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Obstructed Justice: The Death of Trayvon Martin

On February 26th a young black man named Trayvon Martin left his father’s fiancee’s home in the Twin Lakes gated community in Orlando to buy some candy for his brother. On his way back he noticed he was being followed. George Zimmerman, the development’s neighborhood watch captain, called the police at 7:15 pm on a non-emergency number to report a “suspicious person,” allegedly made a comment about Martin’s race, and then ignored orders not to pursue him. When Martin confronted the man who was chasing him, armed with a pack of Skittles and a can of iced tea, the man shot him in the chest, claiming it was self-defense.

George Zimmerman made a decision to leave his vehicle, pick a fight with an unarmed minor while carrying a 9mm handgun, and Sanford Chief of Police Bill Lee’s first instinct was to defend him:

“I believe that Mr. Zimmerman was trying to, by his account, find an address to give the officers and also trying to keep Trayvon in eyesight.”

Zimmerman told the police that Martin noticed that he was being followed and asked, “what’s your problem?”

That’s when a physical confrontation ensued, Lee said. And moments later, Martin was shot.

Lee said that Zimmerman has a legal permit to carry the weapon used in the shooting, and that he told police that he shot Martin in self-defense.

“He felt the need to defend himself,” Lee said. “ I don’t think it was his intent to go and shoot somebody” that night.

This is the same police chief that LIED to Martin’s family and told them that Zimmerman had a clean record, when in fact he was arrested in 2005 for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, charges that were later dropped. This is the police chief that has continued to defend Zimmerman in the face of mounting evidence that he abused his power to intimidate residents of the Twin Lakes community:

At an emergency homeowner’s association meeting on March 1, “one man was escorted out because he openly expressed his frustration because he had previously contacted the Sanford Police Department about Zimmerman approaching him and even coming to his home,” the resident wrote in an email to HuffPost. “It was also made known that there had been several complaints about George Zimmerman and his tactics” in his neighborhood watch captain role.

And the reason the police can’t prove it wasn’t self-defense? THEY WERE COLLECTING EVIDENCE TO EXONERATE HIM:

But after the shooting, a source inside the police department told ABC News that a narcotics detective and not a homicide detective first approached Zimmerman. The detective pepppered Zimmerman with questions, the source said, rather than allow Zimmerman to tell his story. Questions can lead a witness, the source said.

Another officer corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.

The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.

So. You have a man who has a violent record, who ignored police instructions, who is claiming self-defense in a confrontation he started needlessly, against a minor who had every reason to believe he was being assaulted, robbed, or kidnapped, in an open area, with at least one mode of egress available. But when the police arrived at the scene they found a white man, someone like them, someone who cared about keeping the “wrong” kind of people out of the community, someone who had no other choice but to murder Trayvon Martin for fighting back.

This assertion of Zimmerman’s innocence has tainted this entire investigation. It has led Bill Lee and the Sanford Police Department to frame their understanding of this violent crime in terms of Zimmerman’s intent rather than his actions. It has led them to praise his nonexistent “clean” record while ignoring his victim’s, bring up his attending a criminal justice class in college as if interest in police work were indicative of anything, shape witness testimony to match their agreed-upon narrative, and then lavishly gift the shooter with a loving, generous public interpretation of his actions. These are all of the prizes George Zimmerman gets just for being white. Instead of running away from a fight he started he killed someone and now the police department is working as hard as they can to keep him out of jail and justify their own conduct.

You can sign the petition started by Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, here. You can also take to your feeds and let your followers know the facts of the case, inform them of the unethical and biased conduct of the Sanford Police Department, and then ask them why George Zimmerman has yet to be arrested.

17 Comments

  1. Cindy Lopez wrote:

    I read about Trayvon Martin from 2/27/12. I’m an African American Law Enforcement Officer in Miami. I am ashame of the Sanford Police Department on how they handled this case. It is clear that Racial profiling was the Motive.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  2. Steven Darling wrote:

    This is terrible, a blatant case of institutional racism. Sanford Police Department needs to stop trying to justify their conduct and accept that they messed up so that true justice can be had.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  3. somethingfierce wrote:

    Holy shit, everything about this is so heartbreaking and awful. How can police refuse to arrest a person they KNOW committed A MURDER? Oh my god. My heart goes out to Trayvon’s family.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink
  4. whiskeypants wrote:

    While establishing intent is necessary for the outcome of the actual legal case against Zimmerman, what gets me is that a white man “defends” himself against an unarmed black kid, and it’s like the kid died by accident. If it had been the other way around, if the kid had a gun, nobody would be discussing “intent” until he was in an orange jumpsuit.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  5. Dreamer wrote:

