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Trayvon Verdict At Last

I didn’t post on the Trayvon Martin verdict this weekend, because I find the whole thing to be terribly sad, a victory for no one, and I don’t think there’s anything really left to say. The jury delivered a just verdict, given the facts in the case, and I am chagrined, but not surprised, to see so many people who are unhappy with the verdict complaining that … something should be done about this! Florida juries are bad, Florida laws are bad, this is all the fault of racism (even if, given the law and the facts, the jury was correct to acquit), etc. My favorite tweet from all this was from the person who said something like, “A Hispanic man shot a black man and was acquitted by a female jury, and somehow it’s all the white man’s fault.”

And now the Justice Department is thinking of trying Zimmerman on federal civil rights charges, which would be an entirely political trial. What would the message of that trial be? Better not go near a strange black man walking through your neighborhood, because if he starts to beat you up, and you, fearing for your life, shoot him, and even if a jury determines you broke no law, your federal government may still come after you on an Orwellian charge. From a news story about hurdles to a federal civil rights charge: [1]

The separate federal hate-crimes law applies to both law enforcement and civilians. But it’s not clear how the Justice Department could prove racial bias.

Serino, the Sanford detective, told FBI agents last year that after examining the case, it appeared Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin because of his “attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community.”

Serino told the FBI that there had been several burglaries in the area, and that gang members in the community “typically dressed in black and wore hoodies.”

“When Zimmerman saw Martin in a hoody, Zimmerman took it upon himself to view Martin as acting suspicious,” Serino said, while describing Zimmerman as “overzealous.” The FBI document was posted on the Smoking Gun website [2].

McClatchy also has [3] reported on another set of documents that show FBI agents interviewed a dozens of people in the course of probing possible racial bias but nobody would say Zimmerman showed such bias before the shooting.

Still, the Justice Department agreed to requests from NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and several lawmakers to keep investigating the defendant.

change_me

Like I said, a political show trial. I hope it doesn’t go there.

The whole thing is a tragedy. If Zimmerman, whose neighborhood had been plagued by criminals who looked and dressed like Martin, hadn’t confronted Martin, none of this would have happened. If Martin hadn’t overreacted and beaten Zimmerman, none of this would have happened. Now, one man’s life is gone, and another man’s life is ruined. No good can come from this.

I like Steve Sailer’s comment [4]on the options open to President Obama now:

Constitutionally speaking, wouldn’t it just be simpler for Obama to order a drone strike on Zimmerman’s condo?

175 Comments (Open | Close)

175 Comments To "Trayvon Verdict At Last"

#1 Comment By Franklin Evans On July 16, 2013 @ 1:57 am

Clare, what I know about town watch here in Philadelphia is that volunteers are requested (in the strongest terms) to walk in at least pairs and to go unarmed. I’ve not attempted to question those I’ve encountered. As for concealed carry behavior in the city, I know of no attempts to collect that data.

#2 Comment By M_Young On July 16, 2013 @ 2:30 am

All this malarkey about ‘watch standards’ etc is…malarkey.

Zimmerman had every right to follow an unknown stranger acting suspiciously in Zimmerman’s neighborhood. On foot, in a car, in a aeroplane, whatever. Nor does he have to ‘obey’ a police dispatcher. Even assuming he ‘confronted’ Martin, he had every right to do that too. Martin could have ignored him, Martin could have continued on his way to his father’s girlfriend’s place. Martin chose to escalate on the ‘creepy ass cracker’. He chose to batter the ‘creepy ass cracker’. He made the wrong choice.

#3 Comment By Art Deco On July 16, 2013 @ 7:41 am

If Zimmerman had followed the protocols in the neighborhood watch manual, as cited by Richard Johnson here, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

The watch volunteers in my old neighborhood walked the streets for hours in the evening, had coffee with cops, &c. The notion that Zimmerman is culpable because he spent about four minutes walking between where his truck was parked and Retreat View Circle cannot be taken seriously. If Martin had simply gone home, Zimmerman would never have been within 60 yards of him (and nothing Zimmerman is known to have done indicates that Zimmerman ever sought to be within 60 yards of him).

