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Black Kids and Skittles: A Deadly Combination…

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The murder — and I’ve seen no evidence to classify it otherwise — of Trayvon Martin reinforces the very real dangers that black Americans still face.

Around 7 p.m. on February 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin walked out of the gated community near Orlando where he was visiting his father to go get some Skittles at a neighborhood convenience store. On his way home, Martin somehow aroused the suspicions of neighborhood watch leader, George Zimmerman, who called 911 to report the boy.

When police arrived, Martin was dead, shot by a bullet from Zimmerman’s 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

Zimmerman had been advised by 911 to not approach Martin and wait for the police. Zimmerman ignored this advice so what could have just been embarrassing for Martin — explaining his sinister Skittles addiction to the authorities — turned lethal.

There is no evidence of “suspicious” activity. I’m admittedly weird but I consider it more suspicious to stalk an unarmed teenager with a 9mm than to shop at a convenience store in your father’s neighborhood.

Zimmerman approached Martin without provocation or legal grounds. Martin was not in the process of committing a crime other than “arousing Zimmerman’s suspicions.” Any concern should have been abated by the 911 call. The police were on their way. Zimmerman chose to escalate the situation. Zimmerman chose to initiate the confrontation. And now Martin is dead.

Zimmerman, 28, who was bleeding from the nose and back of his head when police found him, claimed the two got in a scuffle and that he shot the boy in self-defense.

Can you really claim self-defense in a fight you started? That makes no sense. I also usually hold adults responsible for any “scuffles” they get into with teenagers. When I was 17, I was still under orders from my mother not to talk to strangers (she actually never rescinded those instructions). Doesn’t Martin have the right to be left alone? He is under no obligation to explain himself to someone who is not a police officer. If this were a 17-year-old woman Zimmerman approached, we certainly wouldn’t have expected her to stop and chat with a strange man against her wishes.

Zimmerman’s hardly life-threatening injuries could be the result of Martin’s attempts to flee. It’s also possible an altercation arose because Martin was just pissed that Zimmerman treated him like a suspect (it does get old). It bears repeating that Martin was 17 years old. Even Morgan Freeman was rash at 17. Shouldn’t we expect an adult to defuse a situation with a possibly frightened and upset kid? Or does he just become a potential threat to be neutralized once he hits puberty?

Don’t expect immediate answers to these questions because Zimmerman hasn’t been charged with anything.

Martin’s family, not surprisingly, is outraged, and calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.

“What gave him the right to think he was judge, jury and executioner?” asks Martin’s uncle, Ronald Fulton.

The answer to his question may be simple: the state of Florida, which in 2005 enacted one of the nation’s strongest so-called “stand your ground” self-defense laws. According to the statute, a person in Florida is justified in using deadly force against another if he or she “reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

I would think that the bar rises on what is a “reasonable” threat to your life when you have a gun and the best the other guy can do is make you “taste the rainbow.”

This is idiotic — so much so you’d think the NRA was involved. Oh wait.

According to the National Rifle Association – which has lobbied for and in some cases assisted in writing laws expanding self-defense statutes – since 2006, at least 29 states have passed amended self-defense laws that the gun rights advocacy group supports, including four last year. Although each state’s statute is slightly different, generally, this new crop of laws allows citizens to use deadly force on someone they reasonably believe is a threat to their life. Instead of having a so-called “duty to retreat” from perceived danger, a citizen can “stand their ground” and meet force with force. Some laws also create immunity from civil lawsuits for those found to have reasonably used deadly force.

So instead of retreating from danger like a sissy, you are legally allowed to confront danger head on like a deranged Dirty Harry or, more simply, Dirty Harry. Who needs the police or even police training as long as you have a gun and think someone is “suspicious”?  Even better — Florida is a concealed carry state. Zimmerman himself has a permit. If someone looks “suspicious” to you, the possibility that they’re packing heat can also crank your paranoia up a notch.

