When a country lives in fear

Editorial: ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws set the bar low for use of deadly force at George Zimmerman trial


 
What happens when a country lives in fear

Joe Burbank/The New York Times

There’s no doubt that the Florida jurors who cleared George Zimmerman of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin came to the correct decision last week. But sometimes there is a vast difference between justice and what is just.

Under the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law it doesn’t matter that the 17-year-old victim was unarmed, or how—or even why—the fatal confrontation started. The only salient issue was whether his 29-year-old killer, the self-appointed captain of the neighbourhood watch, had a “reasonable belief” that he himself might be killed or suffer “great bodily harm.” In Florida, and the more than 30 other U.S. states that have bowed to pressure from the National Rifle Association and remade the definition of self-defence, it’s now basically shoot first and answer one simple question later: Were you scared?

Zimmerman never took the stand in his defence, and he didn’t need to. The standard Florida-sized jury of six women—five were white, and one Hispanic—clearly sympathized with his plight and shared similar insecurities. In an interview with CNN, one juror, her identity concealed, placed much of the blame on Martin, a young black man strolling back from the 7-11 in the dark and rain with his hoodie up along the streets and paths of a gated community. “Anybody would think anybody walking down the road, stopping and turning and looking, if that’s exactly what happened, was suspicious,” she said. And while Zimmerman went “above and beyond” what he should have done, ignoring the entreaties of a police dispatcher and leaving his truck to pursue Martin on foot, his “heart was in the right place,” she added. There had been a lot of thievery in his grandly named, if slightly rundown, Retreat at Twin Lakes subdivision. “I have no doubt George feared for his life.”

Much of the attention on this case has focused on race. And certainly it’s fair to wonder whether police would have been so quick to buy the self-defence argument had the young victim been white, or the shooter black. But the facts have never really fit that still-too-familiar narrative. Zimmerman, half-Hispanic and bilingual, had friends of all races growing up in Virginia, and in his more recent Florida years has mentored a number of black teens. And the Twin Lakes community is more diverse than its gated status might suggest. (Martin was there visiting his father’s girlfriend and her son, who are among several African-American residents.)

What the testimony and evidence introduced over the three-week trial really pointed to is a problem with fear. When Zimmerman set up the neighbourhood watch in the summer of 2012, upset over a rash of property crimes, local police counselled him and the other volunteers not to arm themselves. But the young man went out and got himself a licensed 9mm pistol all the same. Over the eight months before the shooting, he called the police dozens of times, reporting on not just suspicious characters, but speeding vehicles and stray dogs, too. He was on his way to the grocery store, early on a Sunday night, when he spotted the kid in the hoodie. Martin, who was on the phone with a girlfriend back in Miami, was apparently scared, too—telling her that he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracka.” And when the confrontation started, right outside the back doors of several townhomes just after 7 p.m., none of the neighbours who were watching or listening came outside to intervene, or respond to the cries for help.

Putting aside the break-ins at Retreat at Twin Lakes, crime has been falling for years in Florida—just like practically everywhere else in North America. Violent crime in particular, with 67,000 fewer offenses in 2012 than in 1992, despite the state’s population having grown by more than 5.5 million. But that’s not the public perception, either statewide or nationally. Opinion polls consistently show people believe the problem is getting worse with each passing year.

It’s that seemingly unshakable sense of dread that the NRA and its ally, the American Legislative Exchange Council, capitalized on when they picked Florida as the beta test for their bid to expand gun rights via Stand Your Ground. Latching on to the case of James Workman, a 77-year-old pensioner who had spent months in legal limbo after shooting an intruder in his trailer, they managed to engage public sympathy and push the statute through the legislature virtually unopposed.

