by James J. Devine
A Florida jury on Saturday acquitted George Zimmerman, who had shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager who was returning home from a trip to buy some candy on the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida.
“We are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken,” said President Obama in a statement posted on the White House web site.
After Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed child, he became the beneficiary of an attempt to assassinate his victim’s character.
Martin was a 17-year-old African American high school student who had never been charged with any crime and did not have a juvenile record.
By contrast, Zimmerman was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest in 2005, and the same year his ex-fiance filed a complaint alleging domestic violence and won a restraining order against him.
Blaming the police for mishandling the Travyon Martin case, criticizing the general failure of America to value human life and condemning the hyper-partisan politican environment in the nation are all sound and realistic responses to this tragedy but none are enough.
On the evening of February 26, 2012, Zimmerman observed Martin as he returned home from a nearby 7-Eleven store carrying a bag of Skittles and a container of iced tea.
Trayvon, a junior at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School in Miami, was speaking with his girlfriend, Rachel Jeantel, at the time of the confrontation, and she testified that he told her that a “creepy-ass cracker” was following him.
Zimmerman called the Sanford police and stated, “We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy.” On the recording of that call, Zimmerman is heard saying, “these assholes, they always get away.”
About two minutes into the call, Zimmerman opened his car door an followed Martin but the dispatcher instructed him to stop, saying, “We don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman ended the call at 7:15 p.m. and within minutes, the unarmed teenager was dead.
Paramedics from Sanford Fire and Rescue arrived and continued CPR, finally declaring Martin dead at 7:30 p.m.
One eye-witness statement given the night of the shooting describes “a black male, wearing a dark colored ‘hoodie’ on top of a white or Hispanic male who was yelling for help.”
While the teenager may have gained a momentary advantage while fighting against his attacker, it was Zimmerman — an adult armed with a handgun — who made the decision to stalk an innocent American citizen in a manner that turned into a violent confrontation and an unnecessary, senseless death.
One of the people involved was an adult, who was told by authorities not to follow the other person, who was a child innocently returning from a trip to the candy store.
Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense is a hollow excuse and his acquittal is a disgrace to American justice. He put himself in a situation that resulted in the death of a child, and he was found not guilty… but he is certainly not innocent.
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