How is this helpful? Doesn’t enabling irrational fear promote an environment where there’s a very real fear that someone might kill you if you look at them the wrong way? Or if you just happen to look the wrong way.

…Allen County, Indiana prosecutor Karen Richards, who has prosecuted cases involving claims of self-defense, says that the new laws simply “solidify what juries were feeling anyway. If you’re in a place where you have a right to be and you have a reasonable belief you need to use deadly force, juries don’t think you need to retreat.”

Wasn’t Martin in a place “where he (had) a right to be”? If he saw that Zimmerman had a gun, wouldn’t he also have a “reasonable belief” that he had to protect himself? What if Zimmerman made it clear that retreat was not an option? We only have Zimmerman’s word for what transpired.

“In this case Mr. Zimmerman has made the statement of self-defense,” (Sanford Police Chief Bill) Lee said. “Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don’t have the grounds to arrest him.”

Probable cause? Zimmerman’s own story and actions are probable cause. He’s not a police officer. Martin didn’t fit the description of some baby-faced serial killer. That’s the problem with Urban Cowboy justice. Zimmerman had no authority to stop and hold Martin against his will. Even if a police officer had arrested Martin for no good reason, he would have recourse after the fact. He could also reasonably believe that they weren’t going to mug him or kill him.

Thus far, there is no indication that Trayvon Martin was in the commission of any sort of crime when he was approached by Zimmerman, who was reportedly driving an SUV. Still, judging by the fact that he has not been arrested and the case has been referred to the state’s attorney, law enforcement seems to be struggling to determine whether Zimmerman’s actions fall within the scope of the Florida law.

Remember 20 years ago when we got all mad because the cops who beat Rodney King like a chocolate-stuffed pinata were acquitted? Or back in 2000, when the cops who mowed down an unarmed Amadou Diallo walked? Or Sean Bell in 2006 … well, you get the idea. But those cases had trials. Lawyers. Changes of venue. If a white guy’s going to kill me, all I ask is that he has to put on a suit and take a few days off of work. After Selma and the March on Washington, I thought black men had reached a point where our deaths would at least be a mild inconvenience.

It reminds me of what Richard Wright wrote in his memoir, Black Boy. He recalled young friends of his who simply vanished. He referred to this as “the white death, the threat of which hung over every male black in the South.”

George Zimmerman shot an unarmed child. And then he went home. That bothers me more than rising gas prices.

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Written by:

Published on: March 16, 2012

Filled Under: Justice, Race

Views: 1062

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  • Reggie

    Another young life snuffed out far too young, guilty of WWB.  What a damned shame.

  • Anonymous

    Right on point. Bell, Grant, etc are outrageous enough. But if this country is going to allow regular citizens to shoot blacks because they ” “reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another..” it’s open season on Black for racists. It is akin to apartheid if we allow states to have these laws which in effect will make it dangerous for us to visit or live there.

    • WelcomeToTheRealWorld

      Only if you are a criminal. The laws are for self defense. You do not have the right to attack someone and hurt them, never no how. If you do they have the right to defend themselves. Solution? Stay civilized and don’t get violent.

    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      If you don’t believe that everyone has the right to defend themselves, then why do we have laws which allows citizens like George Zimmerman the ability to carry a concealed weapon with a permit? I think your commentary exaggerates or misrepresents the facts of the case as we all know it to be at this moment. 

      • Anonymous

         It’s not an exaggeration. You can’t bring a gun to a skittles fight. Many states have laws that allow you to defend yourself, but asks that you put it in perspective. You can hit back, you flee, but you can shoot someone that is physically attacking you.
          This law says it is the person’s perception of being in bodily harm, which means if someone thinks a side eye is a threat they can shoot them. I have a whole list of cases where there was no physical contact and Stand your own ground set free people that shot people from a distance

        • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

          Even in an attack (which discribing this situation as such is problematic) every individual has the right to defend themselves. But something tells me that if everything was equal with TM being the one with the gun, I doubt you’d say it was unjustified as you do now.

