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Seventeen Year Old Trayvon Martin Shot to Death in Florida

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There has been shock and an outcry over the death by shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The youngster was called “Tray” by friends at Krop Senior High School, where he was an A and B student headed for college. At the time of his death, he was hoping for a career in the field of aviation mechanics.

While visiting his father, Tracey Martin, in the upscale, gated community known as the Retreat at Twin Lakes, Trayvon took a walk in the rain to a nearby store, telling his father he was going for some candy. In fact when his body was first viewed by police, the young man had a bag of Skittles, a bottle of iced tea, and his cellphone.

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, whose family claims he is a Latino, but who is sometimes described as white, was making his regular patrol of the exclusive subdivision in his SUV. It was he, armed with a pistol, who shot Tray Martin that night in Florida.

Zimmerman was devoted to the protection of  his neighbors. He routinely called police to advise them of his observations and pursuits. He called police 46 times during his time as watch commander; dozens of times in the months just prior to the fatal shooting. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office released records of six typical calls from George Zimmerman reporting suspicious activity; all those he deemed as suspicious were black.

George Zimmerman called police on Sunday evening, February 26, saying, “We’ve had some break-ins my neighborhood. There’s a really suspicious guy…up to no good.” Zimmerman a few moments later called back, he said the “suspicious guy” was approaching, with “something in his hands.”

At that point in the eventful evening, Trayvon had gotten caught in the rain, and was unaware he was being reported and followed. Then Trayvon noticed the SUV driver observing him. He had been talking to his 16 year old girl friend all the while he walked to the local store. Now she became aware he was frightened. The girl, from near Miami Gardens, Florida told investigators, “He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on.” She said, “Then he lost sight of the man. She said,” I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run.”

Eventually Trayvor did run, the girl said. He thought he’d managed to escape, but the strange man was suddenly back, and cornering Trayvon. The cell phone monitored the entire incident. Trayvon: “What are you following me for?” Then the man: “’What are you doing here?” In the words of the 16 year old friend, “Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn’t answer the phone.” Then the phone went dead.

During his tracking of the suspicious stranger, Zimmerman was told by police not to follow; They would handle it. But George was caught up, and continued in pursuit. Neighbors heard the loud conversation and the scuffling, and called police. They reported screams. The time line on Trayvon’s cell phone indicated a five minute argument and altercation. Then Trayvon was dead from a gunshot wound.

Tracey Martin, the teen’s father, told authorities, “He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him and that’s the most disturbing part. He thought he had got away from the guy, and the guy backtracked for him.”

The larger community that includes the gated subdivision is Sanford. Sanford’s black residents have complained that the region’s police department targets and arrests blacks, while allowing whites accused of similar offenses to go free. They talk of arbitrary arrests and harassment. The current Sanford police chief, William Lee, has been in office less than a year. The previous chief of police was removed from office resulting from an incident wherein a black man was beaten in downtown Sanford by a white man with ties to a Sanford police officer. The beating was caught on video, but the man doing the beating was not arrested.

The death of Trayvon Martin has aroused interest not only in Florida, but nationally. Even in New York City, marchers and demonstrators are seeking inquiry and justice. The teenager’s father, Tracy Martin, told a New York crowd “We’re not going to stop until we get justice.” The crowd in Manhattan chanted “We want arrests.”

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • kelly

    justice

  • Igor

    It’s still Open Season on blacks in America. And, in Florida, the beloved NRA has given whites a Special Gun right to use on blacks.

  • Smiley

    We want Justice ..

  • Monica

    There is shouldnt be an isussue were blacks should be unable or afrid of whites. Racial Segergation is over. No race should be afrid or be treated better than another. This man should be arrested for what he did. Trayvon was still a child planning his life. He wasnt ready for this.

  • Igor

    Thanks to police interference, forensic evidence has been destroyed, and the DA can no longer even prove that Trayvon was killed by Zimmermans gun (which , incidentally, he may be planning to use again on a suitable human target, or he may have destroyed it!).

    The Sanford FLA police officers, starting with the chief, should all be arrested as accomplices, after the fact, to murder. That makes them eligible for the death penalty, and the Supremes have upheld such convictions, e.g., in the case of a getaway driver.

  • Cannonshop

    #5 for once, Igor, I’m in complete agreement. They can even use RICO statutes in the prosecution, since destruction of evidence is Obstruction of Justice, which is a felony…and a felony in a capital murder case carries an automatic First Degree Murder attachment, which makes the perp eligible for the death penalty-not, however, that they’d use it, (pity that. I’d love to see them lined up on electric bleachers…)

    The actions of the Sanford Fl. Police and Prosecutors undermines the very concept of the Rule of Law. Worse still, they chose, and I would say intentionally and with malice, to misinterpret the law in order to facilitate their crime. Pity that THAT isn’t ALSO a felony applicable to Government Officials.

