MirageMaybe waiting for facts instead of emotional releaseWed Mar 28, 2012 01:42188.8.131.52Well the President said to do some soul searching, so I have, and it's awfully hard to do when there are so many conflicting articles from major papers, so many rumors, so many facts that are not being released in part because the victim was a minor and in part because the investigation is ongoing. The story depends on which sources you believe, and both sides have all kinds of political and sociological reasons to be biased or even outright distort it, in both directions. I've followed this story and right now, it's still a Rorschach test. I don't have much faith in those but I looked all over the place, read all sorts of commentary from people who knew him and people who didn't, from families, from police, and I did my usual substitutions, imagining their positions reversed, what if anything changes. I puzzled over obscure bits like that Zimmerman registered Democrat but the far left is claiming he is a right-wing racist, and that his family says he has black family members. I decided it's irrelevant what Martin did to get suspended 3 times since Zimmerman could not have known about that, but that it may be relevant that Zimmerman was apparently the victim of a major violent assault in the past, the details of which have not been released by police. That may possibly have factored into their decision that he believed he was acting in self defense. It may also explain why he made the tragic decision to carry a gun and his zealousness in the Neighborhood Watch. I keep wondering why, why why, like everyone else. Why is especially important here because the hate crime charge is starting to look likely.
The neighborhood is apparently a high crime neighborhood. One article I read said that the police were called to that neighborhood over 400 times in a year. If that's anywhere near truth you've got neighbors living there who are probably constantly on edge, and some of them are minorities. It seems to be a fairly multiracial and multi-ethnic neighborhood judging by the witnesses I have seen quoted. Neither man involved considered himself "white" but Hispanic/Latino people have been officially declared white now and a lot of them still reject that label. It's unclear who started the physical confrontation but it's looking like they both participated to some degree in a verbal and physical confrontation before the shot occurred. Both sustained injuries, but Trayvon's gunshot wound was fatal and George's head wounds weren't. Unless George injured his own nose and head after the fact, this means we have a mutual combat scenario. Nobody seems to have seen the actual shot fired. Some believe George was crying, some insist the Trayvon was crying. One witness who stated that it was George on the ground being pounded was able to identify the color of shirt he was wearing (red) but witness memory is not very reliable. The existing autopsy would clarify a lot, but it's sealed. It seems entirely possible to me that at some point in the event *both* of them may have felt they were acting in self defense, but not one news story I have seen has mentioned this possibility. It's even possible both of them did have legally justifiable grounds to claim self defense. For example, if George pulled a gun in self defense because according to phone records he had saw that Trayvon had a hand in his waistband (might have a gun) and then Trayvon attacked him because he believed he was going to be shot, and then George shot him...you see my point. Whatever happened, I think it's fairly clear from the phone calls they made that both men felt threatened by each other on sight, and I believe that is probably at the root of the tragedy. As far as I understand the state self defense law, feeling you are in danger is enough cause to use fatal force. Now, to the religious aspects.
Should the white clergy, or perhaps all clergy be decrying this tragedy as a race murder? Depends on whether it was, and that's unclear to me. Believe me, I wish I knew. There are serious racial tensions in that state and always have been. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-sanford-florida-20120323,0,1679914.story?page=1
However people who knew the hispanic/white watch captain say he wasn't a racist. His family says that, his friends say that, and a black former television reporter who is a friend of the family also says that he never felt any racism coming from him. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/25/joe-oliver-george-zimmerman-trayvon-martin_n_1378390.html
Some sources say he mentored black kids, but nobody seems to have elaborated. Other sources say he used racist slurs, but that too is disputed by someone who was present when it is alleged he used the slur in a phone call. Witness says says he used a different often-but-not-always-derogatory term which happens to rhyme with the antiquated unforgivable c word (goon, a much more common word http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=goon). Any or all of the people who knew him, including the black journalist, could be wrong or lying, but maybe they aren't. How can we know? Was the watch captain using profiling? Probably. Police do the same. It would really help matters if the Neighborhood Watch program did not encourage untrained volunteers to use profiling. Profiling may help solve crimes under narrow circumstances, and I will admit this, but I am personally unconvinced it isn't just guilty until proven innocent applied to an entire group. I don't think it is worth the price.
