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peter lindsay

Physics Teacher,

TEDCRED 50+

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How does it come to this? The tragedy of Trayvon

I'm not pointing fingers at anyone here. Trayvon did nothing wrong and I think (if I understand the legal system correctly) the jury came to the right decision. I think Mr Zimmerman did believe his life was in danger. How do you end up in a situation where a grown man is so scared of an adolecent black male that this happens? How do you end up in a situation where armed vigilantes are considered necessary. How do you end up in a situation where the individual chosen to carry the gun is obviously not the right guy for the job? The stereotype of the black gangbanger adolecent male is the problem. And I think it is perpetuated by both sides (if there are sides). How about someone over there writes some hip-hop that isn't about gangs or drugs and sex. How about the other guys think "just because that kid looks like he's in a gang doesn't mean he is". Afterall plenty of people walk around dressed like basketballers but they don't play basketball. It's a societal failure. Now how do we fix this?

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    Jul 24 2013: The jurors were convinced by the preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was reasonable to fear for his life as a result of the assault being perpetrated upon his person by the deceased. The law allows the use of deadly force in such a situation. Apparently the deceased did, in fact, do something wrong, contrary to your assertion that he did not. Don't assault other people and they won't use deadly force against you. In Kindergarten they told us to keep our hands to ourselves. . . that remains good advice. The post-trial agitation is about Whites supposedly undervaluing Blacks to the point of killing them with impunity. It is all without basis in fact or logic. Tragedy did not befall poor, innocent Trayvon. Trayvon caused the tragedy.
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      Jul 24 2013: Iguess I'm looking at it through Australian eyes. Here to claim self defence your response must be considered proportonate. As to Trayvon committing assualt, there were no witnesses so the court has no way of testing the testimony of Mr Zimmerman so it must be accepted at face value. As to "don't assault people and they won't etc" I would offer don't follow people for no reason and they won't get scared and assault you.
      What I'm trying to find the answer to is why did Mr Zimmerman follow Trayvon? What is it about society that made him feel it was necessary? It was reasonable for Mr Zimmerman to fear for his life at the point of confrontation, but was it reasonable for Mr Zimmerman to be there in the first place.
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        Jul 24 2013: I was not on the jury so I cannot make an informed assessment of your numerous suppositions. I must say you seem to be biased for the deceased. Do you have credible information to support what you say about Zimmerman "following" Trayvon and thereby causing the fatal attack? What was unreasonable about Zimmerman being at the scene? I tend to trust the findings of the jurors since they were privileged to every last detail pertaining to the case. As for proportionate response, I do not see how that could work in the frenzy of the moment. It seems better to say lethal force is acceptable if any reasonable and prudent person would be caused to fear for their life in the specific circumstances of the incident.
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          Jul 25 2013: Zimmerman's own evidence states he decided to follow in spite of the fact the police told him not to on the phone.
          http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/326700-full-transcript-zimmerman.html
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          Jul 25 2013: Ed,
          don't get too excited about the transcript.... it is not the information submitted in court and this summary has been challenged or at least the source as a politically motivated organization.
          God forbid, every word has been twisted six ways to Sunday on this trial and even found its way around the world. A pox on all the houses of media companies that dragged both of these individuals across our lives. My life for sure has not been elevated or improved in any manner by this trail and it's aftermath.
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        Jul 25 2013: RE: "Zimmerman's own evidence. . . " Thanks for that link. Apparently the jury was convinced that Zimmerman was justified in following Trayvon. I think I read that Zimmerman was a Neighborhood Watch member so it makes sense that he would follow the suspect in order to direct police who were expected any moment. The jury says it was self-defense and that sounds right to me.
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          Jul 25 2013: Yes Ed as I have stated I fully agree with the verdict. I worry about a society where a kid who lives in the same gated community as the neighbourhood watch guy is seen as a threat. Two families have been gravely affected by this incident. It would be good if we could stop a similar incident occurring in the future.
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        Jul 25 2013: RE: "Yes Ed as I have stated. . . ". AMEN!
  • Aug 6 2013: Poor choices were made by both men. Both Martin and Zimmeman made choices which ultimately cost Martin his life. The jury ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to find him guilty of the charge.