    But I don’t think modern execution methods really are sufficient in the actual SHOOTER’s case. Zimmermann styles himself a ‘vigilante’, but what he did would not fill that role-he chose an unarmed victim, one he could bully and pursue, he started an altercation, he chose to use lethal force.

    i.e. he found someone the Sanford cops would let him kill for kicks.

    This guy needs to be fed, piece by piece, to the alligators, while still alive, then left to die of exposure or hung up for the crows…as a lesson in why you don’t bully people that are smaller than you, unarmed, and unprotected.

    Okay, I admit, that’s a little bit too far.

    slow-drop hanging in front of the courthouse, let him kick and goggle his eyes while his face turns purple for hours before dying, for the crowd. “educational”…It should be done for the children, who can scatter birdseed at his dying feet.

  • Cannonshop

    y’see, folks, when you START the fight, when you PURSUE someone and start the fight, nothing you do in it is “Self Defense”.

    Reverse positions here…(bear with me), Give the gun to Trayvon Martin. (yeah, I know it’s not legal for 17 year olds to carry firearms, but this is a thought experiment now…)

    NOW have Zimmermann come up and start a fight, and let’s say Trayvon shoots him.

    THAT is self-defense. Zimmermann’s bigger, for starters. Nearly 100 Lbs bigger, he’s older too-by eleven years. He was the belligerent here-he pursued the boy and started the altercation.

    The KID had reasonable cause to believe his life, health, and safety were in danger. Zimmermann did not-End of Line.

    On the bare facts of the case alone, Zimmermann’s a murderer for what he did-because of what he did to get to that point.

    Now, the damage done by the Sanford cops…

    hooo boy. Where to begin? Unfortunately, it won’t begin, because the South is a racist hell hole, and there are potential motives for WHY they did what they did that extend beyond normal racism into some pretty creepy directions, including political directions.

  • Dan

    The neighborhood watch guy sounds like a complete crackpot. Sounds like he was taking the gig like some kind of calling for the sake of his ego. Such a shame what he did. From what I’ve seen, that was a really good kid he erased. It’s also a shame folks like Sharpton are exploiting this as an opportunity to stoke race hate bs. Seriously, don’t get caught up in the nonsense. I want justice for the kid too and I’m white.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dan –

    No, the racial aspect isn’t just important, it’s crucial. Why? Because the sooner we can pound into the heads of millions of southern whites that racism really, truly isn’t cool, the sooner they’ll start holding themselves to a higher standard of conduct towards their fellow human beings who just happen to not look like them.

    And that’s how it’s done – rub their noses in it till they start telling each other not to do it anymore.

  • Igor

    And still, after all this time, no one has secured the forensic evidence from the crime scene. No one has collected the gun, the witness evidence, etc.

  • tampa guy

    Just was reported on local radio that Zimmermann was on the ground being pummeled by Martin and screaming for help. Zimmermann had broken nose and a gash on his head that needed stitiches.

  • Igor

    A witness reported that it was Trayvon who was screaming for help (which one would expect if a large armed person attacked you) and that a cop told her to change her testimony.

    And still no one has secured the evidence.

  • tampa guy

    Igor, that’s totally incorrect. Martin’s father listened to the tape and stated that was NOT his son hollering or screaming for help!

  • John Lake

    My instinct is to believe what the young girlfriend said. This “upscale” community in Florida is obsessed with its view of exclusivity.

  • Igor

    13-Tampa: where did Martins father say that?

  • tampa guy

    Igor – saw it here.

  • tampa guy
  • Igor

    The Examiner article contains NO substantiated facts, NO witness quotes or names. It’s purely made-up by the writer. Worthless.

    The Fox Tampa Bay article is just as bad. Maybe they come from the same unnamed source.

    It’s just gossip.

    The cops blew it when they failed to secure the crime site and grab the evidence and testimony.

  • Igor

    And I found no place where Martins father said what Tampa Guy claims.

  • John Lake

    Just for the record, @16, that’s the “Charleston Conservative Examiner”, not the more widely recognized Herald Examiner. It appears to be some sort of online tabloid.

  • Igor

    My conclusion is that Tampa Guy and his ‘sources’ just made that stuff up.

  • tampa guy

    Facts sorta change things. Interesting that not a single media outlet is reporting anything like this. The information is from one of the officers who was among the first on the scene.

    ********************************************

    You’ve seen the photos of Zimmerman and Martin superimposed next to each other in the articles that have been floating around. What you haven’t seen is that Zimmerman was about 60 pounds heavier in that photo than he actually is. By the same token, the photos of Martin were taken several years ago when he was a young boy. Not at all what he was when he had this altercation with Zimmerman. At that time, he was a couple of months away from his 18th birthday and, according to the officer I spoke to, about the same size as me. I’m 6’4″ and 250 lbs. Martin was definitely big enough to cause major problems for Zimmerman, not the small defenseless boy they are picturing him to be.