Christian clergy are supposed to avoid judging but sometimes don't. I actually kind of admire the clergy of all colors who have refrained here, because the picture that is slowly emerging is full of awkward questions, messy grey distracting backstories, and pre-existing local issues people on both sides of the case are studiously ignoring to make their points. Both men had a history of past problems which are variously and nebulously explained, and both had apparent dreams of doing something better with themselves. No surprise here, neither of them appears to have been an angel but both of the families see things differently of course. Clearly what happened should not have happened and is incredibly tragic but we may never know exactly what happened that resulted in a gunshot killing Trayvon Martin or why George Zimmerman had grass stains on the back of his shirt and the back of his head and his nose were bleeding. If I were a clergyperson about the only thing I could justifiable say right now is that I wish as citizens we would learn to be less terrified of each other and also less confrontational. America today is a place where it is not safe to trust strangers too much, but neither is it safe to assume the worst of them. Either can lead to tragedy.
My gut feeling is this fatal conflict wasn't fundamentally about race on either side even if one or both of them was prejudiced, but about fear of strangers, which can at times end up at the same bad places. Maybe our clergy should be questioning whether having a Neighborhood Watch is a good or bad thing for the soul of a community?
Given that the autopsy results are still sealed, we cannot know at this point who initiated the violence and whether Zimmerman was on the ground crying for help at the time or Martin was, as their respective lawyers assert. Until then I have suspended my initial assumption that this was a hate crime and that Zimmerman coldly intended to shoot Martin, who was not threatening him whatsoever. During all this I realized too that Zimmerman has a usually-Jewish last name and that he is also Hispanic. There is about as much stereotyping of both of those groups in America as there is of African-Americans. When there is an autopsy report released, I think we'll see a lot more talking and soul searching by clergy in general. I do understand the pain of the African America community. Trayvon is a symbol of much much more. If it turns out this case is not as simple as it initially appeared to be, that will not change that what it symbolizes does exist and many Americans must endure it every day. It makes me very sad that it takes a young man's death to remind all the people who don't.
- "Where Are Our White Faith Leaders? " Frashavan, Tue Mar 27 07:21"Why were white clergy so reluctant to engage in this issue? [the murder of Trayvon Martin] It may be because they lead suburban congregations composed by and large of parishioners whose daily lives... more
- They do know why ... Baruch, Sat Apr 7 08:14same reason why synagogues, and not White churches, assisted Black churches, during the Civil Rights movement. Church is where Americans are most self segregated (aside from private country clubs),... more
- Is it wrong of me to hope for better?? Frashavan, Sun Apr 8 10:49I know. It's quite obvious, actually... but one would expect better of people, after all this time. :(
- Justice delayed is Justice denied Frashavan, Fri Mar 30 07:44It seems that you feel that everyone should just wait. But if people don't speak up, they enable such wrongs to continue and to spread... Urging moderation isn't a bad idea, but there is nothing to... more
- Hits the nail on the head for me. (nm) MN_Morgan, Fri Mar 30 11:27
- Was this for me? Mirage, Fri Mar 30 11:19In that case there is a confession. In this case the person accused is saying he was assaulted and feared for his life. There are several witnesses, who disagree on what happened. A new video which... more
- The Press sai ram, Tue Apr 3 10:47the Press/media are wanting to string this case along....they publish a much younger picture of the victim to build sympathy..to inflame...and keep publishing it....the public bites on the bait and... more
- people were shot in oakland Mirage, Tue Apr 3 12:52Christian college, most victims Koreans and Korean-Americans. Shooter also Korean-American, ex student, had lost his brother recently in the war. Shooter turned himself in but I don't think they know ... more
- not you, specifically Frashavan, Fri Mar 30 16:43I see your points. I just think people do need to speak up.
