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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Troubling response to killing of black youth in Florida

Monday, March 26, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

In the case of the Florida shooting that’s in the news, it’s important to keep an open mind. All the facts haven’t yet come out.

That said, the facts that are known raise disturbing questions about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

The 17-year-old black youth was visiting his father’s fiancee and was walking back from a convenience store, carrying a packet of Skittles and an ice tea.

George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old light-skinned Hispanic man, frequently performed neighborhood watch in his community. He called the police and reported Martin. The police told Zimmerman to remain in his vehicle and not to follow the youth.

Neighbors later reported a gunshot and a struggle.

When police arrived they found Martin face down in the grass, fatally shot in the chest.

Zimmerman was bleeding from the head, with grass stains on his back.

Here’s the problem: Why was Zimmerman not arrested, and how could he plausibly claim self-defense — as the police say — given that he seems to have instigated the encounter with the victim?

Bill Lee Jr., the Sanford, Fla., police chief in the eye of the storm, stepped down Thursday, at least temporarily, saying he hoped his exit would restore some calm.

But calm is no substitute for answers and explanations. The authorities must provide them swiftly and honestly. An ongoing U.S. Justice Department investigation should help with that effort, as could a grand jury probe.

Copyright Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.


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Comments

Ray Shapiro March 27, 2012 | 1:53 p.m.

Zimmerman should be considered innocent until proven guilty of any crime in Florida.
Unfortunately, the likes of Al Sharpton choose to beat the bushes for their own motives and vilify the Latino neighborhood watchman.
There might be cause to question the Florida law which protects Zimmerman from pulling the trigger, however the mob tone of "hoodies on parade" seem to express their desire to usurp due process.
This needs to run its course.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 27, 2012 | 3:11 p.m.

Claiming self-defense and not following police requests to stay in his car are not mutually exclusive as the Star seems to think. If Zimmerman or anyone else talked to a stranger in their neighborhood and was then jumped (and I'm not saying that's what happened in this case), the attacked would still be permitted to defend themselves.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 27, 2012 | 3:17 p.m.

"This needs to run its course."

If liberal Black Panthers, offering $10,000 reward - dead or alive, find Zimmerman, the course will be a short one.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 27, 2012 | 3:30 p.m.

I don't know. The conservative racist Klu Klux Klan might need get to him first. Zimmerman is not completely white.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 27, 2012 | 4:15 p.m.

The "conservative racist Klu Klux Klan" was the "militant arm" of the Democratic Party. Zimmermans mother is Peruvian, making him a Hispanic. Get a grip!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 27, 2012 | 4:53 p.m.

Lots of conflicting info out there.

Hard to know what to believe, at this point.

Troubling, indeed.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 27, 2012 | 5:54 p.m.

Michael Williams wrote:

"Hard to know what to believe, at this point."

I agree. I haven't made a judgement one way or the other because it's difficult to know exactly what happened. Even after an investigation, there may still be unanswered questions.

It's simply prejudice to attach blame at this point.

DK

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 27, 2012 | 7:53 p.m.

"It's simply prejudice to attach blame at this point." Absolutely correct. Or to post reward for someone not yet suspected by police, or be out in the street mouthing accusations while referring to the aggrieved parents. Tonight, "at least one witness" was referred to, which should lend truth. If they don't kill Zimmerman first.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle March 27, 2012 | 11:11 p.m.

Vigilate-ism cuts both ways. Zimmerman was just a coward before; now he knows *real* fear, and his life is nearly ruined, too.

I'm not saying Zimmerman is innocent or guilty, I'm saying he's stupid and aggressive. He made several incredibly poor choices, initially, to escalate the situation which led to the eventual confrontation.

What's happening now isn't justice, and it isn't taking responsibility for one's own actions. Zimmerman is merely living with the consequences of his actions.

(Report Comment)

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