I Don’t Know Whether to be Heartened or Depressed

I am talking about the murder of Trayvon Martin, where both the Feds and the DA are opening investigations of what is clearly a murder. I guess that a few days of international condemnation got them moving:

Seven years after Florida adopted its sweeping self-defense law, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, has put that law at the center of an increasingly angry debate over how he was killed and whether law enforcement has the authority to charge the man who killed him.

The law, called Stand Your Ground, is one of 21 such laws around the country, many of them passed within the last few years. In Florida, it was pushed heavily by the National Rifle Association but opposed vigorously by law enforcement.

It gives the benefit of the doubt to a person who claims self-defense, regardless of whether the killing takes place on a street, in a car or in a bar — not just in one’s home, the standard cited in more restrictive laws. In Florida, if people feel they are in imminent danger from being killed or badly injured, they do not have to retreat, even if it would seem reasonable to do so. They have the right to “stand their ground” and protect themselves.

That is precisely the question in the case: Was the gunman, George Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic crime watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., in imminent danger and acting in self-defense during his encounter with Trayvon Martin, as he asserts?

In the three weeks since Trayvon, 17, a well-liked high school student from Miami with no criminal record, was killed, public protests have grown larger and louder, and so have calls for Mr. Zimmerman’s arrest. The Police Department in Sanford, near Orlando, said that under the law, it had no call to bring charges.

But late Monday, the Department of Justice said it had opened an inquiry into the shooting. It will run parallel with one announced on Tuesday by the state attorney in Seminole County, who said a grand jury would be convened. State attorneys use grand juries in cases when they cannot make a clear independent call, or when a case is explosive.

(emphasis mine)

Let’s be clear what happened: A white, self appointed “neighborhood watch” with a history of harassment in the neighborhood, chased a black child down down, and shot him, and the police said that they were sorry, but there was nothing that they could do.

It was only after this blew up that the DA decided to convene a grand jury, because, it became too embarrassing.

If this hadn’t made the news, it would just be one more dead black person, in a town with a long and notorious history of law enforcement racism and corruption, and it would have been “nothing to see here, move along.”

So, it looks like there might actually be an investigation (good) but only because there was an international outcry (not good).

Me, I’m a glass half empty kind of guy.

Leave a Reply