    How do we end up in this position? Personal choices which have consequences that are ultimate and final.

    As for stereotypes, yes they exist for a reason. Often, there is a lot of truth to them regardless of whether it is right in that situation or not. I recently heard a well educated African American discussing with other educated African Americans, the issue of an African American adolescent in a hoodie. That their thoughts would not turn towards "nice, church going child" if they came across them at some point. It is a failure on many levels.
  • Aug 1 2013: AS much as humanity hates to admit it, stereotypes exist for a reason- because they are often true. Because of our evolutionary survival as the human race, people look at a person or situation and consider the amount of danger that may exist there. Many factors play into this per individual, socialization, past experience, etc. However, the one factor that exists is that we all do it. To ignore it is to be aloof. To dwell upon it is to be bigoted. To take it for what it is is about them most humane thing we can do.
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    Jul 25 2013: OK,
    A long time ago, I had an R&R in Australia, I had a great time and even looked into relocating... but, they wouldn't have me, you have to have a skill the country needed. They said they had enough curmudgeons...

    Our laws say that the jury has the final word in judgement. There have been mistakes, but the laws has a number of processes of appeal to keep these to a minimum. What I find disturbing and it's not just you but too many Americans who should know better, opine on the trial and outcome and and and.... I see that as they hold their opinion above the law and our constitution.... Just not patriotic.

    How to stop this. I wish I knew. Remove all privately held guns? Have people walking through dark subdivisions wearing flashing lights on their hats to declare their innocent passage? All sounds easy...
    The reality is that too many crimes of "home invasion" have plagued too many residential neighborhoods thus we have armed neighborhood patrolmen. The reality is that there are too many young men who have an attitude and the physical prowess to confront any perceived insult to their manliness.
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    Jul 25 2013: how do you know exactly what happened? how do you know that martin did not attack zimmerman? the evidence is not conclusive, but what we have points into the direction that zimmerman was in danger, he had a lot of injuries, while martin was not. so how do we jump to conclusions, and declare martin innocent?
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      Jul 25 2013: Martin was innocent of any crime at the time Zimmerman decided to follow him. You must consider that the decision to do so contributed to what ever happened after that. Zimmerman's own statement says that he followed martin for an amount of time before martin even knew he was there. Part of this discussion is about why did Zimmerman automatically think Martin was up to no good. Perhaps as a neighborhood watchman he should make it his business to know the people he is living with
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        Jul 25 2013: it is not illegal to follow someone. not even immoral. it is similar to blaming the rape victim of dressing to sexy. for all we know, maritn attacked him, and such a behavior is not accepted.
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          Jul 26 2013: It is actually illegal to follow someone. It falls under stalking/harassment legislation. But apart from that it's a really provocative thing to do. If you were walking down the street late at night and a car was obviously following you wouldn't that cause you some concern?
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        Jul 26 2013: maybe in australia. but in the US, you can follow anyone in a public place. it is not provocative at all. you can call it scary, but that is not a reason for attacking the person. in case of concern, i would probably call the police, or run home. i would certainly not attack.
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        Jul 26 2013: let's just elaborate this line of thought for one more second. what if martin calls the police? they would probably tell him: calm down kid, it is the neighborhood watch. we are in contact with him, he is suspicious about you. so go to him, identify yourself, tell that you are cool, say good bye, and go on your business. problem solved.

        have you thought of that?
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          Jul 28 2013: Ithink we're getting sidetracked from the real problem, but yes Martin could have called the police and diffused the situation just as Zimmerman could have followed the police instruction to not follow. Both would have saved the situation.
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        Jul 29 2013: the police did not give instruction to zimmerman. they said "we don't need you to follow". they can not order you not to, as it is a legal activity.

        be mindful of what you are saying. you are arguing that there are people out there with such an attitude that if you follow them, you face injury or death. on top of that, you are actually siding with such an individual, calling him by his first name.

