The State of Florida Has Created a Racially-Disparate View of Self-Defense - The "Kill at Will Self-Defense"

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The State of Florida Has Created a Racially-Disparate View of Self-Defense - The "Kill at Will Self-Defense" Empty The State of Florida Has Created a Racially-Disparate View of Self-Defense - The "Kill at Will Self-Defense"

Post by CherokeeNative on Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:34 pm

The “not guilty” verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman has extended the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death to a naked travesty and miscarriage of justice.  When will African Americans be considered equal and treated equal to whites in America?  When will African Americans finally have their fill? When will society stand up to these injustices?  When is enough, enough?

I strongly maintain and declare that George Zimmerman is guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin and must be found guilty and punished for it.  Our Nation cannot continue to preach and advocate for human, civil rights and justice all over the world, chastise other countries at their slightest whim, on the one hand, but on the other hand, continue to violate the basic human, civil rights of African Americans and deny them justice.  That is fraud and hypocrisy.  It must stop.

When I heard the verdict of the Zimmerman trial, my first thought was: “What the hell just happened?”  Since the Trayvon Martin shooting in February 2012, I have followed the social and legal responses to the shooting very closely. In addition to following the situation in the news, I took action through writing “rants” on the situation and participating in several Blogs. In fact, CrimeWatchers was borne out of CB’s and my following of the Zimmerman case.  During the entire time, I believed justice would eventually be done and that Zimmerman would suffer severe legal consequences for his killing of an unarmed teenager.

As the trial played out before our eyes, many of us, myself included, kept bringing up evidence that the prosecution failed to mention while the coinciding witness was on the stand, or questioning why the prosecution had failed to object, or introduce rebuttal evidence that we all knew existed.  I even convinced myself that I knew the case too well, and rationalized that the prosecution could not put “everything” on the table and they were narrowing down their case – any minute now, the prosecution would lower the boom with damning irrefutable evidence.  I kept saying to myself that the prosecution would clarify everything to jury during rebuttal – but rebuttal didn’t happen.

I am not prepared to criticize the prosecution at this juncture. I believe there is more than meets the eye.  I believe De la Rhonda, Guy and Mantei’ truly went in expecting to win this case and I believe they gave it their all to the extent that they were allowed by their superiors and the Court.  I will admit that something stinks; I am just not able to pinpoint the source at this time.

I do find it alarming that Zimmerman appeared overly confident throughout the trial and did not express one second of surprise or relief when the verdict was read.  It was almost as though he knew it was coming.  Why is that?  Also, the jurors who have come forward have made it painfully clear that justice for Trayvon never had a chance once the case was turned over to them for deliberation.  Something went wrong – what was it?
In the hours, days, and now weeks following this heartbreaking verdict, we have stood together in sadness and solidarity with Trayvon Martin, his family, and countless other victims of racial violence in all its forms. We share the pain, despair and fear this verdict brings to millions of African American parents who must now worry all the more for the safety of their children.

The jury’s verdict found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering an unarmed youth whom Zimmerman pursued and shot without provocation. The verdict is, by implication, a guilty verdict for all young African American men who dare to walk the streets of America.  This verdict says black youth are legitimate targets for any racist thug with a Zimmerman mindset. It effectively gives the perverted vigilante a license to hunt down black youth, and when they fight back, to kill them in “self defense”. This is a mockery of justice.

The prosecutors of George Zimmerman urged the jury to “connect the dots” and “use your common sense” in the case against Zimmerman. In fact, the dots connect themselves, and common sense tells us something went terribly wrong.

It takes the blindness of racism not to see the direct line that connects the armed vigilante pursuing a random innocent victim, to the confrontation that ensued, the fight that broke out, the shot that was fired, the death that resulted, and the marching that it took to have the murderer charged with a crime.

The dots to be connected don’t stop there, of course. Trayvon’s murder is inextricably linked to the hundreds of other recent African American slayings by police, security guards and vigilantes.  These dots connect, and the picture they draw is one of a dangerous, armed, divided nation, with African American children caught in the crosshairs.

