George Zimmerman acted in justifiable self-defense after all when he shot Trayvon Martin in his neighborhood. A witness has stepped forward to confirm an account he earlier gave police. This calls every report of “cursory investigation” and “vigilantism” into question.
What Zimmerman did
George Zimmerman is a one-man neighborhood watch force. For reasons that no one has ever brought to light, he set out to watch his neighborhood at night, and did not get help from any of his neighbors. The Miami Herald suggests that he wanted to train as a police officer, but could not. But they offer nothing more than a psychological profile. No one has ever said that he applied for, and failed to gain, admission to the Dade County Police Academy. So the Herald, like many other news organs, merely assumes that Zimmerman is a “frustrated cop wannabe” taking the law into their own hands.
The police in Sanford, FL say that he called them sixty times over several years, always to report some suspicious thing or other that he had seen. The Herald describes the kinds of things he called in:
He pursued shoplifters and errant drivers with zeal, reporting pit bulls, potholes, children playing in the street, open garage doors and “suspicious” youths — usually black males — loitering in the street.
From the above, one can psychologically “profile” the Herald writer. To that writer, George Zimmerman is a classic “tattler,” and the Herald writer was probably the miscreant whom someone like Zimmerman was always around to “tattle” on.
On the night in question, Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin, just another “suspicious” youth loitering in the street. He called 911. He spoke to a night dispatcher, said that several break-ins had happened in the neighborhood, and reported what he saw. The dispatcher told him to keep his distance and let the police handle it. But Zimmerman probably understood something that the dispatcher would never have cared to admit. The police take an average of five to six minutes to respond to a trouble call, and that’s from the time that a dispatcher says that an officer is on his way.
What Zimmerman did next, might cause anyone to question his judgment. He moved in to face Martin one-on-one. After that, several neighbors called in saying that someone was yelling for help. One of the calls carries a man’s voice yelling the word Help three times. Then came three gunshots.
When police finally arrived, Martin lay dead. Zimmerman, slightly bloodied, said that he acted in self-defense. The problem that everyone heard about was that Trayvon Martin carried no weapon of any kind.
National and international media everywhere now assume that Zimmerman was, at best, an overzealous civilian, and at worst, a racist who scored a hit. That includes a reporter from The Philadelphia Inquirer who filed this analysis at 3:00 a.m. today. His conclusion: if the man yelling for help was Zimmerman, then he might be justified in the shooting. If not, he is guilty of murder and the police should have arrested him then.
As a result of this kind of one-sided analysis, the inevitable has happened. First, the man now holding office as President, Barack H. Obama, took time to tell the world that he mourned Trayvon Martin as if he had been his own son, before hopping on his airplane to fly to Seoul, South Korea. Second, the New Black Panther Party offers a ten-thousand-dollar bounty for the capture of Zimmerman. That is incitement to riot, false arrest, false imprisonment, or even murder.
A new witness
But now a witness has stepped forward to support Zimmerman’s account. That witness, who gave his name only as “John,” says that he saw the fight between Zimmerman and Martin. The way “John” tells it, Martin was lying on top of Zimmerman and was pounding him with his fists. “John” describes both men by the clothing they were wearing. He saw a young man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, or “hoodie,” raining blows on a supine man wearing red. Martin wore the gray “hoodie,” and Zimmerman wore a red shirt. “John” says that he yelled, “Stop!” and said that he would call police. “John” raced into his own home and upstairs to his telephone. Then, presumably, he heard the shots. When he looked outside, he saw the man in gray lying motionless on the ground. (And by the way: police said that Zimmerman had blood on his face and head, and the back of his red shirt was wet and had grass stains. That is just what they would expect if that story is correct.)
“John” told his story to WND and to the local television station. They were the first media outlets to report his story. Incredibly, The Philly Inquirer came out with its one-sided analysis, supporting Martin and the people now screaming for Zimmerman’s blood, after the account by this witness was available!
Did Zimmerman act properly? Maybe not. The police say that Zimmerman was going back to his SUV when Martin suddenly attacked him, knocked him down, and started raining blows on his face. That suggests that Zimmerman chased Martin down to ask him what he was doing in the neighborhood. He was taking a chance by doing that. Even a police officer does not face a suspect, or a “person of interest,” without another officer to back him up.
Why was Zimmerman acting alone? Probably because his neighbors blew him off. To say that he was an overzealous neighbor and simply wore everyone’s patience thin is easy to say. What is not so easy is to remember a time when neighbors looked out for one another. If break-ins had happened in the neighborhood, and Zimmerman still had no support in standing watch at night, whose fault is that? Zimmerman’s? Or the complacent neighbors’?
The news media have shown the grossest negligence. They acted, no doubt, out of a wish that no person, except a sworn and salaried law-enforcement officer, carry a gun or even own one. Perhaps they also wanted to get Florida’s legislature to repeal that State’s new “Stand Your Ground Law.” For whatever reason, they completely left out the report by this witness, though that witness told his story to the police that night. And they carefully built up a narrative that was sure to appeal to the worst instincts in our society. Nobody likes a tattler; therefore George Zimmerman must be a tattler. Martins’ family supplied photos of him, when he was clean-cut and smiling for the camera. The media then said that Martin was walking down the street, minding his own business, when Zimmerman drove up to him, viciously attacked him, and then whipped out his gun and shot him dead. The key: by this narrative, Martin never provoked Zimmerman in any way.
And now the nation’s highest-ranking law-enforcement officer weighs in to support that narrative, and an organization with a reputation for voter intimidation offers to pay someone to kidnap a man. Sweet.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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