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Zimmerman vs. Martin

Bianca Stokes, Writer
April 17, 2012
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

Background:

On February 26th, Travyon Martin, a 17 year-old junior in high school, was spending the weekend at his father’s home. Martin left briefly to visit a nearby 7-Eleven where he purchased a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Tea. On his way back, Martin was spotted by 28 year-old George Zimmerman, a self-appointed coordinator of the neighborhood watch program. Zimmerman was just returning home from the previous mentioned errand when he spotted Martin. At the end of an altercation that is still being questioned by the federal government, Martin was shot 70 yards from his father’s home, from what Zimmerman called “self-defense.”

I wanted to know what kind of person George Zimmerman was, so I researched on the Internet and found some  information on him that pertains to the situation. Zimmerman completed a sheriff department introductory course in citizen’s law enforcement. At the time of the shooting, he was working towards an associate’s degree at Seminole State College as a criminal justice student. Afterwards, he was withdrawn by the college due to safety considerations. Additionally, Zimmerman was appointed as the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator by the homeowners association in his development and was licensed to carry a firearm. Sanford policeman Chief Bill Lee stated that the neighborhood watch volunteers were not encouraged to carry firearms, but it was a constitutional right to do so.

Before Custody:

Certain television shows such as Nancy Grace, CNN, The Last Word on MSNBC, and Channel 14 News have been following the progress of the case as it started to unravel. I collected notes from all the different people who brought up information pertaining to the incident. The main two individuals that seemed to be in the spotlight were Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig. These men were George Zimmerman’s first attempt at a legal defense team. However, the duo resigned from representing Zimmerman, due to never having a face-to-face meeting with him. The two alleged that Zimmerman stopped all forms of communication on April 8th. And, they made the shocking accusation that Zimmerman might suffer from “post-traumatic stress disorder.” By the end of their press conference, Sonner and Uhrig told listeners they didn’t know the location of Zimmerman and couldn’t disclose any further information.

Charles M. Blow from The New York Times said to his viewing audience, “How could you initially defend a client and not know where they are?” He also stated that he thinks the two might just be after the limelight. Wherever Zimmerman was hiding, he had Internet access available. On April 10th, he updated his website, www.therealgeorgezimmerman.com.

On the “flip side” of things, George Zimmerman’s family wants the New Black Panthers (an un-official, US-based black political organization) to be charged for hate crime activity, according to the NewsOne website. In fact, the Black Panther Party was offering $10,000 for the capture of Zimmerman.

After Custody:

Television, once again, became the medium that shared information regarding the case. This time shows such as Hardball with Chris Matthews, HLN Special Report, and Lean Forward – MSNBC depicted the same story.  George Zimmerman was taken into custody. Zimmerman turned himself in at 5:39, 25 minutes before Special Prosecutor Angela Corey was to do a live conference detailing the charges Zimmerman faced.

Corey, accompanied by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and two top homicidal researchers, discussed the events that were to take place. Her speech stated:

  • Zimmerman would be charged with murder in the 2nd degree
  • The location (jail wise) would not be revealed for his safety
  • At no time during the entire process of the case did she speak with Zimmerman as rumors speculated.
  • If the “Stand Your Ground” law becomes an issue, they will fight it like any other law in the courtroom (insanity, self-defense, etc…)

After the announcements, Corey entertained a question and answer session. She was asked why George Zimmerman was charged with murder instead of a homicide. She responded, “all murders are homicides, but all homicides aren’t murders.”

Rev. Al Sharpton, active spokesperson for the Martin Family, stated, “An outcry from all over the country came. The police chief said “there will not be an arrest”, but 30,000 people marched, and that all changed. Only the facts should matter when dealing with a loss of a life. People will give credit to the big names, but it’s the unknown facts that deserve the thank yous. This is not the time for gloating because we are still in mourning; however, this is an example if Americans coming together. We can achieve anything.”

Several days later, George Zimmerman’s new attorney, Mark O’Mara, said that his client will plead not guilty and that he is not concerned about Zimmerman’s mental state.

What Catawba Thinks:

I decided to see what other students at Catawba College thought about the situation. While some declined the opportunity to comment, other jumped at the chance to talk about the case.

Chris Griffin stated, “This whole thing is a big travesty. It’s been played off like it’s not as big as it really is. I think it’s gonna be like the O.J. Simpson case and evidence is gonna be tampered with and overlooked. Zimmerman will get off because of it too… misused evidence.”

C.J. Mallory commented, “The media has twisted this whole thing around. It’s more the fact that Zimmerman saw Trayvon as a menace. Not really racial because Zimmerman himself is of a mixed race. However, stereotyping was involved and people should realize that’s what it was. Even with students here at Catawba… they say they are not racists, but it’s very apparent it’s an underlying factor, and there is strong racial profiling with how we all treat each other.”

­­­­­­­­­­­­Tynia Brandon said, “Hate crime is such an overused word, since the whole Matthew Shepard Case. Yes, Trayvon is black, but even if he were a white guy, the whole thing would still be a wrong doing. So race shouldn’t be a playing factor.”

Lili Kiefer stated, “It’s almost like Trayvon has become this big racial icon. I wrote about the Matthew Shepard case and I feel like the parents have a right to be angry, as well as the African American community. Also, I feel like it was indeed an act of racial profiling to an extent…it doesn’t really matter the race though. I think it just took too long to get this much attention.”

Tevin Carr says; “All I was concerned about was him [Zimmerman] getting tried. Everybody has a right to a fair trial, though. What Zimmerman was saying and what the Florida cops were doing just wasn’t enough. So as of right now, I feel like justice was served. He still needs to go before a jury.”

In the End:

It was really interesting to see the perspectives of others. What do you think? It’s important that we keep up with today’s current events because Trayvon Martin could have easily been one of us. Whether George Zimmerman is acquitted or convicted, the incident is sure to serve as an eye opener to people of all races and creeds.

 

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