Only First Base: Trayvon Martin and a Decision Not Made Lightly

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About Nick Florest

Nick Florest is an educator, writer, hip-hop artist, and host of "Rise Up Radio," a youth issues-based radio show that airs weekly on Fridays from 7pm-8pm EST on WBAI 99.5 FM and proud Brooklyn native. You can follow him on Twitter @VaryusWaise.

Comments

  1. What would you imagine there would be in a Trayvon Martin law? How would it fit in with equal justice?

    • The way I see it is that it would involve immediate investigation from city and state, and if need be, federal officials and charges that actually match the crime committed. Too many times, charges against offenders in cases like these don’t match the crime.

      For police officers in particular, I would want it to include permanent revocation of their gun license and use of firearms for their natural life, as well as indefinite termination and involvement in any and all law enforcement agencies.

      Lastly, media and/or law enforcement officials are NOT allowed to use or publish the victim’s or any members of the victim’s family criminal record until after at least a year has passed after the trial has concluded.

      A mouthful, I know…

      • Since public pressured forced authorities to act in the case of Trayvon Martin, other cases are now receiving more attention and according justice to them.

        http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/03/3590746/trayvon-martin-case-spurs-other.html

        Grand juries are being convened, investigations undertaken, charges, arrests, and all manner of actions which regrettably were not pursued prior to the Trayvon Martin case — but now something’s been done, albeit slowly, painfully. But I’m just glad to see something be done to reverse the injustices borne by so many.

        Again, this isn’t about justice = guilty, but about justice = justice.

  2. Dorine Moore says:

    Beautifully written article. Thank you.

  3. It’s clear that you’ve lost objectivity and are allowing your emotions to rule you. You admit as much by talking about your heart speeding up and your fists clenching.

    As a result, it’s difficult to believe that you would actually recognize “truly fair and equal justice” because you need objectivity in order to see those things.

    • Mike,

      You missed the part in the article where I stated that I could track my life through these various assaults and murders of people who look like me which is why objectivity is nonexistent for me. Any one of those people could have been me simply because of the way I look and those who would’ve done me harm would have gotten away with it. The proof is in the history of beatings and killings of African-Americans.

      As a result, it’s difficult to believe that I can recognize “truly fair and equal justice” not because of my emotions, but because I don’t know what it looks like since people like me don’t receive it.

      • Mike L says:

        Nick,

        I don’t understand your point. You seem to be admitting that you don’t believe you can recognize “truly fair and equal justice.”

        If you can’t recognize what justice is and is not, then how can I believe that you are looking for it in this case? From your comments, it’s not clear to me that you aren’t simply looking for vengeance.

        As for the whole “people like me don’t receive it,” that’s the emotion talking. You mention several names that were made media splashes over the years. But go to your local courthouse and watch some proceedings. Justice happens all the time for all groups of people. We only hide behind celebrity when we want to confirm beliefs we already have; instead we should be challenging our own views to see if they match reality.

        • Mike L, you said “You mention several names that were made media splashes over the years”. Those are not splashes, they are a microcosm of what it looks like for Black Men everyday at the courthouse or in jail. Visit any of those places to see that. Example: white people smoke more weed but black people get picked up for it more. Why because of stop and & frisk laws that police use to profile blacks and latinos. Sure some white people get stopped and frisked but not to the extent that black people do.

          Mike, do you wake up in the morning hoping that your son will return home safe from school or wherever? My mother has two sons and I, two brothers and if they go out at we don’t sleep well till they come back. I walk into a store and get followed while I watch a white girl shoplift in the next aisle. I kid you not.

          So whatever Nick is feeling is real. He can recognize what justice SHOULD look like cause he’s seen what it HASN’T looked like.

          You have a different reality than we do Mike and that’s okay.

          What isn’t okay is to tell us how to feel based on the lens in which you view life. We do not experience it in the same way whatsoever.

          • Mike L says:

            “What isn’t okay is to tell us how to feel based on the lens in which you view life. We do not experience it in the same way whatsoever.”

            You say this, but that’s the same thing you are trying to do.

            We’re both human and there’s no guarantee that your reality is the objective one, and mine is the subjective one, and the same goes for Nick. We ALL need to recognize that we could be completely wrong. And part of that means that questions like “was this murder?” or “Did the authorities act appropriately?” just cannot be answered at this point.

            But Nick is letting his emotions run him, and he is calling out for vengeance without all the information. That sort of behavior should be discouraged whenever possible. I’m not denying his emotions, I’m asking him to not let them control him.

            • When did anyone say anything about vengence?

              Also, I’m saying that your POV is the normative majority b/c it’s white. Anything else is always challenged as different. This is not fitting with your normative POV but it’s just as valid.

            • Mike L says:

              TK,

              I still think you don’t understand my point. I’m not saying the “non-normative” POV is any less valid than the “normative” one. You keep putting those words in my mouth, and that’s never what I’ve said.

              I’m saying that BOTH points of view of likely to be subjective, and so BOTH points of view are likely to be wrong. The reality probably exists somewhere in the middle.

              The “normative” viewpoint certainly isn’t correct, but that doesn’t mean the alternative is automatically correct either. We need to question BOTH.

