General Question

josie's avatar

Without all the facts, why do so many people seem ravenous in their desire to immediately take down George Zimmerman.

Asked by josie (22955 points ) March 29th, 2012

Maybe he wantonly committed murder. Maybe he was careless and/or impulsive. Maybe he was defending himself. The point is that most of the people who are screaming for justice don’t know anymore than I do. And all I know is what I see on the news, most of which is a bunch of people protesting and demanding that he be brought to justice. I think it is likely that George is a pretty weird guy. And I would probably be inclined to bet it turns out the killing of Trayvon Martin was not self defense. But what is behind this sort of mob mentality?

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39 Answers

gasman's avatar

It’s not every day that a man with a gun kills an unarmed youth and is not arrested on suspicion of committing a crime.

thorninmud's avatar

I guess part of it is the sheer horror of the idea that the system may actually be structured in a way that makes this OK. Is it really possible that there are places in the US where some dude with a gun and a mission can harass an innocent, unarmed kid and end up shooting him, claim self-defense, and all that is just fine with the law? I think this thought just flies in the face of our common sense of justice. Most people want this not to be OK.

Qingu's avatar

It’s true that the facts should speak for themselves, and we don’t have a totally clear picture of those facts yet.

But I think much of the outrage is directed at the vigilantism that Zimmerman’s action and the “Stand Your Ground” law seems to represent/promote. The idea of a private citizen taking the law into his own hand and killing someone is outrageous, whatever the facts turn out to be.

sinscriven's avatar

When Zimmerman told 911 what happened, they told him to not engage him. He ignored it and engaged the victim anyway. That alone I think should rule out the viability of a self-defense argument. Zimmerman was in no danger, he created the danger for himself.

I think the bloodthirst is due to the complete inaction of the Police on the matter. This guy is a prime suspect, and it’s objectively cut and dry that he killed him regardless of circumstance and he hasn’t been arrested. The police department has also had a history of this kind of stuff so it fuels the rage at the injustice.

marinelife's avatar

Years and years of being singled out for being black have set up a lot of pent-up feelings.

Plus, what we do know:

1. Zimmerman was following Trayvon down the street in his vehicle repeatedly asking him what he was doing in the neighborhood.

2. Zimmerman persisted in engaging with Trayvon after being told by the police to stop following him.

Those facts make it seem like Zimmerman caused the encounter that resulted in Trayvon’s death.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think it is mostly because those of us who have children can recognize the pain being felt by the parents of the young black man who was killed. It is outrageous that the man who killed him had been told to NOT keep following this young man, but he ignored these instructions & ultimately the young man was shot to death. He is claiming that the young man attacked him, but video of this man after the young man was shot does not show him with any bruises or lacerations & he did not go to the ER for treatment & the investigating officer wanted to press charges against this man for manslaughter. It seems as if something is very rotten in this Florida Police Department.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Personally @josie I think it’s mis-aimed outrage. The outrage should be aimed towards law enforcement and the DA.

I just read again today that the girlfriend is yet to be questioned about the phone call. To me, that’s appalling.

Aethelflaed's avatar

So, even you admit that it looks like Zimmerman is guilty – but you don’t understand why people would want justice? Should people be like “eh, whatevs” just to prove that they aren’t part of a “mob mentality”?

There wasn’t even going to be an investigation until people started to cry out. Even then, it took a long time to get his license to carry revoked, and he still has not been arrested.

cwilbur's avatar

Because the facts that are available now suggest that he made a habit of following young black men and that he pursued and killed Martin intentionally even after the 911 operator told him to stop following Martin.

Because law enforcement only seems to be doing anything at all because of the level of public outrage.

Roby's avatar

If he had not of followed the youth…things would be ok.Nothing would of happen.

SuperMouse's avatar

Because of the circumstances surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death, this situation smacks of a lynching. I like to think that most people in our country believe it is not ok to lynch anyone because of the color of their skin, their religion, their sex, sexual orientation or any other of their qualities that might frighten us. The truth is that until this became national news Mr. Zimmerman was probably destined to walk away from this with no consequences whatsoever. I also agree 100% with @thorninmud this is vigilantism and it is not ok.

augustlan's avatar

Because there was not even an attempt at justice. He should have been arrested at the scene, and then the facts should have determined whether or not he would be tried and/or convicted.

tom_g's avatar

if ( (altercation) && (personA.KillUsingGun(personB)) )
{
tom_g.Outrage = OutrageLevel.Normal + 100;
}

thorninmud's avatar

^ What he coded ^

GoldieAV16's avatar

I think most people would like to see justice done.

