A couple weeks ago I wrote a brief piece reminding folks about the presumption of innocence, and how it has to be applied to everybody–including George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin. I also noted that the way the Florida law is written, it probably doesn’t matter legally that Zimmerman almost certainly provoked the incident that allowed him to shoot and kill Martin. The sad fact is that the law in Florida is almost designed to create situations in which lethal force can be legally used.
A few hundred people read that. Not a lot by internet standards, but enough to spark a bit of a fuss–including a comment by somebody named Jonathan Ledlester (his complete comment can be seen in the original post). Ledlester begins his comment with this:
Crayon Martin caused his own death.
You almost don’t have to read any farther to know what direction the comment will take. It’s all right there–the sneering, the dismissiveness, the need to justify, the need to find a way to interpret or invent facts to fit a worldview. The simple refusal to use the dead boy’s name–to give him even the least bit of respect–is telling.
Ledlester goes on to make this observation:
Crayon Martin COULD’VE CALLED THE COPS to report Zimmerman was following him. But Crayon Martin CHOOSE TO NOT CALL THE COPS.
At first glance, this seems to be a rational point. And it is–if you’re white. Ledlester doesn’t seem to be aware that black kids in general may not have the same faith in the impartiality and reliability of the police as do white kids. You can debate whether or not that lack of faith is justified, but it doesn’t change the reality that a lot of black folks don’t believe they can trust the police.
Ledlester then asserts a number of facts not in evidence, describing a scenario in which Martin assaults Zimmerman. That may be true; we don’t know. And that’s just it. We don’t know. But Ledlester omits one fact that we DO know. In his comment, Ledlester states: “Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that he’d lost sight of Martin.” What the recording actually notes is Zimmerman says “He’s running,” and a moment or two later, “He ran.” The reason Zimmerman lost sight of Martin is because Martin was running away. The police dispatcher told Zimmerman “We don’t need you to [follow Martin].”
That should have been the end of the situation. It wasn’t. Zimmerman claims he was returning to his vehicle when he was confronted and assaulted by Martin. Is that likely? Considering Martin was running away moments earlier, probably not. Considering the fact that the shooting occurred only 70 yards away from the townhouse where Martin was staying, it seems improbable that he’d stop, turn around, confront and assault the man he was running away from moments earlier. Is it possible? Sure, anything is possible.
Ledlester ends his comment with this:
Crayon Martin killed himself.
George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. The law might be written in such a way that it allowed him to do so with impunity, but if there’s only one fact we know for certain, it’s this: George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, who’d done nothing wrong, and was simply walking back from a convenience store.