Editorials

Weighing in on the Shooting of Trayvon Martin

This is the second time this year that Florida has made national headlines with a high profile court case. Earlier this year, Florida was sorting out the Casey Anthony case and facing national scrutiny. Currently, the media is obsessed with the shooting of Fla. teenager, Trayvon Martin.
The case involves George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator, and Trayvon Martin, and the shooting that occurred on Feb. 26.  With this shooting, the nation seems to be divided into two camps, those who side with George Zimmerman’s side of the story, which claims that Zimmerman was acting in self defense, while others claim that the shooting is a clear cut case of manslaughter.

George Zimmerman’s account of the story, as revealed to the public through his father and brothers media statements, claims that he, while heading to the store, noticed a suspicious figure moving from house to house and decided to call 911. The 911 tape reveals that Zimmerman was pursuing the individual who he described as wearing a “hoodie”, the 911 operator orders that Zimmerman stop chasing the individual , here it is unclear whether he stopped pursuing Martin and returned to his car, or continued his pursuit. What is known is that Martin approached Zimmerman, or Zimmerman approached Martin, and the two of them got into a confrontation which ended in the shooting of Martin.

Zimmerman shot Martin with a 9mm that he had a permit to carry, and his side of the story claims that he was on the ground being pummeled by Martin and after his calls for help were not heard he, as a last resort, he removed his 9mm from his pants waistline and shot Martin.

911 calls from witnesses do reveal that a voice is screaming for help. Martin’s parents Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, claim that it is Martin who is screaming for help, while Robert Zimmerman Jr., George Zimmerman’s brother, claims that he knows for a fact that is the voice of his brother, as it sounds exactly like his. Sanford police are calling in the help of audio and voice analyst to determine who is calling for help, as well as to gather more evidence from the string of 911 calls that night.

This case has turned into a media circus, with each outlet putting its own individual spin on the events that occurred that night. The original picture of Trayvon Martin was a photo of him at 12 years old dressed in his football uniform, this of course is not an accurate photo of Martin as he was 17 years old at the time of the shooting, or the photo of him wearing gold teeth from his twitter account titled NO_LIMIT_NIGGA. This was the first in a number of blunders by the media in an attempt to stir up emotional support for the Martin family. There has also been the release of video of Zimmerman entering the police station. This video has come under severe media scrutiny with different people pointing out that in the video, which is blurry at best, that Zimmerman has neither visible wounds nor blood on him. However, it is possible that he could have received medical attention beforehand and surrendered his bloody clothing to the police for evidence. The truth of the circumstances surrounding this video, like the analysis of the audio recordings, will be revealed during the trial.

With how high profile this case is, celebrities are more than willing to offer their input (and often stick their foot in their mouth).The controversial film director, Spike Lee, in what could possibly be considered his most reactionary and misinformed decision, tweeted the address of what he believed to be the Zimmerman residence. The address actually belonged to the elderly McClain couple, and they were forced to flee to a hotel in fear for their safety. The McClains and Lee have settled out of court, and Lee has issued an official apology.

Protestors all across the United States are sporting hoodies and calling for the arrest of Zimmerman. There were also a protest where Fla. high school students walked out of school and looted a Walgreens, which we all know that looting is the most efficient way of protesting what is perceived as a flawed justice system.  However, it is hard to blame people about their anxiety of this case, some perceive the crime as a hate crime, though others are quick to point out that Zimmerman was Hispanic, and also deeply involved in his community, tutoring black students, also his some of his friends, who are black, have come forward to state that Zimmerman is the least likely person they would suspect of perpetrating a hate crime.

Over all this case has opened up a dialogue on racial profiling, which is a positive thing, however, it is not even sure that Zimmerman was using racial profiling when he was pursuing Martin, as Martin was acting suspiciously by “seeking shelter” on other peoples property from the rain.  It can also be pointed out that if someone has a persona of a suspicious person it could also be because they are acting suspicious regardless of race.  In the end it is not for the media to decide if Zimmerman is guilty, but rather the court. And in my personal opinion it would do the entire nation good if the media avoided sensationalizing this case portraying it as a hate crime, simple manslaughter or self defense. Whatever, the ruling is, this case is sure to be historically significant, especially in regards to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which is what Zimmerman claims that he was operating under when he shot Martin.

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