It’s really a very small vocal minority who are “out to get” Zimmerman. They fail to see the irony in vigilante justice – to apprehend a vigilante.

funkdaddy's avatar

Because we want to believe that we’re protected from someone deciding they don’t like the look of us and then following and shooting us. Or our wives, or our kids, or our neighbors.

If that does happen, we need to know that it’s not acceptable and business as usual.

I like walking in the rain, I like looking at houses, hopefully I don’t get shot. If I do, then I’d really hope the guy who shot me at least got put in jail so he couldn’t do it again.

serenade's avatar

@josie, if you truly do not understand what all the fuss is about, I would suggest you make an effort to learn some basics in what might be described broadly as “race, class, and gender” studies. Hopefully without overstepping in making assumptions about your background, the underlying reasons why people are outraged and demanding action are generally more difficult for white/male/privileged-to-a-degree people to see let alone understand, and the reason for this is a significant enough difference in what might be called a “normal” experience (among people who are likely to be outraged and those who are not). As admirable as it is to believe in freedom, equal opportunity, merit-based success and the like for all as one’s creed, there’s truth to the systematic misapplication of these ideals where race, class and gender are other than white, wealthy, and male.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@serenade I agree with @josie.

George Zimmerman isn’t going to question or arrest himself. The desire for the masses to have justice be served shouldn’t be aimed at Zimmerman. It should be aimed at the law enforcement and justice system in Florida.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

serenade's avatar

@SpatzieLover, I don’t see @josie saying that people want Zimmerman’s head. It may be true that some do, but @josie doesn’t say this. He says they are screaming for justice. I’m not saying they want Zimmerman’s head, either, so I’m not seeing the distinction you are making.

Even the family is simply asking for justice.

And I think it’s pretty clear that law enforcement is bearing the brunt of the criticism. If Zimmerman were the focus, then there’d be no need for an arrest, because he’d likely be dead.

Buttonstc's avatar

The anger is more at the inaction of the Police dept. but Zimmerman is a face and a name. Plus its clear that he was given preferential treatment by going free afterward.

Its not possible to get into his mind to clearly know that his action was or wasn’t racially motivated. But its clear that the attitude of the Police dept smacks of the institutionalized racism that is still prevalent in so much of our nation.

If this had been a black “vigilante-type” who had killed a white kid, there is no question that the shooter would still be in jail as we speak with a high enough bail to ensure that he stayed there. The fact that Zimmerman is still free and did not spend even one night in jail (even tho he shot an unarmed teen) is grossly unfair and anyone can see that simple fact.

The more articulate of those in the “mob” calling for the arrest of Zimmerman have made it clear that they want him arrested in order that a trial is necessitated so thatALL of the facts can come out, regardless of the Police trying to minimize things. They aren’t advocating violence against Zimmerman, merely justice under the law. Even Martins parents have made that clear.

The continued inaction of that police dept. is what continues to inflame the situation. If Zimmerman is so convinced of the rightness of his self defense claims then there is no reason why he couldn’t arrange through his lawyer to surrender himself. peacefully at the Police station as many others have done in the past. Instead he continues hiding out.

Actions speak louder than words many times. This applies to both the Police dept. as well as Zimmerman.

People want to see justice done.

SuperMouse's avatar

@SpatzieLover while it isn’t up to Zimmerman to mete out justice to himself, it is up to him to step up and face the consequences of his behavior. He seems more interested in putting his mouthpieces out there to defame Mr. Martin then he is in dealing with this situation with he brought upon himself. It does seem that the police department is out of line here as well but without Zimmerman making the choices he did there would be no one seeking justice.

filmfann's avatar

He didn’t just shoot a kid who was threatening him, he hunted down this kid for the following reasons:
1) He was black
2) He was wearing a hoodie
3) He looked suspicous.

Zimmerman was told NOT to follow the kid.
Zimmerman had called 911 50 times in the previous month, all on “suspicious sightings”.

chyna's avatar

@filmfann If I lived in a neighborhood that I thought had 50 “suspicious sightings” in one month, I would move. Sounds like Zimmerman might have been a bit paranoid. Isn’t this a gated community?

ragingloli's avatar

People also bring up the fact that the “help” cries came from Zimmerman and that it was Zimmerman lying on the ground being beaten, in an attempt to demonise the victim.
But that was after Z followed and aggravated him, and Martin excersised his “stand your ground” right and was beating his attacker to a pulp, in response to which Z shot M.
So even with these details, the aggressor is Z.

mazingerz88's avatar

Because the FACTS that were already out deserve all the indignation it’s getting.

woodcutter's avatar

The media with their zeal to put something in a slot for the story have given an open mic to pretty much anyone who will talk about it. They are not helping at all. We’ve seen this over and over with the lack of facts and the pressures to get the scoop. If it had been a white teen this would never had surfaced….agree?

