|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Finally, yesterday, George Zimmerman was arrested and charged with a crime. Most of us only have a handful of facts. But, here are a couple of things that are pretty much indisputable. George Zimmerman was carrying a gun on neighborhood watch when he was told not to. George Zimmerman left his vehicle to follow Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman continued to follow Trayvon Martin after calling the police and shot him while the police were on the way. The Sanford police blew the investigation. This case warranted more than the cursory investigation done by the local police department. Now, the special prosecutor has done her investigation and determined that the circumstances warrant a second degree murder charge.
George Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not the court of public opinion. Based on the evidence I have it seems pretty clear to me that he is guilty of, at the very least assault, since his unjustified pursuit put Trayvon in fear for his safety. What legal implications that crime carries for his subsequent homicide of Trayvon, I leave up to the legal experts. Perhaps, at some point, Trayvon did turn on Zimmerman and became the "aggressor". Those details should come out at trial.
Many will not be happy until George Zimmerman is convicted and behind bars. I am not among them. Some were positively giddy yesterday when charges were filed. I would describe my emotion as more relieved than guilty. I don't want to forget the humanity of both men here. Yes, Trayvon Martin's death was tragic and his family is suffering greatly. No, he did not deserve to die that night. But, I do not believe that George Zimmerman is a homicidal racist who was out hunting black kids. I think he's an overzealous neighborhood watch guy, a Barney Fife who should have kept his bullet in his pocket instead of in his gun. That night was tragic for him, too, forever changing his life. I am glad that George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged. Now, justice can take its course.
There is still another hurdle to clear before this case goes to trial. Zimmerman will make a motion to have the charges dismissed based on "Stand Your Ground". Hopefully, the prosecutor took that into consideration and hopefully a judge will rule the law does not apply, as many experts have said it does not.
While this case is a tragedy of epic proportions, there are some good things that have come of it. To many people it's a reminder that simply being black is enough to get us stopped and sometimes shot. But, 50, 40 or even 20 years ago, it's doubtful any of us would have heard of this case. It would have been successfully swept under the rug. We've made progress. Also, the very mention of "Stand Your Ground" in association with this case has people all across the country reviewing this ridiculous, unnecessary law and we will see repeal efforts because of it. Maybe that will save some lives. And, hopefully, all those Barney Fifes out there doing neighborhood watch work will see that their actions while on "duty" have consequences and will leave the police work up to the police.