        are you sure you followed the case with enough skepticism and did not buy leftist media propaganda? at least go through the wikipedia article, it contains facts and background which the media tends to cherry pick for you, for your convenience.
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          Jul 30 2013: I've listened to all the recordings and read all the statements. I think the meaning of the statement "OK we don't need you to do that" is obvious. If the police can't instruct you if you aren't breaking the law then how do they do crowd control. He was told officers were on their way so that means it was a police investigation in progress. This means the police can give you instructions if they think you are going to interfere with the investigation. That's the law whether you agree with it or not.
          BTW I read the wiki page and the only thing I learned was that there was an edited version of the phone call tape that I am still yet to hear. Fox and PBS are the only US news services we get here so I was unaware of the whole NBC story. In apparently stark conrtrast to the US our commercial media is very conservative as the networks are all owned by right leaning businessmen like Murdoch etc.
          Regarding your final paragraph I didn't buy into any propaganda, left or right, as all my knowledge of the incident comes from the related documents and recordings, and reading the relevant statutes. eg 842.02 Which says you must follow any instruction given by a police officer doing their duty.
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        Jul 30 2013: let me guess that you are not a lawyer. i'm neither, but i know that if the police goes to investigate a call, it is not an ongoing investigation that you should not interfere with. the person on the other end of 911 is not a police officer conducting investigation. i don't even know why you are saying such weird things. i'm not going to repeat any more times: according to US law, and the evidence we have, zimmerman did not do anything illegal or morally objectionable. after all, he was a law student, and knew exactly what is legal and what is not.

        if you did not buy into propaganda, why is it that you call one complete stranger "trayvon" and another one "mr zimmerman"? maybe some bias we have here?
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          Jul 31 2013: It is the tradition in the English language to adress adults by the appropriate title and minors by their christian name. Referring to George Zimmerman as Mr Zimmerman is a mark of respect as I haven't met him personally.
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        Jul 31 2013: give me a break
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          Aug 1 2013: One more thing you missed, George called the Sanford police dispatcher directly it wasn't 911, so it was a police officer on the other end of the line not the 911 call centre. But this is all irrelevant to the discussion I was trying to have. I'm trying to find out how to fix the situation where George assumes that someone walking down the street is automatically up to no good and Trayvon automatically assumes that someone following him means him harm. And yes I'm only saying George for your benefit, if I met him on the street I would adress him as Mr Zimmerman until he said "Call me George" It's just good manners.
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        Aug 2 2013: 911 or another line makes no difference

        you don't need to fix that situation. assumptions are not the problem here. zimmerman can assume whatever the heck he wants, if everyone behaves as they should, nobody will be hurt. one needs to identify the actual cause, and the cause is that martin probably attacked zimmerman, but it is certain that he beat him up. this is a crime. having prejudices is not.

        let me add that his profiling was actually perfect. martin probably wasn't up to anything that time, but was a drug abuser and a thief. he was the very typical kind of man you don't want in your neighborhood.
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          Aug 4 2013: Unfortunately he was a resident at the time
          On what basis was he a drug abuser and a thief? He was never charged with either.
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    Jul 25 2013: Actually, two things... it could happen again.... and it has happened again. There is a current case ongoing in Florida as we speak. Except this time the race of the shooter was black.... whatever....
    Reading transcripts of those involved is again meaningless. The only valid readings are of the court transcripts and Mr. Z made no statement to the court. and most of the prosecution witness were supportive of the defense.
    So, a perfect storm came to cause the death of Mr. Martin.
    So are you working on that jumping wallaby?
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      Jul 25 2013: The court thing was all very odd from an Aussie perspective but the courts have to work with the laws they have. You haven't offered anything regarding how we stop future events.
      On the wallaby, do you have inside knowledge of the Australian coat of arms?
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    Jul 25 2013: Before anyone else accuses me of taking sides I would like to point out that the whole purpose of this discussion is to work out how we can stop similar events happening in the future. In my opinion they are both victims.
    I truly hope I am not wasting my time looking for open minds.
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      Jul 25 2013: I agree with you that there is a tragedy on both sides - lives lost or forever damaged by this incident.

      I have not read the transcript as you have, but I think the instinct to fight or intimidate runs strong across the world. Incidents like this happen in the heat of the moment.
  • Jul 25 2013: I have made this point before, but it does not seem too popular.

    The fix for this is obvious. The problem is not race. The problem is suspicion, caused by a society that tolerates excessive crime. We tried throwing millions of people in prison and it does not work. The fix is more police on the street. The people of the USA simply are not willing to pay the taxes needed to lower crime rates to the point where people can walk the streets at night without being suspicious of other people walking the streets at night. In the USA, if current trends continue, one in four baby girls will be raped at some point in their lives. That the people of the USA allow this is unconscionable.

