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.