George Zimmerman was tired of the break-ins in his neighborhood. There had been many, according to reports.
The police do a wonderful job of taking reports after a crime has occurred. Having been the victim of vandals myself on a few occasions, I understand the feelings Zimmerman had. The vandalism I endured was damage to my automobiles, not a break-in. And in one instance, I knew who the perpetrators were. I had them on camera. And I reported their names to police and showed them the photos.
And the police did nothing but take a report. I filed an insurance claim and that was that. Or so I thought.
A few months later I was shopping for auto insurance as my policy increased (due to the vandalism I suppose). One well known national insurer told me I do not qualify for their “lowest rates” because of the vandalism claim.
And because my vehicle wasn’t the only thing damaged that night by the teens that used a tire iron on my car, rates in my entire neighborhood were effected. Even if I was not one of the unlucky ones who had their vehicle, mailbox or other property damaged, I would have paid the price in higher insurance costs. Auto and home.
And all the police were able to do was take a report – a complete waste of my time.
Perhaps Zimmerman came to the same realization. The reality is, most times the best the police can do is take a report after the fact. And in the end, the property owner pays for the crimes with higher insurance costs (in addition to paying the salary of the police taking the report).
So we all have a vested interest in neighborhood crime. We are victims even if we are not directly harmed. We all pay.
Fortunately, I live in a safe neighborhood. Things happen now and again, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I have security and cameras and I am well armed. Not because I am threatened, but because I realize that the police can only do so much. And I am the primary protector of my own property. I am the first responder and I am prepared. The reality is, law enforcement is my backup when I am attacked in my home.
I don’t know what prompted George Zimmerman to become a Neighborhood Watch Captain, but I know that if my neighborhood faced the same type of chronic break-ins that his did, I may very well become involved. And trust me, I would be armed. Not as an offensive threat, but merely as a defensive measure. I am a Veteran and have a Concealed Carry Permit and my weapons are all legal, and I am armed most of the time and have never had a need to draw my weapon. And I hope I never need to do so.
I would have to believe my life or health was in serious danger to even draw my weapon, much less discharge it.
And it was clear from the evidence early on that Zimmerman was in grave danger.
Travon Martin was taller than him. And Zimmerman obviously did not know Martin was 17 and said he appeared to be in his “late teens” which most would think was 18-19.
Martin had a history of fights (and drug use) that was not allowed in the trial (for the most part). Zimmerman did not know that but knew the guy appeared erratic and he thought he “was on something”. Which turned out to be correct.
In fact, all he knew was that his neighborhood had had numerous break-ins and the suspect in those break-ins fit the description of Martin. So Zimmerman dialed 9-1-1 and that is exactly what he should have done.
But from the audio of the 9-1-1 call, the dispatcher was sending the police to check out the suspicious hooded figure that matched the description of the person doing the break-ins. But no crime had been committed at that point so police were not in much of a hurry.
That turned out to be a mistake.
Neighborhood Watch volunteers are the eyes and ears that the police do not have. They are an asset. Often, the police and 9-1-1 dispatchers look at these volunteers as wannabees, someone with a hero complex, or simply a silly inconvenience that ought to just go home and lock their doors and let the police take a report after the crime is done and the perpetrator long gone.
Zimmerman tried to keep an eye on the suspicious figure so police could check him out. And one thing that happens when criminals know someone is watching and police will respond, they stop committing crimes. So in the effort to keep his neighborhood safe, simply by letting people know there is someone watching is no small deterrent.
And on the 9-1-1 tape, the dispatcher asked if Zimmerman was following the person and he said he was. The dispatcher said “We don’t need you to do that” and Zimmerman said “OK” and stopped following.
But Martin turned aggressive at that point and confronted Zimmerman and struck him with the blow that probably broke Zimmerman’s nose. And while Zimmerman was down on the ground, Martin began beating his head into the concrete.
Testimony in the courtroom from forensic experts proved that Martin was the aggressor, he was on top and everything Zimmerman recounted was confirmed in court by the Prosecution witnesses.
Personally, in the same situation I would have feared for my life. And if I had a weapon I would have been completely justified in using it as my skull was being bashed into the concrete. I would have hoped that it was a non-lethal shot and I would have tried to sufficiently wound my attacker to stop the attack, but my primary concern would have been in stopping myself from being killed or seriously wounded.
So Zimmerman pulled the trigger and Trayvon Martin was dead.
But what was proved in court was that the violence was initiated by Martin, not Zimmerman. Had Martin simply confronted Zimmerman verbally and asked why he was following him instead of resorting to violence, he would still be alive.
It is irrelevant that Martin was black. It was irrelevant that Martin was 17. It was irrelevant that Martin had Skittles from the store.
What Zimmerman was doing was perfectly legal. How he did it was also legal.
The unlawful behavior was initiated by Martin when he attacked Zimmerman. Martin used his fists instead of his words. And had the police arrived when Martin was bashing Zimmerman’s head into the concrete, the proper thing to do was arrest Martin for assault.
I am sorry that Martin was so young. I am sorry he is dead. I don’t care what race he happened to be, but Martin was the aggressor and it ended poorly for him.
But Zimmerman did what Martin forced him to do and this never should have gone to trial.