Then we get shits like Spike Lee actually broadcasting an address supposedly being Zimmerman’s knowing full well what would happen. What would he have done if those old people’s house was fire bombed? Old folks were smart to clear out. If the throng would light cars on fire because the Bulls win the championship what did even he believe would, have happened here…where something bad actually happened? If I was Zimmerman I would be in hiding too.

And then we have the New Black Panthers.
Don’t even get me started.

Next we have those who will attempt to use a tragedy like this to push for yet even more ineffective gun laws, ie; Stand your ground laws that are in effect in many places. That law doesn’t give anyone the right to shoot so I can’t get this connection. There has to be proof that a shooter was in reasonable fear of great bodily harm. It’s not a permit to open fire. People who do that without being in any danger are going to prison, period.

Lot of moving parts in this one and the race is on.

woodcutter's avatar

Also on a side note one thing that might be helping this NOT boil into a firestorm yet is the fact that the shooter was hispanic and not white. Holy shit that would have been bad on top of bad.

Qingu's avatar

@woodcutter, you don’t see how Stand Your Ground might encourage someone like Zimmerman to, you know, stand his ground and push him to take the law into his own hands?

If there is a law that says I can just kill someone anywhere, anytime if I believe I am in danger, doesn’t that make events like this a lot more likely to occur?

jca's avatar

I like how Zimmerman claims his nose was broken and he was defending himself from Martin, but Zimmerman is on the police video looking fine, not looking like one who just had his ass beaten into a pulp by anybody, and also, Zimmerman has no documents or is not willing to show any documents proving that he sought medical attention for broken nose and ass whipping. You would think that he would be producing that proof just to divert attention from himself.

Qingu's avatar

So apparently conservatives and white supremacists have spent the past few days engaged in a smear campaign against Martin:

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/bloggers-cherry-pick-from-social-media-to-cast-trayvon-martin-as-a-menace/?hp&gwh=813D32DEA374F0C0346CEA5739642E71

How repulsive.

rojo's avatar

I think it boils down to the fact that someone died at his hands and he was not taken into custody. If he had, even if he was eventually released, I think that the whole situation would be different.

woodcutter's avatar

@Qingu NO. Evidence won’t disappear. The shooter will have the burden of proof if they intend to use a excellent self defense law like that. With or without such laws if someone is bent on doing in someone..it’s going to happen. The more Andersen Cooper grills so called wetnesses on CNN day after day means a defense lawyer for Zimmerman will have shitloads of fodder to trip these people up. This is what happens when news (sic) organizations try to be detectives. I am a fan of Andersen but right now he should shut the fuck up.

woodcutter's avatar

There is a misconception that an armed person is obligated to allow himself to be beaten to a certain degree to justify using defensive measures. A person with a concealed weapon is sometimes more fucked than someone with only their bare hands. There is a lower threshold of risk a weapon carrier is able to endure because once an actual physical struggle is under way, the gun is going to be discovered buy his opponent. Then it is a race to get it and the first guy to do that is going to make sure the other loses. Zimmerman should have left it in his car.

funkdaddy's avatar

Yes, before you end someone else’s life in self defense you have the burden of verifying they are actually a threat to your life.

If we think through the alternatives I think we can agree that’s not an undue burden if you want to exercise your right to carry a deadly weapon in secret and in public.

woodcutter's avatar

If we think through the alternatives .In what…you mean in a classroom setting with a debate panel? That would be perfect. However once something escalates to two parties tangling with each other it isn’t so easy. For starters once the fuse is lit things happen in a flick of the eye. If you have ever been in a fight you would surely know this.

Keeping in mind there is only one person on Earth who knows what happened. All the witnesses so far seem at best well….stupid. Allowing themselves to be interviewed and so far have really contributed nothing if not conflicting with each other so it seems their stories are very ambiguous at best biased towards one side or the other. They aren’t helping.

Nullo's avatar

I would go so far as to say that it’s precisely because we don’t have all of the facts. There are just enough details for us to guess at a reasonable conclusion, but the real ending is, as it were, just out of reach. And so the public, unwilling to see how it plays out in court (you can thank the media for turning an objectively mundane story into a national news phenomenon), has decided to take the ”“obvious” verdict and run with it.
None of this is helped by the fact that the media isn’t the only bunch looking to make a vehicle out of the case; you’ve got the anti-gun and race lobbyists, too, and their agendas.

Let us hope that Justice herself is not pressured unduly by the mob.

augustlan's avatar

@Nullo As it stands, it isn’t going to play out in court at all, and that is the problem. :/

Qingu's avatar

It might play out in court. The police department was apparently considering taking Zimmerman in for manslaughter. I forgot if “Stand Your Ground” was the explicit reason they did not, but I seem to remember it was.

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