CULTURE, CRIME, PASSING, Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman: THE VERDICT

The trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin ended in Mr. Zimmerman’s acquittal on the charges of manslaughter and 2nd. Degree Murder.

My interpretation of this verdict is simple:  No witness=not guilty.

I would have voted for acquittal based on what I read of the case while it transpired.  It is worth writing that I did not follow the case via CNN’s constant coverage and barely glanced at the Yahoo! News website.

As with the case in the trials of O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony a highly disproportionate amount of the public’s bandwidth was occupied by these carnivals of crime and media.

The sequence of events that preceded Mr. Martin’s death is a matter of speculation at best.  Juror B-37 on AC360 7/21/2013 offered that Mr. Martin contributed “hugely” to his own demise at the weapon of Mr. Zimmerman.  Even Trayvon Martin’s father couldn’t positively identify his son’s voice from the garbled audio.

“Profiling” is one of the salient issues in this case. My experiences in Allston in 1986 and in Back Bay, Boston in 1995 have unalterably convinced me that profiling takes place.  No, I do not think that this is because both of these incidents occurred in Boston.

However the “profiling” done by a police department is much different from Mr. Zimmerman’s pursuit.  Police officers have considerable training and are paid to do what they do.  Indeed, the police officer may have considerable information regarding the Modus Operandi of someone questioned whether that person fits an existent profile or a witness’s description.

However, Mr. Zimmerman is not a police officer or even a private security guard.  He was an off-duty volunteer for a Home Owners Association/HOA.  ‘Volunteer’ conjures up associations of altruism and devotion to causes other than self-interest.  However as egregious as the intrusion of a police officer may be one always has recourse against the police.

The Miranda warning, booking and arraignment procedures and all the phases of due process mitigate the power of the state to do its will.

Indeed, a private security guard of the type contracted from Allied-Barton, the Boston area’s leading provider of contracted security, is specifically taught to follow instructions from the police.  I was a residential concierge for Allied-Barton for 3 months and a residential concierge for Tillinger’s Concierge for 3 years and 8 months and in both of my stints we were told very specifically to follow any instructions from the police to the letter upon pain of dismissal.

A volunteer is unencumbered by management supervision of professional law enforcement boundaries..

My suspicion is that the veneer of a volunteer helping his community clung to Mr. Zimmerman and made it difficult for the jury to think of Mr. Zimmerman having malicious intent.

What is truly problematic about this case is that gated communities and “exclusive” urban multi-unit complexes are spawning a virtual army of private security and volunteers.  The security folks I know have been working folks making a living.  Many of them aspire to careers in law enforcement and the need to create a positive employment background mitigates the worst impulses of contracted security.

Additionally, Allie-Barton in Boston is known for dismissing employees for wearing the wrong socks so disregarding company policy is unlikely.

Volunteers of both commercial HOAs and neighborhood watch groups are far more problematic.  Armed with little training and less aptitude they attempt to serve without the training of police officers or the constraints of private security.

One of the questions of the Trayvon Martin’s death is why a Neighborhood Watch of The Retreat at Twin Lakes HOA thought it appropriate to allow Mr. Zimmerman to possess deadly force while doing his rounds.  (Mr. Zimmerman was carrying his weapon legally).

However this was not a question for the jury to deliberate.

My inkling is that Mr. Zimmerman is a cop wannabe.  From his car Mr. Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin who didn’t appear to be from the “community” and decided it was time to “step up” to quell the perceived threat.

A telling aspect of this confrontation is that Mr. Zimmerman was driving to the grocery store at the time.  He was not on duty for Neighborhood Watch of The Retreat at Twin Lakes, Sanford, FL.

Not surprisingly Mr. Martin objects to Mr. Zimmmerman’s “stepping up” and gives Mr. Zimmerman a piece of his mind.  Mr. Zimmerman goes back to his car and calls the police.  The police explicitly instruct Mr. Zimmerman to remain in his car.

Mr. Martin calls his friend Rachel Jeantel.  Ms. Jeantel tells Mr. Martin that Mr. Zimmerman might be a “rapist”.  Hmm.

Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman meet again as Mr. Zimmerman, for whatever reason, elects to disregard the police’s explicit instructions and a physical confrontation takes place.

From this point what happened and in what sequence is speculation.  The 2 things that are certain is that Mr. Martin is dead and Mr. Zimmerman is injured.

Mr. Zimmerman is taken into custody, questioned for 5 hours and released without being arrested as evidently the police take his version of the event at face value.

Wikipedia SHOOTING OF TRAYVON MARTIN Citation 68 “George Zimmerman: Trayvon Martin attacked me”  CNN 6/21/2012

I find it hard to believe that any police force would release a person involved with a violent death with such a perfunctory investigation.  Legally and morally a violent death deserves more attention than did the death of Trayvon Martin.

The apparent acceptance of Mr. Zimmerman’s version of Mr. Martin’s death without reservation marks the Sanford, FL police as incompetent regardless of the verdict that was eventually reached.

Mr. Martin’s parents were deeply upset, the case reached the public, Mr. Zimmerman was arrested and a trial was held.

I did not follow the case via TV or internet.  I cling to my 20th. Century habits and derive most of my news from newspapers and radio as these anachronistic platforms are less sensationalistic than TV and Internet news.  Even the BOSTON HERALD has more substance than CNN, FOX, CNBC…etc.

While the public debate over the verdict continues on CNN the public policy debate has barely been broached.  Gated communities and “exclusive” urban homeowner and rental properties will certainly continue to encourage volunteers to “protect” their communities in the face of real and perceived shortcomings by law enforcement.

Legal standards must be set for for contracted security and volunteers of HOAs and rental establishments.

Volunteers should not be armed.  Off-duty volunteers should not be intervening in police matters.

Thornier still is the deployment of legally armed private security.  Perhaps we are returning to the days of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN defending condominiums.

My brother Peter is an attorney and judge, albeit not a criminal attorney or judge.  this past Christmas we discussed the case.  Peter offered that “self defense laws need to be very carefully written.”  He added that “Mr. Zimmerman forfeited any ‘stand your ground’ defense when Mr. Zimmerman left his car.

Indeed the “stand your ground” defense was not legally cited during the trial.  If proffered this would have made Mr. Zimmerman immune to prosecution under FL criminal law

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/george zimmerman-stand-your-ground-def


On the juror note I think it entirely inappropriate for jurors to go on TV, the Internet or print media recalling the deliberation process.

Furthermore, TV cameras have contributed to the media circus atmosphere that we call reality TV.  It might be useful for TV to voluntarily return to the days of ‘Artist Rendering’ sketches to lessen the hyperbole and protect the privacy of all involved in the proceedings.

One would hope that these changes would transpire out of common sense but…

Is this a “racial incident”?


All of this is in the light of diminishing crime, especially black-on-white crime.  Indeed, our current era of black-on-black crime was heralded by N.W.A.’s STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.

The gentrification of many urban areas, Trayvon Martin was with his father visiting his father’s fiancee at The Retreat at Twin Lakes, the popularity of hip-hop, the electing of Governors’ Wilder/VA, Patrick/MA  and President Obama are evidence that skin color is not quite as conducive to stereotypes as it once was.

Yet, a visceral, physical fear of black guys remains when there is the potential for confrontation regardless of how the confrontation begins.

Mr. Zimmerman is one of these folks.

“Concerned neighbor” and/either/or “cop wannabe” Mr. Zimmerman turned to deadly force to resolve a conflict.  Everything else is speculation.

Whether Trayvon Martin was a “good kid in a hoodie” or someone who “played a huge role” in his own death as Juror B-37 said on CA360 is speculation.

The events of the very last moments of Trayvon Martin’s life are without witness.

On Monday July 20 I saw on AC360 the prosecution’s summation.   Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda described Mr. Zimmerman as a “cop wannabe” and then urged the jury to “look into their hearts.”

This is akin to saying that ‘the evidence isn’t very strong’.

Trayvon Martin’s parents are everlasting victims.  Our 24/7, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube digital world will have Trayvon Martin dying and dying again and again in virtual relaity.

The trial of the Trayvon Martin’s parents will be endless.

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