One of the inner, intellectual conflicts I think the Zimmerman case has brought to light for me is the fact that I believe people do need to take more responsibility for the safety of their communities, but I also believe that, quite often, the type of people who are willing to step up to do this are not the types you’d really want involved. It is a dichotomy.
Regardless of whether Zimmerman is ultimately no billed or acquitted, for me it will still go back to the fact that he made the circumstances for an unnecessary confrontation, which lead to an unnecessary shooting. Had Zimmerman witnessed Martin breaking into cars, or assaulting people, and was in the process of tracking him so he could help the police find him, I think most people would look favorably on that kind of engagement, even if the police had advised against it. I certainly would look favorably on someone who helped police catch a a criminal after witnessing the crime.
I think the real problem in this case, and which makes it such a power keg, is the fact that Zimmerman had no objective reason to believe Treyvon was suspicious, and even if he did, confronting suspicious people is something that’s really best left to people who wear a badge and a uniform. The perception of suspicion is the racial element of the case. That’s why everyone is becoming unhinged.
Zimmerman’s friend, who is black, has defended him against charges of being a racist, sayingÂ “I’m a black male and all that I know is that George has never given me any reason whatsoever to believe he has anything against people of color.” I can believe that Zimmerman is not blatantly or outwardly racist, but it’s very difficult for me to see what else could have driven his suspicion. This townhouse complex doesn’t appear isolated or small enough that you can expect to have previously seen everyone who could be legitimately walking through the neighborhood. There seems to be many black families living in the neighborhood. It’s reasonable to expect black families have relatives who are also black, that may be seen walking through the neighborhood. So what was driving the suspicion? The hoodie? Even in the rain? One thought about why Martin could have been walking slowly and wandering around is that he was on the phone with his girlfriend, and Zimmerman couldn’t see the phone. I would tend to pace around slowly and act strangely if speaking to someone who couldn’t see the fact that I was on the phone. Perhaps that is objective grounds for suspicion, but for me it keeps coming back to suspicions being a good reason to wait for the cops. There’s a world of difference between suspicion and witnessing crime.