Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first]:
I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Walking in America: Hoodies, skittles and sidewalks: UPDATED

by Glenn Littrell

UPDATE: 4-8-2015

zimmerman
George Zimmerman now has 6 mugshots. Trayvon Martin has an Obituary. Who looks like a thug now?

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George Zimmerman is at the least:

A concerned citizen,  Who followed a young man he deemed suspicious because he didn’t recognize him. Who called the police to report the young man.

Trayvon Martin was at the least:

A young man who was walking from and to his residence to purchase an evening snack. Was not high, drunk, acting agitated or behaving suspiciously before Zimmerman saw him. He was, during the time Zimmerman observed him, talking on his cell phone.

but, George Zimmerman also:

As director, and only member, of the neighborhood watch broke the rules of neighborhood watch programs by arming himself, putting a bullet in the chamber. and against the advice of a police dispatcher did not return to his car (the police would arrive within 5 minutes).

and Trayvon Martin was:

Carrying a bag of skittles, a drink, a cell phone and within yards of his home.

glennlittrelldotcom Are any of the above in dispute? No. Of course there is more to Trayvon and George than what we minimize above, but these are the established facts. There is more to the events than what we minimize above, but these are the known facts.

The last fact: less than three and a half minutes later Trayvon was dead.

There would be many ‘observations’, accounts, testimony, and forensic evidence presented in the case, and all of it would be disputed by the opposing counsels. There would even be counsels out-of-court stabs at each other. The prosecution and defense would attempt to discredit the others witnesses and evidence. That’s what they are supposed to do. That’s your proverbial day in court.

Did I watch the trial? No. Because everything I need to know is above. Everything else is speculation and...

the minute I heard the definition of the charges against Zimmerman and the instructions to the jury, and that Zimmerman would not plead protection under the ‘stand your ground’ laws it became apparent that the prosecution was not going to be able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It had nothing to do with the make-up of the jury, if they followed the law and instructions an acquittal was inevitable. The charges filed by the prosecution were virtually impossible to prove with the evidence they presented. Could they have filed lesser charges and got a conviction? Probably, and one can only hope they consulted the Martins on this. If Zimmerman had used the stand your ground defense could the prosecution have won? Yes, not saying they would have but in the case of the stand your ground defense the burden of proof is on the defendant, Zimmerman, who would have had to ‘prove’ he was acting in self-defense. Since he didn’t use the stand your ground defense the burden of proof was on the prosecution to prove he didn’t act in self-defense. That is a higher standard of proof when the only witness is the defendant, that’s why Zimmerman didn’t testify.

It is important to remember three things:

    1. Innocent until proven guilty
    2. Justice is supposed to be blind
    3. and therein lies the reason we pronounce defendants ‘not guilty’ instead of ‘innocent’.

The last fact: less than three and a half minutes later Martin was dead, and that is what is wrong with the end result of the above facts.

A young man leaves his home to got to a 7-eleven to get a snack. While there he commits no crime, pays for his drink and skittles, and his behavior is not suspicious. At least not suspicious enough to prevent the store clerk from turning his back on the young man as seen in the 7-Eleven video. A member of the neighborhood watch, armed and in the limited protection of his car spots the young man that he doesn’t recognize in the neighborhood, deems him suspicious and calls 911. In spite of living in the neighborhood, having been on neighborhood watch for months, and having called 911 before, he seems unable to identify his location clearly. He shows frustration in his language concerning someone being in his neighborhood, and against neighborhood watch policy and police dispatcher instructions continues to follow the teen ager on foot.
The young man sees what he perceives as a stalker, in the dark of night, and runs from the stalker’s view. The perceived stalker, the neighborhood watchman, clearly says the young man ran away and he doesn’t know where he is. If the young man was indeed a criminal casing houses to break into, he would have either fled the area or returned home before being spotted again. Living in the neighborhood this means he would have headed home, which he evidently did,.but if the young man was in fear of a stalker he would have done the same.
Then comes the confrontation that ends in the young mans death.

  1. In the 911 call Zimmerman is to meet the police at the club house, where he was when he called 911, yet the confrontation occurs off the street, out of site, between two buildings over 200 feet away? On foot how was Zimmerman going to meet the police heading in the opposite direction. Evidently Zimmerman again did not follow the dispatcher instructions, even after agreeing to and he himself established the meeting point.
  2. Zimmerman had a gun, legal. Zimmerman violated neighborhood crime watch policy, legal. Zimmerman did not follow dispatcher instructions twice, ill advised but legal. Zimmerman mis-directed police to his anticipated whereabouts, stupid, intentional, ill advised, but legal or illegal I don’t know. Zimmerman proceeded into a darkened area in pursuit of a suspicious person he perceived to be a criminal, stupid, very stupid.
  3. At this point the young man has not been observed committing a crime. He was not carrying contraband, unless it was the skittles and drink.

Regardless of how the confrontation started or how it played out, up to this point it is Zimmerman who is pursuing, it is Zimmerman who is escalating the situation, the tension and the questionable behavior.

