I’ve been drinking in all things Trayvon Martin for a couple of weeks now. I can’t stop thinking about it — stoic and unemotional George Zimmerman, healthy and round in the courtroom, while rubber dummies and paper cutouts represent Trayvon Martin who even now would barely be eighteen years old had he made it home that night.
This past week, the character of a murdered seventeen year old kid has been dragged through the mud in hopes of justifying his death. As a Mother, it’s hard to watch. As an American. As a human. And now I’ve seen the last image from the Travyon Martin tragedy that I ever need to see — a belly-up, eyes-open, skinny ankles-crossed image of his lifeless body still laying on the grass in Sanford, FL next to evidence marker number six, just after being shot through the heart by George Zimmerman. (Caution: Image is graphic and immediately visible on the page. Click HERE to view.)
“…I pray that God gives me strength to properly represent my Angel Trayvon. He may not be perfect but he’s mine…”
— @SybrinaFulton, Mother on Trayvon Martin on Day 19 of George Zimmerman’s trial for the murder of her son.
At 28, George Zimmerman carried a loaded weapon everywhere he went. Maybe it was because, as one defense witness put it, he has zero physical prowess, but regardless, it’s what allowed him to track and stalk criminals and young innocent boys alike through his neighborhood — not to mention willingly getting out of his vehicle in the process — because he knew it didn’t matter, at the end of the day, if he could hold his own against whomever he might come up against. He had a gun.
At 17, Trayvon Martin had smoked pot and texted his friends pictures of handguns. He got in to fist fights here and there. He spent the last night of his life hanging out with his Dad at his future step-Mom’s house. As he took his final steps, he ate candy and drank Arizona Iced Tea. He was a kid like most kids just beginning to explore the world on their own. He did some good stuff. He did some not-so-good stuff. But on February 26th 2012, he was just a boy walking home from the corner store who got spooked when a creepy grown-up started following him. Should he have just run home? Maybe. In retrospect, I’d say definitely yes. But it’s called the fight OR flight response for a reason. The same rush of hormones that helps us to escape danger prepares us for battle. Travyon Martin reacted to that rush of adrenaline by facing the person who was pursuing him. That doesn’t make him the aggressor. George Zimmerman initiated the encounter. George Zimmerman followed an innocent kid as he tried to get home on a dark and rainy night. George Zimmerman brought the gun.
Following this trial has damaged my faith in the American legal system. Semantics may very well stand between Trayvon’s family and justice. Zimmerman’s defense team has worked hard to focus on the concept of “reasonable doubt” in a case where the only true eye witnesses were the shooter and his victim, and his lawyers are good. In this morning’s closing arguments, Zimmerman’s lead attorney Mark O’Mara reminded the jury that it only takes a shadow of a doubt as to who was responsible for the fight to require that they acquit the confessed killer.
What happened here can not be okay. A young boy is dead for no reason at all. His post-mortem photo is floating around the internet while his killer claims it was “God’s plan”.
When George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin came face to face on February 26th of last year, one of them had a gun that was cocked and loaded. One of them followed a kid half his age through empty streets in the dark; ready to fire. Shooting a boy through the heart because he was besting you in a fight 15-30 seconds before the cops arrived on the scene seems to fit the malice and ill-intent required by the state of Florida for the jury to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, and yet the Zimmerman defense team seeks to set their client free on the technicality that he didn’t like being punched. Semantics, not justice seem to rule in our legal system, if this trial is any indication. That it was Zimmerman’s right on paper to use deadly force against a kid who was presumably defending himself from someone he could have only reasonably seen as a threat is perhaps the most disturbing thought to come out of this deeply disturbing trial. What does it mean for our children if adults have the right to shoot them for no tangible reason and get away with it?