I agree that from a legal standpoint there has always been a valid debate over whether Zimmerman should be charged with 2nd degree murder or voluntary manslaughter; that is, if you were only moderately informed of the evidence.  Many have argued that Zimmerman should have been charged with manslaughter rather than murder 2 because of the difficulty in proving Zimmerman’s intent in the situation.  I and a few others stood apart from this argument, going so far as to say that Zimmerman’s actions that night bordered on premeditated murder given our in depth study of the facts and evidence.  We still hold to that belief.

Put plainly, there was easily enough evidence to convict Zimmerman of voluntary manslaughter and the decision by the jury to acquit is unfathomable. Not only was Zimmerman proven to have lied numerous times to investigators (getting out of his car because he didn’t know the street name, Martin circling his car, Martin jumping out of the non-existent bushes, etc.), but he was an armed and MMA trained person with a history of violence following an unarmed minor.  Given the preponderance of the evidence and the inclusion of the lesser charge of manslaughter, it is ludicrous that the jury decided to let Zimmerman walk free.

Ultimately, if you strip away the racial and age factors of the Zimmerman case, and look at the case from purely an objective point of view, it is clear that according to the Zimmerman jury, the Florida self-defense statute now allows an armed man to instigate conflict with no legal justification and to shoot their target if he dares to fight back and tries to escape—this is murder disguised as self-defense.  Stripped of the aggravating factors of race and age, the facts were:

Person A is an armed man who has been trained to fight and who weighs over 200lbs. Person B is an unarmed man who has had no formal combat training and who weighs 150lbs. Person A follows Person B for no valid reason and instigates a fight—this fight results in the shooting death of Person B and several minor injuries inflicted on Person A. After the shooting, Person A is the only surviving eyewitness and he claims that Person B attacked him, pinned him, and tried to kill him, thus necessitating Person A to defend himself with lethal force. When the evidence is analyzed, it demonstrates that Person A had lied in several areas of his story; his injuries were minor, his account was physically impossible and Person B had no blood or foreign DNA on his hands.

Common sense tells us that the story of Person A of this situation should not be believed—it isn’t supported by the evidence, he has a history of violence, and he has an extremely compelling motive to lie in order to evade the consequences of his action.  This is exactly what the jury in the Zimmerman case was presented with, except that the scenario is made worse by the fact that the victim was a minor and the initial contact was based upon racial biases, and they chose to let the armed pursuer/killer go free.

This is where the prosecution asked the jury to use “common sense” for if self-defense begins to conform to the logic of Zimmerman’s defense lawyers, then Florida has become a place where murder is essentially legal. In order to murder somebody, a Floridian can simply get his or her victim into a place where there are no eyewitnesses, hit the victim in order to start a fight, and then shoot the victim once he/she gets a few punches in—the fact that the shooter was the aggressor in the initial conflict and that the shooter responded with force way beyond the level that he/she was presented are meaningless.

This view of self-defense is a nightmare scenario for public safety but that is exactly what the Zimmerman verdict has sanctioned.  Under the Zimmerman verdict, the odds are suddenly much higher that violent Floridians with a grudge and a gun will suddenly think that they have a powerful defense for murder and will act out their violent fantasies. In fact, we have already seen this form of self-defense creep its way into several murder cases.

Take the Jordan Davis case for an example.  Another example, Raul Rodriguez.  Ultimately, Rodriguez’s mistake was to bring the camera, as it gave a clear and perfect picture of the situation that showed his falsification of the self-defense situation to the police and; he is now in jail, having been sentenced to 40 years for murder. The lesson learned from the Martin and Rodriguez cases are simply that you can legally kill people, just as long as there isn’t a video or witness to discredit your story.

The Zimmerman verdict has now sent the message to violent people that they can kill at will, just as long as they do so in a way that doesn’t leave witnesses to contradict their story after the fact (and don’t tape their crimes for the police).  If the “kill at will” self-defense were to be applied equally across all demographics in Florida, the state would just be facing a terrible crisis in public safety. At this point, the State of Florida has created a racially-disparate view of self-defense, where white defendants are protected by self-defense and minority defendants are handed harsh prison sentences.