- What I did Mirage, Fri Mar 30 13:15I did a substitution. I imagined what if the watch captain was black and shot a white guy he thought had a gun. I realized I would have a strong urge to take the side of the black watch captain, that ... more
- the problem with that is... Frashavan, Fri Mar 30 17:03I have heard of 6'5", 240lbs police officers claim that they were assaulted and in peril of life and limb from 4'10, 90lbs girls who were already in handcuffs. It boggles the mind, yet they offer... more
- Maybe waiting for facts instead of emotional release Mirage, Wed Mar 28 01:42
- I would have sai ram, Wed Mar 28 09:34If I decided to be a neighborhood watch guy.....I would carry a gun as well...(Don't own one)...since alot of types I might be on the look out for carry them as well....and most wouldn't hestitate to ... more
- Never ever approach them. Mirage, Wed Mar 28 09:44It's not your job and all kinds of things happen when people try to be heroes.
- But, the point is... Frashavan, Wed Mar 28 07:16...not what happened in this, particular case. These kinds of shooting have been going on a while, and the Black and Latino communities have lost a lot of boys and young men, wrongfully. Of course,... more
- Re: But, the point is... Mirage, Wed Mar 28 10:03Both families are in agony. Do we want to show sympathy for the Hispanic one or the African American one? I feel bad for both families, and both have received death threats, which always happens.... more
- The black community sai ram, Wed Mar 28 10:16The black community is out protesting this...far away from where it happened and the protests can't effect what happens in the Florida town. What the black community needs to protest is how this... more
- I think all sai ram, Tue Mar 27 08:46I think all the facts haven't emerged on this....the parents gave out a younger picture of Trayvon to help I believe with sympathy. Zimmerman didn't receive a gash on his head and a broken nose from... more
- There may be a certain degree of .... Frashavan, Tue Mar 27 16:01...manipulation going on. The media always protrays victims as completely innocent; reality is a bit more complicated. Still, the guy had no justification imaginable for shooting an unarmed kids.
- He wrongly thought he was armed. Mirage, Wed Mar 28 01:45He mentioned in his police call that the guy he was watching had a hand in his waistband. Translation, he thought he had a gun. It was apparently a very cold day. :(
- The gun that wasn't there Frashavan, Wed Mar 28 07:04It's funny how often that features in this kind of shooting. "Oh, I thought he had a gun!" When cops try that one, my reaction is that they should immediately and permanently be reassigned to desk... more
- Well sai ram, Tue Mar 27 16:42if he was bashing the guys head up against the curb....broke his nose.....he was standing his ground under the law and I think thats why he hasn't been arrested.....I ask myself, why are they... more
- There has been an epidemic of such shootings... Frashavan, Tue Mar 27 16:50...where young men and boys-- usually minority members -- have been gunned down. Usually it has involved the police, so the voices that call it "racism" have been subdued by those who believe the... more
- Re: There has been an epidemic of such shootings... Mirage, Wed Mar 28 01:48I assumed all that at first, until I spent a real long time digging and discovered that there is massive propagandizing on all sides. You are right about the police, though, they do enormous racial... more
- Well sai ram, Tue Mar 27 20:49I believe I saw a more recent photo of the 17 year old...with a number of front gold teeth...kind of like what the gansta rappers get.....I really don't think he was walking or skipping home singing... more
- Gold teeth is no crime, nor are tats. Mirage, Wed Mar 28 01:50I read he had both, but that's fashion, not felony. I think it he was a known gang member Fox news would have been all over that by now.
- Thing is sai ram, Wed Mar 28 08:14its also fashion for gang members....Zimmerman was on the look out for suspicious people in the neighborhood.....if the kid was dressed in a business suit, he probably would not have drawn the... more
- Dressing like a rock star Mirage, Wed Mar 28 10:14doesn't mean a kid is trashing hotel rooms. We all did that when I was a teen. Teens emulate musicians and in this case musicians are emulating fashion. Musicians we emulated were doing the same but... more
- There's a word for people who see a criminal .... Frashavan, Wed Mar 28 08:16...hiding behind every bush. Democrats! :D
- He doesn't sound very much different... Frashavan, Wed Mar 28 07:00.... from most of the students I teach. They are pains (as most teens manage to be), and they tend to adopt a pose, but most of them are just normal, mixed up adolescents. Actually, I think the... more
- They have the 911 call MN_Morgan, Tue Mar 27 10:56They told him NOT to pursue this kid. He PURSUED this kid. The gash on the forehead and broken nose could come from a bottle of soda. If some jackwagon was following me home, I'd use whatever I had... more