It was a dark February night in Florida. In a suburban gated community in Sanford, a black 17-year-old male named Trayvon Martin had donned his hoodie sweatshirt and walked to a local convenience store. He was then on his way back to the home of his father’s fiancé with his now famous Skittles and Iced Tea. This much of the story we know for sure.
We also know that neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was on patrol that night in the community of Twin Lakes, and that he had placed at least one call to the local Police reporting a suspicious black male in the neighborhood.
That’s it. That’s just about all we know for sure. The rest after that is a matter of whose side you are listening to at the moment. The reason we don’t know more than that is because we weren’t there. Nobody in fact witnessed firsthand the actual events that transpired next.
The supporters of Trayvon Martin – shouting from every rooftop in the nation it seems – are absolutely positively convinced that George Zimmerman gunned down Trayvon Martin in cold blood and without provocation. On the other hand, the supporters of George Zimmerman instead believe that Trayvon Martin attacked him, and that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.
The Liberals and the anti-gun fanatics began to gather in protest, while the Rev. Al Sharpton – who always seems to be around in these situations (when there’s press to be had) grabs media attention shouting about a cover-up, and demanding an arrest. In general while the black community was whipped into a frenzy, all we heard was the side of the victim. All that was reported in the press was how this “teenager” had been gunned down.
Soon there were protests. Mass gatherings of the black community, all crying for their lynch-mob justice. And of course the news media ate it up. Story after story showing the grieving parents of Trayvon Martin being consoled by a caring and sensitive Al Sharpton. Or Jesse Jackson. Or insert your ‘attention-grabbing-black-community-leader’ here.
The only picture of Trayvon Martin released to the press was 5 years old (an eternity for a teenager), taken when he was only 12. A bright-eyed, smiling young church-going boy who clearly listed to his mama. To look at that picture nobody in their right mind could imagine how anyone could be threatened by that. How anyone could gun down that boy like that.
And George Zimmerman has been nowhere to be found. Fearing for his safety and the safety of his family, they have all been in hiding since the incident. Because of this there has not been much said about his version of the events, other than his claim (laughed at and dismissed by Sharpton and his cronies) that he acted in self-defense. Absent any statements from Mr. Zimmerman to the press, the Liberal Left had a field day persecuting him.
It is important as always to remember that there are in fact TWO sides to every story. Only in the past few days have we begun to hear “the rest of the story”. We have heard that 17 year-old Trayvon Martin had been suspended several times from school. Once for possession of stolen property and “burglar tools”, and most recently for a marijuana-related charge. In fact Trayvon (a resident of Miami) was only in Sanford to visit his father while serving out his 10-day suspension for the latter charge.
Trayvon Martin was not a saint. He was not an exemplary student, or a pillar of his community. He was a 17-year-old teenaged thug who had multiple run-ins with the law, and had a troubled record in school.
What has been lacking from all of this, are the facts. While there were no eye-witnesses to the incident, George Zimmerman’s statement was that he had been following a suspicious black youth in the neighborhood. A neighborhood that had experienced several break-ins over the previous weeks. He stated that Trayvon had noticed he was being followed, and had turned to confront Zimmerman. Zimmerman states he attempted to withdraw towards his vehicle, when Trayvon attacked him, punching him in the nose, knocking him to the ground and slamming his head against the sidewalk in the process. That was when he fired his weapon in self-defense.
That was Zimmerman’s story, and while there were no eye witnesses, there were several residents in the neighborhood who reported hearing the scuffle, and then the single gunshot. One such resident reported running outside, and finding Zimmerman standing over Martin’s body with a bloody nose. They stated that they were on the scene “within 10 seconds of the gunshot”. The Police report from the officers that responded that night stated they found Zimmerman with a bloody nose, and blood on the back of his head from a crack to the skull, and that his back was “wet and covered in grass clippings”.
