Tag Archives: George Zimmerman

Florida Teen’s Death Raises a Variety of Concerns

Seminole County in Florida is in the national spotlight as news came from the Grand Jury, announcing it will investigate the death of an unarmed black teen that has caught the attention of justice groups nationwide.

Trayvon Martin, 17, who was fatally shot on February 26 by George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer is now under investigation by the Justice Department according to an article in the New York Times.

Allegedly Martin was walking in the rain with his hood up and on his way to his father’s girlfriend’s house when Zimmerman spotted him. Zimmerman mentioned a rash of recent burglaries in the neighborhood in his police report and thought it was odd to see the young man walking alone at night. Martin was returning from the story where he bought skittles and a tea.

Trayvon Martin Killer 270x337 Florida Teen’s Death Raises a Variety of Concerns

George Zimmerman is seen in a police mug shot provided by the Orange County, Florida, Jail, via The Miami Herald, from a 2005 arrest. Zimmerman is the neighborhood watch captain who shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, 17, in a gated community in Sanford, Florida in February 2012. (AP Photo/Orange County Jail via Miami Herald)

Zimmerman followed, and later gave chase on foot after being told by a 911 dispatcher, to back off and wait for the police. Soon after a shot was fired from the 9 mm that Zimmerman was legally carrying according the The Times. The dispatcher was still on the line when the shot was heard in the distance. Soon after the shot was fired the 911 dispatch office received a series of calls from neighbors. Following an outcry to hear the multiple 911 calls from Zimmerman and neighbors, the police department released the tapes.

Zimmerman claimed it was in self-defense and has not been charged raising concerns with one of Florida’s laws.

In 2005 Florida passed the “stand your ground” law that allows people to use deadly force away from their homes if they have reasonable fear that an assailant could seriously harm them or another according to an article at CNN. The law has been an issue since, and is again in question within this latest shooting, as the CNN article states Florida had become a “shoot first” state.

This morning ABC News released an exclusive story with Martin’s girlfriend who was allegedly on the phone with him, via Bluetooth headset, up to the moment he was shot.

She recalled Martin saying he was being followed, before thinking he lost Zimmerman. She allegedly heard a short altercation before the line went dead and there was no answer when she tried to call back.

“We’re going to turn this over to the Justice Department because the family does not trust the Sanford Police Department to have anything to do with the investigation,” said Martin’s family Attorney Benjamin Crump to ABC News.

An online petition at change.org, helped push for the federal investigation in the case – the petition currently has 598,641 signatures.

The Times also reported that Zimmerman is studying criminal justice.

ABC News stated that Zimmerman was not part of any of the 22,000 registered watch groups nationwide and that he violated major parts of the Neighborhood Watch Manuel, “It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers. And they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles.”

Zimmerman Charged With Second-Degree Murder

Special prosecutor Angela Corey during a press conference held at 6 p.m. April 11, announced that George Zimmerman, 28, and the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida in February was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

According to the Associated Press, via CBS News, second-degree murder is used brought in cases involving a fight or confrontation that results in a death that wasn’t premeditated.

Zimmerman could receive up to life in prison if convicted and he is expected to enter a not guilty plea.

Reports: Zimmerman to be Charged in Trayvon Martin Shooting

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, 17, an unarmed teenager in Sanford, Florida in February will be charged according to CBS News.

A press conference is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET, with State Attorney Angela Corey.

Zimmerman, who has claimed self defense has been free for the past 44 days and has sparked national outcries and protests for justice according to MSNBC.com. Critics have questions whether the shooting was racially motivated and raised concern with Florida’s self defense law – Stand Your Ground Law, according to CBS News.

“It’s 44 days later, and George Zimmerman is still walking free,” Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, said at a news conference during a meeting of the National Action Network in Washington and reported by MSNBC.com. “It’s 44 days later, and my son is in a mausoleum.”

Trayvon Martin Case Another Example of Black and Native Communities Sharing Unfortunate Effects of Racial Profiling

On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a self-proclaimed neighborhood watch leader, as he returned from a nearby store where he had bought some snacks. Zimmerman, who says he shot Martin in self-defense, was arraigned on second-degree murder charges on April 12 in Sanford, Florida, after weeks of protest, leaks and speculation.

Because Martin was a young, unarmed black male, many people believe he was the tragic victim of racial profiling by an over-zealous Zimmerman.

