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Op-Ed: Remember George Zimmerman, the American man who shot dead a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, claimed self-defense and walked free from court?
George is back in the news following an altercation with his girlfriend. Florida police report Zimmerman was charged with aggravated assault after he allegedly tossed a wine bottle at her earlier this week. It happened at his Lake Mary home.
The charge though crucially involves a gun, though he did not discharge it.
He was charged Friday "for aggravated assault and domestic violence with a weapon."
He appeared in court early Saturday and was granted a $5,000 bond, which he posted.
Zimmerman's trial was costly but supporters raised money to ensure he walked free.
A day after he was acquitted we wrote "This man accused of the unlawful killing of Trayvon Martin is now free to carry on with his life, but you have to wonder how that will pan out for him."
From the start it was obvious Zimmerman would not be convicted. It took the police a long time to even bother to investigate the shooting. Pressure from others, including President Obama, forced their hands.
In December 2013, after he had been acquitted, Zimmerman turned his hand to art to make a financial killing.
His first creation was listed on EBay and quickly sparked a bidding war which soon pushed its price up from a starting point of $0.99 to almost $100,000. 108 bids were quickly logged for the painting, ratcheting the price up to $110,100.
So Zimmerman was not left penniless following the trial.
Multi-talented Zimmerman was now able to add artist to his neighborhood watchman and teen-killer resume.
The art work, a blue American flag featuring part of the Pledge of Allegiance was ironic. CNN reported: The 18-by-24-inch canvas features a blue, waving American flag with the words, "God, one nation, with liberty and justice for all" emblazoned across it.
But he had already been back in trouble with the law.
In November George was back in jail again when "for the second time he was accused of threatening a girlfriend with a gun".
Now he faces similar charges.
The fact he is allowed to carry a gun after killing a young unarmed man is strange to say the least.
Zimmerman will appear again in court February 17 and he was ordered to surrender any weapons until the case is complete.
A picture of two young guys and a female has gone viral and caused outrage around the World Wide Web. Why? The image features one man as a black faced representative of Trayvon Martin, as a Halloween 2013 joke.
Trayvon Martin was shot dead by George Zimmerman in February 2012 in Florida. Few people in the west will not know at least some of the story and Trayvon's name.
There was never any doubt that George shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon. The subsequent furor featured many questions though.
Why was George Zimmerman not immediately questioned and arrested by police? Why did it take the President of the USA to speak out before action was taken? How come George was freed? Does the case mean that in Florida you can shoot and kill a person and, as long as you claim that you were standing your ground, and felt under threat, you will receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist?.
Of course, it will help is the victim is black and the shooter white, or as in the case of Zimmerman a pale skinned Hispanic.
You may choose to believe that all of this has little to do with a black-face Trayvon for Halloween.
Certainly in the 21st Century we are complex. In some ways we are easily offended and in other ways we offend others easily and do not give a damn.
It is not that long ago a band of singers in the UK donned black make-up to perform as the Black and White Minstrels. All performers were white skinned but made up in traditional minstrel make-up. Black faces and large white lips -- offensive at the very least.
Times change and that is no longer acceptable.
But this story is about more than sporting a fake black face but rather about disrespecting the memory of a young man murdered in cold-blood.
Halloween is a recent event for celebration in the UK. It has always existed but until recent years it attracted little attention. Americans have long enjoyed playing the fool and dressing up for Halloween. Part of the ritual is donning wacky Halloween costumes.
If a Halloween face represents a fairly recently murdered teenager is that so wrong?
You bet it is.
If you need to ask then maybe you are part of the problem or a lost cause.
HINTV reports: In the controversial photo, the man on the left is wearing a gray hoodie stained with fake blood and what appears to be a black mask or black face paint. The man on the right is wearing a shirt that bears the words "Neighborhood Watch," and his fingers -- simulating a gun shape -- are pointed at the first man's head. The photo, posted by the woman standing between them, was shared on Facebook and Instagram on Saturday with the caption, "Happy Halloween from Zimmerman and trayvon :)"
They opt not to name the individuals.
