Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fucking Disgusting Political Bigotry: "Registered Dem Killed Trayvon"

Registered Dem Killed Trayvon | Washington Free Beacon

Yeah, I knew there were folks that would stoop this low, but find myself really surprised at some of 'em...

� Inconvenient narratives in the Martin case - Legal Insurrection (William never explains why it's "inconvenient" to anyone's narrative for Zimmerman to be a registered Democrat, or why it is the slightest bit significant, either to the crime or to anyone talking about it. He seems to be simultaneously decrying political bigotry while engaging in it.)

Narrative Interrupted: George Zimmerman a Registered Democrat | Jammie Wearing Fools (Same here. That Zimmerman is a Democrat means... well, something, but this asshole doesn't say what, either. Something about the media, I think [these folks seem confused by the fact that the media accurately reported that the Sanford police listed Zimmerman's race as white, initially, and think it's some lib'rul plot.])

Weasel Zippers: Narrative Fail: George Zimmerman A Registered Democrat, Self-Identified Hispanic… (The blog name tells you all you need to know... Nothin' new here, either. THAT he is is magically significant, but only the fellow weasels can hear the dog whistle and understand why...)

The PJ Tatler � George Zimmerman, Registered Democrat (This asshole takes a stab, at least: "the medialeft’s narrative of white racist Republican cracker killed angelic black youth in cold blood" Citations of said "medialeft" narrative sadly, sorely lacking... George was called a white "cracker" by the Sanford police. I know of no one (until now, anyway) who ever discussed his political affiliation, not even as a part of his overall background. Even the racist bit hasn't gotten much play, other than as an overall attitude, perhaps... Zimmerman might've bought into the stereotype that says young black males in hoodies are more threatening than young white males in hoodies, and was more suspicious of him based on that, but it's pretty unlikely that he went out hunting' "coons," no matter what he may've said on that tape. And very few media outlets or Justice for Trayvon supporters are reporting that he did.)

No doubt there will be others jumping on this bandwagon of shame... These political bigots tend to run in packs...

Oh, the Irony: George Zimmerman Is A Democrat | Right Wing News (Another guy who at least tries to pretend this isn't just sweeping generalization in a pathetic attempt to attack folks in the party with which he most disagrees. "[I]f you listen to Democrats, they’re acting as if Zimmerman is a horrible racist who killed Trayvon Martin for being black." Facts pretty much not in evidence, Hawkins. I'm not saying there aren't a few individual Democrats who've said Zimmerman is a horrible racist, etc, but they no more represent Democrats than the bigoted commenters at fox news.com talking about the "knee grows or beaners wearing hoodies" and "n i 6 6 e r babble" represent the Right Wing. There are assholes all across the political spectrum, as Hawkins' post adequately proves.)

American Power: "I wonder if Soledad will mention that George Zimmerman's a registered Democrat? Probably not. That's likely an inconvenient truth for the left's race-hatred narrative." (Yeah, no surprise from this mofo*) ((*No worries... "Mofo" is just a term of endearment this guy uses to talk about all those f%ck&n' black democrats he hates. "It's not Raaaaacist, it's Hilaaaaarious"))

Free clue, assholes: The political affiliation of the victim or the assailant is not relevant to the discussion of a crime unless the killing is political, or has something to do with someone's (the killers, the victim's) political or social beliefs. Saying a person who allegedly commits a crime is a _______. [a certain ethnicity, a certain religion, from a certain political party, ...) says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (and is disgustingly bigoted besides) unless you can tie that demographic label or what it represents to some aspect of the crime.

Trayvon Martin: My Hypothesis As To What Happened

First, a few observations:

The fact that something is legal to do in no way suggests it's the smart thing to do.

Yes, it's legal to ignore the advice of a police dispatcher with training and experience talking to civilians who find themselves in volatile, adrenaline-charged situations, and follow (& perhaps question/confront) an unknown person you believe may be intoxicated and "up to no good," who for all you know may also be armed, all by yourself, and when you have a pretty good idea that the police are already on their way--but I suspect that there aren't more than a handful of law enforcement professionals who would ever recommend it. (Even trained police officers wait for backup, whenever possible.)
I sincerely wish the dispatcher had struck a different tone on that point, perhaps telling Mr Zimmerman in a positive way what the police department wanted and expected from him. (Not "We don't need you to do that." or even "Don't do that." but "Please meet the responding officers at your current location.")

