Well, I may have just blown up the Internet. I never get in Facebook fights. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever been in one. I mean, maybe about which brand of spray cheese is the best for nachos, but not like real fights. I just spent an hour, however, analyzing the veracity of the photo to the left (part of it is fake), trying to uncover the motives behind the creation of the photo as well as the motive held by the person who posted the photo and understanding the reaction of those who defended the “media bias” they believe is happening in the reporting of this case.
Suffice it to say, the discussion surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting is racially charged, even if the incident itself wasn’t. I personally find the latter assertion quite hard to believe, given that it’s likely Zimmerman uttered a racial slur during his 911 call and that as protesters have pointed out, it’s highly unlikely that a white teen in a hoodie would have looked as “suspicious” as Martin did to Zimmerman. Additionally, it’s hard for me to swallow that those who allegedly want to remove race from the equation are the same people who create images like those to the left, which try even harder to paint Trayvon as a black thug who deserved to die – especially given the fact that the photo on the bottom right of this composite is not actually of Trayvon Martin. It’s the fabrication of racist website Stormfront.
Another composite of the bottom two photos you see above reads, “Many people are outraged that a white man shot a black man. There is only one problem with that statement; The shooter IS NOT white. So why the call to hate white people over this?” Though the claim that the photo of the kid flipping off the camera is Trayvon Martin has already been debunked on several sites, including the Miami New Times’ site, they note that, “If you’re screwed up enough to believe that a 17-year-old unarmed kid deserved to die because he once wore sagging shorts and flipped off the camera, then you’re going to keep sharing that image regardless of who it depicts.”
So let’s try to remove race from this case for a moment, shall we? Because even if the crime wasn’t racially motivated, it still seems very clear that George Zimmerman should stand trial. Here’s why:
1. Zimmerman has a prior arrest record and did not follow the order of the 911 operator who instructed him not to pursue Martin. It’s obvious Zimmerman saw himself as a vigilante of sorts, under the guise of the friendly neighborhood watchman. After all, what person in their right mind follows someone they think is dangerous? Zimmerman admitted on the 911 tape that he was in fact following Martin.
2. Yes, Zimmerman was injured at the scene, he contends, by Martin. And there are witnesses who corroborate that story. However, as TIME magazine notes, Zimmerman “refused medical treatment” when the police arrived after Martin was shot. If Zimmerman’s injuries weren’t bad enough that he needed immediate medical attention, how could he have felt his life was being threatened? Meaning therefore that the “Stand Your Ground” law would not apply in this case. Additionally, it’s worth noting, there are witnesses who say they saw Zimmerman over Martin’s lifeless body. “Zimmerman never turned him over or tried to help him or CPR or anything,” Mary Cutcher told NBC.
3. The Florida lawmakers behind the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law have said they don’t believe it applies in this case and have called for Zimmerman’s arrest.
In a piece for The New Yorker, Matthew McKnight wrote about how important it is not to “pigeonhole” this case by focusing on the racial aspects. He says, “Other cases that have turned on the “Stand Your Ground” law involved two people of the same race, with similar results: someone dead, and no one to prosecute. Florida’s law nearly enabled another tragedy to be swept away. To deal with this case fully and appropriately, it’s important not to pigeonhole the discussion about it.”
Comedian and writer Yasmin Siddiqui agrees with McKnight. She told me, as she too was taking part in the discussion surrounding the image accompanying this post:
I think for the purpose of clarity it’s good to strip away the assumptions and look at the facts. Before we even get to the race issue the problem was this:
An adult with an arrest history disregarded 911 operator’s command to wait for police and instead tracked and likely scared a kid into a confrontation. Out of this instigation some sort of fight ensued and the adult shot and killed the unarmed kid. Without regard to any type of race issue, *this guy should not be walking free*. A child is dead and an adult who provoked the situation is responsible for the killing. The courts can decide after an arrest whether it was intentional or not. I think that much everyone can agree on.
Except the problem is, not everyone does agree. Most people (3 out of 4, according to a CNN poll) believe Zimmerman should be arrested. There is a portion of the public that doesn’t think it’s any of our business how this issue is handled, and there is another even smaller portion of the public that is willing to accept the idea that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense. The Sanford, FL police have all but washed their hands of this case, which will go to grand jury April 10.