It’s difficult to establish a position in the Trayvon Martin case. Trayvon did not deserve to die; he had every right to be in the Florida community where he was killed, and to be angry and concerned that someone was following him. George Zimmerman, although guilty of “something,” does not deserve to be convicted of murder; he had reason to fear for his life, and legally carried a gun. These are the simple facts, and should be acknowledged prior to formulating any judgment.
George Zimmerman’s character was assassinated in the media. First, a doctored 911 tape implied he was a racist that shot and killed an innocent black youth. What’s worse, the media implied the police department participated in a racist conspiracy to cover it up. Despite mistakes in the side of the police, there is no evidence to suggest such conspiracy existed. Second, the Florida Attorney General’s office, out of obvious political opportunism, decided to charge George Zimmerman with a sole count of Murder in the Second Degree. Additionally, information was selectively leaked to the media that portrayed George Zimmerman as an obsessed troublemaker who profiled Trayvon Martin.
Debates about racism based on the Trayvon Martin case were aired 24/7, and at the end nobody doubted George Zimmerman was a racist who stalked and murdered an innocent black youth who just went to buy skittles. Even President Obama made a statement in support of the “racist theory” being attributed to the case.
Now, a different picture of Trayvon Martin surfaced. One of a troubled teenager who got into fights, was kicked out of his house by his own mother, wanted to own a gun, smoked marijuana, and saw himself as a “gansta.” All of these may be relevant in the case, because Trayvon’s perception of himself, and his personality, can be a good indicator of how he acted that fateful night. Furthermore, the new perception of Trayvon Martin is relevant after the horrific character assassination of George Zimmerman.
It’s important to point out that neither the obscene gestures by Trayvon Martin in one or more of the pictures released, nor the texts exchanged by Trayvon prove he was a thug who started the fight. Merely, the new information portrays Trayvon Martin as a teenager growing up in a tough neighborhood who had to maintain a reputation of toughness. Some comments in the internet question why Trayvon did not walk home instead of confronting his “stalker,” but anyone from a working class background knows that a teenager who grew up having to defend himself would have interpreted his flight as an act of cowardice. Also, let’s not forget the language used by Trayvon Martin is common among today’s teenagers when interacting among themselves, including the term “gansta.” Marijuana usage and fights are also common, and are not signs of imminent violence.
It’s disappointing that this case became so racially and politically charged, but without such publicity it would have been impossible for Trayvon Martin to get any justice. Equally disappointing is the fact that the prosecutor did not provide the potential jury with any leeway. Either they convict George Zimmerman of murder or let him walk. Based on the facts, it is obvious George Zimmerman is guilty of “something,” but not of Murder in the Second Degree.