              Nick seems happy to question the “normative” viewpoint, but then he justifies his own, instead of questioning it as well.

              As for vengeance, I don’t know what else to call what Nick seems to be asking for. He clearly wants a conviction (he uses words like “murder”), when we haven’t seen all the evidence yet. When someone wants to see punishment before they have seen all the facts, that usually indicates a desire for revenge rather than a desire for justice. This might be unfair on my part, but you have to admit that making up your mind without all the information (i.e. police reports, medical reports, witness statements, none of which are publicly available yet) is extremely problematic.

        • Mike,

          To make it clear and basically summarize the whole point of the article: I don’t believe in fair and equal justice, at least I didn’t prior to this case.

          I’m not going to my local courthouse to watch people fight traffic tickets and public pissing violations and calling that justice. African-Americans make up 25% of the world’s prison population while only composing 13% of the world’s population. What part of justice is that?

  4. Dorine Moore says:

    Feeling powerful emotions, and acknowledging them, is not the same as being ruled by them. The author’s honest sharing gives us insight into the anxiety, anger, sadness, and resignation that many in our country have come to feel as a result of repeated injustice. To argue whether or not he can be “objective” is to miss the point of the article. It was not a persuasive essay as to the guilt of Zimmerman; it is a story of renewed (but cautious) optimism about the possibility of justice for all.

    • Thank you Dorine for being the only person so far that hasn’t judged Nick for having feelings and hoping for a better world for young Black men (& women). One will never know how it feels to hear news like this every few days and know that justice will not be served. It hurts every day.

      Every damn day.

      • Mike L says:

        TK,

        You don’t seem to understand. Once you say “…and know that justice will not be served.” There’s no reason to take your opinion seriously.

        You’ve clearly made up your mind about guilt and innocence when there’s yet to be a public trial, and none of us have seen all the facts yet.

        Why should I listen to someone who isn’t interested in actually getting to the truth?

        • It doesn’t matter if I made up my mind or not.

          What matters is that you will never know how it feels to wake up and be Black. I can’t explain enough why I feel what I feel because you never had this life experience so you can’t see it from my POV.

          We can’t get to the truth is everyone pretends that Black feelings/pov/perceptions are over-reactions and simply not real. One could say you’re looking at life through rose colored glasses due to your privlege. Which no one counters because white culture is the normative in America.

          I’m glad that this is being discussed and challenged.

          Oh and btw, (not to you Mike- but in general) saying you’re “color blind” or we need to discuss this without race” is just as ridiculous because it exists and people love to try and erase the issue by saying they are color blind.

          • Mike L says:

            TK,

            Again, you claim that I am “wearing rose colored glasses” but your viewpoint is every bit as subjective as mine.

            We need evidence because without it there is no way to tell if your view is closer to the objective truth, or if my view is closer to the objective truth.

            What you do not seem to be acknowledging is that what you call “Black feelings/pov/perceptions” really can be every bit as biased as those held by white people with lots of privilege. Lacking privilege does not grant you a magic ability to see the objective truth.

            Go ahead and challenge what you call “white culture” but please recognize that your own views are subject to the exact same criticisms.

  5. “Truly fair and equal justice” will only occur when we can have this conversation without recognition of the color of skin, but more about the facts of the case. At this point, the topic of race and color of skin have far exceeded the conversation of the actual facts (painstakingly slow to be revealed). I appreciate your comment about not engaging in the “public outcry,” as that will likely do as much damage to race relations as a not-guilty verdict. Example: young black men beating a white man “for Trayvon.” The African-American community needs to also be publicly outraged about those things as well.

    • I respectfully disagree. It took 45 days just to get a charge against Zimmerman for murdering a young boy after all the evidence came out immediately following that Trayvon was NOT the instigator in the case. We have no plausible witnesses to any fight, Skittles and iced tea as a “weapon” and oh yes, the taped phone calls to 911 that Zimmerman made where he blatantly ignored protocol and as a result, killed a young boy.

      The reason why justice doesn’t occur is because we keep side-stepping conversations of race where guilt will have to be admitted on all parts because we can come to a sensible solution, both in the legislative sense and socially. It’s difficult for African-Americans to be publicly outraged at the young men who beat the White man “for Trayvon” because it’s absolutely ridiculous the amount hoops and obstacles we have to go through just for a case to go to a courtroom. And after seeing, cops and others get off with nothing more than just a slap on the wrist as punishment (Mehserle only served a year for killing Oscar Grant) for those young men assaulting that White man was ‘justice’ in its truest form.

      This is what happens when we try to avoid a cancer like racism. It spreads and infects other parts of our society and it’s long overdue that we remove the tutor.

      We need to really come to a place beyond dialogue for real change to happen, Baker. Plain and simple. I’ve seen too many Trayvon

      • Mike L says:

        Nick,

        Respectfully, the statement ” all the evidence came out immediately” is simply untrue. We’ve never seen most of the police reports. We also know that Zimmerman received some level of medical examination which would prove, or disprove, his story about being attacked. We’ve never seen this evidence either. There are witnesses, and we’ve yet to see testimony. I don’t know what happened, but I’m 100% certain that you don’t have enough information to know either (unless you somehow have access to medical reports, police reports, and witness statements, none of which have been made public yet).