          To me, that’s hypocritical.

          • Anonymous

             What is hypocritical? Of course if everything was equal with TM having a gun and he instigated a confrontation, he also would not be shielded by Stand your own ground. 
              I ask because I can’t understand why the law is so difficult to grasp. You can use deadly force if you perceive a real threat of bodily harm but you can’t if you confront someone and put yourself in harms way. (see law above).
             If people on a jury think like you do, then hell we might as well not try to get Zimmerman arrested, if you can just  go on your gut feelings- even if those gut feelings are shrouded in racism & bigotry?
             What part of my statement is hypocritical and use the wording of the law itself to show me pls

          • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

            There’s the problem: pragmatism or a lack thereof. I never said you were being hypocritical. I also said “everything being equal” with the only difference being that TM was the one armed with a gun. Again, you’re overlooking the fact that an altercation happened between two strangers. Point being: Zimmerman though over-zealous acted in the interest of security of his neighborhood. He didn’t “attack” a stranger just to be fucking with him for no reason. This is what any defense attorney will present in order to create reasonable doubt in support of a self-defense theory.

          • Anonymous

             I see you like to use big words like hypocritical and pragmatism and invent your own scenarios.
            ” Point being: Zimmerman though over-zealous acted in the interest of
            security of his neighborhood. He didn’t “attack” a stranger just to be
            fucking with him for no reason.”
              Those are not the facts of this case. Maybe a defense atty will  argue  that,maybe they won’t, but at this time there is nothing suggesting that is what happened. Prosecution gets a statement to.
              Zimmerman called the police and was told to stop pursuing.  THAT’S A FACT
                Zimmerman presumed this person to be a suspicious, asshole.  THAT’S A FACT
                Zimmerman ignored police direction to stay out of it.
              What you’re saying that he was “overzealous and trying to protect his neighborhood is WHAT YOU THINK, NOT A FACT. Speaking your opinion as if they were factual is irresponsible and could be damaging to public perception. Everything I have posted has been rooted in laws I can cite. Yours has been pulled out of your backside.  DONE!

          • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

            Fats? Do you even know the difference between fact and opinion?

            FACT IS: This man called the police before he attempted to confront him. Only an idiot would think someone with the malicious intent on murdering someone would call the cops before they do it.

            FACT IS: The shooter was acting in the interest of securing his community. If he wasn’t he would have not started out his 911 call by mentioning them having a problem with break ins.

            FACT IS: They were TWO strangers who met under the most unlikely cirsumstances. As such, given a confrontation, THEY BOTH had the right to defend themselves per the state law. Neither of them had to retreat before opting to use deadly force.

            Now, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own set of “facts.”
            Here’s some more FACTS:

            776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.

            (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal
            prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person
            against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s.
            943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties
            and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any
            applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have
            known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this
            subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining
            in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

            (2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating
            the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not
            arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is
            probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

            HOPEFULLY YOU PAID ATTENTION TO SECTION (2)… SINCE I MAKE STUFF UP.

          • Anonymous

             Yes I did, and you left out the test for who would be considered the aggressor
            FACT that the third standard–for an initial-aggressor–actually does require retreat. That
            is, a person who initially provokes a physical encounter must exhaust
            “every reasonable means to escape such danger” before resorting to
            deadly force. § 776.041(2)(a).
            iT GOES ON TO SAYThe justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who: (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or  (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless: (a)
            Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or
            she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or
            she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other
            than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily
            harm to the assailant; or (b) In good faith,
            the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and
            indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw
            and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes
            the use of force.MEANING THE MEANING STAND YOUR OWN GROUND WOULD NOT APPLY TO ZIMMERMAN AS THE INITIAL AGGRESSOR. BTW THAT COMES FROM LEGAL JOURNALS NOT SLATE MAGAZINE AND THAT’S THE A LAW IN IT’S ENTIRETY NOT PARTIALLY

          • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

            *sigh*

            And this would apply simply if the “aggressor” acted in the commission of a felonious assault. Um, hello, Zimmerman DID NOT act with MALICIOUS INTENT — remember telling you to Google “Malice Afterthought” but you refused becayse I was making it up like everything else? — his actions as I’ve already mentioned, were made with the intention to do good and not harm anyone. When you consider EVERYTHING I’ve said here, it explains why the police are having a hard time finding PROBABLY CAUSE to arrest him for behaving unlawfully.

