Zimmerman’s Authority to Escalate Violence

Much has been written about the recent death of Florida teen, Trayvon Martin, over the last several days. The response to this shooting tends to vary depending upon where you are reading about the story. On websites like the Huffington Post, the majority of the posts – that are being let through – are in support of the family and their quest to see Zimmerman brought to justice. There are other sites, however, where the heavy hand of censorship is not present and that’s where you will find the Zimmerman apologists and those justifying his actions. What none of these people can tell me, however, is this:

What authority did Zimmerman have to approach Trayvon? In one “discussion” I was asked:

Do you remember any times when you had to confront an aggressive, angry black kid with an attitude?

Let’s ignore the ignorance of this question, and instead ask, Why did Zimmerman have to confront Trayvon? He is not a cop, a sheriff, or a deputy. He was not wearing an uniform to announce or display that he was in a position of authority (because, AGAIN, he is not in one). He was just an average looking CIVILIAN, stalking a young man who was not familiar with the inhabitants of the neighborhood he was visiting.

What I find most dumbfounding about the police investigation is that they seem to have accepted Zimmerman’s word from the start. They’ve said that the evidence that they’ve gathered points to self defense, the strongest “evidence” seems to come from Zimmerman. With the reports of witnesses being LED to provide statements that are consistent with Zimmerman’s assertion of self defense, one would have to seriously question their claim.

Here is what we have to consider when it comes to SPD’s dynamics with the shooter; Zimmerman is very well known to them having made dozens of calls, over the last year, while in his self-appointed position of neighborhood watch captain. It stands to reason that he has become relatively friendly with the cops that patrol that neighborhood. It also stands to reason that his relationship with real law enforcement officers buoyed him in his position of pseudo cop. Something told Zimmerman that he had the same authority as an actual cop. You know, cops who have actually gone through training and have actually earned the right to approach, question and detain suspects? The kicker here is that it seems as if law enforcement has given him that cover.

Escalation of Violence

Zimmerman apologists have suggested that Trayvon should have not run away from Zimmerman, because it makes him look guilty, and that he should not have engaged in a physical altercation with his pursuer. After all, if he would have just listened to the strange man stalking him through the rain and darkness, maybe he would still be here. Let’s just pretend that is even remotely rational for a moment. Even if the case is that George Zimmerman ran after Trayvon and didn’t lay his hands on him first, is it really OK to escalate from a fistfight to gunfire? Do we want to live in a country where that is a rational next step?

Law enforcement officials cite bruises “consistent with self defense” as their proof that Zimmerman, indeed, acted in self-defense. But, where is the proof that Zimmerman could have reasonably assumed that he was in danger of losing his life? If anything, he may have been in danger of losing a fight, but again is that really grounds to shoot someone? We all know, at this point, that Martin did not have a gun, a knife, a sword, a crossbow, a catapult,  an IED, or any other deadly weapon. Did Zimmerman think he was going to kill him with his bare hands? Does law enforcement?

In the end, it seems as if this case will rest squarely on the controversial Florida law, “Stand your Ground” which reads:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force 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.

Wow. Can you be any more broad? And is LE saying that Zimmerman was at risk of “great bodily harm” when Martin has few signs of a struggle present on his body? It is no wonder that this law met such strong opposition from prosecutors and law enforcement officials when it was introduced into legislation in 2005.

Florida’s elected leaders ignored the overwhelming opposition of prosecutors and law enforcement to the law, including the National District Attorneys Association, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, multiple State Attorneys, and police chiefs from cities like Miami and St. Petersburg. (Source)

Yup, I think we can safely call this law a license to kill and/or a get out of jail free card.

For me, this all circles back to the first question I posed in this post: What authority did George Zimmerman have to approach Trayvon Martin? What means did Trayvon Martin have to defend himself from George Zimmerman and why is there any expectation that he should not have been able to?

There are several petitions circling the internet to bring George Zimmerman to justice, but even if 99.9% of the population of the United States sign that petition, I fear that it won’t make a difference. If it is found that George Zimmerman acted in accordance to the laws of Florida, as it is written, he will remain free. Stand Your Ground has thrown all, that should be, common sense into question. Therefore, it is a real possibility that the only true justice seen in this case will come in the form of repealing this Freedom to Kill and claim Self Defense law.

Here is a link to sign a petition to repeal this law: Speak Out Against and Repeal All ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws As of now, it only has 39 signatures, so we have a long way to go to get it well circulated. I will sign it and make it 40. I hope that you will do the same, and pass it along.

Rest in peace, Trayvon Martin. May your death not be in vain.

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