Although I have never blogged on this subject, I have gone on the record elsewhere that, given the facts as they were being presented, George Zimmerman is guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin…probably second degree murder.
I have never argued that he would be found guilty in a court of law. Given the facts that have come out, Mr. Zimmerman has the law on his side.
In an article in today’s Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, explains why he expects to get the judge to throw the case out. It will not surprise me if he succeeds. It will surprise me if the case goes to trial and Zimmerman is found guilty.
But Zimmerman is guilty. How? The confrontation between the two men was initiated by Zimmerman’s following Martin. Yes, the better response by Martin to being followed would have been to call the police. But this is where the concept of “white privilege” affects perceptions of the case.
Yes, I would call the police. Just about everyone I know would have called the police. In my universe, the police present no threat to me. Excepting one time, when I have been pulled over there was a reason for it. The one time there was not a reason, the officer, upon realizing he had pulled over the wrong car, apologized and sent me on my way without even looking at my license or registration.
When I was in middle school, I was out in the middle of the night with two friends just goofing around and the police showed up. We got a lecture (“a neighbor might shoot you by mistake”) and sent home. Not taken in, not escorted home, sent home.
For many African American males, the police represent something very different. It is not difficult to imagine that “calling the police” is not the first thought that went through Martin’s head.
To follow someone is to initiate a confrontation. Zimmerman followed Martin. He did so without cause or justification. He had already called the police, the dispatcher told him they did not need him to follow.
The confrontation was ended with the killing of Martin by Zimmerman. Zimmerman is guilty of murder.
Zimmerman will be exonerated by the legal process because the legal process does not recognize that to follow someone is an aggressive threatening act.
An Indiana judge recently demonstrated that being followed is a frightening experience.