Trayvon Martin: A Crime Gone Unpunished

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Trayvon Martin Courtesy of the New York Times

Trayvon Martin – Where’s the Justice?

I had hoped to get through this year without hearing something of this nature. Recently, it seems we are writing more and more about the injustices that face people of color. It is this type of crime that makes me afraid for my mixed children who are Half-Black and Half-Mexican American.

Trayvon Martin was shot over one month ago walking home in the early evening after buying Skittles and a tea for his step-brother. He walked to the store and George Zimmerman, proclaimed captain of The Neighborhood Watch, followed him in an SUV. I walk across the street to the store from my own home at night.  If I saw someone following me in a car, I would do exactly what this young man did. RUN and try to get to where I felt safe, my  home.

George Zimmerman is a murderer. He followed a black, young man with the intetnion of what exactly? Was he going to do perform a “Citizen’s Arrest”? Seriously, is a 140lb teenager is really going to be able to take on a 28 yr old man who weighs 240lbs?

Trayvon shouted for help and the series of 911 calls just about broke my heart. He is screaming for his life and no one came to help. How can I fault the witnesses for that? They called 911. Where were the police that Zimmerman called, perhaps they could have stopped this murder?

The Miami Herald reported that according to the Lee and Sanford police reports:

Martin, dressed in jeans, a gray hoodie and red and white Air Jordans, was walking back to The Retreat at Twin Lakes townhome community where he was staying when he caught the attention of Zimmerman, who also lives there.

Read more here: www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/08/2684419/shooting-mystery-miami-dade-teen.html

So, obviously this is a perfect reason to assume that this teen is “suspicious and looks like he is on drugs”.  Oh and the kicker “has his hands in his waistband.” Because, obviously, that is where minorities keep guns, in their pants. Zimmerman followed this youth and even after being told to let “police handle it and not to follow” still followed. Police arrived to a dead black youth and released Zimmerman because it was so-called self defense and his record was clean.  Sorry, since when do we release killers and allow them back onto to the street before evidence is accrued.

This isn’t a child who was killed in a confrontation with the police or was even accused of doing anything wrong, except being black in a gated community. I am terrified to go out at night alone. I watch my back, hold my keys ready to jump in my car, cell phone out in case I need it and I ask you – “Do you do that?”

My personal freedom is taken away every day with the threat on minorities.  I have been followed in stores, followed when walking, watched with fearful eyes as if being brown means ‘criminal’. I would like to place a cliche and say “If the roles were reversed,” but we know the answer already.  Trayvon was supposed to be in a neighborhood where this “type” of thing didn’t happen.  It was made evident that the neighborhood is a mix of many types of racial families. Obviously, there is a need to place this in the articles in case one might assume that perhaps Zimmerman was being prejudiced.

Zimmerman did hold a permit to carry a concealed weapon but that should not shield him from facing charges. I am not a Guns Kill People type of person. In fact, we own a gun. However, laws in Texas are very concise.

 

A Legal look at Self-Defense claims

In Texas the law is as follows:

Sec. 9.04. THREATS AS JUSTIFIABLE FORCE

The threat of force is justified when the use of force is justified by this chapter. For purposes of this section, a threat to cause death or serious bodily injury by the production of a weapon or otherwise, as long as the actor’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that he will use deadly force if necessary, does not constitute the use of deadly force.

In Texas, the gun capital of the United States,  ”he was going to hurt me” does not allow one to use deadly force, aka fire a shot.

Here are more examples:

SUBCHAPTER C. PROTECTION OF PERSONS

Sec. 9.31. SELF-DEFENSE

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. The actor’s belief that the force was immediately necessary as described by this subsection is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the force was used:

(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or

(C) was committing or attempting to commit aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery;

(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and

(3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.

(b) The use of force against another is not justified:

(1) in response to verbal provocation alone;

(2) to resist an arrest or search that the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, even though the arrest or search is unlawful, unless the resistance is justified under Subsection (c);

(3) if the actor consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other;

(4) if the actor provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force, unless:

(A) the actor abandons the encounter, or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely abandon the encounter; and

(B) the other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the actor; or

(5) if the actor sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person concerning the actor’s differences with the other person while the actor was:

(A) carrying a weapon in violation of Section 46.02; or

(B) possessing or transporting a weapon in violation of Section 46.05.

Take a look at Section 9.31, C-2:

(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used; and Zimmerman provoked Martin when he followed him in the SUV causing the youth to have undesirable behavior like looking antsy. He provoked Trayvan when he confronted him. You cannot confront a person, pull a weapon against an unarmed person and shoot. In Texas, these are our gun laws. Texas of outlaws and comboys.  In Texas, with no gun waiting period. Here are the laws. Apparently, Florida has a “Stand Your Ground Law.”

According to the Christian Science Moniter:

Such laws eliminate the English Law concept of a “duty to retreat” from dangerous situations outside the home. Without that, an armed citizen has no obligation to stand down in the face of a threat.

The problem, as the Martin case highlights, is that making the duty to retreat “totally irrelevant,” as Stetson University law professor Robert Batey has said, means the law gives prosecutors fewer factors to consider when determining self-defense, including, potentially, the extent to which a person claiming self-defense may have aggravated the situation.

 

Living in Fear

There has always been a Castle Doctorine Law in Texas along with a Stand Your Ground amendment however you have to be the one being confronted and not the other way around.  How can we think this is okay?  We are not in Grand Theft Auto or some other Vigilante style game. It is not right to kill someone in cold blood.

We live in fear as people of color. We  fear  getting stopped for even minor infractions and about what could happen. What if we get out of the car to protest or if  our hands aren’t in plain sight. Even now, we have told our son, if someone follows you “Yell for help.”  But, now I know that may not even work. I fear for him and what could happen to him if someone identifies him as a “thug”.

I am afraid of someone who decides that I am a “wetback”.  Who decides who is an “illegal immigrant” or what an “illegal immigrant” looks like?  Who decides if I am being “suspicious”?  I believe we have decided that we need to be vigilant against “those people” and who are those people?

Trayvon’s death was unneccesary. He was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. Trayvon’s only crime was being a YOUNG, BLACK MAN.  I just hope that one day it won’t be my own son’s crime.

2012 and this is still happening…people let the fears of the media, videos and social stereotypes cloud our judgement.

We need to stand up and say enough is enough.  NO MORE FEAR.

 

 

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Jessica Olivarez-Mazone

Jessica Olivarez-Mazone is a mother of two biracial children and lives along the South Texas Coast. She enjoy exploring her Tex-Mex culturewhile creating a new one with her own mixed race family. She blogs about beading, Estorias, and life at Tejana Made.
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Comments

  1. hutch1200 says

    I'm sorry for the poor youth. I'm Glad the FL. AG is heading up the case. I pray the NBPP doesn't take revenge against us Mexican-Americans.

    • CORPUSBOOKWORM says

      I would hope not Hutch1200, this is an opportunity to join together as people and not let the labels and stereotypes define us.  As a MA, I believe that the issue of Zimmerman's mixed identity was menat to clarify how he could not have been "racially profiling".

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