Beyond Tea-Party Somnambulism!

The following is a presentation I made at the Trayvon Martin Vigil, in Salisbury, MD, on 7/13/13. The Vigil was organized locally by April Jackson, and was running concurrently with the nationwide Vigil.

Thank you, April Jackson, for allowing me to say a few words today, at a time when we are all mourning the senseless and unprovoked death of Trayvon Martin, and we cannot understand why there is no punishment for his killer.  I have been a civil rights activist, attorney and community organizer, for over 40 years; yes, I am one of those “old white men” we hear so much about in the news media.  But, I am also “an old white man” who stands in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the African-American community, who are still the target of outrageous and unjust comments, actions and persecution, even in 2013!

"Get over it!", says Harris.

“Get over it!”, says Harris.

“GET OVER IT!”  The other morning, I was reading The Daily Times, when my jaw dropped, figuratively and literally, as I read these words…the response of our Congressman, Andy Harris, to the Zimmerman verdict.  “Get over it!”

This was something I might have told my son when I was coaching Little League baseball and we lost a game: “Get over it, son; it’s just a game and you did your best, which is all you can do.”

Or, perhaps something the Nazis said, after gassing 8 million Jews, gypsies, blacks, gays, disabled and other “undesirables”…”sich aufrappeln” – German, for Get over it!

As I tried to digest that statement, along with Harris’ use of the word, “political”, in describing why the Justice Dept was considering Federal charges against Zimmerman, I became outraged by his insensitivity and his refusal to acknowledge the emotional pain of millions of Americans.

I, like you, was bewildered by the prosecution’s failure to secure a guilty verdict.  As a retired trial attorney, it was clear to me that Zimmerman failed to follow standard “Neighborhood Watch” protocol, which is to report any suspicious activity to the police, so they can follow up, and then stand down.

Instead, Zimmerman followed his own idea of what a Neighborhood Watch volunteer should do (he was not a member of any official NW group): “identify, target, pursue and confront. When he reported “suspicious activity” of an African-American youth, he was asked whether he was following the youth, to which he answered, “Yes, I am” and was then told, “We don’t need you to do that”;  his response was, “ok”, according to his 911 transcript, and he was told that officers were being dispatched.

Martin - killed, based on "suspicions."

Martin – killed, based on “suspicions.”

Zimmerman - "Not guilty!"

Zimmerman – “Not guilty!”

Zimmerman’s injuries, and Martin’s death, are directly linked to his failure to follow the dispatcher’s directive. Instead, without legal authority, and in the face of obvious danger, he followed, approached, confronted and killed a young man who was not armed (contrary to the prosecutor’s assertion that Martin was “armed with the sidewalk”) and who had committed no crime.

These weren’t the actions of a hero or even a moral person; they were the actions of a bully vigilante, intent on pure retaliation, with impunity, against “those punks who get away with everything.”

Young black men don’t deserve to be profiled, targeted and killed, while walking home, enjoying a bag of Skittles and a bottle of juice or because a vigilante’s preconceived “suspicions” were used to justify his adrenaline rush.

Mr. Harris needs to apologize for his insensitivity; this wasn’t a Little League game! And Trayvon’s family will never ‘Get over it!’

Comments on: "Harris’ Insensitivity Requires An Apology…To Everyone!" (3)

  1. “…Zimmerman had no authority to track down Martin.”

    I don’t know what your defintion of “track down” is. I can easily imagine that the followed Martin at a distance trying to observe where he was so he could point him out to the police when they arrived. He lost sight of him and returning to his car was ambushed. That was his story. Is it true? There is no way to know for sure. Just as there is no way to prove that Zimmerman accosted, confronted, or otherwise had any verbal contact with Martin before Martin asked him if he “had a problem” and attacked him, at least according to Zimmerman’s testimony.

    As I understand it Zimmerman at no time was in any place he did not have a legal right to be. I don’t know absolutely for certain how close Florida’s law matches that of Texas where I live. Both have “stand your ground” laws. In Texas there are key components to invoking a stand your ground defense.

