We have returned to the late 1960's.
I am very sorry for the family of Trayvon Martin. I am very sorry for George Zimmerman, and his family, as well.
Trayvon was in a strange neighborhood. He was visiting. He had a right to be visiting.
George was an active citizen. He was a resident of the neighborhood. He was trying to keep the neighborhood safe. He had a right to do that.
I have read many reports of what happened that night. I've read comments at the end of those articles, too. Some comments provide additional information. Some comments are just hateful.
I have gone to the Sanford city government website that has a lot of information listed and available for the public to review. I have listened to the 911 calls. They are not easy to listen to. But I listened to them anyway.
What they reveal (to me) is the George Zimmerman saw a stranger acting in a way that he regarded suspicious. I don't believe that George thought he was suspicious because he was a black teenager in a hoodie. George probably knew who "belonged" in his integrated neighborhood, and who didn't. And he didn't recognize Trayvon.
Was Trayvon simply walking purposefully back to his father's girlfriend's house? Or was he stopping along the way, looking at or into doors and windows and garages? Did Trayvon know the way back to his father's girlfriend's house? Was he getting his bearings in order to recognize which house he should go into? Trayvon's girlfriend says he was talking to her on the phone. So maybe he was just stopping at certain points in the conversation. And, if he was motioning with his hands or arms, as people do when they are conversing, he might look to an observer like he was not acting "right", like maybe he was on drugs or something.
The first 911 call on the Sanford site is George's. When I listened to it, I could hear the vehicle door shut when he got out and was moving around. His breathing is heavy, there is "wind" noise across the phone microphone. But then it gets quiet. George has stopped moving. He says "I don't know where he is." And he waits for a responding officer to call him. (And I don't hear where he ever says "coons".) That call ends.
Trayvon's girlfriend says (ABC local news )
Earlier Tuesday, an attorney for Martin's family revealed the teenager told his girlfriend just moments before he was killed that he was being followed.If true, I doubt the exchange was very polite or respectful from either side. A teenager thinks he is being followed and might be in danger of assault by a stranger. He's asking, "Why are you following me?" George could have said, "I'm in the neighborhood Watch group. Who are you, and what are you doing here?" Trayvon could have chosen to answer with "I'm visiting here with my dad, at his girlfriend's for the week." Or he could have said "Eff you, who the hell do you think you are?"
"'Oh he's right behind me, he's right behind me again,"' 17-year-old Trayvon Martin told his girlfriend on his cellphone, attorney Benjamin Crump said.
The girl later heard Martin say, "Why are you following me?" Another man asked, "What are you doing around here?"' Crump said.
But we don't know what was said, if anything. Or if Trayvon ran from George. Or if Trayvon then attacked George from behind on his way back to his vehicle. Or if George threw the first punch.
Two of the 911 calls from residents refer to people fighting, and one of those people is screaming for help. It is reported that Martin's father has said that those screams are not the voice of his son. Reference is made to the man on the ground wearing red. (George is wearing red.) Reference is made to a man in a white or light colored shirt on top of the other one on the ground. Then a gunshot is heard, and they think the person now on the ground is dead.
The police came and it was too late for Trayvon. They handcuffed George, gave him first aid, and took him down to the police station for questioning. They questioned other residents. George is bloody, his back is wet and grassy. They have to let him go, according to Florida law, pointed out in the FAQ notice at Sanford city government. There IS EVIDENCE to them that he acted in self-defense.
One question I have seen raised is: George knew the police were on the way. Why didn't he just let Trayvon keep beating him until they got there? It's been reported that George received treatment at a hospital for a broken nose. If that is true and George was pummeled enough to sustain a broken nose, and a cut on the back of his head, I doubt he was thinking "How long is it going to take for the police to get here?" He was probably thinking, "This kid is Hurting Me and I Have To Stop Him, and the Sooner, the Better."
It's a real tragedy.
I can see that Trayvon had a right to "stand his ground" if confronted by George. I can see that George had a right to defend himself if assaulted by Trayvon. One is dead, and the other's life is ruined (and may be ended soon, if the New Black Panther Party has their way.)
But because George is not black, and Trayvon was black, we have turned back the clock to the 1960's and there's a Race War going on.
What the hell?
I bet Martin Luther King, Jr. is real proud of all this progress we have made.