I think it is safe to say that support for each side of this case is divided along color lines. By that I mean, the public support for George Zimmerman is more white. Whites support Trayvon Martin (TM), but there are probably very few people of color that support George Zimmerman (GZ) outside of his family because remember he is Latino. Those supporting GZ say that his actions were not motivated by racial bias. His defense team is trying to argue that TM brought in the racist element to this case. Supporters of GZ steadily say that this case has nothing to do with race. Personally, I think race is inextricably linked to this case on some level, but even a race neutral view of the case can bring me to the same conclusion.
Based on what we know to be facts, GZ calls the police saying there was a suspicious person in his neighborhood. He says that TM is "checking me out." He says that TM is running. He admits to the operator that he is following TM. These are the words of GZ. The debate is about how the two came face-to-face and which one was the aggressor. I will use the defense's line of questioning for the rest of my analysis. Don West suggests to Rachel Jeantel (RJ) that TM being close to his destination should have just run home instead of asking GZ why he was following him. In other words, TM had a duty to retreat. Don West suggests that TM didn't turn to the man behind him to have a "gentlemanly conversation."
Both suggestions of Mr. West can be applied to GZ. GZ didn't have a duty to retreat? He is the one who actually called police. He knew they were on the way. He also was advised not to follow TM. TM, on the other hand, by all accounts was just minding his own business walking in the rain returning from the convenience store after purchasing something to drink and Skittles for his, soon-to-be younger stepbrother. He was not doing anything sinister, just trying to make it back to his destination. GZ, in fact, was armed, which suggests to me that the he thought he could be in danger. GZ presumed there was danger of some sort, not TM. This is the scenario before any confrontation. GZ had a safe escape. He decided against a meeting place with police. He was headed in an unknown direction. Using the defense line of questioning, TM couldn't possibly want to have a civil talk with GZ once he realized GZ was behind him. In today's cross examination, the defense asked the witness to use his common sense in determining who in fact was yelling for help. What does common sense say about a man that had a history of being on alert; a man that calls these suspicious people "f***ing punks" and "a**holes that always get away," now face to face with one of them...would he want to have a "gentlemanly conversation" with TM? What does common sense say about that?
Let's talk about feelings and instincts. Supposedly the Stand Your Ground law allows a person to use deadly force if he/she feels his/her life is in danger. The feelings/suspicions of GZ are recorded and documented. We know that he thought TM was "up to no good." Ultimately his suspicions were proven wrong. TM was where he lawfully had a right to be minding his own business walking from the store. He notices a man watching him. He gets suspicious of GZ and runs. Phone records establish that RJ was on the phone with TM and she told him to run. Statements from GZ to the phone operator corroborate RJ's testimony that TM ran. After he thought he lost GZ, he realizes that GZ was behind him. TM's suspicions about GZ are becoming true. GZ was watching and following him for some reason. He does not know that GZ is suspicious of him. GZ very well could have been a rapist like RJ said in her testimony.
The defense is also trying to argue that TM was physically bigger than the photos of him suggest and more capable of causing physical harm to GZ. That didn't occur to GZ? He got a pretty good view of TM, even telling the phone operator that TM looked like he was in his late teens. He knew of TM's stature and decided to follow TM anyway even before he was advised not to. That says to me that he was not concerned about any physical prowess of TM. Remember GZ was armed probably thinking he could handle anything.
So who was the aggressor? I think most people would agree that an aggressor gets what he has coming to him. We now have two men face-to face that are suspicious of one another. The question is who attacked the other first. The fact that GZ had a bloody nose and a bloody head does not mean that he was not the aggressor. TM could have been defending himself because GZ was the aggressor and TM actually turned out to be adept in defending himself. He very well could have thought his life was in danger and thus stood his ground. This scenario makes the most sense to me because TM had no prior issue with GZ. GZ was a perfect stranger to him. Once he realized he was being watched, TM ran. Their encounter is a result of GZ's actions and well-documented suspicions.
So GZ, who foolishly and unnecessarily put himself in an imagined way of harm, gets to kill someone because he got more than he bargained for? Add to that the fact that he felt his injuries did not require immediate, in-depth medical attention. Common sense says to me that if someone could have possibly broken my nose and was banging my head, containing the vital organ of my brain in it, against the concrete, then I would need medical attention. Head injuries should not be minimized or dismissed. The wrong blow to the head could kill me or cause serious damage, right? If Stand Your Ground allows for all of this, then it is truly an unjust law.
I will go ahead and state for the record that I do not believe GZ woke up that morning with the intent of killing anyone. I do not believe that GZ followed TM with the intent to kill him. However, I do think he thought more highly of himself, his authority and his capabilities such that he made an error in judgment. That fact that he was armed, I believe, emboldened GZ to make those erroneous decisions. He misjudged TM from the very beginning. He was not coming at TM with fair perspective and objectivity. What GZ feels cannot be trusted. The irony in this case is that GZ expects a jury to objectively decide his fate, but he subjectively decided TM's fate with his erroneous suspicions. Second degree murder may indeed be a stretch. However, GZ is the admitted killer of TM and he needs to be held accountable for his actions.