But setting the bar for the use of deadly—or potentially deadly—force so low has had real consequences, and not just for Trayvon Martin. In Florida, in the five years before the enactment of the law in 2005, there were an average of 12 such “justifiable” killings by private citizens each year. In the five years after, the average leapt to 36. (The number of justifiable homicides by police officers in the state has also risen sharply, going from an average of 21 per year to 50 per year.) And “standing your ground” has become a popular and effective defence for everything from stabbings to assaults with baseball bats. A recent Tampa Bay Times analysis of more than 130 incidents where the statute was invoked found that a majority of the cases never went to trial. Sometimes it even works after the fact, like the 2010 confrontation in Town N’ Country, a Tampa suburb, where a late-night jogger pulled his gun on a teen who reportedly tried to rob him, and shot him four times in the back as he ran away. No charges were ever filed.

In the wake of Zimmerman’s acquittal, organizations like the NAACP are pushing for federal civil rights charges against Martin’s killer. The Justice department is examining the case. And Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, has said the “tragic, unnecessary death” should be embraced as an opportunity for the nation to speak honestly about “complicated and emotionally charged issues.” Most took that as code for race. But in the second term of their first black president, the state—and states—of fear that plague modern America are arguably a bigger problem. One that simplistic laws and lawmakers are only making worse.


 

When a country lives in fear

  1. Response to the editors: The stand your ground law was not used during this trial. Zimmerman did not invoke it. This makes the title of this editorial misleading and inappropriate. There are reasons that the Stand your ground laws were enacted in various states. They are in response to other states passing legislation making someone legally liable for shooting an intruder in their house. To be told that one should escape their home and call 911 when their children are sleeping in another room is ludicrous. There are people who have shot intruders who have then been sued by the intruder who was shot. Stand your ground laws were enacted to stop this type of mockery of justice.

    • Shooting someone and “defending” yourself and your family is hardly what a sane adult who is not a LEO would do. If one’s children are sleeping in another room and there is an intruder in the house, go to the children, lock and barricade the door, stay away from it, and call 911 from a cell phone or a cordless phone. Shooting an intruder would make the homeowner as criminal as the unwanted person in the house. But then, that seems to be ignored in America today, for the most part. Shoot first and don’t ask questions later has become standard and lame excuses for wanting to be some sort of misidentified “hero”. God help us from these characters who believe such.

      • By Leo are you referring to the astrology sign?

        There are characters who believe as such? You mean there are people who believe that they have the right to defend their family against home invaders.

        I find it equally ridiculous that I must equally provide for the protection of the intruder as myself or my family. While I understand that you seem to value the sanctity of all life regardless of the person I also believe that one has the right to defend their family. If someone breaks into my house, I do not know if they are armed and I am not going to ask them. That is ridiculous. I have the obligation to defend my person and my family. If you can call 911 and lock the door with yourself and your kids, that may be the prudent measure. That does not mean one is obligated to do so in all circumstances. I have the right to defend myself. In some sense the intruder, the home invader, the possible rapist or murdered has forfeited their rights upon their forced entry into my home…

        • A “LEO” is a law enforcement officer.

          Your response is thoughtful and makes valid points, although I just don’t agree with your viewpoint, personally.

          I agree that we all have a right to defend our families, but where I draw the line is at shooting someone and becoming a criminal myself.

          Law enforcement officers (police) are given the justifiable right to defend the public in an situation where there is a threat. To circumvent that by taking matters into one’s own hands is to become a vigilante.

    • While the Stand your ground law was not used as a defense, it most certainly played in the verdict. Zimmerman went out as a self-appointed watchman armed and dangerous and stalked a young man that was (as his defense contended) acting suspiciously and confronted him after being told to stand down. He then, in fear for his life, shot him and claimed self defense. This means anyone can instigate a situation that would put him or her in fear for life and then shoot someone. In Florida and else where, if confronted while taking a walk in the evening by an unknown stranger, be prepared to be gentle and non-aggressive in your demeanor for fear of being legitimately shot, or take a walk while being armed in order to respond accordingly. Remember that a precedent has now been established in law to allow to shoot when someone responds aggressively to you while cruising the neighborhood.