Assuming everything in the Zimmerman case remained the same, except Zimmerman were a black man and Martin a white teenage girl, this case would have been looked at and prosecuted radically differently. Nobody can say with a straight face that Zimmerman would be allowed to claim self-defense and it is ridiculous to think that the victim’s pot experimentation and clothing would be relevant.  Simply put, white people are more likely to be able to successfully claim self-defense than African Americans.  This disparity leads to a system of justice where white Americans receive additional legal protections and are not subject to realistic fears that they will be seen as “scary” and killed while walking down the street.

The very same biases which make it easier for white Americans to claim self-defense when they kill black people make it more difficult for African Americans to claim self-defense. African Americans have a very hard time avoiding legal consequences by claiming self-defense, even if they have very strong cases. The perfect example can be found in the Marissa Alexander case, which should be the model example of self-defense - where a woman used the absolute minimum force to prevent her abusive husband, a much larger attacker, from harming her. Unfortunately, Alexander was convicted after only 12 minutes of jury deliberations and is now one year into her 20 year prison sentence—her abusive husband now has custody of their children.

During the Zimmerman trial, we saw an example of the disparity in self-defense between the races when nobody on either side brought up the obvious question: Although there was no DNA to prove it, even if Martin hit Zimmerman, why weren’t his actions considered self-defense? After all, Zimmerman was a strange man who was following an innocent teen at night.  Didn't Martin have a right to “stand his ground” if he thought that the stranger stalking him was going to try to harm him? After all, isn't that what we teach our children to do when confronted by a stranger who attempts to detain them?

Every piece of objective evidence and simple common sense points to the fact that Zimmerman was the initial aggressor in this conflict—he followed Martin and his story of Martin “jumping out of the bushes” at him is debunked by the fact that there were no bushes at the scene.  The crime scene evidence proved a South to North travel in direct conflict with Zimmerman's story. The only reason why Zimmerman would lie about how the fight started is if he didn’t think that the truth would reflect well on him, thus it is highly likely that he caught up with Martin and did something which would be seen as instigative (if Martin truly started the fight, Zimmerman would have no reason to create his own story). As the initial aggressor, Zimmerman has no right to claim self-defense if the fight shifts away from his favor (after all, Florida “stand your ground” law gave Martin a right to use force to defend himself if he was legally allowed to be where he was - which is was).

George Zimmerman’s defense team utilized a shockingly twofaced and loathsome defense strategy. The Zimmerman defense strategy was based on justifying Zimmerman’s actions through demonizing Martin and utilizing the stereotype of the “scary and violent black man.” Despite this defense strategy, the Zimmerman defense and supporters have staunchly denied any racial motivation for the killing and disparaged any attempts to label Zimmerman as a racist as defamatory.

During the trial and in the media, the Zimmerman defense painted Trayvon Martin as a scary and violent black thug who posed a great enough threat to necessitate lethal force. This propaganda campaign was aimed purely at tarring the victim enough that the jury would see his killing as justified.

Despite the fact that he had no criminal record and was not breaking any laws on the night he was murdered, the defense lawyers labeled Martin a “thug” and a “gangster.” Put plainly, “thug” and “gangster” are just dog-whistle code words for young black males who don’t look and act like Urkel from Family Matters.  Martin’s pot use and bad language on social media were used to suggest that he was violent. If every teenager to use pot and bad language online were worthy of extra-legal execution, then the futuristic generation would likely not exist today.  Martin was suspended from school for possessing a baggie with pot-residue. Despite this simple and common reason for being reprimanded, Zimmerman defenders claimed that Martin had been suspended for anything from operating a fight club to being a drug dealer. The claims that Martin was violent and a fighter are absolutely debunked and were nothing short of lies. It is possible that Martin was selling or trading drugs (there is no evidence to support this claim, but there is none to refute it) but this is not a reason to assume that he is violent, nor is it an excuse for Zimmerman to kill him.

The Zimmerman defense lawyers introduced evidence of robberies in the Sanford area and made clear to stress that the perpetrators were black. This inclusion of unconnected robberies by other black youth can only serve to imply that all black teens are criminals and that Zimmerman was correct in shooting Martin. Justifying the shooting of Martin—an innocent teen—by introducing evidence that people who share Martin’s race had committed crimes in the area is the very definition of racism—they were attempting to generalize across an entire race in order to justify a killing.