The Liberal Left would have you believe that this is all a lie. That this story was fabricated by Zimmerman to cover-up his crime, and that Trayvon Martin was gunned down in cold blood. Think about that for a minute. There were witnesses on the scene of the shooting “within 10 seconds” of the shot. Do you really think it possible that George Zimmerman (having just committed cold-blooded murder) was able to conceive and carry out a plan whereby he 1) faked a punch to the face by bloodying his own nose, 2) somehow cracked his own head to cause the wound there that the police later reported, and 3) rolled around on the ground to make his clothing “wet and covered with grass”, as the police report stated. All of this within the 10 seconds he had before witnesses were on the scene.
And now today, police video was released that was taken 4 hours after the incident, and in which George Zimmerman does not appear to have a bloody nose. The black community pounced on this as proof that his story is fabricated. Let’s not forget however that the police report states that the officers administered first aid to Zimmerman in the back of their cruiser. Also that 4 hours had passed from the incident to when the video was taken. Of course his face was no longer bloody. The important part is that both the neighbors on the scene and the police who arrive shortly thereafter reported that his nose and the back of his head had in fact been bloody 4 hours previously.
I will say again that none of us really know exactly what transpired that night. None of us were there. But in the past few weeks it seems that the only version we have heard is the one where Trayvon was a choir boy, and Zimmerman a homicidal maniac. The truth lies somewhere in between the two.
Here’s what I think happened. George Zimmerman was on his neighborhood watch patrol that night. You can argue the wisdom of carrying a handgun on such duty, (and it is true that most other such neighborhood watch people carry pepper-spray, or some other non-lethal weapon), but George Zimmerman was well within his rights under Florida law to be in possession of a gun that night.
I believe that when Zimmerman was following Martin (the 911 call tape of which has been replayed repeatedly in the media) he probably jumped to some conclusions about why Martin was in their gated community. These conclusion were fueled by the fact that there had been several robberies in their community in the prior weeks, and the suspects were reported as being black males.
Rightly or wrongly Zimmerman began following Martin that night based on his concerns over these robberies. I believe when Martin noticed he was being followed that night he turned to confront Zimmerman. I frankly would turn to confront someone following me as well. According to a statement made by Zimmerman’s father, Zimmerman reported that Martin had said words to the effect of “You’re gonna die tonight”. I believe that this confrontation quickly turned physical when Martin attacked Zimmerman, punching him and knocking him to the ground. Somehow in the scuffle George Zimmerman managed to draw his weapon and fire the single shot that killed Trayvon Martin.
According to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, you are within your rights to use deadly force to defend yourself if you feel your life is in danger – no matter where you are at the time. It is a terrible tragedy, and an obvious sadness for the Martin family that their son is dead. It should not have happened, and should have been avoided. If George Zimmerman had held back and waited for officers to arrive to question Martin, none of this would have occurred.
But the fact is it did occur. If George Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon Martin that night, he had a legal right to defend himself. To villainize him now will not bring Trayvon Martin back. Just as in the old west, when a lynch mob hung an innocent man in its fervor, so has the black community demanded the blood of George Zimmerman. Ignoring any other possibilities other than white-on-black violence, they poured the gasoline of their blood lust on the already burning fire of race relations in this country.
In ancient times when armies were at war, if a soldier committed a crime, they would turn over a drumhead to act as judges bench, and the general would pass sentence. Judgments were swift, and punishments brutal. It was said that if a man were “brought to the drumhead”, he was doomed.
The Liberal Left and the media would have George Zimmerman brought before just such a drumhead. There is even one radical group – the New Black Panthers (not to be confused apparently with those other Black Panthers) that have offered a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman.
And the likes of Sharpton and Jackson have been in their glory. Circulating petitions and organizing rallies demanding the head of George Zimmerman (or at least his arrest) with little regard whatsoever for the truth of what happened that night. The hoodie sweatshirt, Skittles and iced tea have become the new symbols for the persecution and injustices committed against black Americans everywhere.
Before we administer our drumhead justice, let’s all remember that George Zimmerman – like all of us – is innocent until he is proven guilty. Whether or not the local DA decides to press charges against him, (which, it is worth noting has not yet occurred in the three weeks since the incident) he deserves his ‘day in court’. Before we hang George Zimmerman and elevate Trayvon Martin to Sainthood, let’s at least make sure we have our facts straight.
You can also read my follow-up post, “Do two Wrongs make a Right?” — JB