Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rush to Judgment

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting much of the media joined the public outcry in the black community and beyond demanding that the shooter, a Hispanic named George Zimmerman, be arrested. The police, however, have not arrested the man and, not being a member of the media or the black community, I wondered why.

The simple-minded answer is that the cops are racist, but that strikes me as ridiculous. Even if it were true why would even a racist police force, in the face of such enormous public pressure, still not arrest the man if they knew he was guilty of a crime? To refuse to arrest a man who shot a teenager just because the teen was black goes beyond racism to professional suicide.

It seemed to me that there was more to the story, something that would give credence to Zimmerman's account of what happened, and it turns out that according to a Tampa news broadcast there is. Fox News Tampa Bay is reporting there was an eye-witness to part of the events that transpired that night and the witness' story corroborates Zimmerman's claim that he was assaulted by Martin. Here's an excerpt:
[O]ne man's testimony could be key for the police.

"The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: 'help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911," he said.

Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red.

The witness only wanted to be identified as "John," and didn't not want to be shown on camera.

His statements to police were instrumental, because police backed up Zimmerman's claims, saying those screams on the 911 call are those of Zimmerman.

"When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point," John said.

Zimmerman says the shooting was self defense. According to information released on the Sanford city website, Zimmerman said he was going back to his SUV when he was attacked by the teen.

Sanford police say Zimmerman was bloody in his face and head, and the back of his shirt was wet and had grass stains, indicating a struggle took place before the shooting.
I don't know how this episode is going to play out, but if it should happen that Zimmerman's story is at least largely true I hope those who've been demagoguing this tragedy will be as disgraced as they deserve to be. I also hope that the people in the media, especially some of the usual suspects at MSNBC will have enough class to admit that they were swept up in a mob-like rush to judgment and to resolve the next time something like this happens to wait until the evidence is all in and the police have explained themselves before they sound off about how the whole thing smacks of racism.