        The authorities involved did have all of this information, and they likely didn’t rush to bring charges because it wasn’t as cut and dry as your comments keep trying to make it seem.

        Until we know the truth, it’s impossible to say what is and isn’t “justice.”

      • Actually, we have a lot of the facts about this case. We know Zimmerman pursued Martin against instructions. We know witness were pressured to change their testimony by officers. We know that the funeral director stated Martin’s body exhibited no signs consistent with a life-and-death struggle. We know that police reports were altered after-the-fact. We know that Zimmerman potentially lied, either in court, or during the 911 call regarding Martin’s age. We know almost as much about the case as anyone else. See here for more facts: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/03/18/446768/what-everyone-should-know-about-about-trayvon-martin-1995-2012/?mobile=nc

        And allow me to provide a counter to the claim that the authorities were justified in mishandling this case, from Columbia Law Professor Patricia J. Williams:

        “Here’s the relevant text of Florida Statutes Chapter 776: “A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: … He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.” Any person who does have such reasonable apprehension is “immune from criminal prosecution and civil action.” However, this immunity is not available to one who “initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself.” Thus framed, the issues are relatively simple: Was Zimmerman’s belief that his life was in danger a reasonable one? Was his admitted pursuit of Martin “necessary to defend himself”? And did his admitted initiation of the encounter provoke use of force by Martin? These are questions of fact, now properly before a court of law.”

        She also wrote, in her article for The Nation,

        “Police failed to follow the most basic procedures for a homicide investigation: Zimmerman was never tested for drugs or alcohol, while Martin’s body was. After sticking him in the morgue, there was no attempt to identify Martin or to notify his family. This was not just sloppy and unprofessional; it flouted basic tenets of our jurisprudence. The police’s facile conclusion that there was nothing to contradict Zimmerman’s account is explicable only on one of two grounds: either they blindly deferred to the word of the confessed killer and thus abandoned any adherence to a community standard; or they instinctively shared Zimmerman’s vision, establishing being frightened to death by a young black man as a reasonable community norm. ”

        These are facts. Sadly, they do not console those of us touched by this incident, yet thankfully they neither console racists who’d love nothing better than for Zimmerman to be exonerated for 2nd degree murder.

        A commenter wrote, We’re both human and there’s no guarantee that your reality is the objective one, and mine is the subjective one, and the same goes for Nick. We ALL need to recognize that we could be completely wrong. And part of that means that questions like “was this murder?” or “Did the authorities act appropriately?” just cannot be answered at this point.

        Such a comment fails to recognize the ways in which White people’s views are privileged over those of Blacks and other minorities. (They also demonstrate a severe amount of ignorance regarding the Trayvon Martin case, as noted above.) Such a comment presupposes that all things being equal, either party could be right. But things are NOT equal. The experiences of People of Color are always, ALWAYS, attacked and undermined, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. (See: Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr, racism in America) Yet in similar situations, nobody questions what us White folks think about it. Somehow, those epistemological arguments are forgotten when Whites are speaking about what *they think* they know.

        Sadly, the commenter has no clue why Nick feels the way he does. None at all! Because in his world, everything is equal. But it ain’t, as Nick points out. Too often clear violations of the law, murders, prejudice and discrimination against people of color are allowed to stand — often because of comments like the one above. Anything but racism! Even when racism is staring us right in the face. People are woefully ignorant about the historical and present trends of racism, from discrimination in the courts and the war on drugs, to housing loan denials and cultural stereotyping.

        It’d make me sick if I weren’t so used to it. This is America after all. But let me say: ignorance is no excuse for injustice. The commenter may be fine with whatever he’s told. Shoot, he may not even be concerned about the two Kansas residents who went into Black neighborhoods and started killing at will. (Google it.) But most Americans are, and thankfully our voices creates change. The only reason anybody cares, the only reason anyone has to say “wait, what if you’re wrong?”, the only reason all this sudden piling on of doubt and objectivity/subjectivity is because WE went out and showed that there’s something wrong with a teenager being gunned down and his killer not facing justice.

        So call say People of Color are biased, if you want. It doesn’t change the fact that for once — FOR ONCE! — a Black person’s White killer will finally get their day in court.

        • Thank you very much Zek! You said all that I was trying to but am too exhausted to do it properly. :)

        • Mike L says:

          Zek,

          We don’t have all the facts and you know it. I specifically listed a series of items that have never been made public, and your link contains none of them.

          The diatribe that follows is moot as a result.

          • Mike,

            We don’t have all the facts and you know it. I specifically listed a series of items that have never been made public, and your link contains none of them. The diatribe that follows is moot as a result.

            Hahaha, oh really? Well good thing I didn’t say we have all the facts then! I said we have a lot of them. Why do you always dishonestly distort my comments? Are incapable of having a conversation in good faith? With regards to the facts I presented, you tellingly failed to address any of them. But even you did, I’m sure you’d have managed to dismiss and/or marginalize them too, as you consistently have done in our conversations.

