The Facts MUST Speak for Themselves
Filling the 60 Second Gap in the Trayvon Martin Case
Here's what we know about the Trayvon Martin case. On February 26th, the 17 year old was walking home from a 7-11 in Sanford, Florida. He had a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. He was wearing a hoodie sweatshirt. His route took him through a gated community where George Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch captain. Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious person. He said he was going to follow Martin on foot. The dispatcher said he shouldn't do that.
Then it gets murky.
Zimmerman confronted Martin. There was a scuffle. Zimmerman fired his gun. Martin was dead.
This happened over the course of 60 seconds. There are plenty of gaps in that minute. Unfortunately, the public has done a fine job of imagining what happened.
Here's version number 1: George Zimmerman...convicted of resisting arrest 7 years ago...saw a black teenager walking through his gated community. He saw Martin in his hoodie and assumed the worst. He called police...opened fire...and claimed "self-defense."
Here's version number 2: Trayvon Martin was a 17 year old who was up to no good. He was in Sanford, Florida because he was suspended from his high school in Miami for possessing a bag of marijuana. Zimmerman did the right thing by calling police and confronting Martin. Unfortunately, Martin beat Zimmerman within an inch of his life. He had no choice but to protect himself.
I'm guessing the real story is a combination of story 1 and story 2. The facts were lost in the initial investigation by Sanford Police...and the real story won't be told for months. During that time, speculation will become fact. Stories and half-truths will be told in offices, restaurants, bars, and family barbecues. It's a horrible variation on the game of telephone. It's already started. Here's what greeted me when I logged on to Facebook in this morning.
WHY WON'T THE MEDIA REPORT THE TRUTH!1 GEORGE ZIMMERMAN IS HALF HISPANIC HE CAN'T BE RACIST.
Speaking as a member of the media...I can tell you that Zimmerman's background has been accurately reported. Unfortunately, the writings of one news anchor on a low-rated FM News station in Chicago won't be able to stop this meme from growing and mutating.
By the end of the week - George Zimmerman will be a member of the Klan and Trayvon Martin will be a criminal mastermind. I'm in the business of relaying facts...and there's nothing I can do to stop those two storylines from gaining traction.
That's not to say some media outlets aren't guilty of irresponsible writing.
My news antennae stood on end when I heard a news story start this way: "George Zimmerman says he's not a racist..."
Who said he was a racist? I'm guessing he stopped beating his wife as well. What a loaded statement.
If you ask me - the real debate should be about laws that make it easier for people to carry guns. 49 states have passed concealed-carry bills. What was the extent of Zimmerman's firearms training? Did he learn anything about situational awareness before he named himself the neighborhood watch captain? Is Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law overly broad? Why didn't the Police department conduct a more thorough investigation? Those are the questions that we should be asking.
Instead - it's turned into another racial sideshow...with everyone carrying their own grievances into the arena. The one good thing about the national attention is that it will result in a proper - and thorough investigation. Everything else is just noise.
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton don't matter. Don't look for some other crime in some other state as the moral equivalent to what happened in Florida. Trayvon Martin's reported high school suspension for possessing marijuana only matters because it placed him in Sanford the night of the killing. It SHOULD NOT have an impact his character. It does not make him a thug. Instead - check your grievances at the door...and focus on the facts.
UPDATE TO REFLECT THE FACT THAT I'VE HAD MORE COFFEE: After I wrote this, a few more items came out regarding Trayvon Martin's past. He was reportedly suspended from high school for having a bag of weed. The Daily Caller website obtained tweets from his Twitter account (the account was deactivated). The immediate takeaway from Martin's Twitter feed? He wasn't going to be winning any MacArthur Genius Grants anytime soon. In other words, he was a 17 year old. If we shot people for being idiots on social media...Facebook and Twitter would be lonely places.
Again, this case is not about race. It is about the application of deadly force. Police officers who remove their service weapon from the holster have to fill out a mountain of paperwork. Police officers who are involved in a shooting are pulled off the street pending an investigation. Shouldn't a "neighborhood watch captain" be held to the same standard?