            776.031 Use of force in defense of others.A person is justified in the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on, or other tortious or criminal interference with, either real property other than a dwelling or personal property, lawfully in his or her possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his or her immediate family or household or of a person whose property he or she has a legal duty to protect. However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be.

          • Anonymous

             Did you read the statute in entierty. IT DOES NOT SAY THE AGGRESSOR HAS TO BE IN THE COMMISION OF A FELONY THERE ARE THREE CONDITIONS THERE ? 
            (2) Would apply to Zimmeramn
            (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself ”
            or herself, unless: (a) APPLY TO ZIMMERMANSSSSSSS

          • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

            Did you read what I just posted above that talks about TRESPASS, PROTECTING PROPERTY… BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…?

          • Anonymous

            Rippa did you read the statue in it’s entirety? It doesn’t say the aggessor had to “”aggressor” acted in the commission of a felonious assault.”

          • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

            I sure did; you’re wrongfully labeling GZ as the “aggressor” in this in this instance. That’s why I told you it was wrong to call him an “attacker.” Again, from what I posted above, it explains just what I’m saying about GZ’s intent… or his actions with intent on protecting the property. If you need case study, Google Joe Horn Houston vigilante.”

  • Dontbeviolentitendslives

    Sorry but you don’t have a right to hurt me physically no matter what is said.  If you attack me and make my nose and head bleed, I have no idea if you mean to stomp my brain into ground watermelon so I will as you say put a cap in your ass faster then you can yell for the PC race baiting police car.   Negros need to learn words are words and if you are in a gated community where NO ONE walks, wearing a hoodie skulkin around at night, you don’t wanna be poppin off to a guy with a gun and then knockin him in the head.
    Teach your children not to be so violent cause the days of white guilt and denial have ended.

    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      You’re absolutely right; everyone has the right to defend themselves. It’s hard for many to understand this once they view this story through a racial lens. Truth is, facts, evidence, and circumstances is all that matters in a court of law.

    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      Sorry, but there are no laws against walking around in a “gated community” while wearing a hoodie after dark. White guilt? Sadly, this is all too real for people of color whether you accept it or not.

    • ViolenceSucks

       Wow. That’s a pretty damned racist statement. Considering that it was Zimmerman who STARTED the incident, and you have absolutely zero proof that the kid was “the aggressor” in this instance, you’re just being racist and assuming he started it. The fact is, there was a 28 year old guy following a 17 year old kid around in his SUV while the kid was walking to a 7-11 to buy some candy and an iced tea. The guy called the police to report “suspicious behavior” (WWB), and when the police told him NOT to follow the kid, he IGNORED THEM and kept doing it anyway. So here you have a direct order from the police, that this guy ignored, and ended up killing this poor kid who was probably acting in self-defense HIMSELF. If some jagoff starts following me around, tries to corner me and acts in a threatening manner, damn right I’m going to clock him if he refuses to let me walk away. If he then pulls out a gun and kills me, it’s somehow MY fault for defending myself against some self-appointed “neighborhood champion?”

      Considering that the kid can’t say anything in his defense now, the only word we have is from the guy who killed him. And somehow, I really doubt he’d just say “Oh, yeah, I started it and was waving my gun around and he tried to run away, but I wouldn’t let him, so he hit me. That’s when I shot him.”

      But really? That’s probably what happened.

