It seems as though everyone has heard of (and has an opinion) about the Trayvon Martin story. There are apparently only two sides of the story one can take without ridicule; (1) Martin was murdered by an over-zealous, racist, George Zimmerman for doing nothing other than being black, or (2) George Zimmerman was a victim of a failed system which lead to an unsafe neighborhood he felt the need to defend.
I do not take either side, because neither side is completely correct. Only two people know what truly happened that fateful night; one of them is alive and the other isn’t. We must only examine the evidence.
The Police Report. When Sanford police arrived on the scene, they reported that there were 6 witnesses–3 men and 3 women–most of them described as “white” and the last described as “other.” The witnesses’ reports all seem to reach about the same conclusion: there was a certain amount of scuffling, cries for help from one or both parties, a gun shot, and silence. There are some who claim that the cries were that of Martin due to the fact that they stopped immediately after the gunshot. Though, this is simply speculation, it leads the general population to believe that Zimmerman confronted Martin without justification, and in a paranoid frenzy killed the young man.
Travyon Martin, coming back from the convenience store outside of the Twin Lakes community in Sanford, Florida, was carrying a bag of Skittles, an Arizona iced tea and was wearing a “hoodie,” most likely due to the rain occurring that evening. Martin was visiting his father’s fiancee, and was walking through the neighborhood, after the hours defined by the neighborhood committee. George Zimmerman (head of the Neighborhood Watch), wearing a red jacket and blue jeans, came across Martin that night carrying a 9 millimeter gun, on his way to the grocery store, he claims. Zimmerman called the police, to report a suspicious person–describing him as black and acting strangely, mentioning that Martin could have been on drugs. Zimmerman said to the 911 dispatcher (not a police officer), “Yep. He’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands.” The dispatcher asked if Zimmerman was following Martin, and when Zimmerman replied that he was, the dispatcher said, “Okay. We don’t need you to do that.” We can only speculate on what happened after that, but it resulted in Martin lying face-down on the ground, with a gunshot wound in his chest, and (as a witness reported) Zimmerman standing over the young man, “not seeming to help him.” Zimmerman, remaining rather tight-lipped about the situation, is sticking to his claim that he shot Martin in self-defense, in accordance with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Questions that aren’t answered. Why would Zimmerman claim self-defense if it is obvious that he followed the young man? Why
did he say that Martin approached him, but he felt the need to run after him? Why were there no charges filed?
The first two questions seem to poke various holes in Zimmerman’s story, which very well could be concocted versions of the truth (or downright lies), but as every police officer knows, it could also be subject to the Post-Tramatic Stress Zimmerman was diagnosed with after the situation, and leading questions sometimes posed by officers in the heat of the action. There were no charges filed due to an “innocent until proven guilty” mantra the United States of America lives by, and though it sounds as though Zimmerman was given a pat on the back and let go, the man was arrested and taken away in a police car, within protocol of any homicide investigation.
The beginning of Twin Lakes’ Neighborhood Watch organization. The neighborhood that Martin was visiting, Twin Lakes, was one riddled with crime and fear. In an article by The Daily Beast, the community had very daring criminals who broke into several homes, including that of Olivia Bertalan; a young mother who’s home was attacked while she was alone with her infant son. She ran upstairs after two men approached her front and back doors, as one came in from the back. She locked herself and her son in the upstairs room, terrified. “I’m sure he could hear me in there because my son was crying and I was crying…Who knows what would have happened if the police hadn’t been there.” This instance was one of eight within a 14 month period, which lead to the community’s decision to start a Neighborhood Watch organization. Zimmerman was the one who initiated it.
How both men are being demonized. Many media sources have gone so far as to paint both Zimmerman and Martin, as either a thugs or a racists. How do they manage to do this without blatantly lying? Manipulation of fact. Several reports biased against Zimmerman have tried to portray him as having Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder and being severely paranoid due to the fact that he’s made 46 calls to the Police reporting various situations. What those sources fail to give you is context, however. This number, collected from the Sanford Police Station, is tallied since 2004–averaging about 6 calls per year, which in a particularly crime-filled neighborhood is not unreasonable. They also imply that this number pertains to emergency calls, when they include Zimmerman’s calls reporting things (to a non-emergency phone number) such as pot-holes.
Both men’s images have been completely torn apart and scavanged, but the nastiest turn deals with the young Mr. Martin. There are reports that he is, or has been, a violent person–assaulting a bus driver, being a “drug dealer”, etc. There are even worse claims that paint him as the direct image of a “thug”–falsified pictures of him with golden teeth, wearing “hoody” sweatshirts, and pictures of him throwing up various gang symbols. These images some claim as “evidence” of a young man that would attack another, is completely unfounded. These “gang symbols” people claim to have pictures of include peace signs and similar symbols, this “drug dealing” has no tangible evidence of occurring, excluding Facebook messages that may or may not have been lies.
Both men are being portrayed as the media wishes them to be, even through subtleties such as referring to Martin by his first name, showing pictures of the young man when he was as young as 11, etc. Zimmerman has certain facts revealed about him, such as people’s inability to see blood on his face and the back of his head as he claimed, and his “excessive” phone calls, which we have already debunked.
All of this “hard evidence” is lacking severely on context and factuality.
The real reason people give two hoots. In a country the size of the United States one might ask why a story, so ordinary, has garnered as much attention as it has. Every day, there as similar murders, with more evidence, different victims, and worse mutilations than this one, yet this has captured America’s heart and nerves. Why? Media manipulation.
This story has very little to do with race, age, gender, sexuality (even some people have claimed that Martin was trans-gendered), political standing, or social standing. This story is result of media moguls flexing their muscles, proving what they can make popular next. It began with the GOP “flavor of the month” candidate; the media began to pick and chose what candidate they would give coverage when, manipulating statistics to show who they wished would do well, and thus that candidate’s popularity would soar. The media coverage of Mitt Romney has settled at a certain high, demonizing other candidates (such as Newt Gingrich), and the polls have reflected in suit. This media monstrosity reflected the fame of the “Kony 2012 ” video that went viral within a few days, only to crash after the man who created the Invisible Children organization cracked, and was arrested for public nudity and lewd and lascivious behavior–which the media did not cover, with the exception of a few mentions here and there.
Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are, though regrettably, cliches on a long list of similar murders and character assassinations which occur daily.
Some claim the case has fame because Martin was a young black male–and that racism is still rampant. If that was the case, these protests would have been organized long before a young man had to be murdered; it simply took a woman sitting in the back of a bus to catapult the Civil Rights Movement. The battle between the races of “white versus black” are irrelevant here: Zimmerman was a Hispanic male.
It is time to give up the constant coverage of a fallacy which is defined and fueled by its lack of information, speculation, and rumors. The facts will come out, and Trayvon Martin (as all) will have his day in court.
Author’s Note [3/30/2012 – 5:22 AM]: I, as an author, am not trying to claim that Zimmerman’s intentions weren’t that of racial motive–in fact, the opposite. I am simply trying to convey that as humans who were not there during the situations, and have no access to George Zimmerman’s mind or soul, have no ability or vantage to judge from. That is the right of the jury, and their right alone. Any threats against either George Zimmerman, his neighbors, friends, or families are immature, unwarranted, and a complete distraction from obtaining true justice within the case.