Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Self-defense has unofficial racial exceptions

The country has turned to the mainstream media to shed light on the events that unfolded the evening of Feb. 26 between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, which left 17-year-old African-American, Martin, dead. The media has provided articles and headlines labeling Zimmerman’s as racially motivated vigilante.

The death of any youth is undeniably tragic, but the media’s failure to provide a non-biased article presenting all the facts of the events that night has lead to misinterpretation by the American people.

Nearly a month after the shooting occurred, evidence surfaced indicating that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.

After multiple crimes took place in the neighborhood, The Retreat, Twin Lakes in Florida, the homeowners’ association wanted to create a neighborhood watch program to keep their residents safe. Zimmerman, a criminal justice student and a licensed gun carrier, was the man to volunteer.

The police had to be called to the neighborhood 402 times between Jan. 1, 2011 and Feb. 26, 2012, for break-ins, thefts and one other shooting. During that period, Zimmerman called the police 46 times himself; one of which led to the arrest of a burgler.

The Feb. 26 events began with a 911 call made by Zimmerman when he spotted Martin walking through the gated neighborhood acting in a “suspicious” manner. Zimmerman described Martin as “just walking around, looking about” in the rain.

While still on the phone with the police dispatcher, Zimmerman began pursuing Martin. The dispatcher told Zimmerman, “We don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman replied by saying “ok” and then informed the dispatcher, “He (Martin) ran…. I don’t know where this kid is.”

Martin, at this time, was on the phone with his girlfriend who said Martin told her that a strange man was pursuing him. While on the phone, she heard Martin ask Zimmerman, “What are you following me for?” Zimmerman responded, “What are you doing here?” The phone call then ended with what the girlfriend heard as “pushing,” and the headset went silent.

The next series of evidence comes from the variety of eyewitnesses who live in the neighborhood. Several residents began calling 911 claiming to have heard an altercation with someone screaming, “Help!” One gunshot was also heard.

Most of the 911 calls recorded were made post gunshot, but there is one call available where “help” can be heard for at least 45 seconds followed by the single gunshot.

MyFoxOrlando was one of the local TV stations reporting from the crime scene after the shooting. They interviewed a man, John, who lived directly in front of where the altercation and shooting took place. John said that “the man on the bottom (Zimmerman) was yelling to me ‘Help! Help!’ and I told him to stop, and I was calling 911.”

The resident locked his patio door, ran upstairs and then heard the gunshot. When the man looked out his window again he saw “the guy who was on the top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point.”

The police arrived on scene shortly after and tried to resuscitate Martin, but at 7:30 p.m. he was pronounced dead. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, and on those grounds, he was not arrested.

After the police arrived, they got Zimmerman’s statement. He claimed Martin attacked him by punching him in the nose and sent Zimmerman to the ground. Martin then climbed on top of Zimmerman and began beating him, slamming his head into the ground and even reaching for the gun.

According to the 2010 Florida Statutes, Title XLVI, Chapter 776.012, a person has justifiable cause for using deadly force if: “He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

Zimmerman is protected under Florida law, a law that has been adopted by 30 other states – Texas included. The law was created so a person in danger has the right to protect himself or herself regardless of the attacker’s race.

Controversy was created when the 911-call that Zimmerman made was released and what sounds like the racial slur “f*****g c**ns” heard. The slur raised questions that the shooting could have been a hate crime.

The comment, while inappropriate, is irrelevant to Zimmerman who believed his life was in danger, causing him to act in self-defense.

“George Zimmerman suffered a broken nose and had an injury to the back of his head, Zimmerman’s attorney Craig Sonner said, “This was a case of self-defense.”

Another fact missed by the media is that Martin was at his father’s house in Miami that evening because he was suspended from school for a week for the possession of marijuana. Martin had also been suspended previously for graffiti.

The possession of the illegal drug and graffiti is not to demoralize Martin’s reputation, but it does highlight Martin’s history of troubling behavior at his high school.

This case has now become a national issue and The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (NBPP) has offered $10,000 for the capture of Zimmerman. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” NBPP leader Mikhail Muhammad said.

The NBPP is a political organization, which was founded in 1989 and not an official successor of the Black Panther Party. The party does not have the authority to offer a reward for the capture of Zimmerman, nor do they have the power to take any actions against him if they do have him in custody – other than to turn him over to the authorities if he was wanted for prosecution, which he is not.

In addition to the party’s public demand, which added to the racial tension a shirt was created with a picture of Zimmerman and the words using a racial slur “p***y a** c*****r.”

A grand jury will come together on April 10 to further examine the Trayvon Martin case, and the case has also been investigated by the Justice Department. Hopefully, the media and the public will take all facts into consideration before further assumptions are made about the motive behind the loss. This case will certainly change the way law enforcement and the courts will justify self-defense with racial boundaries in the future.

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