      • My understanding is that while Zimmerman was “following” Martin, he never actually confronted him. It was Martin who began a physical altercation in response to Zimmerman’s “following” of him. This in actuality makes Martin the aggressor and Zimmerman the victim. The physical injuries that Zimmerman sustained along with the “witness” accounts were enough to persuade a jury that Zimmerman was not guilty of second degree murder or the thrown in charge of manslaughter. I do not believe this sets any kind of precedent that you seem to fear. I do not think we have to worry about this becoming a common occurrence. Clearly Zimmerman was guilty of poor judgement. That, no one can argue, at least no reasonable person. He made some stupid decisions that combined with Martin’s alleged assault ended in a needless death. There are no winners.

  2. THIS WAS NOT A STAND YOUR GROUND CASE. THIS TYPE OF DEFENSE WAS NEVER USED IN THIS TRIAL. Can you people wake up and get your facts straight?

  3. this is a 29 year old adult vs a 17 year old teenager,
    as a neighborhood watchman, and, supposedly a responsible adult, (especially when carrying a firearm), he should have announced who he was, and, say something like “boy i have a weapon, don’t try anything funny” or something in that nature. i am sure Trayvon would have surrendered, right away, this child didn’t know, he was dealing with armed nutball. if only he knew. The state, and the adult did not protect him. Instead the shooter did everything to cover his ass, even denigrating this innocent child. Shame on America, and their beloved GUNS.

    • I agree with you on Zimmerman’s missteps but wonder what you mean by saying he denigrated this child?

      • i mean that he and the prosecution trashed the child’s character with allegations,

        • I think you mean the defense trashed the character of the kid. That is the job of the defense to question the character of the opposition, in an effort to put reasonable doubt in the mind of the Jury.

          I do not remember if the handgun picture or one in which Martin was giving the finger were allowed in the case.
          What is apparent is that Martin sustained injuries to his knuckles and Zimmerman did to his nose and head. As dumb as Zimmerman was, after hearing all of the evidence, the jury believed that Martin was the aggressor. It was Martin who turned around and began the physical altercation with Zimmerman.
          In the court of public opinion, the media has trashed the character of Zimmerman while building up Martin’s. This is pretty evident by the choices of pictures that the various media outlets have used.
          It is frustrating that one is forced to go to the FOX network (gag) to get the rest of the information left out by other media outlets… I would just love it if there was one that presented the whole picture and discussed the differing positions instead of attempting to shape our opinions for us…

    • Florida’s tourist trade was suffering. Canadians and others were scarred to go.

      Florida brought in “concealed carry” laws in to combat the THUGS carrying out carjackings and other personal attacks on people.

      After a few of the thugs got themselves shot, the carjackings almost ceased, personal attacks went down and tourists returned to Florida.

      Because of this same sort of problem, Illinois a very left leaning Democrat state, is bringing in “concealed carry”

      The problem in the US is THUGS and the fact that they don’t enforce existing laws to keep guns away from convicted felons. (political correctness at work)

      • as a tourist, that law does not reassure me,
        what if i was mistaken for a thug?

        • I guess Lysa it depends on the choice of clothing you decide to wear, the geographical location you choose to hang out in and the time you are there. These are all risk factors.

          The whole debate about this stuff becomes emotionally charged when we attempt to analyze stuff through race. You are not supposed to profile people because of the color of their skin but when you are in an area where a disproportionate number of crimes are being committed by one segment of the population then it is sheer folly not to bring this into the discussion. What we should not do is throw around accusations of racism whenever these things are brought up. It just makes serious dialogue impossible.
          It is very much like when someone protests against the policies of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians and then they are called antisemitic.

          • a country that will shoot people based on those factors is not a country that should be carrying around guns.

          • GFMD, I think that is an oversimplification of the issue. Lets say there
            was a rash of people dressing up as clowns and luring children to their
            deaths. It probably would not be bright then to dress up as a clown. It just raises the odds that someone is going to overreact. This does not excuse that person’s behavior of course, but you can see where it would come from.
            Growing up in the suburbs, I did not have any fear that a white male was going to carjack me when I was in the urban areas where that was a problem. So I did not really have to pay attention. I darned well had to pay attention when I was in urban areas and African-American males wearing certain types of clothing were around traffic lights. Now is that fair to all of those males that those thoughts would cross my mind when I saw them and was stopped at the lights? Not really.
            That though was the segment of the community where that problem was coming from.
            The issues are complicated and unfair. There is a lot of gray area and many people have their own agendas and are not afraid to bully others by intimidation and name calling when people have different opinions than their own.