    1. You must not in any way start the fight or have any responsibility in escalating it through words or actions.

    2. You must be in a place you are legally entitled to be (not trespassing, for example).

    3. You must be in fear for your life or great bodily injury to yourself or others.

    That is not the exact legal verbiage but it is the general meaning as I understand it. It is important to me to understand it because I have concealed carry permit in Texas.

    “Zimmerman’s suspicions were based on nothing more than his own biases and prejudices.”

    Again according to Zimmerman’s testimony, and the transcript of his call to the dispatcher, he was suspicious of Zimmerman’s activities in themself, e.g., wandering around aimlessly and looking like he was on drugs. I don’t call those “biases and prejudices.” I read that the FBI investigated Zimmerman for signs he may have done things in the past to indicate he was a racist. What I heard was they found nothing, and there is quite a bit to indicate just the opposite. He voted for Obama and is a Democrat. He had a past track record of speaking out publically against police abuse of a homeless man.

    “Was he a racist? Probably not.”

    We agree on that. I don’t see the evidence that Zimmerman, a hispanic man, ever demonstrated anything to indcate he was a racist.

    “Your argument that …presumes that Zimmerman didn’t initiate contact.”

    My argument is that there is no credible evidence he did.

    “We already know that isn’t the case, since he said he was following Martin and that Martin had seen him.”

    I don’t think there was ever any argument that Zimmerman didn’t follow him. The question was he right up on his butt following him, or following at a distance just not trying to lose sight of him.

    “Anyone being followed would try to defend themselves against someone who confronts them.”

    If someone follows you for a ways that is absolutely no excuse to attack them and break their nose and knock them down and jump on them and start hitting them. And again, there is no evidence Zimmerman verballly confronted Martin or followed him _closely_ as you suggest.

    “You fail to realize that the ONLY reason Zimmerman followed and confronted Martin was because he (Zimmerman) had a gun.”

    I don’t know that. I personally know what it feels like to carry a loaded handgun in public. It doesn’t make me feel empowered to do things like that. It makes me feel really, really alert and careful, especially of my words and actions. I am a subscriber to Texas Law Shield and I really, really do not ever want to have to use their services for real. I carry a handgun as a last resort to protect myself or my wife.

    “There is absolutely not one iota of evidence, taken on the whole, that convinces me Zimmerman was innocent.”

    You said you were a lawyer. Then you should know that is not the proper standard. You also know that a “not guilty” verdict does not mean “innocent.”

    The proper question is not whether there was enough evidence to convince you that Zimmerman was innocent. The proper legal question was whether there was sufficient evident that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    You should know that. I agree that I don’t know if Zimmerman is perfectly innocent. It is not impossible that his actions were aggressive enough, if know and proven by credible evidence, to nullify a self defnse claim.

    But the bottom line to me is simply this. They jury saw the evidence and didn’t find it sufficient to find Zimmerman guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. From what I have seen, and having been a juror in a serious case before involving a knife attack that did not kill the intended victim, I think they did the right thing. You should send a man to jail for the rest of his life because you _believe_ he did wrong. You should _know_ beyond any reasonable doubt that he did.

    Regards,

    lwk
    free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

  2. “Instead, Zimmerman followed his own idea of what a Neighborhood Watch volunteer should do (he was not a member of any official NW group): “identify, target, pursue and confront.”

    Only one problem with your statement – there is no evidence that Zimmerman confronted Martin. Zimmerman’s testimony was just the opposite – Martin ambushed and attacked him. There was an eyewitness that put Martin on top of Zimmerman flat on his back on the ground getting beat up by Martin.

    “Zimmerman’s injuries, and Martin’s death, are directly linked to his failure to follow the dispatcher’s directive. Instead, without legal authority, and in the face of obvious danger, he followed, approached, confronted …”

    The dispatcher was not a police officer and had no relevant police authority. Here is the relevant part of the transcript:

    “Dispatcher”
    “Are you following him?”
    “Zimmerman”
    “Yeah.”
    “Dispatcher”
    “Ok, we don’t need you to do that.”
    “Zimmerman”
    “Ok.”