The image was soon pounced on and has appeared on various reporting sites with many opinions expressed. The majority appear to be that it was a step too far.
However looking at the comments beneath the post it is sad to see that some people have missed the point.
"Xiao-Hong Yang · Top Commenter If people today were any more thin skinned, they'd have a resovoir tip.
Tshecomah Eugene Fisher · Top Commenter · CEO & Founder at Rockstar Games Exactly! The native community is pissed about that. But, do you hear about it? Does Johnny Depp have to make a public apology?"
Here is my take.
It is racist and offensive because the "joke" centres around a young black man unlawfully killed. It includes his killer. The events are in recent memory. The family and loved ones of Trayvon are still hurting.
Florida continues to send signals to the world that it is a backward, racist state. Floridians may not like that statement but that is how they are being viewed around the world. A state hung up on a black President winning the election.
Would the perpetrators of this Halloween joke be comfortable dressing up as a few of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary almost a year ago?
We all know what the answer to that one should be.
n that case why is it acceptable to deride a murder victim who is hardly cold in his grave?
As you sow you often reap and the three people involved in this story have found their lives under the microscope:
"The outrage sparked by the Martin-Zimmerman costumes has inspired acts of retribution. Posters on several websites have dug in to the identities of the three people in the picture and posted personal information about them, including their phone numbers, arrest records and past activity on social media. Since the photo gained attention, the three individuals in question have made their Facebook accounts private and the picture itself appears to be scrubbed from their profiles".
One word springs to mind -- Good.
Viewing the murder of Trayvon Martin and trial of George Zimmerman from across the Pond.
The UK wakes this Sunday to news that killer George Zimmerman has walked free from court. This man accused of the unlawful killing of Trayvon Martin is now free to carry on with his life, but you have to wonder how that will pan out for him.
Yesterday, before the verdict was released, there were tweets from right-wing nuts across the Pond alleging that protests following the killing of Trayvon Martin were not spontaneous but organised, which sadly says it all.
Rather than focusing on the unlawful murder of a young man those people chose to support killer Zimmerman and spout more of their race hate propaganda. Zimmerman may be a free man now but in the eyes of many in this world he remains guilty as charged.
In February 2012 teenager Trayvon Martin was spotted by security official George Zimmerman in a Florida suburb. George claimed that it was obvious Trayvon was up to no good but witnesses and Trayvon's family refuted those claims. Zimmerman decided to use a law in operation in Florida created to protect householders and the like when confronted with criminals - the stand your ground law.
In truth Zimmerman did anything but stand his ground. He was advised by police, who he called, not to chase Trayvon but he did just that. An altercation allegedly took place in which Zimmerman received minor injuries and Trayvon died.
Of course if he truly believed that Trayvon had committed a crime he could have shot at his legs, if they did really tussle, but instead he opted to kill him in cold blood. The north and south, right and left, blacks and whites of America can spin this story how they like but the truth is one young black teenager was killed by an older man who chased him brandishing a gun. If Trayvon turned on Zimmerman you have to ask "wouldn't you have done the same".
Colour of course has become a big issue in this case in the USA. As Zimmerman is of Hispanic origin and Trayvon was a black African-American it viewed as a race issue in the USA. Here in the UK both people would now doubt be viewed as similar, that is not white. Colour however should not come into the equation.
Sadly in the so-called Land of the Free it does.
If Zimmerman was black and Trayvon white would the outcome of such a trial been different? Would police who failed to act in this case, until backed into a corner, have responded sooner? Overall would there have been justice for Trayvon if he had been a white kid? Sadly most people know the answer to those questions and more.
Right wingers in the USA will now be waiting for blacks to take their anger to the streets of America, giving them another opportunity to put them in the place they believe they should occupy. What a backward country.
If protests do not turn violent we should applaud those who have felt this lack of justice in the USA and kept calm. However, some may say that they have a right to break the law as this case has shown that doing so in the USA does not necessarily mean you will be brought to justice.
