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Trayvon Martin case shows failure of justice system

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 00:03

About two hours away from USF, Sanford, Fla. is home to one of today’s biggest news stories — the shooting and killing of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by resident George Zimmerman.

Though the fatal shooting took place on Feb. 26, the case has increasingly gained attention, as Zimmerman still has yet to be arrested, and the federal government announced Monday it would launch an investigation, according to CBS News.

The uproar that started upon the announcement of Martin’s death has now come to a full boil, with students among those protesting. Florida A&M University students protested on campus in Tallahassee on Monday, according to the Associated Press, and Occupy USF members are among those going to Sanford to demonstrate Thursday, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Martin’s death and the failure to arrest Zimmerman are worth protesting because it demonstrates several injustices within the country’s justice system.

On the night of his death, Martin was heading home from the convenience store after buying Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea when Zimmerman followed him and called 911 to report he “looks like he’s up to no good or on drugs or something,” according to Reuters.

“I don’t know what his deal is … these a-------, they always get away,” Zimmerman said before telling the dispatcher he was chasing after Martin. “OK, we don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher then told him.

Despite being explicitly told not to follow him by authorities, Zimmerman continued to pursue Martin and after an alleged scuffle, shot and killed the unarmed teenager.

This would seemingly be enough to arrest Zimmerman, yet the self-appointed neighborhood watchman claimed he acted in self-defense and the Sanford Police Department charged him with no crime.

Furthermore, he was not drug- or alcohol-tested after the shooting, which is standard in most homicide investigations, according to ABC News. Yet law enforcement expert Rod Wheeler told ABC News that after hearing the 911 tape, “the first thing that came to my mind is this guy sounds intoxicated.”

Police also claimed they hadn’t pressed charges because Zimmerman had a “squeaky-clean” record, according to the Huffington Post. Yet in fact, Zimmerman had been arrested in 2005 for resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer, though those charges were later dropped. 

The Sanford Police Department has had several other controversies of their own. According to Mother Jones, Justin Collison, the son of a Sanford police officer, sucker-punched a homeless black man and officers on scene released him without charges. The supervisor on the night of that assault was also the first supervisor on the scene at Martin’s death.

It is likely that Zimmerman has not been charged yet because of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force if they feel threatened in a place they have the right to be. Under this law, Zimmerman was justified on being on the neighborhood streets, yet his presence and behavior was still suspicious and he did not follow 911’s explicit orders.

So far, there has not been reasonable explanation for why Zimmerman is still walking free and various irregularities continue to appear in the case. To bring justice for Martin’s death, Zimmerman should be arrested.

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Mon Mar 26 2012 06:32
Quoting Mother Jones is like asking High Times what they think of legalizing marijuana. Any journalist worth their salt would never do so. There also seems to be a supposition that Zimmerman must be arrested and prosecuted, depsite the lack of a complete investigaiton. I would be willing to bet that hte author and the supports of this case will not satisfied unless there is a conviciton. Doens't seem quite fair. Let the justice system work.
Fri Mar 23 2012 22:31
Agreed, the pursuit of the decedent immediately removes any protection provided by Stand Your ground. Let's get the facts in this case - you know, due process.
Wed Mar 21 2012 14:40
I wonder if the the FAU Students would be so vocal if Martin was white and Zimmerman black. As a matter of fact I would bet that this entire news story would not even be a blip on the screen if that were the case.
Wed Mar 21 2012 00:58
"It is likely that Zimmerman has not been charged yet because of Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force if they feel threatened in a place they have the right to be."

The quoted statement is false. A straw man. This shooting has nothing to do with the "Stand Your Ground" law. It was not a factor in the confrontation. There is nothing in the statute that authorizes people to pursue and confront other people. The shooter was pursuing the victim. That's not standing your ground. We need to support legitimate cases of stand your ground because it serves no purpose to have your law abiding citizen fearing the law for defending themselves from a forcible felony. The rules for Stand Your Ground are very strict and not open to being bent. They also do not allow people to go around killing others at will.

Florida law justifies use of deadly force when you are:
A)Trying to protect yourself or another person from death or serious bodily harm;
B) Trying to prevent a forcible felony, such as rape, robbery, burglary or kidnapping.

Stand Your Ground has its place in the law because it protects citizens from civil liability for a justified killing and this is very important.

Let the system work. Let the DA investigate (the DOJ and FBI will be looking over their shoulder). Let the grand jury review and if they see fit, indite the shooter. Then a judge and jury get the case. We are a long way from the end of this story but secondary sources and some bloggers feel the case is settled even though they were not there and don't know the DA's strategy for the investigation.

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