Before February of 2012, the vast majority of us had never heard of Trayvon Martin nor George Zimmerman. They were nothing to us. They did not occupy any part of our hearts or minds. I do not love George Zimmerman and I did not love Trayvon Martin. They were but two of millions of souls you and I will never come into contact with nor spend one moment considering in our daily lives. Then, that fateful night happened.
A local story became a national concern when allegations of racism and profiling were brought to the spotlight. Suddenly, the President of the United States would say something as biased as, “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon.” This, the president of ALL of the United States stoking the already heating up flames of division in the country. Once again, when given a golden opportunity to lead, he divided. Not long afterwards, my second favorite team, the Miami Heat players took a picture with them all wearing hoodies. They were showing solidarity with the young man killed that night as if it were a foregone conclusion what had taken place.
SANFORD, FL - JULY 12: Defendant George Zimmerman (R) stands with his attorneys Mark O' Mara (L) and Don West (2nd L) during his murder trial July 12, 2013 in Sanford, Florida. (Credit: Getty Images)
From the moment I read enough of the information in the case, I called for Zimmerman to be prosecuted. This angered a lot of my listeners. As quickly as the president and the Heat and Sharpton and the New Black Panther Party pounced to say Martin was killed for being Black, many of my listeners were claiming Zimmerman’s innocence because he was legally carrying a gun. While the media took the side of Martin by only showing pictures of a smiling 12-year-old, many were backing Zimmerman by calling Martin a “thug” or “thief.” In fact, many sent me a picture of the rap artist, “The Game” with tattooed face and neck, claiming the picture was really 17-year old Martin before his death. People took sides quickly. I just wanted the facts to come out. The best way to do that? Unpopular as it was, I stood firm and pushed to have it go before a judge and decided by a jury.
I know some of you reading will say I have this perspective because I’m not Black, and I enjoy some sort of “White Privilege.” Reality is, I am color blind. I always have been. I don’t have to prove that to you, it’s how I live my life. I’ve looked at this case and have come to some common sense-based, logical, reasonable conclusions. Both men, Martin and Zimmerman, are guilty of misidentifying the other. Martin had every right to be in that neighborhood. He had every right to buy something to drink and some candy. He had every right to wear a hoodie and talk on his cell phone. He did nothing wrong. Zimmerman had every right to be in his truck. He had every right to observe what was going on in his neighborhood. He had every right to call the police when he saw someone he didn’t recognize in his neighborhood. He had every right to get out of his truck.
Martin and Zimmerman both made the mistake of assuming the other was someone up to no good. I’m betting that had Martin known Zimmerman was in the neighborhood watch, and Zimmerman that Martin belonged there, none of this would have happened.
Nobody has argued that Zimmerman actually chased and physically caught Martin that night. NOBODY. They said he “followed” or “stalked," but NEVER physically chased and ran down Martin. That would be ridiculous. Zimmerman 5’8″ and 200 pounds, Martin 5’11,″ 155-160 and a decade younger — do you really think he chased him down and physically caught him? Or is it more likely that after Zimmerman turned around and walked back to his truck, Martin came to him and wanted to know what his problem was? Did anyone in this case say anything about Zimmerman starting the physical confrontation? That’s what this case was really about. Who physically attacked whom? They were both mistaken. They both made bad decisions. But, who started the physical confrontation? If it was Zimmerman, he should have been convicted. The evidence did not bear that out. The prosecution did not make that case. The defense’s case relied on the jury believing Martin threw the first blow. It was successful in proving that.
Put the blinders on. Forget that the media calls Zimmerman a “White Hispanic” or a man who “identifies himself as Hispanic,” and calls Martin “17-year-old Trayvon,” or “Black teen Trayvon,” or “little Trayvon Martin.” If it went down as the defense said it did, then the verdict is correct no matter the race of those involved.
With that said, I truly believe Zimmerman should NOT have gotten out of the truck that night. I truly believe he should have followed IN his vehicle and waited until police got there. But, as much as Martin was allowed to walk down that street, so was Zimmerman. The dispatcher is not a police officer and can suggest Zimmerman not follow, but he is not breaking the law by not listening. Zimmerman was allowed to carry a gun as provided by the Constitution. It was not a stolen gun nor was he a convicted criminal not allowed to carry.
I’m the father of four. I can’t imagine the agony Martin’s family and friends must be going through. I wish Trayvon Martin were alive today. In fact, if I had my way, I never would have heard of George Zimmerman nor Trayvon Martin. Emotions are running hot and people are screaming “Injustice.” Anyone physically attacked has the right to defend himself. Instead of further divide, why can’t the discussion going forward be about healing this country to the point that we don’t make immediate assumptions about others because of the color of their skin — ON BOTH SIDES.
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