Racism, Guns, and Vigilante Justice – The Zimmerman Verdict

Minneapolis rally in response to the George Zi...

Minneapolis rally in response to the George Zimmerman verdict (Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue)

The July 13th, 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of an unarmed black teenager has many of the telltale hallmarks of racism and vigilante justice.  George Zimmerman, a white self-appointed neighborhood watch captain at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community in Sanford, Florida, fatal shot Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old black high school student under suspension for drug possession and visiting his father, at close range in the back.

On February 26, 2012 George Zimmerman spotted Trayvon Martin walking suspiciously in the neighborhood and called 911 to report his concerns.  The 911 responder warned him not to confront the suspect or take any actions but wait for police to arrive.  Instead he decided to ignored this warning and follow and finally confronted Martin.  Apparently an altercation occurred in which Zimmerman received a minor wounds to he head and shot Martin at close range.  The wound sustained indicated a contact shot.  The facts indicate that during the altercation Zimmerman had his gun out ready to fire.  Zimmerman’s defense claims that he was defending himself against the younger teenager.  Perhaps that was partly true but he had the gun.  It is most likely that Zimmerman had pulled the gun out early in the confrontation and Martin fought back hard in fear of his life and in the struggle been shot in the back.  The fact remains that Zimmerman obviously approached Martin, had a gun, and ultimately shot Martin with that gun.

As it turned out Martin was with his father watching the NBA All-Star game in the home of his father’s girlfriend who lived in the same gated community as Zimmerman.  Martin left the gated community to purchase a pack of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea.  It was upon his return that the incident occurred.  So Martin was there legitimately.

Zimmerman confronted Martin in spite of being told not to by the 911 responder.  The power of a gun likely gave him the courage and confidence to confront Martin and ultimately take his life.  Zimmerman was not arrested at the time due to his claim of self-defense but later was charged with second degree murder for which he was just acquitted of as well as a manslaughter charge.  So it was deemed an accidental homicide.  But it was totally avoidable had Zimmerman followed the instructions of the 911 responder.

Had Zimmerman not had a gun a confrontation might have been avoided altogether, the life of Trayvon Martin would have been spared, and a trial and all the fallout would have been avoided.  For all of this he should be somehow punished for being foolish, reckless, and irresponsible.  It would seem that at least a verdict of manslaughter should have been rendered since he was responsible for unlawfully taking a life with a gun which was unjustified and could have easily been avoided by following the directions of the 911 responder.

This is a good example of why the possession of guns needs to be controlled.  Guns need to be kept out of the hands of people looking to take the law into their own hands.  Guns endow their possessors with powers far beyond their physical strength and mental courage.  Being a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain does not make Zimmerman a trained officer of the law.  He is just another citizen carrying a gun.  He should have listened to the 911 responder and waited for the police to arrive.  Instead having a gun gave him the power and confidence to take the law into his own hands and ultimately take the life of a young human being.

This acquittal will simply reinforce the notion than anyone can carry a gun in Florida and kill any black person who they might consider suspicious and get away with it.  Racism is still real and active in many part of our country.  Black and other minorities become easy targets for racial profiling, hatred, and violence.  Guns simply give such individuals that much more power and courage to act out their bigotry and hatred with deadly force.  They are little better than terrorists in other countries.  Minorities are considered by some something less than human so they believe that they can be treated as such.

If there is such a thing as evil (see Does Good and Evil Really Exist?) it is the gun – the instrument of vigilante justice and hate, racism – the ego of racial superiority and discrimination, and hatred – the demon within us.  None of these should play a role in any highly civilized, ethical and developed nation.  So what does this make US?

Though I can understand the bitterness over the Zimmerman verdict I do not condone the consequential violence that is occurring around the country.  Many are angered over the verdict but some are simply taking the opportunity to be commit vandalism and steal goods from local merchants.  Dr. King, Gandhi, and Mandela all practiced non-violence and got the best results.  Violence begets violence but peace is hard for the establishment to deal with.  They look cruel if they use violence against peaceful demonstrations and foolish if they try to ignore them.

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