I swore I wouldn't but I have....gotten caught up in the George Zimmerman trial, that is, even though I know I'm going to be disappointed in the end when George is acquitted. How could he not be? He holds all the cards. He got to give a recorded self-serving initial account to the police; he got to write a self-serving statement; he got to give a videoed self-serving re-enactment of the "crime"; he got to go on television for a sympathetic interview with Sean Hannity; his friend, the cop, wrote a fawning, exonerating book about him (and oh, my, did you see how prettily he blushed at even having to say "MF", much less the actual words it stands for...yeah, that's like the police officers I've known!) George isn't going to take the stand but in effect, he already has...several times. And with no cross-examination. Clever defense, huh?
And meanwhile, what does Trayvon say happened? Well, we don't know, do we, because Trayvon is dead.
So, this trial is going to boil down to credibility. You either believe Zimmerman is credible or you don't. You either believe George Zimmerman is a public-spirited Crime Watch volunteer courageously trying to protect his community from menacing young black thugs roaming its streets at night or you believe he set out to throw his wannabe-cop authority around.
I go with the second scenario. If you start at the very beginning, Zimmerman had no reason to suspect Trayvon of anything. He was coming from a convenience store with Skittles and iced tea going back to his father's house while talking to his friend on his cellphone. When asked why Zimmerman questioned Trayvon's right to be where he was, he said it was because it was raining but Trayvon wasn't hurrying to get out of the rain. Really, not walking fast enough in the rain is suspicious behavior for which you can wind up dead? Who knew?
Zimmerman called 911 to alert them that an undesirable was in his neighborhood. He was told not to follow Trayvon but to let the police handle the situation. George said he had every intention of doing that but he was parked in his car when Trayvon came up and circled it and oh, my God, he was so scared, he quickly rolled his windows up and sat there shaking in fear. Uh, huh, right. I guess that's why when Trayvon disappeared again, he got out of his vehicle and began wandering around in the dark, supposedly looking for an address. Yep, this Crime Watch guy who lives in a complex of about three streets didn't know where he was. That's believable, isn't it?
And then, Trayvon loomed up out of the dark again and asked, "do you have a problem with me, motherf***?" George said, "I don't want to have a problem with you," to which Trayvon replied, "well, you do now." Then Trayvon punched him and knocked him to the ground and straddled him and began banging his head into the sidewalk. Keep in mind that Trayvon weighed approximately 140 pounds and George weighed about 200 lbs....and that George had had some Mixed Martial Arts Training. Yet, he wasn't able to throw the boy off of him and gain the dominant position. Trayvon, evidently with the strength of ten, was able to hold this larger man down while covering his mouth with one hand and pinching his nostrils shut with the other, at the same time telling Zimmerman, "tonight is the night you're going to die". Desperately, to hear George tell it, he grabbed Trayvon's wrist and pulled his hand off his mouth so he could breathe. It was about that same time that he felt Trayvon's hand at his side, obviously trying to grab his weapon. Well, what could George do but but yank it out of the holster and shoot Trayvon? At which point, Trayvon did cry out or gasp or groan, no, he very calmly said, "you got me". (Do you get the feeling that George Zimmerman has watched way too many Dirty Harry movies?)
So, those are the basics of what happened. Of course, we also know that George had taken law enforcement courses. He was familiar with Florida's "stand your ground" law (although he pleaded ignorance to Sean Hannity) so he knew exactly the story he needed to tell. And it worked, didn't it? The initial reaction of Florida's authorities was a shrug and a pat on the head. "Go on home, George, you did what you had to do."
Much of this case revolves around what would be considered "reasonable' for an average person. When Zimmerman called 911 to report what had happened, he wasn't traumatized, he wasn't distraught, he wasn't hysterical, as you might assume would be "reasonable" for an average person who'd just killed someone, even if they thought they were forced to do it out of self-preservation. Nope, he was cool, calm and collected. Just another day's work in the life of a Neighborhood Watchman.
George Zimmerman carried his gun in the "fire-ready" position. He'd racked a bullet into the chamber, then took his clip out to fill the empty spot where that bullet had been. Is that "reasonable" behavior for a non-official Neighborhood Watch person? I truly don't know but it strikes me a over-eagerness, like you're just hoping for an excuse to shoot. Incidentally, Zimmerman described his action as "unholstering his sidearm", not simply "pulling" his gun as most citizens would say. So, he even got off on the vernacular of law enforcement.
You know what else rears its ugly head in the Zimmerman case? Ah, yes, that would be race. Most opinions I have read on blogs or Facebook exhibit a bias in one direction or another. African-Americans and left-leaning types were outraged when Zimmerman was released without so much as a trial to try to determine the facts of the case. They felt it was because a "white" (who is actually partly Latino) shot a black kid that the decision on the part of law enforcement was what it was.
Meanwhile, conservatives were furious that the other side was able to raise so much stink as to cause the case to be reopened and charges to be brought against Zimmerman.
Liberals accuse conservatives of racial bigotry; conservatives accuse liberals of racial prejudice.
I have a different perspective. I don't have a hard-on against cops. I worked in law enforcement and loved my deputies and generally took their side. I don't think I have positive or negative feelings against either Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman for their ethnicity. Instead, I come at this as a mother.
If my child was innocently walking down the street where I lived, coming home from the convenience store with his Skittles and iced tea, I wouldn't expect some gung-ho asshole, in love with his image as a self-designated law enforcement office to follow him and eventually shoot him dead with a gun that he had in the "go" position. I think George Zimmerman overstepped his bounds. I think he lied about it after it was over. Maybe he didn't start out believing he was actually going to kill Trayvon Martin but he was obviously prepared to do just that. I think he needs to pay a price for that tragic mis-judgment.
But, unfortunately, I don't think he will. Because he holds the winning hand and all Trayvon got was the joker in the deck.