Zimmerman's smug bloated face as he was acquitted at the end of the trial was a slap in the face for the family and friends of Travyon Martin, and those are the people we should be focusing on. They have lost a young family member, listened to a character assassination of him in court and parts of the media, and have found American justice lacking, if you have a black skin.
Source: US News
Related reading by this writer at TEKJournalismUK:
Character assassination of Trayvon Martin proves nothing
George Zimmerman re-enacts Trayvon Martin murder
Prosecutor claims Zimmerman wanted to kill black teenager
The trial of George Zimmerman, the man accused of unlawfully killing black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, in February 2012, is finally underway.
Even pre-trial it was obvious the legal process would be messy. In a clash over black and white, and right and left, members of the public have formed opinions, often forgetting to include the dead boy or his loved ones in their spiel.The facts have shown that Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, on the grounds that the youing man, in his opinion, was acting suspiciously. He later changed this story saying that he killed him in self defense.
Zimmerman was warned by police during the incident not to give chase to Martin but he ignored the advice. Had he heeded police warnings no doubt Martin would be alive today.
Both sides have tried to blacken the good name and character of the two men involved but none of that explains how law enforcement officers could initially refuse to investigate the murder as unlawful. Instead they tried to allow Zimmerman to hide behind the stupid Florida law of "Stand your Ground". We should not use the race card but it is all too obvious what would have happened had Zimmerman been a black guy and Martin been white, or as in the case of Zimmerman Hispanic.
The outdated law should be repealed and fast to protect citizens from gun happy fools.
Selecting the jury for this case took a long time. Zimmerman's defense team wanted to carefully select jurors who would be sympathetic to their client. In the end a female jury was selected but that may not guarantee that George gets an easy ride. The defense continue to call Martin an unruly teenager and worse, whilst the prosecution maintain that Zimmerman had a reputation for being over zealous in his work and gun happy.
Monday Zimmerman's defense team called the pavement, or sidewalk, Trayvon's weapon of choice, claiming that he smashed Zimmerman's head against the concrete. DNA evidence does not substantiate this.
Of course Zimmerman had his weapon of choice to hand, namely a gun. According to the BBC during Monday's court proceedings, "The jury heard profanity-laced quotes from a phone call to police by Mr Zimmerman after he spotted the teenager walking in the gated community, in which the defendant tells an emergency dispatcher: "They always get away."
Tuesday the prosecutor told the court that Zimmerman "shot dead an unarmed black teenager "because he wanted to"". However "The defendant claims he opened fire on Trayvon Martin in self-defence and denies the fatal shooting had anything to do with race.
The trial is expected to last weeks. No matter what is thrown up during the trial there is:
Related reading at TEK:
In February 2012 George Zimmerman, a security operative, shot dead Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was 17-years-old and George 28. In Florida, where the killing took place, a law on shooting in events deemed self-defense meant that George Zimmerman did not initially face any criminal charges for killing Trayvon Martin. The local police did not want to act and were taken to task.
The wrongful murder of Trayvon raised issues and became a cause. In the end police arrested George, released him on bail and a court case is finally on the horizon.
Friday there was news that next week Zimmerman's defense team will attend a hearing in the hope that texts and email messages belonging to Martin will be admissible as evidence in the trial. The defense want to use the items to prove that Martin was not the `angel` nor law-abiding young man many have painted him.
As already stated this case raises many issues. As a British writer it actually baffles me. Why has this case taken so long to come to court and how come so much evidence is in the public domain?
The fact that a murder victim is facing a character assassination before the trial of his killer is odd to say the least. In the UK if details of the texts and messages of a victim were already described in the media that would make them inadmissible evidence.
Whether or not they are allowed as evidence, the jury will know of their existence and their nature. According to Sky News:
They include conversations with a friend about fighting, smoking pot and being forced to move out of his mother’s house because of trouble at school, as well as images of a gun and what looks to be a potted marijuana plant.