            Let me reiterate them for you: the 911 call, police reports, witness testimony, phone call between Martin and his friend, Zimmerman’s documented history of racial profiling and vigilantism, the failure to conduct a proper investigation, the fact that the murder weapon was never booked into evidence, the inconsistencies between Zimmerman’s story and the injuries on his body as well as Martin’s body, the fact that it took 45 DAYS for an arrest to occur after a nationwide protest for this case to be prosecuted, the fact that even the author of Stand Your Ground notes that Zimmerman is not covered by that law, the inconsistent testimony by Zimmerman between his 911 phone call and his bond hearing regarding Martin’s perceived age, and oh yeah!

            Zimmerman stalking and pursuing a teenager with a loaded weapon at night based on racial profiling.

            Seriously, only you could see proof and call it a diatribe. Oy vey!

            • Mike L says:

              Zek,

              First, I probably disagree with a lot of those facts. For example, I’m assuming that when you say “the inconsistencies between Zimmerman’s story and the injuries on his body as well as Martin’s body” you’re referring at least in part to the ABC news reports that came out in March claiming Zimmerman was uninjured, which were then “corrected” in late April to indicate that there was at least one extensive head injury.

              I’ve also noticed that you didn’t mention the widely reported “doctoring” of the 911 call by NBC.

              The fact is that there have been “inconsistencies” on both sides. The prosecution has a great deal of evidence that has not been made available to the public. A great example is the photos of Zimmerman’s bleeding head which didn’t seem to be available before the week of April 20th (the DailyKos reported about the photos pretty substantially).

              Our legal system uses strict rules of evidence for a reason, because the kind of speculation that is happening in the media now is wild and a lot of it is likely wrong.

              As for the word “diatribe” I’m referring to everything that you wrote following the statement “Such a commenter fails…” I hope you will see how that part of your comment could be perceived by some as a diatribe.

              On a more personal note – your comments towards me have become increasingly insulting, and I’d like to appeal to you to back off on the rhetoric.

              Clearly, we’re not going to agree about a great deal of things, but that doesn’t mean that I’m “uninformed” or “ignorant” (both terms you have used to describe me in other threads). Nor does it mean that I don’t want to help people and make society better.

              I’m a law student, and I regularly donate time to my school’s criminal justice clinic. I understand that when you look at this case you see an issue of race. However, when I look, I see state officials being badgered into charging someone because of a media frenzy. I sympathize with defendants because I regularly work with defendants. I have seen the media try to railroad people before, and I’m sure I’ll see it again. This is my major motivation for asking questions. I would appreciate it if you kept this in mind going forward.

            • Mike,

              I’m gonna start my comment off with some common ground. I work as a legal writer at a prominent advocacy firm here in the BA (Bay Area). Before that, I spent summer as an unpaid paralegal/clerk with my Dad’s small law practice. I understand the legal aspects in this case, intimately actually. So we have that in common.

              And you’re right, I have pushed you VERY hard in our comments to each other. But that you don’t understand or realize why is disappointing. You consistently utilized dishonesty, argued in bad faith, distorted my comments, presented incomplete information and often false information as truth, and regularly insinuated that People of Color have lied about racism they’ve experienced. I find those actions and statements to be VERY offensive, insulting, and reprehensible. I refuse to be silent or let them pass unchallenged. If this bothers you, then I encourage you to discontinue our arguments. (Though I wish you would, for once, have a conversation. It’s hard to talk to a closed mind.)

              With regards to the topic at hand, I shall discuss your points as they occurred.

              1. When I speak of inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s story about his injuries, I am referring to the funeral director stating that Martin’s body did not exhibit any signs consistent with a struggle that matches the attack alleged by Zimmerman.

              2. I did not discuss the distasteful editing job by NBC because the 911 call speaks for itself, and because I don’t waste time with sloppy reporting. It’s a distraction from the issues at hand.

              3. You mention that there have been inconsistencies on both sides. What side are you referring to? The side that pushed for this case to be properly investigated? Or the side seeking to exonerate Zimmerman? I personally only care about one side in this case: the side committed to ensuring justice is carried out, whatever that may entail.

              Despite your protestations to the contrary, you have failed in this regard. You have presented opinion as fact, and ignored substantial evidence which contradicts Zimmerman’s claims in favor of your own personal notions of racism, which have been shown to be without merit already in other venues.

              Your attempts to “teach the controversy” of this case notwithstanding, the evidence against Zimmerman is damning, particularly as he will not be covered by Stand Your Ground per legal experts, such as Patricia J. Williams, and even the signer of the law. Inciting an incident with a loaded weapon leading to the death of a unarmed minor is a situation which cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged. Yet you attempt to restrain these attempts at justice by questioning the protestations of those who have borne injustice numerous times already? How many Black men would have to die before you’d feel comfortable investigating and prosecuting a case like this?

              But you’re right. We won’t agree, and that’s not the point anymore for me. I tried to have a conversation about these issues, but instead you attacked me, distorted my views, lied while accusing others of lying, argued in bad faith, and now you ask ME to dial back my rhetoric when I refuse to be pushed anymore by your behavior??? Hell no, sir.