    The fix is simple, just expensive. Unfortunately the priority in this country is money first, regardless of the consequences.
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      Jul 25 2013: Thanx for a constructive reply Barry. Everyone seems to be stuck on the incident that inspired the conversation rather than looking at the bigger picture. I find it hard to imagine living anywhere where I didn't feel safe walking down the street at night. And for the record the city I live in has a pop. of about 600,000 so its no friendly country town, but I still feel quite safe walking home at midnight.
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      Jul 25 2013: Barry,
      How could you reduce this problem to tax payments. How local, state and the Federal government goes through tax money and the inherent waste.... you can't blame taxpayers for misplaced funding. Governments hire police not taxpayers. Most taxpayers in high crime areas are not happy with their situation as this crime is happening in their neighborhoods and at every election, the new guy says he can fix it and he doesn't. So, as crime increases, those who can... vote with their feet and take tax generation with them. It's a lose, lose situation.
      But, you are correct. We need to end the gang violence, improve family conditions, and a host of other things to make our big cities safe again.
      .
      • Jul 25 2013: I thought I was enlarging the problem, not reducing it. And I can make it even bigger.

        I think crime is one of those problems that is probably inherent to democratic government, for a very simple reason. Crime will be addressed as an issue only so long as the number of victims are a politically significant constituency. Money is spent on reducing crime until the number of victims is too small to affect elections, and then the crime rate goes no lower. If you have a better explanation for the horrendous crime in the USA, I would gladly consider it. I hope these thoughts are just the result of my age and increasing cynicism, because I sincerely hope my logic is flawed.
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          Jul 25 2013: Crime is not uniform across the country. It is out of control in large metropolitan areas
          Gangs rule and local police will say under their breath... let them shoot each other up rather than us. And it is not so much about tax revenues, it's about the collapse of the intercity societies. I would maintain the same Federal social policies that distroyed Native American societies living on Reservations did the same damage to intercity societies
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    Jul 25 2013: G'Day Peter,
    Australia is half a world away and from your question, a lot of information didn't make the trip.
    And it is also easy to make faulty conclusions based on half the story. And that is OK.
    As to your question... We can't fix this. It is not for we to fix. As this incident is closed to the legal satisfaction of this country. Any woulda, coulda, shoulda discussions on the global scale is.... how could I put this.... is like teaching a wallaby to jump backward..... makes us look foolish and pisses off the wallaby.
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      Jul 25 2013: I have actually read the transcripts of the phone calls and the statements given by Zimmerman and the witnesses. I even read the section of the relevant law which is why I agree with the verdict. I don't want to change the past I want to fix the cause so it doesn't happen again.
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    Jul 24 2013: Peter, I am not going to jump in here .. but ... your first statement is "I'm not pointing fingers at anyone here." and then you say "Trayvon did nothing wrong."

    Perhaps I am wrong here but you have pointed fingers and came to a conclusion.

    Edward presented a reasonable response .... the jurors concluded that Mr Z acted within the law. The response of both you and LaMar were harsh, opinions, and undeserved. He stated the courts opinion.

    We can agree or disagree .... But the fact is that the court found Mr Z innocent and so in the eyes of the law there was no tragedy. Both you and LaMar do not agree with the decision ... that is your choice. However, to discuss this we need open minds. The replies to Edward demonstrate that the conversation has been decided by both of you and only a fight can occur from here on.

    Peter I always enjoy your comments and conversations but I think I will pass on this one.

    With respect. Bob.
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      Jul 25 2013: In my intro i say Trayvon did nothing wrong and I also say that the jury made the correct decision. My concern is, what is it about US society that causes a man like Zimmerman to see Trayvon as a threat. I think they are both innocent victims of a situation that shouldn't have arisen.
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    Jul 24 2013: I don't know, peter, i pretty much think you'll never eliminate crime from human society, don't we have all kinds of political systems and they all have crime? Although, come to think of it, I'm a big fan of the Masai tribe of Kenya, and I'm thinking they don't have much crime. So maybe we should all herd dairy cattle and live in dung huts.