Zimmerman was not a uniformed guard. He was a resident and a volunteer neighborhood watcher. He wasn't "on patrol," he was on his way out to (or back from) the store when he saw the suspicious-looking late teen in the dark hoodie. He did not have any special police or security powers, legally or otherwise. So, while he was legally within his rights to follow, question, or confront hooded strangers in his neighborhood, those strangers (hooded or otherwise) were under no obligation to take kindly to his doing so. And BECAUSE Zimmerman had nothing to denote or identify him as a neighborhood watch volunteer, said hooded strangers who notice a guy following them could easily view HIM as an individual "behaving strangely, and up to no good," as well.

I suspect that neither of them was "up to no good." The whole thing was a matter of two more or less decent people grossly misreading each other, and at least one of them (if not both) making foolish choices based on what they believed about the other. The following is what I think happened. Obviously I'm doing a whole lot of speculating, but I'm pretty sure everything here is consistent with the reported facts and witness statements. (and where the witness statements themselves are inconsistent with each other, I picked, again based on my own speculations.) I am not presenting anything here that goes beyond what's been reported up to now as FACT. As more information comes out, what I believe happened may change. Or I may become more confident in what I believe. As of right now, though, this is what I think occurred...

Zimmerman thought Trayvon was behaving strangely and might be in the neighborhood to commit some crime. He wasn't a bigot out to get a black guy (though I do question how much the fact that the hooded stranger was a black guy played into his profile); he was just a guy who saw something he thought was unusual and reported it. I don't think he followed Trayvon maliciously, either. He just wanted to be able to tell the responding officers exactly where the guy was, and (or) prevent whatever crime the guy intend to commit by being there as a witness. (Most likely, it's the former more'n the latter. I don't think Zimmerman intended for the stranger to know he was being followed, or that he had ANY intention to talk to him, let alone get into anything physical with him.)

Trayvon meanwhile was just a kid coming back from buying a drink at the local 7/11, talking to his girlfriend on the phone, and trying to get out of the rain. At one point (perhaps because the rain got heavier, or maybe because he just wanted a minute's break from it), Trayvon ducked under an awning at the clubhouse. (That's likely a piece of the "strange behavior" Zimmerman witnessed.) At some point though, he notices some heavyset stranger in an SUV watching him, and when he continues down the road, following him in his vehicle. Trayvon walks a little faster. The stranger in the SUV speeds up to keep pace. Trayvon moves off the road onto a walkway. The stranger parks and follows on foot, obviously targeting Trayvon, and likely (in Trayvon's mind, anyway) intending to rob or accost him. Trayvon runs (though apparently not very far). He thinks he lost the guy.

The stranger... (continues following?) (turns to go back to his car?) Either way, Trayvon realizes he hasn't lost the stranger following him, after all. They're close enough to talk--(and at some point between now and the first bit of physicality, become close enough to lay hands on one another.)

One stranger (likely Trayvon) calls out to the other, questioning his motives. The other stranger responds, questioning the first one's motives. Both are posturing, sure they are in the right, and that the other is the creep...

Then one of 'em (and I have no clue which, or why) does lay hands on the other. Maybe it was Trayvon, instinctually realizing that flight didn't succeed, and it was time to stand his ground and fight, rather than lead this creep back to his younger step-brother. Maybe it was Zimmerman, not wanting another to get away, like they always do. Maybe one made some furtive movement the other took as a threat, and pounced in defense. (Obviously, THIS is the whole ball of wax, legally.)

As many point out, every move that each one of them made prior to the initial physical contact was legal--though as many also note, not altogether smart.

If Zimmerman did anything to physically detain Trayvon, or did something to defend himself against whatever he thought Trayvon was about to do, he becomes the aggressor, and Trayvon is justified in trying to incapacitate and escape the guy he thinks is trying to kidnap him.

If Trayvon hit Zimmerman first--even if he thought he was defending himself against whatever he thought was about to happen--he becomes the aggressor, and Zimmerman can rightly claim self-defense.

(I have to say, I suspect that of the two scenarios, Trayvon hitting Zimmerman first, in an effort to avoid imminently getting robbed, kidnapped, or raped seems more plausible to me... ...and that makes me very sad to imagine this kid scared, fighting for his life--and ultimately losing it--over the bad judgement of Zimmerman, and there will be no justice for his family, besides...)

Whoever laid hands on who first, Trayvon got the upper hand. At this point (at least according to my scenario) both men believe they are defending themselves, and fighting for their lives. Once we're here, and regardless of how we got here, I take no issue with how aggressively either man fought. The goal was to stop the other guy from fighting, and live through it yourself. In the end, that is what happened... ...for one of them, anyway...

