America erupts as Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman is cleared of murder

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Trayvon Martin Protest – Sanford (Photo credit: werthmedia)

Civil rights, gun control, race ….. all in question here.

Travesty or Truth?

Tragedy, travesty or truth?

Trayvon Martin,
seventeen, black
and hoodied up in the rain
with soft drink and Skittles
he’d only just bought,
sauntering past The Retreat,
gated community in the neighbourhood
of Sanford.

George Zimmerman,
half Peruvian,
neighbourhood watch volunteer,
armed (!),
thinks Trayvon is looking suspicious,
calls it in.
“Fucking punks” said Zimmerman.
“These ass-holes always get away.”

What happens next?
A tussle?
Trayvon shot in the chest and killed.
Police bring no charge.
It’s Florida’s law of ‘Stand your ground’.
Civil rights leaders objecting and argue
Trayvon was targeted because he was black.
President Obama enters the fray:
“If I had a son, he’d look just like Trayvon.”



Police chief removed.
Finally Zimmerman charged.
Jurors have to decide –
a vigilante out of control,
or a citizen, cornered, concerned?
Second-degree murder or self-defence?
Evidence confused.
Contradictory statements.
Jury decide
there’s no case to answer,
there’s reasonable doubt.
All charges dropped,
Zimmerman cleared,
allowed to go free,
wearing his bullet-proof vest.

Protests erupting across the States,
peaceful, not riots.
Hands punch the air,
“No justice, no peace”
hurt voices chant,
then dejected disperse, disappear.

Civil rights, gun control
and don’t forget the problem of race;
a melange of issues at play
with nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.
Tragedy, travesty or truth.
You decide.

14th July 2013

Notes:  “America erupts as Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman is cleared of murder.”  Mr Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer, killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon on the evening of 26 February 2012 at The Retreat, a gated community on the outskirts of Sanford. The jury of six women heard testimony from more than 50 witnesses during the five-week trial; and returned a not-guilty verdict late on Saturday, following 16 hours of deliberations.  The verdict implies that Mr Zimmerman acted in self-defence, and was justified under Florida law in using deadly force “to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” to himself.  Protests broke out across the US after the verdict was released.  Meanwhile, outside the courthouse in Florida, about 100 protesters punched the air defiantly as they heard the verdict, chanting “No justice, no peace!” But an hour or so later, the dejected crowd began to disperse.


5 thoughts on “America erupts as Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman is cleared of murder

  1. ” Mr Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer, killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon …”

    Trayvon may have been unarmed, but he had been heavily involved in Mixed Martial Arts, bragged about beating people up, and it was Zimmerman who was the person who was obviously beat up. We may never know the whole truth, or Zimmerman’s account of self defense may be accurate. But we should know one thing. There was plenty of “reasonable doubt” that Zimmerman acted legally within the bounds of the law (and a good one) of self defense and no duty to retreat.

    That is all that counts in our system. If the jury can’t convict with a clear conscience that there is no reasonable doubt, then they should find the defendant not guilty. The reason is that we believe it is better to let a few guilty people go free due to lack of solid evidence than to imprison the innocent on shaky evidence.

    “Protests broke out across the US after the verdict was released.”

    Probably because the media “profiled” Zimmerman as a racist murderer for so many months that a lot of people believe it. Of course many blacks are so blinded by their own racism that they can’t look at the evidence objectively.


    • Thanks for your perspective. The Trayvon Martin case is obviously full of complex issues and it’s difficult to make judgements based only on headlines and limited reporting. One of the unusual aspects I thought was the existence of this law of “Stand your Ground” in Florida – is that the same in other states as well? If so does that mean that manslaughter is no longer an option open to juries there?

      • “One of the unusual aspects I thought was the existence of this law of “Stand your Ground” in Florida – is that the same in other states as well?”

        Wikipedia has an article and lists states that have some form of “stand your ground” law:

        It is more than I thought. Maybe I am not keeping up with times? 🙂

        When I was younger very few non-police could carry a concealed handgun anywhere in public. Now it is much more common and we have “shall issue” laws (as opposed to “may issue” or “no issue”). I have been sort of aware of “stand your ground” law becoming more common, but did not realize it was as common as it apparently is.

        Again, when I was younger, the usual standard in self defense was that you had to retreat or flee if that possibility existed. I wrote an article on that here:

        The fact is that it is hard after the fact to know how easy it was for someone to find a route to flee, to actually see it while facing grave danger, and most importantly the real possibility that fleeing in many cases is the more dangerous option.

        I think that a requirement to retreat or flee most likely led to some unjust prosecutions. Stand your ground laws puts a lot more “benefit of the doubt” to the defender, which is where it ought to be in my view. People should not attack other people and they should properly take a lot of the responsibility for getting hurt or killed if that is the unfortunate result.

        “If so does that mean that manslaughter is no longer an option open to juries there?”

        If you are defending yourself from the threat of death or serious physical injury and that results in death it is justifiable homicide. Manslaughter is when your actions lead to the death of another person and there was no intent on your part to cause death.

        I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the important distinction is the element of justifiable self defense. When I took the class in Texas to get a concealed carry permit the instructor was careful to tell students that you never threaten people, saying something like, “I will kill you!”

