Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Thing I Should Say

This will probably be the last full column I dedicate to the whole George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin controversy, but I feel compelled to add something to what I wrote yesterday.

Trayvon Martin shouldn't have died.  I know it's the easiest thing to say, but it's so true.  Zimmerman saw this young man, thought he was suspicious, and given his lack of training combined with an exaggerated sense of danger, didn't use common sense to determine whether or not Martin should be there.

I don't know George Zimmerman, but I know a lot of what he's like, because having done the security thing before, I know different types of wannabe cops.  He worked as a neighborhood watch volunteer in the hopes of one day getting accepted into a police academy and doing the real thing.  Zimmerman fits the description of the overzealous, hardcore, ax-to-grind-with-the world type of wannabes. Everyone they see is suspicious, every situation gets ratcheted up to a 9 or 10 on the "threat meter" when it's at worst a 4, and because they have cry wolf so frequently, they've exhausted others' alertness to their warnings.

If I were there and I saw Martin walking late at night, the first thing I'd do might be to keep an eye on him.  If he noticed me, I would have introduced and identified myself as a neighborhood watch volunteer and asked if everything was alright.  It would have been up to Martin to respond any way he chose.  He may have replied in kind exactly what he was doing and went about his way.  If Martin had rudely replied (or just plain ignored him), it may have given Zimmerman reasonable suspicion, regardless if Martin had no ill intention.  Remember, Martin wasn't doing anything wrong.

Most reasonable people would have exchanged a couple of friendly words and gone about their business.  If Zimmerman wasn't buying his story, he could have driven away far enough to not stalk Martin, but at least keep an eye out if he was someone with nefarious intentions.

However, if Martin viewed Zimmerman as antagonistic, he may well have just ignored him or told him to get lost.  Zimmerman at that point could have kept a watchful eye on him from his car and called 911 to report a suspicious male in the community.  The 911 dispatcher would have at least dispatched a unit to the complex and the officer would have patrolled the area until he or she determined if their was the possibility of a crime happening.

Zimmerman should have listened to the dispatcher's "advice" and stayed in his car, keeping a watch from a distance.  He was not "told" to stay in his vehicle as his critics repeat; he was "advised."  The dispatcher testified at the trial that they don't tell people what to do because it will incur a liability if something goes terribly wrong.  She could have been fired or the department could have been sued, etc.

It behooves me to say that Zimmerman's fault begins there, not when he began following Martin.  It's expected that everyone out in public is being watched by someone at any given time.  Almost all the time it's harmless observation whether it's by a cop or just another random civilian.  That Zimmerman targeted Martin because he was a Black male is troubling and is reasonable to suspect race was the biggest factor in him being followed.

Yet, it's important to remember Caucasians can be looked at suspiciously.  The key difference between the former and the latter is that the former is almost always viewed with some suspicion (especially males), that latter is not.

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