While Zimmerman may (or may not; I'm not a lawyer) be in the clear legally according to the laws of FL, there is no doubt in my mind that he is far more culpable morally than Trayvon Martin. As I've said before, this whole thing took about five minutes. Trayvon spent most of that time avoiding the "dangerous stranger" he encountered, while Zimmerman spent most of that same time moving closer to the "dangerous stranger" he saw.

A whole lot of what Zimmerman did, while all legal, served to amp up and inflame the situation.
(Please don't tell me that everything George Zimmerman did was legal. I know. It was all legal. But at least some of it was profoundly stupid, too.)
He went against the advice of an experienced law enforcement representative.
He went against the guidelines of pretty much every neighborhood watch program.
He went against the common sense of many gun owners. (You don't go out looking for trouble or willingly walk toward it, gun in hand (actually or proverbially), unless you are defending a life.)

Up to the point where Trayvon Martin took that first swing--IF he actually was the one who took that first swing--he did nothing illegal.
He did nothing to amp up the situation.
He tried to avoid the trouble he thought was coming for him.
And he didn't do anything I could identify as stupid, either.

Again, this is just speculation, based on the reports currently available. If you don't agree with me, fine... But simply saying it's just speculation is nothing more than stating the obvious. Instead, tell me why you think I'm mistaken, and correct my mistake(s) with your own fact-based speculation.

I believe the smartest course for Zimmerman was to wait to meet the responding officers. But if he really could not bring himself to do that, I think (with all the brilliance of that 20/20 hindsight, obviously) that everyone would've been better off if Zimmerman had been more assertive (and/or a little more devious). Instead of skulking behind Trayvon in his car and then on foot, he should've gone straight up to him and either:
1) identified himself as a guy from the neighborhood watch, said that he recognized most of the people who lived in the complex and explained that he thought Trayvon looked lost, and offered to direct him to where he was going... or
2) taken off his watch and gone up to Trayvon and asked him for the time (or perhaps said that HE was lost, and asked Trayvon for directions, or something similar).
I mean, I understand that Zimmerman probably had no idea how much he was freakin' the kid out, but he was almost certainly freakin' the kid out, the way he chose to handle his surveillance...

Anyway, that's my educated guess as to what may've happened, and I'm stickin' with it until some fact blows a hole straight through it (at which point I'll rewrite it, based on the new fact(s) available.)

UPDATE: Hey, lookie here!! Someone else (Julian Sanchez) wrote this post before I did, and came to very similar conclusions: Tragic Scenarios

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin: Timeline (according to media reports) and Questions

I've been reading a whole lot about this story over the past few days (and commenting a bit, where moved) but I'm still left with questions. Foremost, I think an accurate clock-based timeline, particularly in regard to the phone calls everyone made or were a party to during the events, would go a long way toward figuring out a good bit of what happened.

Here's what I've been able to find, so far (If anyone has seen other reports that include timestamps for the events that night--either ones that confirm these, or ones that contradict them--please let me know so I can add them to this post.):

During the All-Star Game, February 26th - Trayvon Martin leaves his father's girlfriend's house during the All-Star Game on February 26th, to go to 7/11. - (Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions)

After he left the store - "[Trayvon Martin] was on the phone with his girlfriend back home in Miami after he left the store. Martin told the girl he'd taken shelter from the rain briefly at an apartment building in the gated community before continuing his walk to where he was staying with his father nearby." - (Trayvon Martin's final phone call: 'He said this man was watching him')

The last call was at 7:12 p.m. (I'm guessing that's a start time, and "just after he left the store," as above.) - "Martin, who was in town from Miami to visit his father in Sanford, called his 16-year-old girlfriend in Miami several times on Feb. 26, including just before the shooting, Crump said. ...

The teenager told the girl on his way back from the store he'd taken shelter the rain briefly at an apartment building in his father's gated community, Crump said. Martin then told the girl he was being followed and would try to lose the person, Crump said.

"She says: 'Run.' He says, 'I'm not going to run, I'm just going to walk fast,'" Crump said, quoting the girl.

After Martin encountered Zimmerman, the girl thought she heard a scuffle "because his voice changes like something interrupted his speech," Crump said. The phone call ended before the girl heard gunshots.