  • http://3chicspolitico.com/ SouthernGirl2

    OMG! Everyone in the Sanford Police department need to be FIRED. Listen to Zimmerman’s lies. First he claims the kid is staring at him and walking towards him…acting funny…maybe on drugs… then the dispatcher ask if he’s following the kid and he admits to it. How can Trayvon be walking towards Zimmerman and Zimmerman following? What’s wrong with got dm Sanford police department?http://www.orlandosentinel.com/

  • http://3chicspolitico.com/ SouthernGirl2

    Mack Lyons ‏ @DDSSBlog:Being black in America means navigating a constant minefield of stress, oppression and certain death for no reason. Trayvon didn’t make it.

    ****Tears****

  • Raine Blaze

    I want to tell the family that I am sorry for their heartbreak.  ok everyone is losing focus and turning this into a white/black thing.  fair?  NO!!!  Zimmerman is Hispanic and on any day you call Hispanic People White People you start a fight.  Sounds racist right?   Listen to the 911 tape “is he Black, White or Hispanic?”  17 year olds have been tried for murder, so have 14 year olds but not the point.  The point is that you are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.  How do you prove that Trayvon did not attack Zimmerman?  Not one person is coming forward.   I am not saying that is what happened and I do not believe that for a minute but this is about the law and law is not ran on emotion.  It is ran on witnesses, evidence and facts.  (well it is supposed to be)  So be mad as hell no deserves to be gunned down.  Zimmerman made himself Judge, Jury and Executioner.  Be mad about that.  Do not turn this into a race war and if you choose too then do it the right way.  MOST Hispanic Males get offended if you call them White.  Might sound racist but so does most of this.  
    WWB
    OPEN SEASON ON BLACKS FOR RACISTS
    BLACK CHILDREN NEED TO HIDE and sorry heard too many to list.  

    PEACE to all. 

  • jafo2me

    Let’s get
    right to the point shall we.  Yes we have
    a race problem in America and it’s circling the wagons around anybody who is
    black if they have committed a crime and a white person is involved.

    Fact; 60% of
    the “VIOLENT” crime in this Country is committed by people with African decent,
    mostly against each other.

    Fact; that
    doesn’t seem to bother Al Sharpton, Jessee Jackson or Barack Obama!!!  Why is that?

    Fact; On the
    last Holiday weekend 45 people, “45 PEOPLE” were murdered, in one weekend,  in Chicago, including a 6 year old little girl
    caught in the cross fire, all “Black” on “Black.”  That doesn’t seem to bother Reverend AL,
    Jessee the Reptilian or bo, your buddy your pal either!!!!  No protests, no public outrage, just silence, Why
    is that?

    Fact; There
    are more black people murdered in Chicago then soldiers murdered in f**kin Afganistan!!!

    If any of
    you phony, lying scum bags here would like to walk down a Chicago street, or
    any street in Camden, Washington, Detroit, at night and see 5 black guys in
    hoodies approaching you;

    A; you would
    pray to God they don’t attack you!!!

    B; wish they
    had a law like in Florida where you could defend yourself, and you had a gun to
    defend yourself!!!   NOT!!!

    C; most likely
    be a victim where the city happily picks up your bloody body and then quizzes you
    as to what the hell you think you were doing walking down the street bothering
    the local thugs.

    Do we have a
    problem, “YES” and you know exactly what the problem is!!!  You are “ALL” happy to sit back and watch
    black youth murder and slaughter each other and everybody else who gets in
    their way and pretend like it doesn’t exist!!! 

    SO STOP with
    the BS and pretending white people are out terrorizing the Cities and suburbs.

    Oh yea, and
    if your son goes to walk out the front door with a hoodie pulled up over his
    head at night or his pants are hung down around his a*ss or he has a baseball
    cap cocked to the side like some fu**in gangster, tell him to get back in the fu*king
    house and change.

    AND If
    anyone in your family gets caught up in the black on black violence and is
    injured or murdered look in the mirror if you want to see who is at fault.  You all just keep on circling the wagons and
    pretending this is all the fault of the white man because that has worked so
    well!!!