Sands, if you are going to talk about eleventy billion inaccuracies, could you specify what those inaccuracies are? Could you list the ten most important? Can you explain why we should accept your understanding of what is true vs. anyone else’s?

Siarlys, I did not have to put up about 10 repetitive posts correcting people because everyone has their facts straight. For the record, here is a selection:

1. That there was no neighborhood watch at the Retreat.

2. That Zimmerman ignored instructions from the police to stay in his truck.

3. That Zimmerman ‘stalked’ Martin.

4. That Zimmerman ‘followed’ Martin (n.b. no indication he did past a discrete point in the conversation with the dispatcher).

5. The contention that Zimmerman brandished a weapon (not only false but made up out of whole cloth).

6. That Zimmerman ‘initiated the confrontation’ or ‘started this whole thing’ (wrong as a matter of law and commonsense understandings of agency and causality).

And so forth.

#4 Comment By Deggjr On July 16, 2013 @ 8:10 am

Erin Manning, Martin was shot on February 26. Zimmerman was arrested on April 10, more than six weeks later. His weight during the incident is more important than his weight when he was arrested. He lost weight between the two events, which may mean his conscience and Florida law aren’t well aligned.

This blog has frequently documented that most people who lose weight gain it back.

Mass is an advantage in contact sports. I just did not pick up on the size difference initially but it fits the overall story. The scary little man (not child) was giving the big fella really bad boo-boos and making him scream, so the big fella pulled out his big gun and shot to kill. (If Trayvon doesn’t come back, he’d be alive today.)

#5 Comment By Art Deco On July 16, 2013 @ 8:13 am

While we are on the subject, Siarlys, the Zimmerman-haters might at least construct an internally consistent argument. On the one hand, we are told that Zimmerman was terribly imprudent to get out of his vehicle and walk around the neighborhood (“a reckless act” in the assessment of Prof. Paul Robinson). On the other, we are told that Trayvon Martin was just out doing an errand and minding his own business and Zimmerman was unreasonable to suspect him of anything. One of these can be true or the other can be true.

#6 Comment By Art Deco On July 16, 2013 @ 8:17 am

Clare, what I know about town watch here in Philadelphia is that volunteers are requested (in the strongest terms) to walk in at least pairs and to go unarmed.

The point is irrelevant in this case because the neighborhood watch was six months old and had just two volunteers as of February 2012. Zimmerman was heading out for an errand when he spotted Martin, not patrolling.

#7 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 16, 2013 @ 9:33 am

The fact that Zimmerman was committing no crime by following an unknown stranger does not absolve him of responsibility when his recklessness results in death.

#8 Comment By Lasorda On July 16, 2013 @ 11:49 am

“The fact that Zimmerman was committing no crime by following an unknown stranger does not absolve him of responsibility when his recklessness results in death.”

Perhaps. It does however absolve him of any criminal responsibility.

#9 Comment By MBrown On July 16, 2013 @ 11:55 am

It boggles the mind to consider the idea that walking around your neighborhood and checking up on someone that you don’t recognize and believe to be behaving strangely is now to be considered “reckless”.

If TM was no threat, then what in the world could be reckless about checking up on him? Not to say that TM was a threat (well, at least not until he proceeded to beat GZ), but rather that there was nothing wrong with checking up on him, particularly when there had been crime problems in the neighborhood and TMs behavior aroused suspicion.

We can spend all day talking about “If this person didn’t do so-and-so, Trayvon Martin would still be alive.” Most of those are completely and utterly irrelevant. How about “If Trayvon Martin hadn’t gone out for skittles and Watermelon Fruit Juice, he would still be alive.” Do I fault him for that? No, because there is nothing wrong with going out for skittles and Watermelon Fruit Juice (unless you plan to mix up some purple drank with it), just like there’s nothing wrong with asking a stranger what they’re up to. The first action for which either of the two parties would be legally (and, in my mind, even morally) culpable was when TM physically assaulted GZ.

