hero The Watchman. Photo by Mike De Sisti/ Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
*Citizen vigilance is hardly a crime in itself. Consider where I live, in Milwaukee’s racially diverse Riverwest neighborhood. The closest thing to a crime-watching vigilante is an admittedly eccentric guy called The Watchman. The 6-foot, 200-pound, 30-something crime fighter patrols Riverwest in a fire-engine-red-masked superhero costume, with a flashlight and pepper spray on hand – and a black Motorola cell phone as his weapon of choice. He uses no guns, despite the fact that Milwaukee recently passed an ordinance legalizing concealed weapons, which could put The Watchman at increased risk if he confronts a thief or mugger. That’s a hero, in my book.
“It’s about reporting it,” he told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Contacting police, or getting an ambulance out here if it’s a medical situation.”
As for super powers? None, he says. “I’m just a guy. I may look a little funny, but I’m just a guy. And I’m out here to let everybody know that they can do their part.”
He’s not the only guy. The Watchman belongs to the Great Lakes Heroes Guild. “We combine resources, work together and share information,” he says.
What do you think about all this?
BTW consider the latest “trending story”: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/trayvon-martin-shooting-witnesses-change-stories-ahead-zimmerman-133743219.html?fb_action_ids=4025302879400&fb_action_types=news.reads&fb_ref=type%3Aread%2Cuser%3AUyMrKlzXtsm0wSl5hn1dnOEgjOU&fb_source=other_multiline&code=AQDGedKmiKYi8PtLfS8Xdx_qYD_aCiYiFFgUgNKJUoTdSKAsj_WyYDLVdPlQ5eHk_feuK3jyEvo4J6XAt0CTzn-IwAzCVMCh2SYI_eGq24dPvVkua5XS3alJ0LiYDXgiY1NX3XB4HmFI2YlG721nRFE_WlaEbrDRCZg5tOusKhGBHfP7CM-F-dHnl8AOKuA6wYU#_=_