              Now I am standing up and speaking out, because I point-blank refuse to be complicit in letting one more American die without justice accorded to them because of our National Disease: racism. So expect to be challenged when you nay-say the existence of oppression. Expect to be called out when preach selective epistemology. Expect people to question and criticize you when you insult, offend, dismiss, deny, marginalize, and otherwise ignore the realities facing Americans.

            • Zek,

              Frankly, I’ve been trying to have a discussion this entire time, but it’s difficult to do so when you continue to use bellicose rhetoric that seems contrary to your stated intention of truly wishing to engage in open and honest discourse.

              You said that I “consistently utilized dishonesty, argued in bad faith, distorted my comments, presented incomplete information and often false information as truth, and regularly insinuated that People of Color have lied about racism they’ve experienced.”

              From my standpoint, I believe a lot of this applies to your arguments, beginning first and foremost with your insistence that I claim anyone who has experienced racism is lying about having experienced it.

              Please provide me with a link to where I said that: it is a claim I have never made, even though you have accused me of it repeatedly across two separate threads.

              I’ve continued to give you the benefit of the doubt, and hope that I have just been unable to express myself appropriately, but it’s becoming clear that this might not be the case. You claim that I distort comments or argue in bad faith, and yet you are repeatedly distorting this specific issue over and over and over again.

              I would like to share a personal story with you to try one last time to illustrate the point I have been harping on in this thread and elsewhere which you continue to misconstrue.

              You said you live in the Bay Area, so you’ve probably taken BART on at least one occasion. Before transferring to a 4 year school I was a student at City College of SF. Because I worked full time, I took several night courses, some of which were at the Mission campus. At night, I would take BART to get home.

              I had learned that if I walked all the way to one end of the platform, I could usually get a seat to myself on either the first or last car, because most people boarded the train in the middle. This was important to me because I usually had a lot of stuff with me after work and class. Of course, this only worked on 8-10 car trains, which would occupy the entire platform. The other trains stop in the middle of the platform and fill up pretty quickly.

              I had just about walked to the end of the platform when I looked up and saw the signs flashing “6 Car Train – Board Center” so I abruptly turned around and headed for the middle of the platform to board the train.

              As I walked away, I heard someone call out “You don’t have to be afraid of me just because I’m black.”

              I was tired after class and hadn’t even noticed anyone else at the end of the platform with me. I saw the man who had spoken and said “Excuse me?” because I didn’t know how else to reply.

              He responded by explaining “I saw you, you walked to the end of the platform, saw me, and immediately turned around. You don’t have to be afraid of me, you know, because I’m black.”

              I told him the truth. I saw the sign that said “board center” and headed back to the center of the platform so I could board the train, I hadn’t even noticed he was there.

              I have no doubt in my mind that the man I spoke with that night has experienced racism. I do not think he is lying at all about experiencing racism. Nor would I ever accuse him of lying about experiencing racism.

              However, on that one night, on that one occasion, he made an honest mistake.

              His life experience led him to believe that I was acting out of racist motivations. I do not doubt that he has experiences that could legitimately lead him to this belief. I do not think he is unreasonable, nor do I think he is irrational.

              But none of that changes the fact that he made a mistake on that particular occasion.

              This is what I have been trying to talk about this entire time. I do not believe anyone is being disingenuous when they tell me they see racism. But that does not rule out honest mistakes. I know this, because I have seen one such mistake with my own eyes. The natural extension of this is that some amount of perceived racism, and I cannot say how much, it’s likely impossible to say, is not actual racism, but a mistaken perception.

              So now, I will ask again, please try and understand where I am coming from, and stop accusing me of making an argument that I have never made.

              I will post another comment addressing your concerns about the Zimmerman prosecution at a later point, but for the time being, I am really trying to communicate here, and I’d appreciate it if you did the same.

              PS – Phrases like “teach the controversy” having obviously insulting connotations, and no place in legitimate discussion.

            • Lisa Hickey says:

              I like that story Mike of the BART train. I can see it. It is similar to the “Schroedenger’s Rapists” discussions we have. We have women on this site who are afraid of men, and men who are afraid of women. And men who think women are wrong to be afraid, and women who think men are wrong to be afraid. it’s interesting to watch as they pick their sides, draw their sides, prepare for the duel. Can everyone on both sides be right? Can everyone be wrong? Is it worse for women to fear men, or men to fear women?

              We also talk a lot about “the invisibling” of people. A type of marginalization, but instead of being oppressed, these people are simply not seen and not heard. Guys who are victims of sexual assault are baffled why no one believes them — now one seems to even listen long enough to really hear them. Disabled people. Homeless. The elderly. All part of “invisibling.”

              And that’s what struck me about your story of the guy on the subway. He was invisible to you. It was an honest mistake. Racism had nothing to do with the fact that you didn’t see him.

              I get that, I do. Racism isn’t the always the answer, but it can always be seen as the answer if that’s what you’re looking for.

              …We were talking about numbers on the other thread. And I look at statistics like a study that proved statistically that in the state of Alabama, counties that have the highest rates of capital punishment also had the highest levels of lynching historically. Those are the numbers I can’t shake.

