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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
And in news of the awful 
20th-Mar-2012 11:36 am
Katchoo - Terry Moore
I've been trying for over a day now to get my thoughts together to post something, anything, about the murder of Trayvon Martin.

To catch you up: A seventeen-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by a neighborhood watch volunteer. For walking down the street with a pack of Skittles and an iced tea. And the murderer has not been charged with a crime.

Guess what race Martin was, and guess what race the neighborhood watch guy was. Go ahead. Post-racial society my ass.

He was my daughter's age. I spent my weekend watching kids his age put on a musical. My house is perpetually full of them.

He cried out for help. There were witnesses. He cried out for help, and he was shot in the chest.

It's too large for me to write about right now, this boy my daughter's age, my daughter's friends' ages, murdered in the damn street. I can't encompass it. I leave you with links.

* Killing Of Fla. Teen Trayvon Martin Becomes National Story About Race

* How did a kid armed with Skittles and an ice tea get gunned down by an overeager neighborhood watch captain? And why didn't police detain shooter George Zimmerman?

* Voices: Justice For Trayvon Martin

* What Everyone Should Know About Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)

* #JusticeForTrayvon

* The Atlantic's coverage by Ta-Nehisi Coates

* The Justice Department Civil Rights Division and the FBI Will Investigate Trayvon Martin Killing
20th-Mar-2012 03:56 pm (UTC)
And that crap rational that Florida has a broad self-defense law - he was told by the dispatcher to stay away, which negates all that. And clearly, the black unarmed kid is not allowed to defend himself in turn against a white unarmed man.
20th-Mar-2012 04:08 pm (UTC)
Per your NPR link, the shooter is Hispanic. Cross-minority violence and prejudice has been around for years, but is rarely addressed because of the dominance of the white-everybody else paradigm.

Florida's self-defense laws are ridiculously broad. Most other states include a duty to retreat if you are not in your own home or business. Most other states would have charged him by now.
20th-Mar-2012 05:05 pm (UTC)
Hispanic *and* white is what I read.
20th-Mar-2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
... guess what race the neighborhood watch guy was

Hispanic ?
20th-Mar-2012 06:30 pm (UTC)
That's an ethnicity designator, it's not a racial identification by any means. You can be Hispanic & still be Black/White/etc.
20th-Mar-2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
Yup. This.

Also the guy was identified as white until weeks after the shooting when his dad was all "My kid can't be racist because his mama is Latina"

Cuz we all know Latino/as are never ever racist against black folk, nor do they try to assimilate, or aspire to whiteness for themselves or their children. Not ever.
20th-Mar-2012 07:59 pm (UTC)
20th-Mar-2012 04:18 pm (UTC)
I'm not usually a very vengeful person (although I gave up saying I was a pacifist long ago) but I hope they roast this guy.

Self-defense, my arse.
20th-Mar-2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
The man was white. "Hispanic" is not a racial designation: Zoe Saldana is black, Salma Hayek is white. Both are Hispanic. I don't think it's distinction too complicated to understand.

Kai in NYC
20th-Mar-2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
Well, he has apparently claimed both "Hispanic" and "White" as designations. So perhaps he's in an identity crisis.
20th-Mar-2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
The two are not mutually exclusive & in fact all that has been said is that he is Spanish speaking which people have inferred means he is of Latino descent.
20th-Mar-2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
That is true; I can equally claim Caucasian and Native American since I am 1/4 Navajo but am, to all intents and purposes, white.

But you don't think it's fair or accurate for him to be said to be Latino if he's Spanish-speaking? Now I'm confused.
20th-Mar-2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
I can speak German (admittedly not as well as I used to), and have for years. That doesn't make me an Afro-German.
20th-Mar-2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
True. And I can't speak Navajo at all.
20th-Mar-2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
It's Florida - most people speak Spanish there. I speak enough to get by in Miami, and I'm not Latina. (EDIT to note that I was born and raised in South Florida.)

Edited at 2012-03-20 08:00 pm (UTC)
20th-Mar-2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
I've read in several sources that his mother is Cuban, and his mug shot sure as heck doesn't look WASP-y. But regardless of how he identifies, he has a history of being very vocal about his hatred of black people.
20th-Mar-2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah but there are white Cubans who are also Latino. The history there for wealthier families would be lots of European Spanish & not much (if any) black or NDN intermarriage. He doesn't look WASp-y, but he also doesn't seem to have lived as a POC.
20th-Mar-2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
I agree entirely.
20th-Mar-2012 05:22 pm (UTC)
I've been grasping at straws trying to keep my head from 'sploding over this one.

He was a friggin' KID. The cops TOLD Zimmerman to back off, but no, he had to be a frackin' hero. Now he's a murderer, and no overly broad state law is going to change my opinion of that.

The truly galling part is the lack of action by the police and DA. Yes, they should have been more vigorous in their immediate investigation. Yes, there are reports that they told a witness to correct him/herself over who they heard screaming. Yes, the whole thing stinks to highest heaven.

