Sunday, June 30, 2013

In Reply: Staying Away From Unknown, Suspicious Individuals Is Smart...and Lessens the Possibility of Confrontation and Subsequent Need for Self-Defense

In reply to the following comment at the post, Open Thread Friday | NewsBusters:

I appreciate you taking the time to address me on this- I read your piece as recommended by Jer, and found it to be better than the other one, by far, but you're still off base. I'm guessing you don't spend a lot of time around today's urban youth. You've made suppositions based on emotion, or feelings, or initial biased reporting, or whatever causes you to believe that Zimmerman was "creepy" and that Martin was provoked into committing aggravated battery. Fine. You've got a soft spot for what you think is idyllic youth. But it's misguided and unrealistic.

I'm not sure which neighborhood watch guidelines you're suggesting he didn't follow, but the Sanford guidelines are here: ttp:// Maybe you can be more specific.

The very purpose of the neighborhood watch program is to observe and report. One of the suspicious activities noted in the guidelines is running. So tell me, if you're driving a vehicle through your neighborhood, and you observe a person dressed like several others who've been involved in a spate of recent crime in your neighborhood, AND while trying to drive by for a better look, said suspicious person moves in between houses AND you are unable to continue follow due to the lack of roadway AND you lose site of that suspicious person AND you have completed or are involved in on-going training as a neighborhood watch component, would you not exit your vehicle to try and ascertain where the person was going as you're on the phone with police trying to give them a description of said suspicious person? ("Uh sorry, he took off. Nope. No clue where he went. In a house? Maybe. I don't know. What was he wearing? Uh, could be a sweatjacket, maybe one of those hoodies. Not sure. Lost him as I was dialing.") Well, some might not, but others surely would. I would. Following and confronting, however, are two very different things.

The Zimmerman call to police has been thoroughly dissected from a time and location standpoint. Maybe you're not privy to some of that. Here is a pretty detailed summation:

For some reason, you're giving all of the benefit of the doubt to the 17 year old over the 28 year old. You're suggesting that Zimmerman provoked confrontation without a shred of evidence to indicate that. Zimmerman got out of his vehicle a considerable distance from where he reported Martin's location, and the actual confrontation took place at a location that required Martin to turn back toward Zimmerman. A scared kid wouldn't have done that. A kid who thought the big bad -potentially armed- wolf who was out to harm him, wouldn't have done that. He was closer to the front door of his temporary residence than he was either Zimmerman or the location of the altercation. Martin came back looking to confront Zimmerman. Remember, Martin is no stranger to fighting. And now we know he was on top of Zimmerman, beating him in what was described as MMA-style "ground and pound". Zimmerman had very obvious injuries of this type of beating while Martin only had one gunshot wound. This kid wasn't scared, he was the aggressor.

Throwing a punch at someone is an assault. Connecting with it is battery. You do not have the right to assault and batter someone that is asking you questions. You do not have the right to batter someone whom you fear. And there is no indication that Zimmerman initiated any physical contact. I would challenge your assertions as to morality.

Zimmerman may ultimately be convicted for his actions that night, but the well is so severely poisoned at this point -with threats of violence quite prevalent if he's acquitted ( that jurors feeling some sense of self-preservation might end up influencing their decisions. But everything that has been entered into testimony to this point has backed up Zimmerman's claims from the outset.


You missed the "h" in http on your first link, and even searching the site, I can't find the Sanford Neighborhood Watch Handbook (it's also been removed from the site that most bloggers referencing it linked to initially), but I'd be very surprised if Sanford's handbook doesn't match what most most say: Do not follow a suspect, do not confront a suspect, and do not patrol while armed. (one example: Neighborhood Watch 101: How to patrol - St. Louis Crime |

Even trained, armed police officers seldom go after a suspect individual without back-up. George reported the suspicious activity--including the fact that the suspicious person ran out of sight...and the dispatcher told him that they didn't need for him to follow the suspicious individual. So, while some might, and you say you would, it's awful foolish and against neighborhood watch policy and police department want or need for a civilian to follow an unknown suspect into a dark area on part because "following" can very easily lead to "confrontation," even if the latter is not intended.

The evidence that Zimmerman followed Martin is clear, and not in dispute, even by Zimmerman. One can assume that Martin might've doubled back on Zimmerman, but there's no actual evidence or testimony to that effect... (I don't know where the guy at the wagist link is getting his info, but not even he backs up his claim that Martin went up to his step mom's house & doubled back with anything other than his own words.)

I contend that a scared individual (kid or otherwise) would--and would be smart to--stay away from unknown suspicious individuals. Martin did that for the majority of the timeline. Zimmerman did not. Sure, it is possible that Martin chose fight when flight didn't work for him--Zimmerman kept coming--and that he is responsible for the first punch, and for being the better fighter overall, too... And yes, if Martin threw the first punch--even if he believed it was the only way to get this creep to stop following him--Martin was guilty of assault. But if Zimmerman had followed neighborhood watch guidelines, police suggestions, or even just good old common sense, neither would've thrown any punches or fired any shots.

On edit: My point isn't that I think Zimmerman (or Martin) actually were creepy, but that each painted a false picture of the other as creepy and up to no good, and behaved as though those images were accurate. On one hand, it's probably safer to be suspicious of strangers behaving unusually, these days (whether it's following you, looking in windows, loitering, etc), but it sure would've helped if either had just approached and asked for the time or offered to help, or something...

Posted Sunday, June 30, 2013, 2:00 AM

Previously: In Reply: "Over a year later...I still believe George Zimmerman's actions make him morally responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin"

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