Was Zimmerman frustrated by his inability to stop the crimes in his neighborhood? Was Zimmerman, a police officer wannabe, trying to prove he was good enough to be on the police force? Was he inclined to ignore crime watch procedures, police dispatcher instructions, misdirect the police, pursue someone down a darkened area because he carried a gun? Did his knowledge of the stand your ground laws and his possession of a gun embolden him to make choices that, unarmed, he wouldn’t have made?

My opinion: yes, yes, yes-yes-yes-yes…YES, and YES… just my opinion. If Zimmerman had not had a gun he would not have created and escalated the events to the deadly confrontation. This is not a condemnation of guns, I own two. It is a condemnation of Zimmerman's actions and choices, regardless of whether he sought the eventual outcome, or his good intentions and false bravado led him to a situation he couldn’t control.

The stated facts above is followed by my logical reasoning of why I feel what I feel about this case, and that reasoning is based on those facts and just the words of George Zimmerman himself.

I do not include the testimony of Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend or other witnesses. No witness was more than a partial witness to any event, none saw the shot, none witnessed the initial, whole or final part of the confrontation and all who saw anything were doing so in the cloak of darkness and distance, according to their testimony. I ignore the expert witnesses. Like the so called crime scene witnesses their testimony can be disputed, rationalized and viewed in varied lights of opinion and biased. I ignore the questionable, much fabricated, and overblown histories of Zimmerman and Martin (by both Zimmerman and Martin supporters). For the most part these histories only serve and are meant to agitate us into taking one side or the other. I ignore the history of the Sanford, Florida and American justice system and all of its failures and successes. I ignore the role of the media, perceptions of race, actions of the two families. I ignore the speculation of what Zimmerman or Martin was doing, did, thought or was capable of…  All of these things can be debated and argued as items that need to be corrected, stopped, encouraged, continued or dealt with as part of societal problems or solutions, but none clear up what happened, they only create shadows and flickers that affect our perceptions.

Martin is dead and can not tell his side or dispute Zimmerman’s side. Zimmerman is silent and refused to testify in his own behave, his right and not an indicator of guilt, but his choice. He chose not to elaborate on the facts so we are left to the known facts and Zimmerman’s words in the 911 tape, and Zimmerman’s words are what put the burden of responsibility on him.

Thank goodness for civil suites because this guy is guilty of creating the fatal confrontation, even if he tried to back out of the confrontation, tried to take back his stupid moves.

Did the police or the prosecution, prior to the trial ask why Zimmerman was going in the opposite direction of where he directed the police too? If Martin ambushed Zimmerman how was it that Zimmerman ended up closer to Martin’s destination than the meeting place he directed the police to? Coincidence, not if he was still pursuing Martin?

If Martin was in fear of a stalker he would be prone to fight or flight, that is instinctive. It is also the only logical action to take. According to Zimmerman he(Martin) demonstrated a consideration of both, he first chose flight, but with continued stalking it would have been natural to choose fight before exposing his residence to a stalker. Zimmerman never identified himself to Martin as a member of the neighborhood watch before the confrontation, so in the eyes of Martin, it was Zimmerman’s behavior that was suspicious. It was Zimmerman’s actions that put Martin in fear. Fear that triggered a self defense reaction. It was Zimmerman who created the hostile confrontation, not Martin.

If Martin was acting with criminal intent the logical behavior would have been to hide and stay hidden if he couldn’t make it home. Since he hadn’t done anything wrong, obvious to him and now obvious to us, why would he confront Zimmerman unless Zimmerman cut off his retreat to his home.

There was no witness to either George or Trayvon’s actions other than in bits and pieces. To use those bits and pieces to establish exactly what happened is impossible. Putting a picture puzzle together with missing pieces would be more conclusive. Any conclusion based on the evidence presented in and out of the trail in this case is OPINION! While that opinion is based on a review of the facts and testimony it is at some level influenced by our bias, feelings, and perceptions. We may be able to clinically remove our conscious bias, feelings, and perceptions from the process, but none of us are capable of removing our sub-conscious bias, feelings, and perceptions because we are ignorant of them. The same holds true for that Jury, the difference being they also were to try and only consider what was presented in court.

None of us are capable of completely removing the bias, feelings, and perceptions we have. We are human, and the fact that we are human is what makes the jury system imperfect. Imperfect or not, it is the best system we have. The best in the history of mankind. Yes it can be abused, it can be unduly influenced, it can even be corrupted, but what is the alternative. Systems of the past: tribunals with professional jurors, trial by fire, trial by intellectuals, trial by the elite, trial by clergy, trial by appointee, and trial by public opinion have all been proven to be less effective, less fair and more prone to abuse and corruptions. Systems of the future hold little promise because most of them would just be systems of the past restructured or combined. The only future system that would be new would be trial by computer. A cold blooded review of facts, ignoring extenuating circumstances, ignoring the role of fear, human nature and environment. Does anyone want that system? No, the only ones who would are those who foolishly believe they would never have to face such a judgment.

