Sanford, George Zimmerman, and America

Sanford, George Zimmerman, and America

The George Zimmerman Trial officially starts today, Monday, June 10th, in of all places, Sanford Florida. The trial is alternately being called the Trayvon Martin Murder Case, and the
DSCF5770-300x225George Zimmerman Murder Trial, but George Z. is the one left alive to stand before a jury of his peers and be adjudicated.

This Monday morning, the jury selection process begins in Sanford, Florida, the same town where the killing of Trayvon Martin took place on February 26, 2012. The judge in the case, Circuit Court Judge Debra S. Nelson, determined, it wouldn’t make any difference where the trial is held, as the media coverage and saturation was so complete, it would be impossible to move the trial to a locale where there had been less exposure.

Everyone, everywhere has by now heard of Trayvon Martin and everyone had an opinion, even the polite, empathetic comments of President Obama’s response to a reporter’s question, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. Obviously, this is a tragedy,” he said. “I can only imagine what these parents are going through, and when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, . . .”

And absolutely everyone is certain of their opinion on this case. George was in the right. Trayvon was a victim.  George was an aggressive wanna be cop. Trayvon had it coming. And as willing as everyone is to share their opinions, almost no one, is in a rush to make a statement on the record related to this case. Because no one wants to sound like a racist, even a little bit.

The black/white race dynamic of the case is a powder keg. So is the fact the Sanford PD initially took Zimmerman at his word when he said the killing was self defense and did no follow up investigation. Trayvon Lay in the morgue as a John Doe until the next morning, when his father, Tracy Martin, called to file a missing persons report. An officer arrived at the home with a photograph of the deceased Martin.

Zimmerman, the Captain of the the neighborhood watch who took his duties quite seriously, had a long history of calling the 911. On the evening of the 26th, he saw Martin, a young black man he didn’t recognize, walking through his neighborhood, The Retreat at Twin Lakes,” a gated community, and Zimmerman once again called Sanford police, this time using the DSCF5766-300x224 non-emergency number to report what he considered a suspicious person. Zimmerman said, “We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy. . . just walking around looking about,” adding, “This guy looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something.” Zimmerman then stated this person had his hand in his waistband and was walking around looking at homes. The recording clearly has Zimmerman saying, “these assholes, they always get away.”

Then two minutes into the call, Zimmerman said, “he’s running.”

The dispatcher asked, “He’s running? Which way is he running?”

A car door can be heard opening, and Zimmerman eventually loses sight of Martin. The dispatcher then asks if Zimmerman was following him. When Zimmerman answered, “yeah,” the dispatcher says, “We don’t need you to do that.”

Zimmerman responded, “Okay.”

Zimmerman’s defense team has made a big to do about Martin’s past. His drug use, and how much he enjoyed fighting. But it’s not too far fetched to imagine that if George Zimmerman had followed instructions and stayed in his car, there wouldn’t have been any sort of confrontation. And had police arrived in a timely fashion to stop and question the suspicious youth, they would have found him to be in possession of a bag of skittles and an Arizona Ice Tea, and with every right to be there, as he was visiting Brandi Greene, a resident of the gated community, and his fathers fiance. Odds are good martin would not have been confrontational with a uniformed police officer.

A young, light skinned black woman, age twenty-three,T, (one more person unwilling to give their name), is a life long resident of Sanford who said, “Black and white folks don’t mix in this town. And people like to fight. They don’t need a good reason to shoot each other. There’s not a lot else to do.”

George Zimmerman did not stay in his vehicle. He claims Trayvon Martin attacked him first, and during the scuffle, Zimmerman defended himself by firing a single shot through Martin’s chest, killing him.

Maybe Martin felt as though he was about to be attacked by this man he didn’t know who was shadowing him, and he was rapidly running out of options. Not wanting to wait for a bigger man, a stranger in a strange neighborhood who was suddenly following him to have the upper hand in a fight which increasingly seemed inevitable to his teenage mind. We will never know.

But if George Zimmerman had stayed in his car like the 911 operator had said, Trayvon Martin would have most likely made it back to Brandi Greene’s home, where he would have shared a bag of Skittles with soon to be step-brother.