Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin case

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Please listen to this audio clip before you continue.

This is a picture of a glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro which I took when I was there last year. It clearly shows that the glaciers have shrunk in the past years. I believe climate change is real. I believe at a minimum some amount of it caused by humans. The popular documentary “The inconvenient Truth” uses Kilimanjaro as a poster example of climate change. Makes sense? Unfortunately that is bull shit. Scientists have shown that the shrinking glaciers on Kilimanjaro have nothing to do with climate change. Even though climate change is real, Kilimanjaro is a bad example because it doesn’t apply here.

Kilimanjaro glaciers

When we believe something strongly, we are always looking for facts that validate our assumption – that’s basic human nature and scientific experiments show that we are likely to accept something that confirms our hunches than something that challenges it. Using Kilimanjaro as an example of climate change is an unfortunate waste of energy and detracts from actual facts that should instead be considered.

When I first found out about the Trayvon Martin incident I was outraged that they hadn’t even filed charges. I joined in to the Internet activism and was happy to hear that 45 days later they did file charges. I admit I didn’t watch the trial closely but was confident all along that Zimmerman was caught red-handed and of course he will be found guilty.

This weekend I was out on a long, long climb and got back on Sunday morning to the news. When I found out about the verdict I was very disappointed. I dug deeper and concluded with my initial investigations that the prosecution didn’t have much of a chance because they bore the burden of proof to show that there was a 0% chance that this was a case of self-defense. I wrote it off to the stupid “Stand Your Ground” law that lets people get away. I liked the points made by NY times and found some peace that the process of law is different and errs on the side of not wrongly punishing someone. I resigned to the fact that in cases like these with no witnesses, it looked you really could get away with stuff like this.

But through my social media channels, and network of friends I have noticed that there is a lot of misinformation around this case. Zimmerman has been successfully painted as a racist, trigger-happy, over-enthusiastic wannabe cop vigilante that didn’t like young black punks that always get away. And Martin has been successfully portrayed as a young innocent 17yr old (for some reason most website use pictures of him from when he was 11) who was simply going straight home from a quick run to 711; and was scared and trying to evade this creepy cracker who was trying to attack him. I am sorry but none of the facts in the case, including witnesses on both sides, support these assumptions. It’s the media that has decided to create these personas.

If you read through the hours of witness statements and the trial footage, and just generally dig in to the history of Zimmerman and learn more about the context, it’s clear that race wasn’t a factor in this story. Don’t get me wrong. Racial biases are real and being non-white myself I do encounter them in society. I think biases hurt society and we should strive to eliminate them. But based on my research in to the case, I just don’t see any evidence that race played any part in the events that unfolded on that tragic night.

After reviewing the hours of footage and evidence submitted in court, the following are key points that I think have not been shared or stressed enough by the media:

Martin was seen at 711 at 6:25pm according to surveillance footage.

Zimmerman saw him “standing at his neighbors yard, staring at the house, in the rain” at 7:10pm

The key witness, Martin’s friend on the phone, couldn’t explain what he was doing for 45 mins between leaving 711 and before being spotted on that yard. (If you have the patience and interest, please view this 60min video testimony of the key witness)

Zimmerman claims that due to recent burglaries he suspected this kid was up to no good. It was dark and raining and this was a 20% black neighborhood. He wasn’t profiling him on race. He was profiling him on his lurking behavior in the rain.

Zimmerman called the non-emergency line and explained what he thought was going on and requested an officer to come take a look and meet him back at his truck.

When walking back to his truck, Zimmerman claims that Martin ambushed him from the bushes and knocked him to the ground and started beating him up. The injuries support this narrative because Martin only has injuries on his knuckles while Zimmerman has cuts and bruises all over his head.

Unlike popular belief, Zimmerman’s defense didn’t use the “Stand Your Ground” approach. They just argued standard text-book self-defense and won.

There’s an interesting interactive map which shows this in detail here:

Interactive_map__The_Trayvon_Martin_killing___HLNtv.com-2

 

Biases are bad. It would’ve been wrong of Zimmerman to have a bias against Martin just because he was black and wearing a hoodie.  None of the facts, however, show that Zimmerman had any such bias. It’s also wrong to have a bias against Zimmerman without actually knowing the full picture.

If you are still reading this, I just want to leave you with this thought. Introspect and try to recall why you think Zimmerman was the bad, over zealous trigger happy wannabe cop who initiated the altercation and then shot Martin? Why don’t you think it’s also possible that Zimmerman was a respected, responsible citizen who saw someone lurking in his neighbors’ yard in the dark rainy night, called the cops while keeping an eye on him, and was attacked by a teenager leading to the tragic event? The jury decided the latter. What facts do you know that jury didn’t know? And what are your sources?

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