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George Zimmerman

Racial profiling is a scourge for all minority communities, and this tragedy calls to mind the fatal altercation between a Seattle police officer and a Native woodcarver John T. Williams in 2010. In both cases, the victim was confronted and killed by a man with a gun who thought he was protecting his community.

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John T. Williams

Dr. Arica Coleman, a professor of African American studies at the University of Delaware, is of both Native American and African American descent and knows well the constant threat posed by racial profiling. “Just being a woman of color makes me a target,” says Dr. Coleman, who then recounts a recent incident that—although it had a peaceful resolution—reinforces her point. “I was dressed in athletic wear, taking a walk through my nice, white suburban neighborhood with an exercise weight in each hand—I was not the only one walking with exercise weights—pumping my arms vigorously so as to get an optimal workout,” she says. “I turned my head and spotted a police cruiser slowly trailing me. When the officer flashed his lights I immediately stopped.”

After Coleman gave the police officer the hand weights and her address, she says he expressed surprise that she was a resident of the community. “He blurted out, ‘Oh, you live in this neighborhood,’” she recalls. “With a wide smile I informed him that I had lived here for almost 20 years. His eyes widened when he heard that. I cracked a couple of jokes. We laughed, wished each other good day and I continued my walk, but I knew better than to believe that this was simply a case of curiosity; this was a case of Walking While Being a Person of Color in a pristine white neighborhood,” she says.

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Dr. Arica Coleman, a professor of African American studies at the University of Delaware, is of both Native American and African American descent. (Vincent Schilling)

Dr. Coleman says racial profiling is something she and all people of color must live with and negotiate around nearly every day to avoid becoming a victim. “I am a woman of color and as such my very existence and value are defined in this society based on where I fit in the American racial hierarchy. Consequently, I am never viewed as a professor, but rather a black professor who thinks she’s Native American. As a female colleague from Trinidad once told me, ‘I did not know I was a Black woman until I came to the U.S.’”

Walter Lamar knows racial profiling from both sides of the lens. He is the President and CEO of Lamar Associates, a company specializing in law enforcement, security and emergency preparedness. He is also a former FBI agent and served as the Deputy Director of the Indian Affairs Office of Law Enforcement.

Lamar says that although shooting deaths of both Martin and Williams were tragic, they were very different scenarios. He says Williams may have been killed because the officer was doing racial profiling, but it’s also plausible that the officer would have shot anybody—black, white or Native—holding a knife on a city street that day.

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Walter Lamar

He says the Trayvon Martin case, however, is a completely different situation, and racial profiling was clearly a factor. He hastens to point out, though, that Zimmerman was not a trained law-enforcement officer, nor even a registered Neighborhood Watch volunteer. “He was just a yahoo with a 9mm pistol,” Lamar says. “The most dangerous person out there is a fool with a gun who has a hero complex.”

He adds that racial-profiling is a serious problem on border towns near reservations. “There are going to be border-town police who don’t like Indians and they are going to say ‘There is a carload of Indians—I bet somebody in that car is drunk and I’m going to pull them over.’”

Lamar says that even though racial profiling is against the law, many people—cops and civilians—have prejudices, and those prejudices come into play every day. “What you have to do is have cultural awareness training and you have to acquaint officers with the Native way of life,” he says.

Guilty for Being Brown 270x211 Trayvon Martin Case Another Example of Black and Native Communities Sharing Unfortunate Effects of Racial ProfilingColeman says that in light of recent events, comparisons of racial profiling in African American and Native American communities can—and should—be drawn. “When it comes to people of color, we must justify our presence in the public arena when we are within our so-called designated spaces, i.e., segregated urban communities and reservations—which are over-policed. When African Americans and Native Americans dare venture outside of those spaces and into communities deemed to be off-limits, we are suspicious simply by virtue of our race and declared guilty of the crime of ‘Walking While Black’—Trayvon Martin—or ‘Holding a Knife While Indian’—Jonathan T. Williams.

“While African Americans have always experienced forced exclusion from the American mainstream and been denied equality with whites, Native Americans have always experienced forced inclusion, wherein mainstream America demands that Indians give up their race and culture to become honorary white people. African Americans are profiled based on the assumption that they do not belong; Native Americans are profiled based on their refusal to go along.”