In a better world, the law would not favor one group of people over another. That is not our reality. A few weeks ago, a young black man named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida. His killer, George Zimmerman, remains without criminal charges. Until the matter became national news, about three weeks after the incident, it seemed that there would be no official action whatsoever.
Zimmerman acted as his neighborhood watch person. He called 9-1-1 before he shot Martin. There has been talk of a Florida law that allows one person to kill another without retreating. This would allow any person who kills someone to assert that he or she did the killing in self-defense. This allowed the local police chief to argue, in not charging Zimmerman, that the shooting had been done in self-defense.
But the facts of the case do not show anything consistent with self-defense. Zimmerman was outside his home. He pursued Martin even after the 9-1-1 dispatcher had counseled him to retreat. Zimmerman had the advantage in a scuffle of being considerably larger than Martin. And unlike Zimmerman, Martin was unarmed.
Most significantly, Zimmerman told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that a black male was in his neighborhood. Zimmerman had made a practice of calling 9-1-1 whenever he spotted a black person in his neighborhood. When he spotted Martin, he assumed from his color that he was up to no good.
Zimmerman’s actions came from the fear that is at the bottom of all prejudice. Trayvon Martin had never been in trouble with the law. He deserved the respect that the law should give all persons. His killer needs to be criminally charged. And the police chief needs to be removed permanently from office.