              It’s one thing to make an “honest mistake”, but another to have dead kids because of it. In the case of Trayvon Martin, maybe we shouldn’t even be asking “was it a racial incident or not” but “is there equality in the way justice is served?” When it comes to matters of live and death, it’s one thing to have an honest mistake and an another thing entirely to have permission to make those mistakes built into a system that leaves some people dead and some people not only alive, but thriving.

            • Mike L says:

              Lisa,

              I appreciate your points, and I think that the prolonged argument with Zek has thrown everything way off track.

              I absolutely agree when you say:
              ” When it comes to matters of live and death, it’s one thing to have an honest mistake and an another thing entirely to have permission to make those mistakes built into a system that leaves some people dead and some people not only alive, but thriving.”

              I believe that we need to apply these principles to the criminal justice system.

              A lot of the “evidence” that is being thrown around in this thread would likely not be admissible at trial (the claims about police contradiction seem like that would qualify as hearsay, but it’s hard to know for certain from media reports). Similarly, a lot of the physical evidence probably requires expert testimony, and we don’t know what that will look like.

              We have the rules of evidence we have for good reason. Every single aspect of the justice system is designed to effect public policy, and there are good arguments for all aspects of the system.

              This is what concerns me.

              When we say “this is about race” and use that to justify the viewpoint that a man MUST be charged, and HAS to be guilty, when we haven’t seen the evidence through the correct lens (as prosecutors no doubt have), then we forget all of reasons why we have rules of evidence in the first place.

              My language was callous, no question, but I really am concerned about what happens when our emotions tell us “Justice = Guilty” before we have actually seen the process through.

            • Mike,

              I’m sorry but I don’t believe you anymore. After all this time your sudden change of heart is disingenuous compared to your previous comments to me in this thread and in others — after all the times you were dishonest and distorted my comments and I asked you to stop and argue in good faith. And now suddenly you demand proof that I’m not crazy and making things up about you??? Really? Because I have nothing better to do?

              http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/can-hipsters-be-racists-too/comment-page-1/#comment-154854

              Read thru my comment and check yourself. You haven’t been having an honest discussion with me since the post on racism by the Bachelor show. I have repeatedly pointed out your behavior, repeatedly asked you not to do it, repeatedly contradicted your dishonesty and distortion… and now you want proof? Have you been paying attention to ANY of the comments you’ve made? Have you forgotten everything you’ve written in the past few days that quickly? Would you like me to copy+past every single comment you’ve ever made to me on this website?

              You’re incredible, sir, truly incredible. You cannot etch-a-sketch your history away, particularly after only a week. I have to ask: are you even for real? You insulted me and dismissed the lived experience of millions of Americans and suddenly you cry foul when I refuse to be treated like that? You think a singular anecdote from your experience on BART with some random person is sufficient to erase all your previous comments which show you are not, despite your attempts, a combination of Aesop and Mr. Rogers? You attacked those speaking out against racism and now you complain of hurt feelings?

              I’m going to make an appeal to the other people in this thread. Pay attention, because this is what they call a “teachable moment”. Mike and I have frequently exchanged words on this website for days now. From the beginning he has not once admitted he was wrong, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He has not once recognized his limited information, privilege, or ignorance despite multiple attempts to point these out to him. He has not once apologized for his dishonesty or distortion, despite repeated attempts by me to hold him accountable for it. He has not once acknowledged the experiences of myriad comments from people of color on the existence of racism in their lives, and America at large.

              And now, suddenly, when I am passionately refusing to tolerate it anymore, he attempts to play the victim and demand proof of things he wrote naught but a few hours ago!

              This is what anti-racism is all about folks. It’s about refusing to let people get away with this kind of behavior. It’s about naming it, challenging it, and speaking out.

              Seriously Mike, if you can’t even be honest about your own words or deeds, if you can’t even think critically about your comments then frankly there is no point in any further discussion.

  6. Nick
    About a hundred years ago, some stunt promoters would sell tickets to crowds of people to watch two steam locomotives set on the same track crash into each other at top speed. And they would sell the movie rights as well, of course.
    I am very much afraid that this is developing into something similar.
    There is one version (train) of what happened that is very good at creating outrage among just about everybody. Thing is, the sources of all the images and details that do this can be traced back to a single PR firm hired by the Crump law firm helping the Martin family.
    The other train on the track is the results of the investigations of the Sanford PD and the Forida special prosecutors. Please do not blame the messenger, but one of the SPs admitted under oath during the bond hearing that they have no evidence at all on the key issues. It is not clear they even have a witness list. In particular, they are not even alleging that TMs phone friend will support the media/Crump version of their last conversation. The original Sanford DA said back in March that they saw huge vulnerabilities for themselves if they went ahead without anything more. Which strongly suggests that the Crump/PR version with all its details was basically manufactured or manipulated out of recognizable shape. Like using pictures of TM from when he was about 12 that look nothing like him at 17.
    Well, Alan Deshowitz, the famous liberal Harvard Law School Prof, went on record in a video-interview a few days ago saying that the Special Prosecutors are themselves committing many serious crimes by going forward without anything that could be construed as evidence. And if they are still, against the rules, “holding back” their real evidence at this point they are looking at dis-barment. It is worth a watch.
    Who will benefit from this very public trainwreck? The media. The PR companies. The lawyers. Whoever is selling tickets.

