Tuesday, July 16, 2013


So I haven't said much about the Zimmerman verdict because I don't think I have much new to say. I don't think there was enough evidence to convict him (beyond a reasonable doubt) for murder but I also think it's clear that his actions and history instigated the whole incident if not necessarily the shooting (we'll never know how the fight was going or who threw the first punch).

From Martin's point of view a creepy guy followed him, got out of his car and approached him, and it turns out was armed. What society teaches kids is to not talk to strangers, particularly ones like this. Whether Martin could have avoided Zimmerman or choose to confront him we'll never know.

From Zimmerman's point of view he shouldn't have been involved. He called the police which could be considered civic duty if he suspected something (in the previous year the development had eight burglaries, nine thefts, and one shooting). But after getting the information the dispatcher told him to not follow Martin. It was Zimmerman's decision to get out of his car and look for Martin and while he said Martin approached him from behind, we'll never be able to confirm that.

Still there's no question that Zimmerman shot and killed Martin and that it seems to have been avoidable. It seems wrong that Zimmerman faces no punishment. I've always been dubious of a second murder trial under federal civil rights rules and that burden seems equally hard to prove here.

Still, Amanda Marcotte makes an interesting point, George Zimmerman Shouldn’t Have Had A Gun. "With Zimmerman’s history of violence, the fact that he had access to a gun and a right to concealed carry in the first place is beyond the pale...Here is some of Zimmerman’s past that has been covered up in the racist bloviating from wingnuts over this case:

In July 2005, he was arrested for “resisting officer with violence.” The neighborhood watch volunteer who wanted to be a cop got into a scuffle with cops who were questioning a friend for alleged underage drinking. The charges were reduced and then waived after he entered an alcohol education program. Then in August 2005, Zimmerman’s former fiance sought a restraining order against him because of domestic violence. Zimmerman sought a restraining order against her in return. Both were granted. Meanwhile, over the course of eight years, Zimmerman made at least 46 calls to the Sanford (Fla.) Police Department reporting suspicious activity involving black males.

Under common sense gun regulation, Zimmerman would have permanently lost his right to concealed carry when he assaulted a cop. If not then, then when the state granted a restraining order. (His retaliatory restraining order is further evidence of his paranoid mind set that should be taken into consideration when evaluating this case.) If a case is serious enough that the state can force you into an alcohol education program, then it should be serious enough to take your gun away from you. If, as the gun lobby claims, they are only protecting the rights of responsible gun owners, people who have a colorful history of irresponsibility should absolutely not have the right to own guns."

Of course, this is exaggerated too. I tried to find details of the "resisting officer with violence" arrest. I found, Zimmerman accused of domestic violence, fighting with a police officer. "In 2005, Zimmerman, then 20, was arrested and charged with “resisting officer with violence” and “battery of law enforcement officer,” both which are third-degree felonies. The charge was reduced to “resisting officer without violence” and then waived when he entered an alcohol education program. Contemporaneous accounts indicate he shoved an officer who was questioning a friend for alleged underage drinking at an Orange County bar."

I'm not sure that qualifies as something to take away his gun permit, or if it was taken away, if he probably should have been able to get it back some time after completing the program. It's the same with a lot in this case. The 46 calls Zimmerman made to report suspicious black people, not exactly: 46 Calls.

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