Mark O'Mara one of George's lawyers argues that:
If they had suggested that Trayvon is non-violent and that George is the aggressor, I think that makes evidence of the fighting he has been involved with in the past relevant.
The sky report includes some details of the texts, messages and photos showing:
Trayvon blowing smoke and extending his middle finger to the camera.
In the text messages, the teenager tells a friend that his mother has told him he needs to move in with his father after "da police caught me outta skool".
"So you just turning into a lil hoodlum," his friend tells him.
"Naw, I'm a gangsta," he replies.
He also talks with a friend about smoking weed and guns.
"U wanna share a .380 w/ (blacked out)," another text message reads
Shocking or part of many teenagers lives in 2013? My 63-year-old law-abiding husband has been known to stick his middle finger up at the world, so what?
Mr O'Mara omits vital facts such as, it was George chasing a young man, after law enforcement officers advised him not to. It was George brandishing a gun which would make any person run scared and overreact when cornered. Trayvon may or may not have lashed out but wouldn't you? It was George who pulled the trigger.
Whilst the above slurs against Trayvon may not paint a picture of every teenager it is not an unusual view. In teenage conversations there are always elements of bravado as they bow to peer pressure. All of the accusations above are not illegal, except for those relating to marijuana but that may depend on the US State.
All that they prove is that Trayvon was a rebellious teenager at times, especially when he sent and received those texts and messages. Was he going through one of those testing teenage times or was he a `wrong 'un` deserving to be written off as a bad apple?
George was no angel either and, much as his defense may want to carry out a character assassination of Trayvon, none of those accusations justify the young man's murder.
Is the punishment of death for a rebellious teenager, a pot smoker, one who may have robbed in the past, appropriate? Any criminal offences committed by Trayvon, if they exist, would have been as a child. The USA may choose to try some children as young as 12 as adults but the legal age in the US remains 21.
Should the texts and messages be allowed as evidence? If they are do they make any difference to the fact that George murdered Trayvon? Do gun and drug texts and emails show Trayvon Martin deserved to die? No.
Justice for Trayvon is long overdue.
Sources and resources:
Related reading by this writer:
George Zimmerman re-enacts Trayvon Martin murder
Florida Unlawful killing Trayvon Martin
The USA is busy with their 2012 election. So much so that many other issues are being sidelined. Neither Obama nor Romney want to alienate potential voters. Sooner or later though the problems created by varying State laws regarding guns will have to be addressed.
Today as two of this year's most reported US gun crimes hit media reports again American's Right to bear Arms is under the microscope once more.
In February 2012 a young black man was shot and killed by one George Zimmerman. There is no question that Zimmerman was responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin but he has yet to stand trial. Since February those who stand on opposing sides of this murder have tried to discredit either Zimmerman or Martin. Trayvon was initially portrayed as a relatively innocent man by the media. After his death supporters of the man who shot him, George Zimmerman, tried to portray him as a rogue and no stranger to wrong doing.
However they paint it though his killing was wrong. Even if he had been "up to no good" did he deserve to be shot and killed by a "volunteer security guard". Zimmerman was told by police to back off but he chose confrontation actually following Trayvon. No amount of wriggling as far as we are concerned let's him off the hook. Had the incident not happened in Florida and Trayvon not been black the fall out from the killing would have been very different.
Zimmerman is due in court in October. It is hard to believe that almost 8 months after a shooting incident of this nature it is still not resolved. The family of Zimmerman have been showing up online and in the media attempting to clear George's name. Some have probably made matters worse. Through it all Zimmerman and his supporters have appeared to see nothing wrong with the murder of this 17-year-old man. Many claim to be god fearing individuals which is farcical.
Also in the news today is the July 2012 Aurora Cinema killings. In both of these cases the person who carried out the murders seems to be certain. It is the circumstances that appear to be cause for debate.
A preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing 12 people and wounding 24 others in an Aurora cinema looks set to be postponed. iIt is currently scheduled for mid November. James Holmes walked into a late night cinema showing of the latest Batman film, armed and dangerous. His actions and demeanour had all the trappings of a madman on the rampage.