#10 Comment By T Flatley On July 16, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

@ArtDeco

“Dunno, Flatley. ”

that is correct – you dont know. you were not there. as far as i can tell, nobody who is posting here was there. do you know what occurred, what exactly occurred, immediately prior to the physical altercation? do you know what the conversation was between the two, if any? Maybe Zimmerman called him the n-word, maybe he didn’t. who knows. im not here to defend martin, nor zimmerman. i was and remain curious as to why Mr Dreher assumed that Martin overreacted.

as for this sentence “I think it was an option for Trayvon Martin to go home and not beat up the neighborhood watch captain” – are you assuming that martin knew zimmerman was the neighborhood watch captain? and if so, why would that matter, its not a position of authority.

also, if , as you say, he had the option to go home, why then is this action unaccountable?

“from the point where he unaccountably ran away”

maybe he was running home, maybe not. i dont know, and neither do you. but as you say, he was close to home, so maybe he thought the man in the car following him was the suspicious one, and maybe martin was trying to defend his neighborhood and went back to confront him. i dont know. and neither do you.

#11 Comment By Art Deco On July 16, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

The fact that Zimmerman was committing no crime by following an unknown stranger does not absolve him of responsibility when his recklessness results in death.

He did not do anything reckless, Siarlys, unless you assume that Trayvon Martin was blatantly dangerous.

I have to wonder what you must think of people who walk to the grocery store in my old neighborhood in Baltimore (and where people who resemble Trayvon Martin are pretty pervasive).

#12 Comment By Art Deco On July 16, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

It boggles the mind to consider the idea that walking around your neighborhood and checking up on someone that you don’t recognize and believe to be behaving strangely is now to be considered “reckless”.

Of course it isn’t. But it’s status games all the way down with most of the portside. They cannot possibly speak of Zimmerman with anything but contempt, even if they make no sense.

#13 Comment By Art Deco On July 16, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

Keep on spinning, Flatley.

#14 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 16, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

Art Deco, you’ve been spraying accusations about falsehoods and misleading statements… and here you exemplify exactly what you are talking about.

My conclusions about Zimmerman start with watching the video of him driving down the street with the police recounting what happened. Its clear that he sat in his care conspicuously watching Martin, then drove past Martin, then set in his car conspicuously watching Martin, then drove past Martin again, around a corner, and around a bend, then got out of his car into the night after again losing sight of Martin… and particularly looking at the landscape and watching the video, I got a sense that anytime someone followed me down a dark empty residential street the way Zimmerman was following Martin, I’d be quite concerned that the person following me was a potential mugger or worse.

Zimmerman was not WALKING to the grocery store. He aborted his alleged intention to DRIVE to Target, and instead started following someone around on the street, making said person fear for their own safety. So no analogy to the streets of Baltimore — and I ride my bike through miles of streets where young men dress like Trayvon Martin.

The matter of “assaulting the neighborhood watch captain” bears some further scrutiny. Some have questioned whether Zimmerman was any such thing. Assuming he was, and assuming that he was entitled to some respect and legitimacy as such, there has to be some means of notifying people “This is the neighborhood watch captain respect the uniform,” somehow.

That line of argument reminds me of the unfortunate case during the waning days of Rudy Giuliani’s administration when a police undercover back-up squad murdered a young Haitian husband and father on his way home from work. One of the cops was a decoy — he was going down the street asking people to sell him some dope. Naturally, he wasn’t in uniform. He had disguised himself as the raggedy low-life he meant to imitate. He went up to the young black man at the bus stop, and made his pitch.

The hard-working husband and father responded in the manner that every pro-NRA conservative real he-man would want him to: he pulled back his fist in anger to punch the punk who dared to ask him to sell some dope. The back-up squad, without further ado, rushed in to kill the man threatening to punch the undercover cop.

Undercover work is dangerous. Those who do it need some back-up. But part of the training for back-up squads, and undercover officers, needs to include, if you find yourself giving your pitch to a hard-working law-abiding citizen, they may react with laudable violence to what they think is in front of them, and protection needs to stop well short of killing the law abiding citizen outraged by the low-life punk approaching them for drugs.

