George, meet Trayvon. Trayvon, this is George.
Now that the “vile show trial” (as George Neumayr calls it) is over, I am willing to ask: did George Zimmerman do anything wrong? Legally, no. But when Trayvon Martin disappeared into the darkness – into “the bushes” said Zimmerman – in an effort to evade his pursuer, or possibly to gain the element of surprise should Zimmerman exit his car to follow, which he in fact did: would Zimmerman have done so without the reassurance of that gun in his pocket? Was the gun making up for what he knew he lacked in physical prowess? Maybe. The trial testimony would encourage us to suppose so. Nevertheless, his carrying the gun was perfectly legal. So was exiting his car despite the dispatcher’s admonition. So was asking Martin what he was doing. The murder charge could hinge only on what happened when Martin emerged from the shadows to confront the neighborhood watchman, and there was simply no evidence that Zimmerman had finally found the opportunity he’d been looking for to stalk, hunt down, and kill an unarmed black man for sport or malice. This was never The Race Trial of the New Century for which the racial con artists like Al Sharpton are always on the alert, and to whose demands Duval County prosecutor Angela Corey made herself a willing, and apparently enthusiastic, stooge.
But I ask the question because I, too, live in a neighborhood watch zone. (Doesn’t everybody?) This does not mean that we have appointed rounds with someone always cruising the streets in the wee hours. As far as I can tell, hardly anyone even watches. They’re all asleep, as any half-bright criminal well knows. I’m the only one on my block (again, afaik) who stays up late enough to see anything. As a result, I’ve been responsible for getting at least six people arrested for attempting nefarious activity in these environs. (One of these incidents involved an attack on my own home and resulted in a direct physical confrontation with the perpetrator, a story I’ve told at my old blog and will not recapitulate here.) And on not one of these occasions was I carrying a gun. So what is my modus operandi?
First, something needs to arouse my suspicion, such as the rumble of a car engine going by at an inordinately slow rate of speed, as if the occupants were sight-seeing at 2 in the morning rather than intent on arriving at a particular destination. After the car comes around the block for a second time, I’m locked on. When it parks in what the driver hopes is an inconspicuous place but is in fact quite out of place to anyone who lives here, I’m out the door and watching from behind a bush or any object that offers concealment. In my hand is either a cell or mobile phone. When the occupants begin flashing a light into my neighbor’s car parked in the driveway, I conclude they are up to no good and dial 9-1-1, which takes all of 2 seconds. Then I stay on the phone with the dispatcher, giving a play-by-play of the malefactors’ every move, and telling him to urge haste on the police.
Alternatively, I might heroically emerge from my hiding place and confront the scumbags myself. But is this really wise? Unless you know what you absolutely cannot know – the real nature of the people you’re confronting, whether they have weapons and are willing to use them, etc. – I tend to doubt it. In one case I did make myself visible, after making the reasonable judgement (later proven to be well-founded) that the perpetrators were stupid teenagers not experienced in this sort of thing. One of them was already inside my neighbor’s nice Mercedes and I expected his next move was to extract the radio and whatever else he could find of value. Or perhaps to take the car itself. The other two saw me and took off running in different directions, and the one in the Mercedes followed suit, later to be persuaded by the snarl of police dogs to come down from the roof of the elementary school where he was hiding two blocks away. During the entire episode, I was on the line with 911, even before making my presence known to the gang that couldn’t run straight.
A few weeks ago, the city was doing something to the drainage system on our street. The road was all torn up, and all through the night we heard the rumble of a generator powered truck parked a few houses up. I guess it was maintaining the water pressure. This went on for a couple of weeks. One night I heard the rumble of a different truck, and I looked out the window to see a big pickup slowly prowling. It finally decided to park in front of my house. It didn’t belong. I went out the back door and up the side yard to the front. It’s very dark there and I can’t be seen. Finally, someone emerged from the truck. I didn’t have my glasses on and and couldn’t tell if it were male or female, black, white or any other color. But I had never seen this truck before, and 2 A.M. is seldom a fitting time to be paying social calls. So I called out, “Where are you going?” – something I’d done only once before. The person hesitated; then a lady’s voice, a black lady’s voice, informed me very politely that she was taking food to her boyfriend, the guy in the truck up the street. I hadn’t known there was a guy in the truck. I suppose he had to be there in case the generator stopped working. So I said, “Okay,” and she asked if it was hot enough for me and I said, “Yes ma’am.” And then I said to her that any guy in a truck who has a girl who’ll bring him food in the wee hours ought to marry her tomorrow, and that sent her off laughing.
What might have happened if it had been the truck guy’s surly brother who wasn’t going to answer to no “creepy-ass cracker”? Who knows? A gun in my pocket might assure my survival, but it raises other possibilities as well. As it happened, I ran into a civilized black lady from whom Trayvon Martin might have taken a lesson. If I’m ever in someone else’s neighborhood late at night and a resident wants to know what I’m up to, I’m following that woman’s example.
If George Zimmerman had just watched and reported, if Trayvon Martin hadn’t had to be such a tough guy…if, if, if. You can’t rewrite history after it’s happened, but that’s what those who want to make this a race case are trying to do. That’s what they’ve done from the beginning. Alan Dershowitz even thinks that prosecutor Corey ought to be disbarred for presenting a false affidavit to the court in order to get the charges brought in the first place. To this day she cannot admit error, thinking the 2nd degree murder charge appropriate. She even fired a member of her own staff for confirming that the prosecution had failed to turn over evidence to the defense as an obligatory part of discovery. As Neumayr puts it, “…they [Corey and her team] had no problem profiling him as a homicidal racist and concocting a paranoid hate-crime theory of the case. Their defeat deserves a special place in the annals of malicious prosecution.”
Meanwhile, does Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee get his job and his reputation back, with an apology and thanks from the city? Hell no. Will Eric Holder or anyone from the Obama administration say publicly, “As tragic as this case was, the jury made the right decision”? Hell no. Instead, they’ll contemplate the possibility of bringing federal civil rights charges.
During closing, I remember that whiny-voiced prosecutor beseeching the jury with a question (to the effect): Do you really in your heart of hearts believe that that’s an innocent man sitting there?
Frankly, Mr. Prosecutor, that’s a question you should have been answering, not asking.