  7. I’m optimistic about the case only BECAUSE passionate protest by a substantial portion of America was what pressured the authorities to act. If not for our voices, Trayvon Martin would be forgotten more quickly from the public memory than Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., shot to death in his own home by police-officers saying racial slurs as they did so. He’d have been forgotten faster than Abdul Arian, shot to death by the LAPD with over 90 bullets in his body after a high speed chase. He’d have been forgotten faster than Richard Haste and Rekia Boyd, whose cases barely received a nod of attention or investigation.

    I’m optimistic, because for the first time, people are taking this seriously. The system is responding to the fact that a Black male teenager was killed by a White man, without acting as if the teens life is seemingly disposable and unimportant. Justice is being served. If Zimmerman isn’t convicted, I’ll be upset about that, but not at the fact that we, the people, helped to kick-start this process of justice in the first place.

    Great article Nick. Keep it up!

    • Thank you, Zeks. I didn’t even know about some of these people but now I have more research to do.

      • Mark Greene says:

        A great article by Nick and great work by Zek backing him up.

        “When facts are reported, they deny the value of evidence; when the evidence is produced, they declare it inconclusive.”
        ~ Augustine, in The City of God

    • Daniel M. says:

      Where’s the protests for Kris Kime who was beaten to death by a black kid with a skateboard during the Seattle Mardi Gras riots a few years ago? The kid didn’t get charged for manslaughter because he didn’t have any intent to kill.

      Or what about “white-hispanic” Daniel Adkins who was shot by a black guy in Arizona under the same “stand your ground” law? The guy didn’t get charged with manslaughter because he felt threatened by a weapon that wasn’t even there that he “saw” from sitting inside his car.

      Or what about white guy Jacob Palasek in Michigan who was beaten up by five black guys just because he was white? The back guys weren’t charged for what was clearly a race crime.

      Or what about white boy Allen Coon who was lit on fire by a group of black kids on his front porch who said, “You get what you deserve, white boy”? The cops did not charge them for a clear race crime.

      Or what about Ryan Rodriguez who was bullied, taunted with white slurs, and eventually stabbed with a mechanical pencil because he was usually the one with the lightest skin in the predominantly black class? The school did nothing about it.

      Racism is alive and well from both sides of the line. Problems like the ones I just mentioned need to be discussed and criticized, not just hate crimes directed towards blacks. There needs to be discussion and outrage of all forms of hatred. Where’s the outrage and justice for a little boy who was lit on fire based on his skin color?

      • Daniel,

        First of all, I’m confused how the tragic racial hate crimes that happens to a minority of Whites in anyway has anything to do with protesting the racial injustice in the Trayvon Martin case. Would you prefer that we privilege White victims over Black ones? Would you prefer that nobody talk about this case because they failed to talk about all the cases you mentioned? Seriously, in a situation dealing with racism of White-on-Black it’s TERRIBLY disingenuous to say, “what about teh White peoples??”

        Are we only allowed to be outraged when we give equal time to both White and Black victims despite clear disparities between the justice afforded to them? Case in point:

        What becomes of black-on-white murderers:

        Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom murders — Lemaricus Davidson: death by lethal injection. Letalvis Cobbins: life without parole. George Thomas: life without parole.

        James Kouzaris and James Cooper murders — Shawn Tyson: convicted of two counts of first-degree murder

        John Sanderson murder — three suspects arrested.

        Frank Motta murder — Treven Lewis arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

        Nancy and Bob Strait murders — Tyrone Dale David Woodfork arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, two counts of armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon.

        Robert Purvis murder — Brian Beasley: life without parole.

        Hannah Wheeling murder — Brian Wonsom: 85 years

        What becomes of white-on-black murderers:

        Ramarley Graham murder — Richard Haste: no arrest, no charge

        Oscar Grant murder — Johannes Mehserle: 2 years minus time served.

        Sean Bell murder — all defendants found not guilty.

        Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. — no arrests, no charges.

        Rekia Boyd murder — no arrests, no charges.

        See the difference? And sadly, I could go on. So please, don’t use the tragic deaths of White people (who were afforded justice) to further diminish the tragic deaths of Black people (who are afforded no justice due to systemic racism).

        Seriously, it’s not cool.

  8. According to the published reports from the Sanford PD, they notified in family in person the next day. And that GZ said “OK” when asked to stop following TM. The other version came from a PR firm that fed stories to a lazy and non-curious medias. Ask yourself why you believe their version rather than the SPD, who have all the records.
    Maybe TM showed no signs of injury because he was the only one administering a beat-down. After all, GZ unquestionably had concrete injuries on the back of his head.

  9. The favorite narrative says GZ was not arrested. The SPD says he was cuffed, taken in, and questioned (without council) for many hours. And came back the next two days for more questioning without council.
    I do not know if GZ was p tested but it is hard to believe he wasn’t for the simple reason even carrying concealed much less shooting must be done with no alcohol in your system. Doing so is a felony all by itself. He could not have refused it either. It is part of the contract you sign with getting a CHL.

