With all of the passionate hype being put forth by people on both sides of the issue, it is hard to know the truth of what happened the night Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot seventeen year old Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman has said that Martin was acting suspiciously and attacked him, and that he fired the deadly shot when Martin was trying to grab his gun. Police and witness reports said that Zimmerman had cuts on his face and the back of his head, which would seem to substantiate his claim of self-defense.
The dead young man’s family and friends claim he was an innocent child who went out to get candy and was gunned down by a trigger-happy racist. Trayvon Martin was black and Zimmerman is half white and half Hispanic.
I’m not at all surprised that the race card was played immediately, and I would have been disappointed if Al Sharpton hadn’t said he was going to Sanford, Florida to help “see justice done” and Jesse Jackson hadn’t jumped into the media circus, looking for his share of face time in front of the cameras. That was as inevitable as the swallows returning to Capistrano every year.
I’m also not surprised that there are so many people rushing to condemn George Zimmerman. The New Black Panther Party has offered a $10,000 reward for him, even though at this time he has not been charged with any crime. Politicians from coast to coast are calling for investigations. I think that the only person who must love him right now is Casey Anthony – he’s damn sure replaced her as the most hated human being in all of Florida!
The thing is, none of us was there, and none of us knows exactly what happened that night. There is a lot of conflicting information coming out, some of it no doubt fabricated. The photos we are seeing in the news show Trayvon Martin as an angel-faced child. But other photos, which some say are not of the same person, show a much older, much more menacing young man. We have learned that he was suspended from school three times; once for drug possession (a baggie with marijuana residue in it), and for spraying graffiti on school property. A news report I read said he was also found in possession of several items of women’s jewelry and a screwdriver, which some law enforcement officials would describe as a burglary tool.
Critics of George Zimmerman say that when he called 911 to report what he believed was Martin’s suspicious activity, the dispatcher told him not to follow the young man, and that since he did, he proved that he himself was looking for trouble. A little over two years ago we encountered an armed burglar in our motorhome, and after I disarmed him and he fled, I was talking to the 911 dispatcher when he started coming back toward me. While still on the telephone, I pointed my pistol at him and told him if he took one more step I would kill him. The dispatcher told me to lay down my weapon and wait for police to arrive. I replied that the police weren’t there, and she wasn’t in a dark parking lot with him, I was. Fortunately for both of us, after I warned him twice, he fled. Would Trayvon Martin still be alive today if Zimmerman would have listened to that 911 dispatcher? Or would Zimmerman be the one lying on a slab in a morgue, if Martin was the aggressor Zimmerman said he was?
We will never know that. But there is one thing we do know.
Despite all the claims that George Zimmerman gunned down a child in cold blood, despite’s his mother’s cries that “they killed my baby,” Trayvon Martin was not a child. He was about 6’3” tall and weighed 150 pounds. I know grown men that aren’t that big. And seventeen is not a child. At seventeen you can join the Army and be taught to kill. At seventeen you can get married in many states. And juvenile detention facilities across the country are filled with killers much younger than seventeen years old. Ask any corrections officer working at one of those places, or the families of their victims, just how “childish” some of them are.
I know just how deadly somebody can be at a young age. I saw more than a few Vietcong soldiers who were only about fourteen, and some even younger. I was only a year older than Trayvon Martin myself at the time. Nobody considered me a child.
Trayvon Martin may have been many things, from an innocent victim, to a prowler out looking for trouble who found it, depending on who you want to believe. But he wasn’t a child.
Tags: 911 dispatcher, Al Sharpton, armed burglar, burglary tool, Casey Anthony, corrections officer, drug possession, George Zimmerman, Jesse Jackson, juvenile detention facilities, law enforcement officials, marijuana, mugger, neighborhood watch, New Black Panther Party, Sanford Florida, self-defense, spraying graffiti, suspended from school, Trayvon Martin, Vietcong soldiers, young criminals