    One of the troubles is Florida’s utterly stupid and dangerous ‘stand your ground’ law that essentially allows you to shoot someone in self-defense even if they are unarmed if you can claim that you felt threatened. There is no requirement to retreat.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink
  6. Pamela Courselle wrote:

    My heart goes out to Trayvon’s family. It wasn’t self defense, it was murder, and the police dept. needs to be investigated.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  7. David wrote:

    I don’t know why Sanford PD is protecting a killer who followed and harassed a child for no reason and shot him to death. How was Trayvon to know that the corpulent man was not a kidnapper or child molester? All that boy did was to defend himself but zimmerman is portrayed as the one who needed to defend himself.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  8. GGeek wrote:

    The deep injustice of this just… it *burns.*

    My heart goes out to this kid’s family and every other family who suffers at the hands of this vigilante (who *will* kill again) and the willful incompetence of the Sanford Police Dept.

    Ugh.

    Friday, March 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink
  9. scrumby wrote:

    There’s been some talk of Zimmerman being an informant. I don’t know if it has any basis in truth or is just the collective internet brain trying to find some sort of reason for this atrocity. We know cops can be bad, but this is so awful its almost farcical.

    Friday, March 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
  10. Nanasha wrote:

    This guy shot an unarmed minor in cold blood. He is a murderer and deserves to rot in jail. He sounds despicably racist, but what else does he find “threatening”? Single moms? Obese children? Dogs that piddle on his lawn? People who collect on Social Security?

    A person who runs around with a gun shooting people because he feels “threatened” in some vague way is not a person who should be allowed in public, let alone with a weapon.

    And the fact that he committed an obvious crime against and unarmed citizen shows that he is either mentally ill and needs immediate and intensive treatment (until he is fit to stand trial for his crimes) and he needs to be properly punished for MURDERING SOMEONE because he didn’t like the person’s skin color.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 4:15 am | Permalink
  11. Angie unduplicated wrote:

    The Sanford-Orlando area is notoriously corrupt politically. The culture of the region, and of Florida in general, rivals 1950′s Alabama for racism and violence, and the looming oresence of Disney World seems to have made the less urban residents more oppositional and defiant.
    Zimmerman probably will get away with murder, with the help of his cronies. It would be interesting to know if the victim of his previous assault is black, since rogue cops are known to use POC for punching bags. I’d love to see Edna Buchanan take this case on, though it’s off her turf.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink
  12. Katherine wrote:

    This reminds me, horribly, a little of the racist murder of 17 year old Stephen Lawrence here in the UK many years ago.

    He and his friend were attacked by a gang of white men and he was stabbed. The police investigation started by focusing on whether Stephen Lawrence was a gang member (he wasn’t) – ie trying to find reasons why he, a young black man, would have somehow brought this murder on himself.

    This resulted in a huge outcry and reform of the Metropolitan Police (ie Greater London Police Service), who were investigated and found to be institutionally racist.

    This all happened in 1993. Two of his murderers were found guilty this January, 19 years later. I hope Trayvon Martin’s family don’t have to wait as long for justice. And I hope that this travesty leads to the same kind of investigation and review of the Sanford Police Department.

    Monday, March 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  13. El Grande wrote:

    This is the case throughout the country. In CA, the cops love to kill brown and black kids.

    Monday, March 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Permalink
  14. dz wrote:

    This guy should be charged with a hate crime.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink
  15. LMBJ wrote:

    I truly feel the pain of Trayvon’s mother. I too lost my son when rhe was 17 back in 1991. It really chaps my hide to know that this man is going away with this. Now he’s in hiding, Zimmerman,why u hiding? Afraid God gonna catch you??.

    Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  16. Mark wrote:

    Protip: George Zimmerman isn’t white, he’s hispanic. I know this is about to sound like “concern trolling” but it would make an entire part of the political spectrum (you know, us, the left of democrat people?) sound slightly less ridiculous if people would actually get the facts straight.

    Yes, George Zimmerman is a murderer who almost certainly pursued this kid because he was interested in murdering Trayvon Martin, and targeted him because TM was black.

    No, George Zimmerman was not white. His mother is Peruvian and he’s always identified as Hispanic. Is he a racist? Almost certainly yes. Is he a murderer? Yes.

    Friday, April 6, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink
  17. @Mark, you are aware that the details of Zimmerman’s ethnicity only came out after this piece was written, right?

    Friday, April 6, 2012 at 4:44 am | Permalink