And the ugliest part? There are probably a whole big fat bunch of people who will continue to defend Zimmerman no matter what facts come out. :-#
(Deleted comment)
20th-Mar-2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
I haven't listened. I can't. I posted because I feel like it's important to witness and speak, but I'm not yet (or maybe ever) up to listening.
20th-Mar-2012 06:14 pm (UTC) - Obnoxious, murderous vigilante...
... or mentally ill, obnoxious, murderous vigilante?

Heightened state of awareness. General paranoia. Repeated calls to law enforcement, to the point of being viewed as a neighborhood crank.

If the feds decide to target him, he >might< get court-appointed counsel pre-arrest/indictment. Which means he >might< get a private mental health evaluation. Because if he ends up in the federal system, they'll just ship him off to FDC Miami or Butner where he'll be stamped with "anti-social personality disorder" and kicked back to his prosecuting district.

What happened is terrible. But remember there were human beings on both sides of the gun.
20th-Mar-2012 06:28 pm (UTC) - Re: Obnoxious, murderous vigilante...
He murdered a child in cold blood & had the presence of mind to claim self defense. Pardon me if I lack any sympathy for someone who killed a child because of their racism.
20th-Mar-2012 06:38 pm (UTC) - Re: Obnoxious, murderous vigilante...
Even if he's mentally ill, the greater issue around this isn't "is what Zimmerman did wrong?" It was cold-blooded murder, so that's a no-brainer. The question is, "how can he not be arrested and charged?" An act of murder is horrible, but it's not something unusual. Societal approval for hunting and killing a human being, however, is horrifying and indicative of something wrong with the very social contract that supposedly underlies the state's power.
20th-Mar-2012 07:58 pm (UTC) - Re: Obnoxious, murderous vigilante...
Societal approval for hunting and killing a human being, however, is horrifying and indicative of something wrong with the very social contract that supposedly underlies the state's power.

Well-said; that's exactly what we're seeing here. Whether or not Zimmerman is mentally ill - and the description doesn't convince me that he is; that type of paranoia is characteristic of virulent racists, and racism isn't yet in the DSM-IV - that societal approval exists and is being exploited.
20th-Mar-2012 07:08 pm (UTC) - Re: Obnoxious, murderous vigilante...
That's a decision for a judge and jury to make. Regardless of whether he might be mentally ill (And there's no guarantee that he is. Armchair diagnoses are really fucking dangerous for everyone who legitimately does have a mental illness and I'd thank you to stop it) the police still have a duty to bring charges and let the judiciary system sort out criminal liability.
20th-Mar-2012 08:06 pm (UTC) - Re: Obnoxious, murderous vigilante...
Horrified brain was horrified. Then criminal defense brain kicked in, because that is who I am and that is what I do. I'm also a witch with strong Quaker sympathies, which means I recognize that there is that of the sacred in every living being. Even really, really disturbingly horrible human beings. What you see as armchair diagnosis, I see as both a mental "to do" list and an effort to keep part of the discussion open. It was wrong for Zimmerman to assume Trayvon was up to no good because he was a young black male. But it is also wrong to see a horrible, racist act and assume that is the entirety of Zimmerman's existence. When we put Zimmerman in a tiny mental box, we cease to examine that in our society which fed his warped sense of reality. We cease to examine how we can better recognize when people are becoming a danger to those around them, and how to appropriately deal with those situations before they turn tragic. Whether that be mental illness or racism or asshole-ism or some unholy combination of the three.

This was a horrible racist act. That is clear. The undercurrent to that that I see is the difficulty we as a country have had in balancing protecting our children (and, hell, each other) from those who would hurt them while somehow respecting the self-autonomy and liberty of those we believe might be dangerous.

Thanks to John Hinkley, Jr., most states' criminal justice systems and the federal criminal justice system have pretty much ended "not guilty by reason of insanity." There are variations on "guilty but mentally ill" that tend to result in institutionalization up to the maximum possible penalty under the crime charged. And you have to be pretty out of your mind to get there. As karnythia pointed out, Zimmerman had the presence of mind to claim self-defense. That points away from not knowing right from wrong at the time of his act.

As a travel agent for journies to the Bureau of Prisons, a surprising amount of my time is spent not on motions to suppress or trial arguments, but in examining, "how did we end up here?" People aren't born racist. They're not born murderers. Things happen in their lives that lead them to that place. Understanding that history gives us hope of correcting the behavior of the individual. But it also helps us try to prevent those hateful elements from infecting other young men and women.
20th-Mar-2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
As much as I've rambled on about other things, I do want to acknowledge your pain, 'song. I have seen enough hell that I think I'm a little inured to it, but then something like this swings around and takes the wind out of my lungs and turns the world at a funny angle. It seems to have hit you similarly.

It's hard. It's horrible. It's not fair. It is painful in its randomness. It can bare every nerve.

People talk about the ripple effect events like these have. Trayvon's death was no pebble in a quiet pond. We are feeling the shockwave from an atomic bomb.
25th-Mar-2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
As both a gun owner and someone who favors gun control- that guy shouldn't have been armed. Period. He had enough suspicious track record- including the domestic violence- that the cops should have taken his guns away. As, in theory, they would to such a guy in MA.

I see NO reason why him ingratiating himself with the local cops means that he is free to murder at will. And taking his most effective weapons away would at least slow it down.

I would like to see him prosecuted and convicted for first-degree homicide.
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