          • dude, just no. stop being a dick.

          • dude what?
            no in what context?
            Could you please define specifically what you mean when you say dick in the context of what is being discussed?

          • Because there is absolutely no way you can be advocating a society that can jump to that level of conclusion should be carrying guns.

          • It is not so much a level of conclusion as I believe it to be a level of awareness of one’s environment. We perceive the threat in our environment.
            That said, the VAST majority of people who legally carry guns do so responsibly. I don’t advocate a gun for every person. I certainly don’t own one … but I like knowing I could if I got the proper permits etc….
            I have lots of issues with our current society as well … I struggle with Zimmerman getting no punishment. It just doesn’t feel right. If he has any conscience, his mistakes will plague him until the day he dies.
            I am troubled with race being made an issue when seems not to be in this particular case.

          • ‘the vast majority of people who carry guns, do so responsibly,’ o.k.

            What about the minority that carry guns irresponsibly?

            it’s not just about the paperwork, it is a VERY important responsibility here?

          • Race not an issue? Zimmerman thought Martin was suspicious – why, exactly? Would he have thought him suspicious if he were white?

            And it would seem Martin’s response to Zimmerman was at least partly because he was white.

            Race was most assuredly a factor.

          • I was not there and was not on the jury so I can only do as much as anyone who was not one of those “8” people.

            After the trial “and during” it was explained that there were a number of break-in in that gated community.

            Zimmerman was the watch guy. He had spoke and given his and his wife’s telephone number to at least one person who had been burgled in that community. The defense made the case that he clearly was trying to help the people in his community.

            He had at least one black friend who lived next door to him and took a black girl to his prom.

            Martin was wearing a hoodie, so it seems Zimmerman did not know at first what “color” he was.

            Zimmerman is only partly of European extract. He identifies himself as Hispanic, so when you assert that Martin thought he was “white”, you are making a claim that there is absolutely no evidence to support.

            Would Zimmerman have thought he was suspicious if he were white? maybe? The FBI has conducted an thorough investigation interviewing something like 18 people that Zimmerman knew or hung out with ect … and they have not been able to find any evidence to support the claim that Zimmerman disliked blacks…

            Look, I think this whole thing is awful. I also hate the way the media has played it up. I hate the way that many in America made up there mind by listening to biased media outlets and political leaders who evidently are using this tragedy to their political advantage… I know that is what politics are but it sucks that this is on a subject that has not had any time to heal for Americans… Again, there really are no winners in this case… Everyone pays… Everyone hurts…

          • But there all these calls Zimmerman made to the police reporting ‘a black man’. It sounds like an obsession he had.

          • “creepy-ass cracka” – yes, he thought Zimmerman was white.

            See Jan re Zimmerman thinking he’s black.

          • Doesn’t this town have a little history of shall we say, bad race relations? If anyone saw the new movie about Jackie Robin, this is the town he was forced out of for feat of his life. And CNN did a little history on it – things like cementing over the public swimming pool rather than conform to anti-segegration laws.

        • Are you planning to act like a burglar or carjacker in an area with that sort of problem?

          Generally if you are not acting like a thug you will not be treated as one.

          One must use logic and commons sense and teach our children the same.

          • you nailed it:

            “logic and common sense & teach our children”

            that is my point!

          • That “generally” is the scary bit in a country that’s fully armed.

          • If you live in a country where political correctness protects the thugs “generally” is a s good as you can ever expect.

    • Dude, don’t call a black kid boy.

      Of course, don’t shoot him, either, but…

  4. It was by no means “clear” at all. While his tale, if believed, would exculpate him, many many a person has killed someone with no witnesses around, brought a version of events to trial which would make him innocent, and yet would up in jail.