Our jury system is the best because it is not autocratic. It has its mechanical elements but it is based on a jury by our peers, or if we choose a bench trial (Judge serves as jury). Our peers are imperfect beings, capable of compassion and yes damaging or favorable biases. Just like our justice system as a whole it is perfect on paper and  imperfect in reality, but its imperfections continue because as a society as a we do little to improve it until we are incensed by events like this case, and then over time we fall back into apathy.

It is apathy more than corruption or bigotry that damages our system, and it is the ill defined and self-serving legislation of vote seeking legislators.

Up to now I have not mentioned race… because whether or not race enters into the equation is negated by the fact that:

A teen age boy should be able to, in a good neighborhood or bad, walk to the 7-Eleven and back with a bag of skittles without fear for his live. Regardless of race that is true. The parent of a child killed for doing so should be entitled to expecting the killer be retained and held until an investigation, hearing, or bail is set. Regardless of race. A community should be entitled to a justice system and police force that treats everyone, victim or perpetrator, fairly under the law. Regardless of race.

Everybody should agree with that. Most do, but when we consider race we enter into a discussion of differences. Not on how it should be, but on how it really is. Things have improved, but they still have a long way to go. It is not dependent on on society, or even community, to fight for improvement. It is dependent on the individual to drive the community and society and until enough individuals, black, white and otherwise realize and act on that realization we will have far to go. Unfortunately almost everyone who believes that still see things through a set of eyes anchored to a black or white perception.  trayvon

Too many whites give breath to the call for a color blind society, but fail to act on that by simply trying to see things through someone else's perception. If you can’t do that you can’t understand the problem and you can’t identify a solution beyond lip service and wishful thinking. Of course the same is true in reverse, but lets not fall into the ‘what's good for the goose is good for the gander’ trap.

The idea that racism cuts both ways equally is ridiculous. You have an oppressor versus the oppressed dichotomy, based in history, current statistics, and simple observation. When a big bully calls his smaller victim a ‘sissy’ it does not have the same repercussions as the victim calling the bully a ‘sissy’. It might make the bully mad but its is not as hurtful. If the bully pushes the smaller victim it does not have the same effect as the victim pushing back. When a man hits a women it is not the same as when a woman hits a man, legally it might be, but society views it differently. When our forefathers fought for independence against England it did not mean the same thing to citizens in England as it did citizens in America. Americans saw it as a path to freedom, Englanders saw Americans as free subject like themselves. Americans saw their houses burned, their towns shelled, their leaders arrested. The citizen in England saw none of this. Tit for tat between the oppressed and the oppressor is not equal, especially when the oppressed have no option but to accept the situation or struggle quietly to fight or equality.

The ability to see things through the perception of others is possible. It only relies on imagination and intent, but the intent must be there. It comes down to the simple desire to walk in someone else's shoes, or even more simply put, to put into daily practice the instructions to love thy neighbor and to do unto others…

Who’s the culprit here?

  • Zimmerman had a role, a deadly one.

and…

  • The neighborhood had a big role. Why couldn’t they muster up more than one volunteer for the neighborhood watch? How effective could one person be.
  • The neighborhood association had a bigger role. If a watch was necessary why would the association accept a watch under the limitations, not to mention the liability, of one person. If the problem was that big then private security or gating the community were other, more appropriate, choices.

These two entities took what we are told was a problem and through apathy: non-involvement, lack of commitment and indifference made it worse.

and…

  • The Sanford Police Department, the local media, and the local prosecutors.

It is apparent that the situation was mis-handled and shuffled into oblivion before the Martin family acted.

and…

  • The imperfections of our justice system, the exaggerated influence of extremist, the ‘Stand your ground law’, and the continued inability of our society face the fact that in spite of what progress has been made there is still much to do in regards to racial harmony.

GlennDL.

please excuse the typos and misspellings, I wrote in haste.

UPDATE: July 15, 2013

black,, 17,, and, shot, dead, in, florida:, why, isnt, jordan, davis, getting, the, attention, travyon, martin, is?,

“…They parked next to the SUV containing Davis and his three friends who were listening to rap music on their way home after shopping at Black Friday sales at a mall.
Dunn asked the teens to turn down the volume of the music, but, his attorney said, the teens turned up the volume, threatened Dunn and brandished a shotgun. Dunn grabbed a pistol from the glove compartment of his car and opened fire, before driving away, authorities say. Police said no weapon was found on the teens…”

Described as passionate about politics and gun control, and with a few drinks in his system, is there any doubt that he was aware of the ‘Stand your ground law’? The ideal that only criminals commit crimes with guns has to be amended to include otherwise law abiding citizens will kill when they convince themselves that the law protects them if they know how to use it.   http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/28/15513847-florida-man-pleads-not-guilty-to-shooting-teen-to-death-over-loud-music?lite

UPDATE 10-1-2013:

Court Overturns 20-Year Sentence for Woman Who Fired 'Warning Shots' at Husband

sources:

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