Accurately summarized recently by one news source, "by the end of the trial, the 200-pound Zimmerman, despite martial arts training and a history of assaulting others, was transformed into a 'soft,' retiring marshmallow of a weakling. The 158-pound Martin had been reimagined as an immense, athletically endowed, drug-addled 'thug.'"  

In a starkly tongue-in-cheek situation, the Zimmerman defense claimed that Zimmerman would never racially profile a young black man, all the while resting their defense on the contention that Martin was dangerous due to a series of racial stereotypes. A very good descriptor of what Zimmerman’s lawyers were aiming to get the jury to believe was one of the most offensive statements I have heard to date by a mainstream media commentator.  Geraldo Rivera stated, “I see those six ladies in the jury putting themselves on that rainy night, in that housing complex that has just been burglarized by three or four different groups of black youngsters from the adjacent community. So it’s a dark night, a 6-foot-2-inch hoodie-wearing stranger is in the immediate housing complex. How would the ladies of that jury have reacted? I submit that if they were armed, they would have shot and killed Trayvon Martin a lot sooner than George Zimmerman did.”  Indeed, O’Mara made a similar statement on his legal defense web site several months earlier.

Not only does Geraldo’s statement justify racial profiling but he also asserts that it is reasonable for such profiling to end in the shooting of minority Americans. Put plainly, this statement asserts that white people should be legally able to shoot black people who enter their neighborhoods if there have been incidents of other black people breaking into houses. Geraldo needs to be reminded that segregated housing and lynchings are frowned upon in this century and are not excuses for murder.

Curiously, what do people think would happen if Geraldo’s statement were reversed? What do people think would happen if he said that, because white men in expensive suits destroyed the economy and stole thousands of houses, it would justify people shooting white people in suits in pre-emptive self-defense? If Geraldo (or anybody in the media) were to express this type of sentiment against white men in suits, human science doesn’t have a measurement of speed fast enough to describe how quickly they would be derided, ostracized and fired.

Unfortunately, it appears that Geraldo’s comments—while despicable and racist—were entirely correct in regard to the feelings of the jury. Given their verdict decision, it appears that the Zimmerman defense was successful in swaying the women on the Zimmerman jury to share Geraldo’s way of thinking on the criminality of black males and the legality of shooting black teenagers for being in the wrong neighborhood.

We should learn over the next few weeks whether or not the DOJ will be filing federal charges against Zimmerman.  I am hopeful that its interest in the case was not merely a sop to pacify the African American Community and those interested in seeing Zimmerman being held accountable for his murdering of Trayvon.  

It may be that Zimmerman will never face legal consequences for his shooting of Trayvon Martin, but I hope that he is scorned, persecuted and harassed for the remainder of his life. He may escape a legal conviction, but that will do nothing to insulate him against becoming a national pariah or from facing a higher power on his true judgment day.

Bottom line, the State of Florida only sees self-defense as something that only applies if you are both white and the last person standing.  How long will society allow this?  How long will African Americans allow this?  When is enough, enough?  For some reason, I am not satisfied with just calming down and going about my way of life.  I want change and I want it now, starting with George Zimmerman.

George Zimmerman is a murderer, child molester and woman abuser who is breathing air that doesn't belong to him - I await Karma to inflict justice in the name of Trayvon.

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Anyone who believes the defendant is innocent is a racist and anyone who contributes money to his defense is a stupid racist.”.  ~Professor Frederick Leatherman

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Post by ForJustice on Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:39 pm

Thank you for saying everything that needs to be said. I hope this is sent around the country via the internet. Healing will never begin until the TRUTH has been made clear.

If Not Now When?

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Zimmerman "For the rest of your life you are now going to feel what its like to be a black man in America," Alex Fraser
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Post by papapi on Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:58 pm

I love the part about men in suits stealing America. Maybe the populace will finally wake up before it's too late for this country and everything goes completely to hell. Re: FDR about "FEAR", and that is precisely what the right wing nut jobs are using to motivate the hatred and discrimination against the "others", and it's not just blacks, but folks in many classes who are considered, for whatever indefensible reason, not "worthy".

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"George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to." John Guy, Esq., ASA, Florida
""Trayvon was a person, he had heart, he had love, he had a lot of love. Judging him out of a picture...naw." Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin's friend

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