Someone asked whether I was watching the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin trial.
And that has been the problem since the nation learned that a neighborhood watch captain chased an innocent 17-year-old and shot him to death, because “These assholes always get away.”
It is a shame that the defendant and victim have both been on trial. It is a shame that a jury heard neither testify.
But Zimmerman didn’t have to testify. His attorneys cannot erase the final moments of Martin’s life and the beginning of Zimmerman’s hell, when he chased a boy because he was black.
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something,” Zimmerman told a the 911 dispatcher whom he called after seeing Martin walking back to his father’s home from a store.
“He’s just staring, looking at all the houses. Now he’s coming toward me. He’s got his hand in his waistband. Something’s wrong with him.”
Zimmerman followed Martin, who was talking on his cell phone.
“He’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands. I don’t know what his deal is. Can we get an officer over here?”
Then Zimmerman decides to become hunter.
“These assholes always get away,” Zimmerman said to the dispatcher. “Shit, he’s running.”
“Are you following him?” asked the dispatcher.
“Yes,” Zimmerman said.
“We don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher said.
Zimmerman didn’t listen. Instead, he went after Martin, who was not the aggressor but a frightened teen trying to get away. And that is where he made his mistake.
It’s called Neighborhood Watch, not Neighborhood Stalk and Kill.
The trial was not about whether George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. He confessed.
It’s not about whether there was a crime. Martin died.
The trial is about whether George Zimmerman had the right to commit murder.
His attorneys offered two defenses. First, there’s Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which gave Zimmerman the right to protect his property and himself.
Problem was Zimmerman’s ground kept moving. He decided that Stand Your Ground meant Chase Your Ground, even as he later tried to convince police officers that he feared Martin.
And Zimmerman’s attorneys interviewed a combat expert who said Zimmerman picked a fight he couldn’t win. Since he was losing, he felt entitled to shoot Martin in self-defense. Yes, that expert said it with a straight face for $125 an hour. Martin was stronger, bigger and was beating him.
And that is what is most important about this case: If George Zimmerman is found not guilty of killing someone he was losing a fight to, does that open the floodgates for similar cases?
Second, when the police tell you not to do something, is it optional? Should the police officers have said, emphatically: “Do not follow him!” Would that have worked with Zimmerman who was already on a mission?
Trayvon Martin was in the fight of his life last March, confronted by a stranger because he was a black teen and the neighborhood had had problems with black teens before.
Trayvon Martin lost. He didn’t get to see his 18th birthday. His last conversation was with a friend who apparently didn’t even think of calling the police or his family. But how could she have known that Zimmerman was hunting Martin?
Now, George Zimmerman is in the fight of his life. Six women must decide whether an inept neighborhood watch volunteer should get away with killing a kid.
No matter what the verdict is, yelling, screaming, being overwrought, will not bring Martin back.
We don’t need to march. We need to improve laws anywhere that allow murder.
This is the system we have, the one we sometimes curse, sometimes cheer, sometimes change out of necessity. Any minute over the next few days or weeks, we will learn whether the system works.
I have lived in other countries and I have been around the world three times, by far, this is the best.
If the nation can rally and millions of people put on hoodies as people did in honor of a kid who didn’t have to die, then those same people should rally to ensure that all laws are of all people, by all people, for all people.
We cannot look back at this case. We don’t have time to argue the details of that night, all speculation because Zimmerman was caught in several lies.
Whatever happens to Zimmerman, his life will never be the same. He will always be that guy in Florida who killed a kid. It will haunt him, mark him. He may as well put it on his résumé.
But what of Trayvon Martin? It’s time to separate the teen from George Zimmerman and make a heartbreaking death mean more than sending a racist to jail.
We have to protect the next Trayvon Martin.
When we make the laws better, make life better, for the rest of the Trayvon Martins, then we will make a difference.
There was an Amber before there was an Amber Alert.
There was a Megan before there was a Megan’s Law.
It is time to lift up Trayvon Martin as more than a victim.
Even in his death, he can save more lives.