  10. Zek
    I looked at all of those. Thanks for the references.
    The problem is, all those supposed news sources are merely taking the story as presented by the PR firm hired by the Crump law firm. Media hardly ever do research these days if they do not have to, ie, somebody tells them something claiming to have personal knowledge.
    Those list of “facts”.
    Go on youtube and find Prof. Alan Deshowitz discuss the case about 4 days ago – just after the bond hearing. There is a good realistic picture on there also about how big TM and GZ were that night. Neither of us need to depend on the TV these days. Dershowitz basically said that the Prosecutors admitted under oath that they have no evidence on the main issues and that trumps a lot of what people keep repeating about the case..
    If they would lie to you about what TM even looked like, why believe anything else they come up with? Where do you think that picture of TM at age 12 which got put every where came from. Do you think ABC researched it out or that they were fed it from someone with an agenda.?
    This is a train wreck happening. Yes, public pressure forced an arrest and charging. M. Nifong also felt forced to go ahead with a case with no evidence except what “everybody knew” based on what Al Sharpton, etc. told them.

    • Rum,

      Except most of these facts are not from a PR firm, they’re from major news outlets and independent news sources… I understand your skepticism, but frankly the post by The Root is not even based on a journalist’s research. It’s just based on Zimmerman’s own words. Also, judging from your comment you did not read — or did not fully understand — the article by law professor Patricia J. Williams. She said it better than I:

      “Here’s the relevant text of Florida Statutes Chapter 776: “A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: …He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.” Any person who does have such reasonable apprehension is “immune from criminal prosecution and civil action.” However, this immunity is not available to one who “initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself.”

      Thus framed, the issues are relatively simple: Was Zimmerman’s belief that his life was in danger a reasonable one? Was his admitted pursuit of Martin “necessary to defend himself”? And did his admitted initiation of the encounter provoke use of force by Martin? These are questions of fact, now properly before a court of law.

      What makes the case exceptional is neither race nor the politics of self-defense alone but rather the complete failure to prosecute—or even investigate—before now. Among the many flaws of Stand Your Ground, the standard of reasonable belief is not a warrant for total subjectivity. “Reasonableness” is an objective measure in the law; it refers to a public or community standard, not a privatized state of mind. The reason this case attracted such attention in the first place was the shocking complacency of the Sanford Police Department as enforcers of that standard.

      Police failed to follow the most basic procedures for a homicide investigation: Zimmerman was never tested for drugs or alcohol, while Martin’s body was. After sticking him in the morgue, there was no attempt to identify Martin or to notify his family. This was not just sloppy and unprofessional; it flouted basic tenets of our jurisprudence. The police’s facile conclusion that there was nothing to contradict Zimmerman’s account is explicable only on one of two grounds: either they blindly deferred to the word of the confessed killer and thus abandoned any adherence to a community standard; or they instinctively shared Zimmerman’s vision, establishing being frightened to death by a young black man as a reasonable community norm.

      Another strange feature of the current debate is the frequent assertion that because there were no witnesses to the shooting, there is “no evidence.” In fact, there is plenty: forensic reports about signs of struggle, the fact that Martin was unarmed, Zimmerman’s 911 call detailing intent to pursue Martin despite police exhortation not to, Martin’s phone conversation with a schoolmate, the voiceprint analysis of cries for help and, of course, Zimmerman’s catalog of at least forty-six prior calls to 911 to report a panoply of misplaced suspicions directed at unidentified others. The fact that this is “circumstantial evidence” does not render it a lesser kind of proof. Most crimes don’t come outfitted with cameras focused on the crime scene, after all, particularly homicides. Nearly all convictions are won by pointing to the irrefutable logic of a picture drawn from largely circumstantial bits and pieces of evidence.

      Finally, there are those—particularly our friends at Fox News—who conflate the call for justice with a call to convict. This is a fundamental misapplication of civics. It’s worth repeating: what’s distressing about Martin’s death is that it took so long for his killer’s actions to be interrogated at all. Political philosopher Giorgio Agamben has observed that what distinguishes a state of exception is “not the chaos that precedes order but rather the situation that results from its suspension.” When law enforcement officers accept—without question—an admitted killer’s assertion that a homicide was justified because “he scared me,” they license open season. Without question.”

      Now Rum, I’d suggest you drop the media conspiracy theories, because this case is about making sure Zimmerman has his day in court. Period.

      We’ll get to whether he’s guilty or not under the law after the trial.

  11. My personal bottom line is that I do not want to have to slaughter a crazed flash-mob that wants to flatten my skull when GZ is acquitted at trial or at the SYG hearing this May.

  12. Come on guys, there is still time left to change your stated opinion about the TM/GZ cluster-fuck. But not very much…
    As for me, I have no need to alter anything I wrote about this.
    The attorneys at the Crump Law firm are headed towards disbarment.
    GZ will be a multi-zillionaire after NBC and many others make him whole after the defamation they commited against him.

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