[News] White Sheets Surround Florida Teen's Slaying

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 20 13:03:38 EDT 2012


White Sheets Surround Florida Teen's Slaying

by Linn Washington Jr.

In March 1799 authorities in North Carolina found 
no fault in a teen fatally shooting a black man 
after confronting that man about his being on a public road.

In February 2012 authorities in Florida found no 
fault in a man fatally shooting a black teen 
after confronting that teen about his being on a public road.

How authorities in Sanford, Florida have handled 
the fatal February 26th shooting of 17-year-old 
black teen Trayvon Martin by a town watch 
operative is, however, sparking outrage 
nationwide, including among many whites.

The slaying also raises the issue of race-tainted 
inequities that have roiled through American 
society since before the formal inception of the United States.

Police in Sanford, outside Orlando, quickly 
accepted the claim of George Zimmerman, 28, that 
he shot Martin in self-defense while he was 
allegedly losing a fight with the younger, 
physically smaller teen. (Zimmerman is a three 
inches taller and is nearly 100-pounds heavier 
than his victim, the young Martin).

The record, pried lose from reluctant police, 
shows that Zimmerman called 911 telling police he 
saw Martin acting suspiciously. Police, who 
initially refused to release the 911 tapes, told 
Zimmerman not to confront Martin, but he rejected 
the police orders. A scuffle ensued where 
Zimmerman shot Martin with a 9mm pistol he was carrying.

Zimmerman, initially described as having no 
police record, is a self-appointed town watch 
captain and wannabe policeman with a checkered 
past. Neighbors have reportedly complained about 
his aggressive behaviors. He had called police 46 
times in the past year alone in his town watch 
capacity. In 2005 police charged Zimmerman with 
assaulting an officer, but later dropped charges.

Federal authorities are now investigating the 
fatal shooting of Martin by Zimmerman, whom 
Sanford police cleared without doing any 
background check (it turns out he was once 
arrested for assault on a policeman) and without 
conducting tests to see if Zimmerman was under 
the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of 
the shooting. Some people who have heard the 911 
tapes contend he was under the influence of some 
substance, based on the sound of his voice on those recordings.

Martin, when killed by Zimmerman, was walking 
back to a relative’s home in the integrated 
neighborhood after buying a bag of candy and a 
can of ice tea from a local convenience store. 
Martin, a well-respected high school student, had no criminal record.

The shooting of Martin, however, raises an issue 
as contentious as racism – the propriety of 
Florida’s controversial 2005 “Stand Your Ground” 
law which turned self-defense law on its head by 
removing the duty to retreat before using deadly 
force against an alleged attacker.

That law additionally allows the use of deadly force against unarmed persons.

In May 2010 a Florida man successfully cited the 
“Stand Your Ground” law following his shooting of 
another man during a fight at a beach where he 
shot a man in the back of the head as his victim was getting out of the water.

Since this law’s approval, Florida authorities 
have cited it in finding legal justification in 
an astonishing 400 slayings according to media 
accounts. Almost two dozen other states have adopted similar laws.

This law, backed by the National Rifle 
Association, allows the use of deadly force under 
the loose standard of a person “reasonably” 
believing their life to be in danger.

Police and prosecutors in Florida have opposed 
changing traditional self-defense standards, 
warning that the looser “Stand Your Ground” 
standards were ripe for abuse and create what 
critics term a shoot-first/ask-questions-later environment.

In the Trayvon Martin incident legal experts are 
wrangling over whether Zimmerman surrendered the 
immunity protections in the “Stand Your Ground” 
law because he was the aggressor by his refusal 
to follow police orders to not confront Martin.

What riles many is the Sanford Police 
Department's refusal to arrest Zimmerman and the 
decision by the department to let the courts sort 
out his self-defense claim during a trial. Some 
shooters who have raised self-defense claims 
under the “Stand Your Ground” rule hve faced 
trials, while police and prosecutors have simply 
accepted some claims, eliminating the need for a trial.

By quickly accepting Zimmerman’s self-defense 
claim, the Sanford Police raise concerns about 
the race-tainted stereotype of the dangerous 
black brute that reflexively causes many whites to fear for their lives.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee embraced 
Zimmerman’s claim that he was forced to fire on 
Martin because Martin was beating him badly and 
no one was responding to his cries for help.

Lee contends Zimmerman’s injuries are “consistent 
with” his story, apparently finding no fault in 
Zimmerman's having disregarded police orders and 
continuing to confront the smaller Martin, who 
was apparently doing nothing wrong.

Lee’s police are drawing verbal fire for 
reportedly badgering witnesses to alter their 
accounts in favor of Zimmerman’s version.

Martin’s father and the local NAACP head are 
among many voicing the sentiment that Sanford 
Police would have reacted differently if Martin 
had shot Zimmerman under the same circumstances.

Florida, like many places in America, 
particularly the South, has a sordid history of race-based inequities.

Incidents in Florida are mentioned frequently in 
the 1951 petition an interracial group of 
Americans sent to the United Nations charging the 
federal government with committing “Genocide” on African-Americans.

The “New Acts of Genocide” addendum to that 1951 
petition lists racist incidents from Florida more than any other single state.

Those incidents include a Florida sheriff fatally 
shooting one black prisoner and wounding another, 
and “racist terrorists” killing a NAACP leader 
and his wife by bombing their house. That 
petition decried federal and Florida state 
officials for failing to act in those murders.

That “New Acts” section also cited whites legally 
excluding blacks from one Seminole County, FL 
town located about 15-miles from Sanford, “to 
prevent Negroes there from voting and from 
receiving fire, sanitary and public health services.”

Sanford absorbed the all-black town of Goldsboro 
in 1911, quickly renaming streets bearing the 
names of black pioneers, according to historic accounts.

The mass disenfranchisement of thousands of 
blacks by Florida election officials during the 
2000 presidential election allegely won but 
actually stolen by George W. Bush remains a stinging point among blacks.

Florida’s then Governor Jeb Bush, George’s 
brother, later acknowledged his role in the voter 
suppression that handed the White House to his 
brother. Jeb Bush enthusiastically backed passage 
of the “Stand Your Ground” law, calling it a 
“good, common-sense anti-crime” measure.

The murder of Trayvon Martin shares similarities 
with the 1799 North Carolina shooting. Both 
incidents involved the killing of blacks on 
questionable provocation and white authorities 
loosely applying laws to clear the murderers.

In the 1799 incident the Supreme Court of North 
Carolina acquitted the teen who had confronted a 
black man on a public road. The teen told that 
man to get off the road or he would shoot him with a shotgun.

That man walked to the other side of the road where the teen blocked him again.

The teen shot the man after “the negro shoved him 
with some violence to the other side of the road” 
according to the court record
that exhibited 
shades of the black brute stereotype.

NC’s Supreme Court ruled the shooting 
manslaughter not murder – a crucial ruling for 
the teen because NC law barred punishment for 
manslaughter in the “malicious killing of a 
slave.” Incidentally, NC law at that time 
deprived free blacks of rights as it did slaves.

“There is enough evidence of probable cause here 
to arrest Zimmerman,” said Benjamin Crump, the 
attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family, adding, 
“Race is the elephant in this room.”

Source URL: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1105

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