The last call was at 7:12 p.m. Police arrived at 7:17 p.m. to find Martin lying face down on the ground."
- (Fla. Teen on Phone with Girlfriend Before Shooting)

7:11 PM - (was "Shortly before 7:15 PM"?, pre update.) (I'm guessing closer to 7:10 pm - See below) ***UPDATE*** (with thanks to "Hoofbite" in comments) The Sanford police reports that Zimmerman's call was received at 7:09 PM, he was connected to a dispatcher at 7:11 PM, and that he spoke to the dispacher until 7:13 PM, at least /UPDATE - ""Shortly before 7:15 PM, George Zimmerman spots Trayvon standing outside the development's clubhouse near the community mailboxes, where the teen had ducked under an awning to get out of the rain. Zimmerman calls police on a non-emergency number from his SUV, saying he sees a suspicious person.
When Trayvon leaves the clubhouse, Zimmerman pursues him in his car."
- (Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions)

??? (but during Zimmerman's 4 minute phone call with police dispatcher (at this YouTube video, 1:26-5:31) - "Trayvon goes off the road to walk between two rows of town homes, down the lane from his destination, Zimmerman gets out of his car and pursues him on foot. He tells the dispatcher "oh shit, he's running." the dispatcher asks if he is pursuing the subject. When Zimmerman says he is, the dispatcher says, 'we don't need you to do that.'" - (Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions)

??? - "It was then that Martin told the girl he was being followed, according to Crump. She said Martin told her someone was following him and that he was going to try to lose him. He thought he had lost Zimmerman but hadn't.
"He says, 'Oh he's right behind me, he's right behind me again,'" Crump says the girl told him. "She says: 'Run.' He says, 'I'm not going to run I'm just going to walk fast.' She hears Trayvon say, 'Why are you following me?' Other voice says, 'What are you doing around here?'"
She told Crump they both repeated themselves and then she thinks she heard Zimmerman push Martin "because his voice changes like something interrupted his speech." She heard an altercation and then the phone call was cut off.
Within moments, according to Crump's timeline, Martin was shot. She didn't hear the gunfire."
- (Trayvon Martin's final phone call: 'He said this man was watching him')

"They don't get far. Just around the back lane, Trayvon is confronted by the stranger in a red jacket and jeans - he's not dressed like a police officer.
Trayvon's girlfriend is still on the phone. She says she hears someone confront Trayvon, and ask him what he was doing there. The phone drops.

At that time, the first 911 call is placed to police by an alarmed neighbor, who reports hearing a fight going on in their backyard. It was followed in rapid succession by five more calls to the emergency number. One caller says she hears someone screaming for help, and then gunshots.

7:17 p.m. - At 7:17 p.m., the first officer, Officer Smith, arrives at the gated complex, responding to Zimmerman's 911 call. In his report, he says that as he arrives, dispatchers notified him of the 911 calls reporting shots fired in the area."
- (Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions)

As far as I can find, the time codes for the 911 calls have not been released. (This info is crucial, especially since one of them can pinpoint the exact moment the gun went off.)
Similarly, the info saying exactly what time the call between Trayvon Martin and his girlfriend terminated--pinpointing exactly when the physical altercation began--(available on his missing(?) cellphone, his girlfriend's phone, and his cell carrier) also has not been released.

Even so, this timeline indicates only three or four minutes elapsed between Zimmerman's call to the dispatcher "shortly before 7:15 PM" and the first officer's arrival "at 7:17 p.m.," AFTER the following on foot, the verbal and physical confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman, and the fatal shot.
(Something HAS to be wrong with this info, however, since Zimmerman's call with the police dispatcher lasted four minutes, five seconds all by itself, according to this YouTube video. It's likely that George Zimmerman's call to the police was initiated several minutes earlier, perhaps closer to 7:10 pm, if not earlier, and ENDED shortly before 7:15 pm.

The call between Trayvon Martin and the girl in Miami--and especially her "ear-witness" testimony, saying that it sounded like Trayvon was pushed or hit--calls into question Zimmerman's allegation that he had his back to Trayvon Martin and was walking back to his truck when Trayvon "attacked" him from behind. (Admittedly, both Zimmerman's and Trayvon's girlfriend's statements may well be biased, given who they are.) And, not to get too conspiratorial, but it's kinda odd that Trayvon's cell phone and earpiece were not recovered at the crime scene, and are not in police or Martin family custody.

I also wonder about the physical evidence.
What do they know about where Trayvon and Zimmerman were when the latter fired the fatal shot?
Was Zimmerman laying on his back with Trayvon over him, perhaps punching him, or were both men standing, facing each other?
Based on where on his body he was shot and how he fell (face down), along with any blood, gun residue or other evidence on Zimmerman, what does that suggest?

What produced the cut on the back of Zimmerman's head, and are there scrapes or bruises on Trayvon's hands or feet (or anywhere else) that correspond with Zimmerman's injuries, indicating where either/each man was when the injuries took place?

***ANSWER***, at least according to the Sanford police, citing George Zimmerman's version of events. (Police were unable to obtain a statement from the only other witness to these initial events, Trayvon Martin. I suspect that his side of the story would likely differ from Mr. Zimmerman's, however, were he available to tell it.):
"Zimmerman told them he lost sight of Trayvon and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from the left rear, and they exchanged words.

