Some time ago, Zelo Street covered the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who had been shot dead by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watchman, in a gated compound where Martin was staying – as he had on a number of occasions – with his father’s fiancée. Now the case has come to court, and Zimmerman has been acquitted of all charges.
Just to recap, Zimmerman, who need not have carried out his neighbourhood watch duties when armed, but equally was legally entitled to carry a gun, called the Sanford police and informed them he had seen someone acting suspiciously. The operator asked if he was following this person. Zimmerman confirmed that he was. The operator replied “we don’t need you to do that”.
This did not deter Zimmerman, who could also be heard on the recording saying “these assholes, they always get away”. Before Police could get there, the neighbourhood watchman became involved in a confrontation with Martin. Blows appear to have been exchanged. At some stage Zimmerman must have drawn his gun, because he then shot Martin at close range, killing him.
The Police interrogated Zimmerman, but later released him – remember, Florida has a “stand your ground” law, permitting the use of a firearm if the holder believes their life to be in imminent danger – and this is what caused the outrage across the wider USA. So Zimmerman was only arrested and charged later, and now a jury of six women – five white and one Hispanic – have freed him.
So now we come to the excuses, remembering that Zimmerman’s explanation – that he believed an unarmed black teenager was going to kill him – was accepted as justifying shooting him dead. Over at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, Tim Stanley, who you can tell as he’s a doctor, had already spun the story to justify Martin being gunned down, carefully stripping out a few relevant details.
The increasingly scary looking Ann Coulter took to Twitter to proclaim “Hallelujah!” at Zimmerman’s acquittal. Neither seems willing to take on board that it was Zimmerman who stalked Martin, even after he had been warned not to by the Police operator, and nor have all the right-leaning pundits telling everyone to “look over there” at the number of “black-on-black” killings in Chicago (for instance).
It was Zimmerman who pulled his gun, and Zimmerman who pulled the trigger. Right now I find it hard to believe that, had the black teenager claimed self defence after shooting an unarmed white or Hispanic man, he could have been acquitted. But what I find very easy to believe is that there are too many who will take this verdict as a green light to shoot young black men dead on the flimsiest of pretexts.
On that, I agree with Gary Younge’s excellent Comment Is Free piece.