I have deeply conflicting feelings about the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, the action (or lack thereof) taken by local authorities, and the ensuing media coverage and national outrage.
As a mother and, let’s be real, a human being, I’m both angry and horrified that this 17-year-old boy was shot and killed and his family had to go to such great lengths to have a full scale investigation launched. If someone’s life is ended by another person, that warrants a thorough investigation.
The evidence should be gathered, presented in a courtroom, and an impartial judge should render a verdict. George Zimmerman will have his day in court. I hope that justice is served and the Martin family will find as much peace as they are able in the aftermath of such a tragic and senseless loss.
All that being said, here is where my conflicting feelings come in: I find it troubling when a person is condemned in the court of public opinion. Our judicial system is in place for a reason. It is absolutely vital for bringing justice to those who have been wronged, convicting and determining the appropriate punishment for those who have committed crimes, and absolving those who are innocent.
The length of time between Trayvon Martin’s death and the opening of a formal investigation by the federal government has damaged the faith of many in the system. People have tried Zimmerman in the only court they feel they have control over. I get it and, to be completely honest, I have been guilty of it myself. However, this man does have the right to a fair trial for his actions on the night of February 26th.
Since the case became the subject of national media coverage, Zimmerman has remained silent. Until now. He has recently chosen to reach out to his “supporters” through the launch of his own website. Verified by his lawyers as legitimate, the site provides people with a Paypal link to contribute money for his living expenses and legal fees. A statement from Zimmerman on the website’s homepage reads:
On Sunday February 26th, I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage. As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life. This website’s sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.
Zimmerman goes on to say that he is accepting contributions due to his “forced inability to maintain employment.” The site contains several section including “The Facts” where he says he cannot discuss the details of the case, “My Race” which has only a quote from Thomas Paine, and a form to contact Zimmerman directly.The website also has an album containing two photographs, one of which is a picture of graffiti on the side of a vandalized black cultural center that reads “Long Live Zimmerman.” Each page prominently features the Paypal donation button.
Here is where I am not conflicted. No one forced Zimmerman into the situation in which he has currently found himself. Zimmerman made a choice when he saw a “suspicious” person walking in that neighborhood. He could have alerted authorities from the safety of his vehicle and allowed them to handle it as they saw fit. That is not the path he chose. A person is dead because of the decisions Zimmerman made and asking for donations to ease the pain of the consequences of those actions is deplorable in my opinion.
George Zimmerman describes the events of February 26th as “life-altering,” but for Trayvon Martin they were life-ending. Do you believe it’s right for him to receive donations to ease his financial pains?