The preliminary hearing will be held to decide if Holmes should stand trial for the murders. In other words is he sane or not. It now looks like this hearing will be put back till at the earliest January 2013. The delay is due to the amount of evidence lawyers are still wading through.
Both these killers left innocent dead people. In the USA many however do not view it that way. Some excuse Zimmerman saying that Trayvon was intent on robbery and therefore not an innocent party. That is far from proved and probably far from the truth.
Even if it were true though, since when has the punishment for thinking about committing a robbery been death at the hand of a member of the public?
Note: In America also today a man convicted of the murder of a 12-year-old girl was executed by lethal injection. He was black. CBS reporting on the case have this statement, "Supreme Court guidance says mental illness can't disqualify someone from execution if they understand the sentence and reasons for the punishment, the state lawyers argued."
Spot Zimmerman's injuries if you can
On February 26, 2012, George Zimmermen shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was 17-years-old and visiting the area. He had been to the store and had in his possession a bag of skittles. George Zimmerman was a voluntary security guard aged 28 and he had in his possession a gun.
Trayvon Martin ended up dead from a single gunshot wound after meeting with Mr Zimmerman. What exactly happened appears to be the crux of this case in Florida in the US.
The pro gun lobby support Zimmerman who it is claimed simply followed the "stand your ground" law of the State. Supporters of Zimmerman have been quick to ask for time to assess the case and did not want a rush to convict Zimmerman. That is fine and dandy but as June draws to a close the case is no further along.
You can claim that both sides have tried to discredit the other but on the whole it has been Zimmerman and his supporters attempting to paint Trayvon as the villain of the piece. Right minded individuals though must be able to see that it was George who was at fault. He was the person carrying the gun. If he had not been the scenario would have been different. Both or either could have ended up with physical injuries but probably neither would have died.
If Zimmerman had not laid chase to a young black man the outcome would have been so different. Mentioning that Trayvon was black has to be done as that plays a crucial part in this case. That will probably be one reason why he was followed. It is also probably one reason why initially the police involved with this crime failed to act. If he had been a white skinned boy there is no doubt that much to do with this case would have been done differently.
The latest news on the case is that Mr Zimmerman has been re-enacting the events of that tragic night in February 2012.
The footage was allegedly from the day following the murder. It was released on Thursday June 21, 2012. Zimmerman is shown with "two large plasters on the back of his head and with a black eye and cuts to his nose." These injuries he claims were from his altercation with Trayon. That does not however mean that they necessarily were, just that is what Mr Zimmerman claims. Unless there is hard medical evidence plasters on his head prove nothing. Neither do his injuries without firm proof of who was responsible. Even if they were from the night in question could it not have been Trayvon acting in self defence as he was followed by Zimmerman.? Is it only Zimmerman who can claim he acted in self defence?
Zimmerman's version of events portrays Mr Martin as a thug. He claims that Martin began the events which led to his death. The Guardian has a full report on the video released yesterday and Zimmerman's police interviews. His evidence is consistent with his supporters stance.
The problem is that there are no witnesses. There is the initial recording of the police call when Zimmerman was told not to follow Martin. There are his statements that a black suspect was thought to have been responsible for unsolved burglaries in the area and that Martin could have been the suspect. There is his conflicting statements which are more than a little suspicious.
Opinion: Reading the latest reports online has not changed our view. Zimmerman was the antagonist in this murder. He was wearing a gun and prepared to use it. Had Trayvon Martin been any old black kid from the wrong side of the tracks by now Zimmerman would be home free. What a sorry justice system.
However he was not. He was a kid with prospects and a loving family. He lost his life for being in the wrong place and at the wrong time. You may believe that this young man was the aggressor that Zimmerman paints but even then what right had he to murder him? None.
Till there is a fair trial there will be no justice for the Martin family. There remain questions to be answered and answered they must be. RIP
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog