Wednesday, November 20, 2019
CrimeDouble StandardsHot Topics

Injury Report Stirs Arguments Against Racism in Fatal Shooting

Medical records only now released to the media indicate that George Zimmerman had a broken nose, two black eyes and cuts on his scalp the day after police say he fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman, 28, faces a second-degree murder charge.

I’m already seeing Facebook posts about these new details and it’s interesting to see how public opinion is either changing or how those who’ve previously been on the more quiet side of the public debate are now beginning to increase their volume.

One acquaintance of mine from grade school used the story in an attempt to prove that this clearly wasn’t a case of racism.

That would be a logic flaw, of course, because we don’t know if race might have been the motivation that made Zimmerman follow the teen to begin with. What we do know is that when asked what the teen’s race was by a 911 operator, Zimmerman responded that the teen “looked black.”

And he’d reportedly called police several times before to report “suspicious” people, all of whom were black.

But the double standard is glaring: if circumstantial evidence isn’t sufficient to argue racism, more of it shouldn’t be sufficient to rule out that possibility, either.

The fact that he had what now appears to have been significant injuries consistent with a fight does not remove racism from the picture. Race may well have played no part in the situation whatsoever. That is an absolutely valid possibility. But this particular evidence isn’t proof either way.

Zimmerman told police he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense after the teen jumped him; Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, had been tracking Martin’s movements through a gated community after calling 911 to report the teen’s behavior as suspicious.

The Miami Herald reported last week that if Zimmerman’s defense can demonstrate that he was in “reasonable fear for his life,” the judge in the case may dismiss the case before it ever reaches a jury.

My guess is that even if a jury gets to decide, either way, people won’t accept their judgment.

8 Comments

  1. Patrick, mostly an excellent article.  I agree with your conclusions that we will never truly know if racism was a factor and, regardless the jury decision, there will still be those who won’t accept it.  (Regarding the non-acceptance, I put forth that if Zimmerman is acquitted there will be violence by those who do not accept it and if he is guilty there will be numerous angry blog and facebook posts by those who do not accept that decision.  Even the response to the decision will be polarized with more extreme polarization on one side because one side has been stirred to a frenzy, referencing this article which we are discussing in the other thread.  http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/trayvon_and_zimmerman_the_structure_and_elements_of_a_disinformation_campaign.html.)
     
    There are couple things in the way you presented your case that I’d like to bring up.  While the article is about how we cannot conclude racism or non-racism based on the evidence, you only cite evidence which supports the racism conclusion, influencing the reader to that conclusion.   There is significantly more “what we know now…” information that was not included in the article, most likely because you just don’t have it to include.  I’ll discuss that specific information later when we get to the Reuters article.
     
    When you state, “What we do know is that when asked what the teen’s race was by a 911 operator, Zimmerman responded that the teen ‘looked black.'”, you are making almost the same mistake as was made in the first 911 audio tape edit (http://tinyurl.com/7qp3vsz).  “Black” was one of the race choices offered to Zimmerman by the 911 dispatcher, “OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?”.  Your phrasing leaves the reader with the suggestion that Zimmerman is racist because of his “he looks black” response, and I am reasonably certain that is not your intention.  I have to ask though, if Zimmermans response is being included as some of the “what we know now” which may lead some to conclude that Zimmerman had racial motivations, what is the non-racial response Zimmerman should have used?
     
    Additionally, the statement referenced above presupposes that Zimmerman observed suspicious non-blacks and did not report them and ignores the history of the robberies in the neighborhood in which witnesses identified the perpetrators as “black”.   If you are going to use past behavior you should use all past behavior.  I suggest reading this Reuters article on Zimmerman (link below).  There is very significant evidence in Zimmermans life that he does not engage in negative racist behavior, in fact, Zimmermans past and current behavior indicates that he is both helpful, charitable, and supportive towards African Americans, a stark contradiction of his portrayal in the media.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/25/us-usa-florida-shooting-zimmerman-idUSBRE83O18H20120425
     
    “And he’d reportedly called police several times before to report “suspicious” people, all of whom were black.” ignores that blacks were witnessed in several of the earlier robberies and thefts in the neighborhood (again referencing the Reuters article.)  If one suspects that it is the same people who are committing the robberies in the neighborhood then isn’t it reasonable to include the description of those prior suspect in ones profile, applying that information to subsequent persons observed behaving suspiciously?  Zimmermans gated community is 20% black, did Zimmerman ever wrongly or accidentally follow or wrongly or accidentally report suspicious behavior by one of his black neighbors because his judgement was clouded by racism?
     
    As far as Zimmerman “tracking Martins movements through a gated community”, he did attempt to follow Martin, yes, though I believe the motivation for that following came from Zimmerman himself when he said “these assholes always get away” recorded in the 911 call.  Zimmerman followed Martin, I think, because he was angry that the robbers were always getting away and wanted to make sure this one didn’t, not because Martin was black.
     
    While we will never be able to conclude Zimmermans motivations with 100% certainty, I believe that the preponderance of the evidence of Zimmermans behavior towards blacks over his lifetime more supports the conclusion that the trailing of Martin and subsequent shooting was not racially motivated.   We can, as rational people examining evidence, reach such a conclusion with “reasonable doubt” even though we will never be able to know Zimmermans motivation with certainty.  I would say that the new evidence doesn’t “prove” a lack of racism but that it rather casts significant, and very reasonable doubt on the allegation that Zimmerman acted on a motivation of racism.

    1.  @JohnH3 John, with all respect, I absolutely reject the absurd insinuation that I make “almost the same mistake” as the edit when I left out the additional fact that “black” was an option in a “multiple choice” question.  
       
      The issue in the edit was that it presented Zimmerman as volunteering Martin’s race WITHOUT being asked.  That’s a far cry from what happened.  Whether the operator asked about his race WITH or WITHOUT multiple choice responses makes virtually no difference.  The point is that Zimmerman didn’t volunteer the race — or the perceived race as best he could tell at that time — until he was specifically asked for that information.
       
      Is it more racist if Zimmerman answered “black,” to the question, “What race is the person?” Is it less racist if Zimmerman answered “black” if that were a multiple choice answer?Again, the issue of the edit, which you’ve brought up more than once, is that it made Zimmerman appear to be racially-motivated because it eliminated the question, implying that without being asked AT ALL, Zimmerman volunteered the race, as if it were foremost in his mind.
       
      How must a question about race be asked for the question itself to be either racist or not-racist?
       
      The point of the article wasn’t to say that Zimmerman IS or ISN’T racist. The point of the article is to point out that there is NO definitive proof that Zimmerman DID or DIDN’T target Martin because of Martin’s race.  
       
      As to past behavior, I’m all for including all of it. What proof do you have, then, that Zimmerman reported suspicious non-blacks? You have clearly researched this far more than most people, so if my presupposition is incorrect, I’ll be happy to review evidence to the contrary.
       
      The robbery issue is a very interesting one.  You argue that Zimmerman might have followed Martin ONLY because he was “angry” about the robbers “always getting away and wanted to make sure this one didn’t” and then suggest that Martin’s race had nothing to do with it. Yet in the paragraph right before that suggestion, you yourself bring up the RACE of the robbers as reported by witnesses.  I’m not sure how you can reasonably conclude that Zimmerman might have reported blacks as “suspicious” because he KNEW blacks had been accused of robberies, yet forgot this particular detail on the night of Martin’s shooting, choosing to follow him only because he didn’t want someone to get away, no matter what color they might be.
       
      You can act on a motivation that is itself racist while not overall being a racist person by nature.

      1.  @patricksplace Your last sentence is precisely what springs to my mind the more I learn about this incident.
         
        Should a racially motivated homicide be treated differently in the judicial process than one motivated by greed, revenge, or diminished mental capacity?
         
        I can understand the racism issue being part of determining whether this was a case of self-defense or not, but beyond that, I’m just not sure to what extent we should be convicting people for their thoughts.

      2.  @patricksplace I understand exactly what the article is about and the point you are trying to make.  I am confused then.  Why did you write, ‘…because we don’t know if race might have been the motivation that made Zimmerman follow the teen to begin with. What we do know is that when asked what the teen’s race was by a 911 operator, Zimmerman responded that the teen “looked black.”‘  Maybe I misunderstood but it read to me that you were citing Zimmermans statement as something which we “do know” about Zimmermans motivation that night with regard to race. 
         
        You rightly ask, “How must a question about race be asked for the question itself to be either racist or not-racist?”  as I rightly ask, “what is the non-racial response Zimmerman should have used?”  The answer in both instances is that it can’t be done because there will always be someone willing to contrive a racist charge out of any statement.  This is what has happened in the Zimmerman case.
         
        I did not state that Zimmerman reported any whites along with blacks in his numerous 911 calls.  It is a question for which I would like to know the answer though.  It is possible that the answer is none simply because there were no whites observed.  I’d also like to know if there are other town watch personnel who patrol the community and what calls they made to 911 and what the races of those observed suspicious persons were. I’m sure the data exists but I doubt the Sanford PD has compiled it.  It’s really not relevant to the case of the shooting itself but it would be relevant if Eric Holder and the Justice Department file hate crime charges against Zimmerman.
         
        The media and political correctness police are all against “profiling” even though profiling is quite often simply good police work.  I reference the race of the perpetrators of the previous robberies for one simple reason: A “reasonable person”, given eyewitness reports that a series of recent crimes had been committed by blacks should then be more watchful and wary of suspicious blacks in the area of the previous robberies, though not to the exclusion of suspicious persons of other races.  That is smart, logical, and not racist. 
         
        Zimmerman SHOULD have had the race of the previous perpetrators in his mind that night.  To ignore such a fact is just plain stupid, and, ironically “racist” as one would be discounting or ignoring evidence solely on account of race.  Had whites been observed in previous crimes it would be just as smart, and just as not-racist, to be wary of suspicious whites and to factor that information in when observing a suspicious white person.  A fact cannot be racist, the racism comes in how a person responds to the fact.
         
        If there were no reports of the race of the perpetrators of the previous crimes and Zimmerman had assumed they were black and subsequently went looking for blacks, that would be racist and would be evidence of racism.  That does not appear to be the case with Zimmerman.
         
        I think we can both agree with msalakka in his reply that we should not be convicting people because of their thoughts, especially when we can only think what someones thoughts might be or have been.  I have never been a fan of “hate crime” legislation.  Crime is crime regardless of motivation and the presumption of motivation goes against the legal right of the presumption of innocence. 

        1. @JohnH3 What I wrote was that we do not know whether race was the motivation for Zimmerman that night.

          What we DO know is that he was able to answer a question about Martin’s race, based on his observation, and that reports indicated he had reported “suspicious” people in the past and that all of them happened to be black.

          But those facts do not sufficiently prove a motivation of racism.

        2.  @patricksplace  @JohnH3 Ah, I understand what you were saying now and agree, those facts are insufficient to prove a motivation of racism.
           

    2.  @JohnH3 John, with all respect, I absolutely reject the absurd insinuation that I make “almost the same mistake” as the edit when I left out the additional fact that “black” was an option in a “multiple choice” question.  
       
      The issue in the edit was that it presented Zimmerman as volunteering Martin’s race WITHOUT being asked.  That’s a far cry from what happened.  Whether the operator asked about his race WITH or WITHOUT multiple choice responses makes virtually no difference.  The point is that Zimmerman didn’t volunteer the race — or the perceived race as best he could tell at that time — until he was specifically asked for that information.
       
      Is it more racist if Zimmerman answered “black,” to the question, “What race is the person?” Is it less racist if Zimmerman answered “black” if that were a multiple choice answer?Again, the issue of the edit, which you’ve brought up more than once, is that it made Zimmerman appear to be racially-motivated because it eliminated the question, implying that without being asked AT ALL, Zimmerman volunteered the race, as if it were foremost in his mind.
       
      How must a question about race be asked for the question itself to be either racist or not-racist?
       
      The point of the article wasn’t to say that Zimmerman IS or ISN’T racist. The point of the article is to point out that there is NO definitive proof that Zimmerman DID or DIDN’T target Martin because of Martin’s race.  
       
      As to past behavior, I’m all for including all of it. What proof do you have, then, that Zimmerman reported suspicious non-blacks? You have clearly researched this far more than most people, so if my presupposition is incorrect, I’ll be happy to review evidence to the contrary.
       
      The robbery issue is a very interesting one.  You argue that Zimmerman might have followed Martin ONLY because he was “angry” about the robbers “always getting away and wanted to make sure this one didn’t” and then suggest that Martin’s race had nothing to do with it. Yet in the paragraph right before that suggestion, you yourself bring up the RACE of the robbers as reported by witnesses.  I’m not sure how you can reasonably conclude that Zimmerman might have reported blacks as “suspicious” because he KNEW blacks had been accused of robberies, yet forgot this particular detail on the night of Martin’s shooting, choosing to follow him only because he didn’t want someone to get away, no matter what color they might be.
       
      You can act on a motivation that is itself racist while not overall being a racist person by nature.

  2. Patrick, mostly an excellent article.  I agree with your conclusions that we will never truly know if racism was a factor and, regardless the jury decision, there will still be those who won’t accept it.  (Regarding the non-acceptance, I put forth that if Zimmerman is acquitted there will be violence by those who do not accept it and if he is guilty there will be numerous angry blog and facebook posts by those who do not accept that decision.  Even the response to the decision will be polarized with more extreme polarization on one side because one side has been stirred to a frenzy, referencing this article which we are discussing in the other thread.  http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/trayvon_and_zimmerman_the_structure_and_elements_of_a_disinformation_campaign.html.) 
     
    There are couple things in the way you presented your case that I’d like to bring up.  First, while the article is about how we can’t conclude racism or non-racism based on the evidence, you only cite evidence which supports the racism conclusion, influencing the read to that conclusion.   There is significantly more “what we know now…” information that was not included in the article, most likely because you just don’t have it to include.  I’ll discuss information later when we get to the Reuters article.
     
    You state, “What we do know is that when asked what the teen’s race was by a 911 operator, Zimmerman responded that the teen ‘looked black.'” You are making almost the same mistake as was made in the first 911 audio tape edit (http://tinyurl.com/7qp3vsz).  “Black” was one of the race choices offered to Zimmerman by the 911 dispatcher, “OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?”.  Your phrasing leaves the reader  with the suggestion that Zimmerman is racist because of his “he looks black” response, and I know that is not your intention.  I have to ask, though, if Zimmermans response is being included as some of  “what we know now” that may lead some to conclude that ZImmerman had racial motivations, what is the non-racial response Zimmerman should have used?
     
    You also wrote, “And he’d reportedly called police several times before to report “suspicious” people, all of whom were black.”  This statement presupposes that Zimmerman observed suspicious non-blacks and did not report them and ignores the history of the robberies in the neighborhood in which witnesses identified the perpetrators as “black”.   If you are going to use past behavior you should use all past behavior.  I suggest reading this Reuters article on Zimmerman (link below).  There is very significant evidence in Zimmermans life that he does not engage in negative racist behavior, in fact, Zimmermans past and current behavior indicates that he is both helpful, charitable, and supportive towards African Americans, a stark contradiction of his portrayal in the media.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/25/us-usa-florida-shooting-zimmerman-idUSBRE83O18H20120425
     
    Your statement, “And he’d reportedly called police several times before to report “suspicious” people, all of whom were black.” ignores that blacks were witnessed in several of the earlier robberies and thefts in the neighborhood (reference the Reuters article.)  If one suspects that the same people are committing the robberies in the neighborhood then isn’t it reasonable to look for people matching that same description when observing a suspicious individual?  Zimmermans gated community is 20% black.  Did Zimmerman ever wrongly or accidentally follow or wrongly or accidentally report suspicious behavior by one of his black neighbors because his judgement was clouded by racism?As far as Zimmernan “tracking Martins movements through a gated community”, he did attempt to follow Martin, yes, though I believe the motivation for that following came from Zimmerman himself when he said “these assholes always get away”.  Zimmerman followed Martin, I think, because he was angry that the robbers were always getting away and wanted to make sure this one didn’t, not because Martin was black.While we will never be able to conclude Zimmermans motivations with 100% certainty, I believe that the preponderance of the evidence of Zimmermans behavior towards blacks over his lifetime more supports the conclusion that the trailing of Martin and subsequent shooting was not racially motivated.   We can, as rational people examining evidence, reach such a conclusion with “reasonable doubt” even though we will never be able to know Zimmermans motivation with certainty.  I would say that the new evidence doesn’t “prove” a lack of racism but that it rather casts significant, and very reasonable doubt on the allegation that Zimmerman acted on a motivation of racism.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.