        Instead you might yell something like, “Stop, don’t come any closer!” If you actually – God forbid – had to shoot someone then your proper justification is that you were trying to stop them, not kill them. And you should stop shooting them when you have stopped them, and not continue to shoot them in order to kill them.

        Stopping is what you have a right to do. If they are killed incidental to being stopped then you are justified. If you shoot though with the real intention to kill and not just stop them you are going over the line legally.

        That is how I understand the legal use of deadly force in self defense. Exactly the same principle should apply to police officers too. They are not supposed to be executioners.

        A lot of people have serious problems with the idea of using deadly force in self defense. Dave Grossman’s book “On Killing” should be a mandatory read in my view for anyone who contemplates the possibility that they might be called on to use deadly force.

        The thought of killing someone even in a totally justifiable situation is appalling. But in my view it is not nearly as appalling as setting by and letting someone harm your loved ones which is primarily the reason that I own guns, and why I carry a concealed handgun in public.



      • Thanks for the clear explanation. There’s no doubt that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin so the issue revolves around the exact nature of the circumstances which seem to be unclear from the evidence. If it were truly self-defence and Trayvon was unarmed I’m not sure why he was killed – wouldn’t that be “excessive force” in the circumstances? If Zimmerman really felt threatened couldn’t he have just shot in the arm or leg to stop any alleged assault and wouldn’t that have been a better fit to the concept of “Stand your Ground”. From what I read I understand that the jury was not given an option of “justifiable homicide”, only “2nd degree murder” or “manslaughter” which also seems strange given your explanation about the differences – it would seem that Zimmerman should have been found guilty of either justifiable homicide or manslaughter. What do you think?

  2. “From what I read I understand that the jury was not given an option of “justifiable homicide”…”

    Justifiable homicide is not a crime. That is what “justifiable” means – it was legally justified. The not guilty verdict basically said that the jury could find no good reason to say that it was anything other than a justifiable homicide.

    “If it were truly self-defence and Trayvon was unarmed I’m not sure why he was killed – wouldn’t that be “excessive force” in the circumstances?”

    Not as I understand the law, at least in Texas where I live. The basic idea is that if you are in fear of your life or serious injury (to you, or someone else) you have the right to use deadly force. Of course if you do, and it goes to court, you have to convince the jury that a mythical “reasonable person” would have seen it the same way.

    Shooting a gun in self defense is not like in the movies. First off you are probably scared shitless and experiencing extreme “tunnel vision” towards the threat. Your eyes may be unable to even go into focus on the rear sight (an effect of adrenaline, I think). Trying to pick an extremity and shooting would be really hard – outside of Hollywood movies.

    Let’s say that Zimmerman had pulled his gun and shot Martin in the leg – remember Martin is supposed to be on top of him. Chances are that Martin would hardly even feel it. He could then grab the extended gun and turn it around and kill Zimmerman.

    I once was in an accident. I had a very severe leg injury and after the medics got me to the hospital they asked me why I hadn’t told them about it. My honest answer was that I hadn’t felt it and didn’t know about until they found it.

    If you seriously read about wound ballistics and real life stories of people in these situations you will find outcomes that are all over the place. Some people you could probably shoot in the foot with a .22 and they would fall over and die from shock. Some people just are like that.

    On the other hand two guys in Florida were hit a huge number of times with 9mm handguns by FBI agents in Florida. The wounds were absolutely fatal. That is, in a few minutes their blood pressure would drop to a critical level after they “bled out” but in the meantime, in the few minutes of life they still had in them, they managed to return fire and kill several FBI agents.

    This led the FBI to do a big study on the effectiveness of their then chosen handgun cartridge and eventually they picked a much more powerful one (the “FBI load” of the 10mm, which later became a .40 S&W that many police use today).

    I think it was just this year a woman was at home alone with a young child. She heard a guy breaking in. She grabbed a revolver and hid in a closet with her child. Eventually the guy opened the closet door. She emptied the revolver hitting him 5 times (missed once). He didn’t fall down. Still standing on his feet he asked her to please call an ambulance.

    People on drugs often just won’t fall down and die. Even shot through the heart some men can still kill you before they lose consciousness. The only way to stop a person instantly is a direct hit to a major part of the central nerve system (think head and spine). If you have to stop a person “now” before they really hurt or kill you the only choice is to truly shoot to kill.

    Most people who train others for this train them to shoot at “center of mass,” basically the heart/lung area. My son in the Marine Corps was taught the following drill with the M16 for house clearing in urban combat. He was taught to shoot the enemy twice in center of mass, and if they didn’t immediately fall down, then follow that with a shot to the head.

    If you are trained to shoot center of mass and you are in “tunnel vision” mode that is what you will do in such a situation. Ideas of wounding may sound plausible but in reality I don’t think they are. Not for real people who are not in Hollywood movies.

    Personally I don’t think we should try to hold people to unreasonable expectations, to flee in dangerous situations (where that can be more dangerous) or to try to wound an aggressor. In the real world with some really tough guys out there, and some on drugs, the reasonable choice is to shoot with lethal intention from the first shot.

    Just my view.


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