    • While what you say is true, the Jury found Zimmerman’s “story” more believable than what the prosecution said happened. So in that regard it is perfectly clear … though I understand your frustration. Zimmerman made some awful poor choices that at the very least contributed to the ending of a young man’s life.
      (the choice of the word boy is probably not the best thing to say when shouting at a young black male) Heck, no teenager likes to be referred to as boy in that context I would think…

      • All true, but maclean’s opened with – “There’s no doubt that the Florida jurors who cleared George Zimmerman of
        all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin came to the correct
        decision last week.”

        I see now I quoted the term clear instead of no doubt, so that error was mine. I was referring mostly to their opening sentence.

      • He could have called him kid, but the word ‘boy’ has racial connotations. In 2013 nobody should be using it without being called on it for what it is.

  5. Why are you bringing up Stand Your Ground? It had nothing to do with this case. You will not find those words in the transcripts.

    • Jury instructions from the case:

      “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was
      attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to
      retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force,
      including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary
      to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or
      to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

      Please stop being so disingenuous. Just because there was no hearing to drop the case based on the law does not mean that it had no role to play in the jury’s decision.

  6. There’s a role-playing game called Paranoia, where you’re encouraged to shoot your fellow team-mates, so that at the end of the game you can stand in front of the debriefing officer and go, “I can say without fear of being contradicted…”

    Sounds like the same type of thing here.

  7. It is proven that states that have stand your ground laws see greater decreases in violent crime. The crime rate is dropping in the U.S. This year the murder rate is on track to be at its lowest rate since 1957. Since 1991, the crime rate has gone down by over 50%. During that time, every state(and just now Illinois) passed concealed carry legislation. Since 1991, over 30 states have adopted stand your ground laws. This together with long sentencing and use of the death penalty has had an effect. These stand your ground laws were passed because we had crooks breaking into peoples houses and suing them when the homeowner fought back. The most dangerous city in America is Chicago where until this month there was no concealed carry. That same city also tries to ban private ownership of handguns. The state of Illinois(includes Chicago) has no stand your ground law or death penalty. The same thing goes for Detroit where the city government(democrat controlled) has battled the state government over gun rights. The problem is not stand your ground. The problem is pro-criminal liberals in both U.S. and Canada who want citizens to live in fear of criminals rather than give them the means to fight back. As “Sane Canadian” says barricade yourself in and pray that the police get there before the guy gets into the room. And if the criminal gets in their first do what? Beg and whimper for your life. How about the widowed young mother(her husband had just died of cancer) in Oklahoma who used stand your ground to protect herself and her son when a drug crazed lunatic with a knife tried to break through the front door of her trailer? With Sane Canadian’s” thinking we would be putting in a body bag.

    • Utter crap. Crime rate’s been dropping in Canada as well, and until the CPC, we’ve actually had our gun legislation become stricter.

    • Have you checked the statistics on gun crime in Canada? If your claim about Canadian thinking were true, shouldn’t a lot of Canadians be in body bags due to being murdered by crazed killers? You cite a case of a woman in Oklahoma and a “drug-crazed lunatic” with a knife coming after she and her son. Well, what about the many cases where parents have killed their own children in their own yards and homes with guns because they mistaken them for intruders?
      A few years ago, an American came to my hometown, Calgary, to partake of our yearly Stampede. He lamented that he didn’t have his gun as he would have liked to have pulled it on two young men whom he said approached he and his wife in a large park in Calgary and abruptly inquired if they had attended the Stampede. After he told them to “get away” from he and his wife, he wrote a scathing letter to the local newspaper complaining about Canada’s restrictive gun laws and how unsafe he felt in the middle of a sunny afternoon in Calgary without his hand gun. Later, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce reported that they had hired young people to go through the park giving away free tickets to the Stampede. That man very well might have shot two people whom he perceived as intimidating but who in fact were offering he and his wife free rodeo tickets. This whole fear that everyone is out to get you, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see danger everywhere and you feel compelled to ‘get them” before they get you. In Canada, we don’t have that mentality and usually we are right.