Trayvon asked Zimmerman if he had a problem. Zimmerman said no and reached for his cell phone, he told police. Trayvon then said, "Well, you do now" or something similar and punched Zimmerman in the nose, according to the account he gave police.

Zimmerman fell to the ground and Trayvon got on top of him and began slamming his head into the sidewalk, he told police."
- (Trayvon Martin: George Zimmerman's account to police of the Trayvon Martin shooting. - Orlando Sentinel)

Where were the iced tea can and the package of Skittles found?
Did Trayvon hit Zimmerman with either item?
Were they dropped several feet away, indicating that a) the struggle started here, or b) this is where Trayvon dropped them before running up on Zimmerman?

Did Zimmerman have any other tools with him (for instance, the flashlight that several of the 911 callers reported seeing after the shot, unclear whether it belonged to one of the "fighters" or a responding officer)?

I'll add answers, more questions, and otherwise update and correct this post as more info becomes available (or the mood strikes me.)

Timeline articles:

Fla. Teen on Phone with Girlfriend Before Shooting

Trayvon Martin's final phone call: 'He said this man was watching him'

Trayvon Martin shooting timeline leaves many unanswered questions (Be sure to read page two, which discusses what the police did--and didn't--find on the scene that night.)

Trayvon Martin, The 911 Calls - High Quality 911 Audio - Including George Zimmerman - YouTube (Zimmerman's call: 1:26-5:31)

Friday, March 23, 2012

When Hoodies Kill...

"Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world -- even if what is published is not true." - Richard Bach, Illusions

Geraldo Rivera - 8:10 PM - 22 Mar 12
Justice will come to Zimmerman the Fla shooter-but I'm trying to save lives like Trayvon's-Parents Alert: hoodies can get your kid killed

Its not blaming the victim Its common sense-look like a gangsta & some armed schmuck will take you at your word

Its sad that I have to be the one reminding minority parents of the risk that comes with being a kid of color in America--channel the rage
Geraldo in a Hoodie

I'm willing to give Geraldo a tiny bit of slack on this... I believe that in his own ham-fisted way, he's trying to say the same thing as Toure, in his TIME article "Trayvon Martin: Advice for Young Black Boys After Tragedy":
"You will have to make allowances for other people’s racism. That’s part of the burden of being black. We can be defiant and dead or smart and alive. I’m not saying you can’t wear what you want, but your clothes are a red herring. They’ll blame it on your hoodie or your jeans when the real reason they decided you were a criminal is that you’re black."
There is bigotry in this country and in this world, and it's not only young black boys who fall victim to the negative stereotypes and irrational fears that others hold about them, or the acts those stereotypes and fears engender. "Advice for Muslims..." "Advice for Jews..." "Advice for Young Gay Men and Women..." "Advice for Young Girls..."

People see others the way they choose--and the way they're taught--and sometimes what they see has little basis in objective reality. Your clothes, your color, your size, the way you walk or talk, speaks to people (and to their prejudices), and whether or not what they hear is the truth, they will treat you accordingly.

So, while I think it's probably smart for parents to warn their kids that there are bigots and other assholes who may try to harm them because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation--either based on those factors alone or together with the style or color of the clothes they wear, music they listen to, or other innocent and semi-innocent activities they pursue--nether the parents or their children should ever lose sight of the fact that it is the bigots and assholes who are the problem, not the demographics of the kids or the clothes that they wear.

Black kids in hoodies (women in sexy clothes) (men leaving gay bars) are not "just askin' for it," no matter what some seem to think.

Deepest pic I've seen yet, RIP Trayvon Martin. Hoods up! on Twitpic

Then he remembered he was on FOXNews and knew he needed to start digging. - Lawyers, Guns & Money (With special mention: "You might think it is a very appropriate quote for the situation, except in this case the “gun” is Trayvon Martin’s hoodie, not Zimmerman’s entirely too non-metaphorical gun." and "I’m going to slightly defend the sentiment behind the first quote ...", the latter of which likely inspired this whole post.)

Trayvon Martin: Advice for Young Black Boys After Tragedy | TIME Ideas | TIME.com

TheFactChannel's YouTube videos pretty fairly address the aspects incident and it's aftermath, and this video has about 35 minutes of 911 calls (and some commentary), which is the most comprehensive collection I've seen...

Trayvon Martin killing: When did hoods become associated with illicit activity? - Slate Magazine

Tragedy Gives The Hoodie A Whole New Meaning : NPR

The Associated Press: Trayvon Martin, my son, and the Black Male Code