In the eyes of Martin, Zimmerman may have appeared to be one of those criminals so prevalent in the neighborhood, and that’s part of the tragedy of all of this.

#15 Comment By T Flatley On July 16, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

@Art Deco

“Keep on spinning, Flatley.”

Well said. i appreciate you taking the time to form a rational, well thought-out response. I will assume by your lack of argument that you completely agree with what i said.

anyway, i dont really care with what you have to say, at the end of the day, you know as much as i do about what happened, which is nothing.

i am not a member of the “portside” as you call them, but you seem a little bit too burdened by shallow consideration of opinions different then your own to understand what i am saying – “But it’s status games all the way down with most of the portside. They cannot possibly speak of Zimmerman with anything but contempt, even if they make no sense.”

thats really lazy on your part.

#16 Comment By Rob On July 17, 2013 @ 4:59 am

My Mom hates Zimmerman. She is an extreme liberal who watches CSNBC 8 to 16 hours a day. Her opinion is media based. But for my self, if I was having my head bashed into the concrete and had a gun within reach, I’d use it. I don’t hate anyone but I do think I would hate momentarily a person who was bashing my skull into the pavement. You should not bash a persons head into the pavement. It is unwise.

#17 Comment By Art Deco On July 17, 2013 @ 6:43 am

Art Deco, you’ve been spraying accusations about falsehoods and misleading statements… and here you exemplify exactly what you are talking about.

I have not uttered one false statement in this discussion. I am familiar with the coarse details of the case. Others are not. I have ‘sprayed’ nothing, but pointed out each discrete error as it happened. Stop lying.

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 17, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

I have not uttered one false statement in this discussion.

Well, if you say so, it must be true…

#19 Comment By kyrifles On July 17, 2013 @ 9:57 pm

Okay everybody – would you still think this is a just verdict if it were this scenario instead:

You have had upper class white kids smoking weed and vandalizing property in your neighborhood (we have this where we live), acting like gangsters and listening to rap music with hoodies and everything. You have a black resident taking it upon himself to patrol the neighborhood to prevent these kids from doing it again and he’s packing heat. He sees one of these kids coming back from a store with organic granola bars and chocolate soy milk on his person. He calls the cops and they tell him not to follow him. He follows the boy anyway and when the kid – afraid of what this adult is up to following him – bravely confronts him and tells him to get out of his face. The black man brandishes his gun and a fight ensues. He shoots the young Mason Smith III and kills him. The kid is the son of a CEO.

If the white kid circles back home and then goes after the black volunteer, lands the first punch and tries to kill the black volunteer by slamming his head into the sidewalk, it’s a good defensive shoot. That’s self-defense for you. The more common scenario is one drug dealer attacks another and is shot for his efforts. In general, the live drug dealer gets off because self-defense is involved. It’s not that complicated.

And yet there are major differences here. Zimmerman was part of an organized neighborhood watch. He wasn’t simply trying to locate someone who annoyed him, which, in any case, he was perfectly at liberty to do. Listening to loud rap music is not a crime. Burglary is. Sanford, FL has 8x the burglary rate of NYC and probably many times of the burglary rate in your nice suburb. The typical white suburb is not going to have this kind of burglary rate. For instance, White Plains, NY, an NY suburb, has 1/3 NYC’s per capita burglary rate*, whereas Sanford has a staggering 21x the White Plains burglary rate. If you live in Sanford your entire life. you have an over 100% chance of being burglarized. The idea that Zimmerman was chasing an illusory threat would be true if he lived in a posh suburb like White Plains. The problem is that Sanford FL is not a posh suburb, which is why Zimmerman could afford to live there. The per capita income was $20,588 in 2010 compared to double that number in White Plains NY.

* Data obtained from the city data website by googling “crime city data” followed by the city name and state.

#20 Comment By kyrifles On July 17, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

Just because you start a fight and don’t get in any significant blows does not entitle you to shoot an unarmed man. At the very least — it is mansalughter on its face.