  8. Thank GOD I live in this country!
    I would never consider crossing the boarder, it just seems to be a totally different world where someone next to me can be packing a gun. I think acces to a gun is much too easy and they can get in the wrong persons hand that might be unstable (and we all know what happens with that scenario).
    Anyway that is just my opinion.

  9. I live in a state that has a “stand your ground” law. I also have a concealed carry permit to carry if I choose to do so. I AM NOT some gun wielding right wing fanatic but I do want to protect myself and my family if the need arises.
    The person that suggested I barricade myself and family and plead for mercy, and the person that thought there was no need for law abiding citizens to have these rights because crime is dropping are missing the point entirely.
    Families like mine are alive and crime is dropping because the bad guy on the other side of the door does not know if he or she is putting their life in danger when they come through that door
    Remember- when you might have seconds to live, the police are only minutes away.

    • I don’t like legal gun ownership. The evidence as to whether they have any deterrent effect is conflicted, at best, and the evidence as to whether they are responsible for increasing the number of accidental homicides or can allow for an escalation of a minor altercation to a homicide is clear. I agree with the notion of self-defense, but there are other, less-lethal options that allow this. (As a side note, I find it completely asinine that tasers are illegal weapons in Canada while handguns are only restricted)

      That said, I will agree that if guns are to be allowed, concealed carry simply makes the most sense. For there to be any deterrent effect at all from gun ownership, would-be criminals must always be in doubt whether the person they are targeting possesses a gun.

      However I have absolutely no use for “stand your ground” laws. The defense of self-defense is perfectly adequate in these cases, and I personally feel that anybody who commits a homicide, whether in self defense or not, should be charged and investigated thoroughly, and it must be shown that it really was a case of self-defense — a clear and present threat to life or limb that would require a lethal response. Anything less makes it too easy for criminals to legally murder someone.

  10. No-one claims that Trayvon Martin was violent by nature, or had any criminal history. Zimmerman chose to follow and confront him despite police advice to not do so BECAUSE he (Zimmerman) was carrying a gun. That gun and the confidence it gave him led him to confront the 17 year old with no real justification, and it was the solution he chose to rely on when that confrontation didn’t go as he planned. That’s at least manslaughter.

    • No-one claims that Trayvon Martin was violent by nature, or had any criminal history.

      Yes they did.

  11. The author should read what the Criminal Code of Canada says regarding the use of force. To use lethal force one needs to have a reasonable fear of grievous bodily harm or death. There are no special rules regarding the use of lethal force for the police.

    If a Canadian cop had been in the same position as Zimmerman- on the ground having his head smashed against the pavement- he could have shot and wouldn’t have be charged.

    • Not having lived in Canada for the past 28 years, I am not up to speed on current law, but it sounds like you have a version of the “stand your ground’ or “make my day” law that we have in most States here in the U.S.
      What is really sad is that you do not have the freedom to purchase the tools necessary in order to help you enact that law.

  12. It’s easy to see why Maclean’s has been going into the tank the last few years when I see what the editors are writing. Without quality writing like Wells’ around this mag would be trash just like Time and whatever is left of Newsweek.
    People who want the facts can wander over to Amiel’s article in this same mag.

  13. Stand your ground has nothing to do with this case, so the entire premise of this article is false.

    Lookee here… black man shoots white teenager and is acquitted on self defense.

    http://rochester.ynn.com/content/top_stories/490926/jury-finds-roderick-scott-not-guilty/

    Somehow the national and international media missed that one. No ridiculous accusations of racism, no protests, no campaigns, no white house pronouncements, no ridiculous articles about “stand your ground” like this one.

