Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reflections on the Trayvon Martin killing & Zimmerman Trial

Zimmerman trial is now in the hands of the jury. I only hope that we've come far enough as a society to avoid any violence if the jury acquits. We have the best legal system in the world but it is, after all, an imperfect system that usually tilts toward the rights of the accused.

My opinion:

I've only watched or read about this trial off and on but I believe that Zimmerman should be found guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter. But...I don't know whether or not the prosecution proved its case. I'm also not sure of how Florida's "stand your ground" law is applicable, therefore I believe he will get off.

My thought as a firefighter on the street - as many of my friends are police officers, fire and EMS personnel, I think we all have had many encounters with the "wanna-be's" out there. Almost without exception they do more harm than good at emergency scenes. I think that Zimmerman was a "wanna-be" who should have heeded the advice of the 911 operator to back off and let the police respond to handle it. (Although by continuing to follow Martin he broke no law.) Zimmerman also took a loaded firearm with him - as opposed to a whistle or taser, etc.

Again, I hope for a peaceful reaction no matter what the decision.

The verdict was not guilty. Is it the correct verdict?? I have no idea. All I really do know is that a 17 y/o boy is dead and Zimmerman was an asshole for continuing to follow him and carrying a handgun in that situation. Another “wanna-be” fucks up. Nothing new there. Again, like I said, was he guilty of 2nd degree murder or manslaughter.....I really don't know.

I do know (because I'm a passionate guy regarding individual's rights) that I can't put myself in the mindset of a black man. If I were black I might be totally disgusted and offended. But I'm not and as I see it via my eyes and experiences this was not a case about race. I also have to applaud any person who is genuinely upset with the verdict but would never even consider participating in a violent or destructive protest.

To my white firefighter friends out there….

I’ve been trying to understand how this verdict seems to divide people (almost exclusively) by race – even our own black firefighter friends who we trust and love like brothers. I think I can offer an analogy that can place this in perspective.

Compare this verdict to a court decision or political decision that cuts our pension once again. The general public (white firefighters) sees a 10 year suspension of our COLA’s as a reasonable fix to a terrible fiscal problem for the City. We firefighters (black firefighters) get pissed as hell and lash back in the media, etc. with statements such as, “Do you know how much we’ve been shit on over the last several years? This is just another example of how those with political power keep the working man down and in their place!”

The public knows nothing about firefighter struggles on a personal level, just as we know nothing of the history of the black person’s struggles with regard to racial discrimination that has kept them “in their place” over the last several years. While things are drastically different than a half century ago, none of us can claim that racism is completely a thing of the past!

Stay safe!