    There is no indication here, or in any of the credible evidence that Zimmerman approached and confronted Martin. That is all made up and obviously the jury did not believe there was evidence for that.

    “Young black men don’t deserve to be profiled, targeted and killed, while walking home…”

    Any young man, black or white, is liable to have deadly force used against him if he attacks another person.

    On the other side of the equation there is evidence that Trayvon was:

    1. into Mixed Martial Arts fighting
    2. enjoyed fighting
    3. bragged about fighting
    4. smoked marijuana
    5. used the street drug “lean” or “syrup” of which the “tea” and skittles he bought were ingredients.
    6. had been caught with stolen jewelry
    7. caught with a sharpened screw driver in school described as a ‘burglary tool’
    8. was a racist (thought Zimmerman was a “crazy ass cracka”)

    Rachel Jachel also said in an interview after the verdict that she told Trayvon that maybe Zimmerman was a homosexual predator and she thought Trayvon threw the first punch, but didn’t intend to kill Zimmerman, only give him a little “whup ass” – her words.

    “I, like you, was bewildered by the prosecution’s failure to secure a guilty verdict. ”

    A lot of people were because he media so misinformed them of the facts. The jury however had facts and found him not guilty.

    lwk
    free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com

    • Thanks for your comments. I have to disagree with you on several fronts:

      1. IF you read the entire set of transcripts of the 911 calls that were made by Zimmerman and the other callers from the neighborhood, it will become clear to you that at the time Zimmerman made his call, he was on the street, near his vehicle, near the Clubhouse. Further, according to Zimmerman, Martin had run away, towards the front entrance of the community. If you read the entire trial transcript, as well as the police reports, you will see that Zimmerman shot Martin in a walking path that ran between two rows of town homes, so that they were in the backyards of these homes. That would show clearly that Zimmerman did not stay on the street, instead, pursuing Martin, at least to the walking path, after he reported that Martin had been running away and he (Zimmerman) couldn’t see him anymore.

      Your statement that the dispatcher had no authority to order Zimmerman is correct; however, it is also true that Zimmerman had no authority to track down Martin. Zimmerman’s suspicions were based on nothing more than his own biases and prejudices. Was he a racist? Probably not. But there are many non-racists in the country who still suffer from preconceived ideas and prejudices.

      2. Your argument that “Any young man, black or white, is liable to have deadly force used against him if he attacks another person” presumes that Zimmerman didn’t initiate contact. We already know that isn’t the case, since he said he was following Martin and that Martin had seen him. We also know that Martin told his friend (on the cellphone) that he was being followed. Anyone being followed would try to defend themselves against someone who confronts them. As we all know, IF Zimmerman had paid heed to the dispatcher, OR if he had really been a member of an official Neighborhood Watch program, he would not have followed Martin after his 911 call.

      Your further “evidence” of Martin’s lack of innocence (i.e. “enjoyed fighting”) has absolutely no bearing on the killing. Zimmerman said he had no idea who Martin was. Further, according to the autopsy, there was no indication that Martin had ingested any marijuana, alcohol or other drug, for at least 5 days prior to the killing.

      You fail to realize that the ONLY reason Zimmerman followed and confronted Martin was because he (Zimmerman) had a gun. He was himself, high on adrenaline, a cop wannabe, NOT an official NW volunteer and without any authority to confront Martin. According to his own testimony and statements, Zimmerman never even tried to let Martin know that he was a NW member. As we know, the first thing NW watch people are taught is to report suspicious activity and then AVOID confrontation.

      You have been misinformed as well, if you have not taken the time to read ALL the transcripts, as well as the police reports and statements, along with the trial testimony.

      I have been saying all along that the real issue was not that the jury didn’t make the correct decision, based on what was presented, but, that the prosecution, just as in the OJ trial, failed to properly present a case where the jury could come to a guilty verdict. There is absolutely not one iota of evidence, taken on the whole, that convinces me Zimmerman was innocent. Everything about his demeanor, actions and words, leads me to believe he was looking to confront Martin, because of his anger the “these punks always get away with it!”

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