  14. So lets get this straight Zimmerman was on his way back from the grocery store (strapped up with his 9mm) and spotted someone on his return trip, someone who was not on his property and or threatening him on any other level other than zimmerman’s “spidey senses”? After thoroughly deciding whether this young mans walking in public was an act of aggression towards himself (Zimmerman); he decided to confront the teenager in the street, LEAVING HIS VEHICLE in the process… (The safety of his vehicle) in the process to confront a teenager who was walking down the street.
    Due to the fact that Zimmerman went out of his way ( completely pulling over his vehicle probably shutting it off, left his vehicle probably locked the door, and “confronted” the by stander walking in public it would be safe to assume he did so in manor that would seem abnormal to almost any person in public. Not with intent to harm, just an innocent civilian interrogation into the motives of another innocent civilian.
    So what gives Zimmerman the right to question a complete stranger on his intentions? Whether or not he is a member of the local neighborhood watch, the term neighborhood watch is as sounds neighborhood “WATCH”. Not neighborhood “SS”.
    Race is a factor obviously, but who would think otherwise, young black male, dark clothes, apparently “troubled” neighborhood where maybe more black people are convicted of crimes than whites, It would be like a white goth kid in a trench coat showing up at his high school, or a white guy combing the block in his minivan near the preschool. You could argue that any of those things would draw an alarm in someone based on previous records of crime. But most people would notify the police, Which Zimmerman had done numerous times in the past to no avail. Which brings me to my next arguement.

    Zimmerman acted as a vigilante. Questioning the public on their intentions, motives daily activities, is completely out of line and was done because Zimmerman himself knew the police would ignore his spidey sense. He knew that this would just be another call from the crazed local chairman of the neighborhood watch and that it would be laughed off by local police. Zimmerman took the law into his own hands and decided he had the right to question a complete stranger, regardless of him having a weapon, or his intention to use it, or this being racially charged; the issue is he DECIDED TO TAKE THE LAW INTO HIS OWN HANDS AND QUESTION A CIVILIAN REGARDING HIS ACTIVITIES IN SOCIETY. A job reserved for police officers.

    An altercation ensues ( that could have been avoided ) had Zimmerman not been so aggressive in his nature of serving justice in his neighborhood which resulted in the death of young man who may have attacked zimmerman after he repeatedly questioned him on his intentions. No one came outside to help after hearing gun shots because well one would assume that a criminal had gunned someone down.

    A Teenaged boy made the mistake of feeling like he had to defend himself from a stranger approaching him, that is the direct result of the same feeling that Zimmerman got when he seen a young black male walking down the street.

    Had Zimmerman not been carrying a hand gun he would have never approached the boy.

    Had Zimmerman never have approached the boy, he never would been shot.

    It was Zimmerman’s responsibility as an adult member of the community watch to notify police officers of events that were taking place and or that he felt were to result in a crime. It was not his responsibility to act as a member of law enforcement and persecute members of the public which had he been acting like a model citizen of society he would not have done.

    Someone who feels they have the right to question people while they walk down the street in a hoodie should not be among the public.

    He is a danger to society.

    He is sick. He has a mental illness, an obsession with personally manufacturing justice within his neighborhood which has resulted in the death of a member of the community. Not only should he be in an institution, he should not be able to have a license to carry a weapon.

    One problem in America is people with mental illness having ease of access to weapons.
    Batman is a hero vigilante in comic books, but at the end of the day his character is defined by multiple mental disorders, he has multiple personalities, and (takes it upon himself to act and create justice in society)- zimmerman. Which when not in comic books is wrong. Civilians don’t need to be walking the streets with weapons deciding if their neighbors actions are criminal or not and how to go about putting a stop to them.
    Zimmerman’s power ended at the phone, he had the right to phone the police
    “I believe there is a suspicious young boy walking the streets at night officer I think he may be up to no good”.
    Which should make him responsible for at least manslaughter.
    You can’t start a fight at the bar and then shoot the guy when he threatens to hit you back… or can you?
    Who’s to say he won’t do this again, after all they’ve given him the right to question people and kill them when they defend themselves. All without a badge.

  15. Check your dates before publishing an article. How did Zimmerman set up the neighbourhood watch and buy his pistol in summer of 2012 when the shooting happened in February 2012. Fail.