This is weird. It looks as though the Sanford Police Department did its job the night George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, taking Zimmerman in for questioning and applying to the Seminole County Prosecutor’s office for an arrest warrant charging Zimmerman for manslaughter or criminal negligence. The Prosecutor turned them, saying there was no probable cause. So it was the prosecutor’s office that goofed up and the police did better than I thought based on the news stories I read last week
But the reason they looked bad in those news stories is that their own Chief made them look bad with his cursory and dismissive descriptions of what happened and remarks implying Trayvon shared the blame for what happened to him. Basically, the chief made it sound as if his cops just took Zimmerman at his word and let him go and he thought it was too bad Trayvon was dead, but, well, you know, the kid should have known better than go to the store at night because he might scare white idiots with guns.
You should read the whole story at the Miami Herald.
None of this changes what happened to Trayvon. An idiot with a gun but with no badge, no uniform, and no authority, out playing at being a cop, thought Trayvon looked ‘suspicious,’ chased him even though he was told by the 911 dispatcher to stay out of it and let the real police handle it, caught up with Trayvon, and was surprised that the kid thought that the stranger with a gun coming at him out of the dark wanted to hurt him or rob him and decided to fight back.
Trayvon’s mistake was thinking courage and fists could defeat stupidity and cowardice and a gun.
And it doesn’t change the fact that Stand Your Ground laws privilege and protect idiots with guns.
Update: Melissa Harris-Parry identifies Trayvon’s “mistake” in the eyes of the Right Wingers attempting to smear his memory and let Zimmerman off the hook:
…the unarmed teenager was culpable in the encounter that led to his death, not because of any aggressive or illegal act but because he was not following the appropriate protocol for being black in public. A black body in public space must presume its own guilt and be prepared to present a rigidly controlled public performance of docility and respectability.
Read the rest of Harris-Perry’s column, What It’s Like to Be a Problem, at the Nation.