Just because you start a fight doesn’t mean the other guy is allowed to cripple you or beat you to death. Manslaughter involves killing someone in the course of assaulting him without intending to kill him – with no self-defense element involved.

#21 Comment By T Flatley On July 18, 2013 @ 12:05 am

@kyrifles

“Just because you start a fight doesn’t mean the other guy is allowed to cripple you or beat you to death.”

wow, this may be the most ridiculous statement every posted on the internet. i wasnt aware of these rules to fighting. in all the fights ive been in ( admittedly a long time ago) we never discussed what was allowed and not allowed before fighting.
maybe times have changed. maybe you meant to add “beat you to death and get away with it under self-defense”. which would still be ridiculous

if the assumption is that martin assaulted zimmerman, then by your logic above zimmerman was not justified in shooting martin.

#22 Comment By kyrifles On July 18, 2013 @ 12:20 am

[5] of Zimmerman re-enacting what happened with police officers (without lawyers tagging along). In my view, this was extremely foolhardy of him. At the same time, this directness and lack of artifice makes it clear why the police declined to charge him. He seemed like a straight arrow through and through. Then the race baiters got involved.

#23 Comment By kyrifles On July 18, 2013 @ 2:47 am

if the assumption is that martin assaulted zimmerman, then by your logic above zimmerman was not justified in shooting martin.

He was amply justified in stopping Martin’s attack on him, with a gun if necessary, but not in delivering the coup de grace if Martin was merely disabled but not dead. And if you watch the [5] where Zimmerman walks through the events of the night with the Sanford police without a lawyer present, it appears that Zimmerman thought he had missed, and Martin was simply giving up when he said “You got me”.

#24 Comment By kyrifles On July 18, 2013 @ 3:00 am

Here’s an [6] of what fists can do if you’re unable to stop the beating:

“The defendant (Dickerson) approached the white male victim,” the police report stated.

It went on to read, “the defendant told him he was in the wrong neighborhood and he was not going to make it out.” The victim said that’s when he “was punched and knocked to the ground.”

At this time, his wife got out of the car and ran to help her husband. The victim said, “he continued to struggle with the defendant and was eventually knocked unconscious, which later he awoke in the hospital.”

His wife told police, “after running to help her husband, she remembers falling to the ground and (being) knocked unconscious.”

According to a close family friend, that’s when the couple’s teenage daughter got out of the car to check on her parents and, “observed a female punch her mother in the face, when her mother then fell to the concrete, hitting her head on the surface.”

The daughter was also punched in the face.

“There were only three suspects but there were multiple people in the parking lot,” said Stubbs.

Of those three, Dickerson was arrested and charged with second-degree battery. The other two suspects, Devin Bessye, 24, and Ashley Simmons, 22, were released on site after police wrote them each a summons for simple battery.

When police were questioned about why all three defendants were not charged with felony second degree battery, Stubbs responded, “Because you have to have disfigurement for a second-degree battery charge, and only one victim had disfigurement and he was attacked by the one suspect that we booked.”

However, Louisiana law defines second-degree battery as “bodily injury which involves unconsciousness, extreme physical pain or protracted and obvious disfigurement.”

The victim suffered “a broken eye socket, broken nose, and several lacerations to the face,” and his wife was knocked unconscious.

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 18, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

I see that Art Deco is channeling Sands. OK, six out of eleventy billion.

1. I don’t know what the true answer is, and I don’t know why it is relevant.

2. There is certainly evidence that Zimmerman was asked, are you following him, replied yes, and was told, we don’t need you to do that. He got out of his truck when he followed.

3. There is no question that Zimmerman stalked Martin, he made that clear in the video going over what happened with the police the next day.

4. Ditto for (3).

5. I know of no evidence that Zimmerman brandished a weapon.

6. Of course Zimmerman started it. He aborted his trip to Target, and instead started following Trayvon Martin.

In short, your representative sample shows you are furiously passionate about your version of events, have found some errors in other arguments, have made a few interpretational errors of your own, and made an exasperated remark because you can’t believe everyone doesn’t see this exactly the way you do.