    Here’s a fact that makes a difference. Martin WAS in fact, beating the **** out of Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s face was bruised and bleeding when he was interviewed by the police department. Martin had not a scratch on him other than the bullet hole in his chest. Witnesses who saw what happened consistently reported this and correctly described the clothing of the person on top doing the beating and the person on the bottom getting the **** beat out of him. It was very apparent that it was indeed Martin who was beating Zimmerman.

    Absolutely, Zimmerman should not have confronted or followed Martin and yes, he put himself in that situation. By the same token, when Martin realized he was being followed, he didn’t run off to escape, he found a hiding place and waited to confront Zimmerman. As Zimmerman came near, Martin popped out and began an aggressive confrontation with Zimmerman and attacked him. As he took him to ground and got on top of him and proceeded to beat him up, Zimmerman’s shirt started to ride up and expose the pistol he was carrying. Martin saw it and went for it, threatening to kill Zimmerman with it. Zimmerman was able to get it first and shot Martin in the chest. That last is according to Zimmerman and partly corroborated by witnesses. The officer also told me that Zimmerman has told the same story several times since the shooting and has passed two polygraph tests with his version of what happened. He is also cooperating fully.

    The Sanford police force submitted their case against Zimmerman as a third degree murder case to the state prosecutor but the state declined to prosecute because A), they felt it WAS self defense and B) it would have violated Zimmerman’s rights because they lacked sufficient probable cause to arrest him. Also, once a citizen is arrested, it starts the clock ticking on the right to a speedy trial and they have 30 days to put a homicide case together which is not remotely possible.

  • Igor

    #22-tampa: again, I ask: where did you get this statement?

    Lacking a citation, why should anyone think it’s anything other than an invention, by you, for example?

  • tampa guy

    Igor – Just wait for the “official” determination of what transpired based on the facts, evidence and witnesses.
    Right now, neither you, myself, or anyone else KNOWS what actually happened but I’m sure we all want justice to be served, whether it be that Zimmermann goes to jail or that he (Zimmermann) was prefectly legal in shooting Martin.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    tampa –

    Can you not provide a link? All you have to do is to copy-and-paste the address line – don’t even worry about the html coding. All we want to see is the reference, the proof of what you say.

    You’ve got to be able to back up what you say. If you got it from a newspaper, then tell us which newspaper (and which day) it was and we’ll look it up.

    Just back up what you say with more than just your own words – that’s all we’re asking.

  • tampa guy

    Glenn – refer to posts #16 & #17. I have provided links but Igor responded with the following comments:

    “The Examiner article contains NO substantiated facts, NO witness quotes or names. It’s purely made-up by the writer. Worthless.”

    “The Fox Tampa Bay article is just as bad. Maybe they come from the same unnamed source.
    It’s just gossip.”
    ********************************************
    So, guess it’s best for ALL to just wait for the final determination.

  • Igor

    I have a real problem with the fact that the Sanford police failed to secure the crime scene and collect the evidence, including the murder gun.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    tampa –

    Look again at the references you gave – neither one said anything about the other witnesses who heard a voice pleading for help before a gunshot. Here’s the audio. I really don’t like listening to audio like this. Note – your reference said that Martin’s father said the screaming voice wasn’t his son’s, but I can tell you that when someone screams in terror, no one – not even the mom or the dad – can ever really identify the voice.

    On the audio, it plainly sounds like two gunshots to me – one before the screaming, and one that ended the screaming. When asked by the 911 operator, the woman says it was only one shot, but then you can hear her friend say “No, two!” But we’ll never know for sure because in accordance with state law, Zimmerman was allowed to get his gun back right away.

    Furthermore, Here’s a list of the 45 times that Zimmerman had called 911 since 2004…many of which had to do with black males in the neighborhood…which reminds of Zimmerman’s two words you can hear on this audio: “Fucking coon”.

    I see the claims on your references, tampa, but what this case is going to boil down to is

    (1) the analysis of the audio to see if it’s one shot or two,
    (2) Zimmerman’s habit of calling 911 far more than people normally do. The calls were usually involving black males – one of which was about a black male, 7-9 years old, about four feet tall,
    (3) his obvious (to me) use of the racial slur,
    (4) his insistence on following Martin even after the 911 operator told him “you don’t need to do that”, and
    (5) the fact that a local police officer (who coordinates neighborhood watch programs) says that she told Zimmerman in September 2011 never to take matters into his own hands.

    After Zimmerman’s arrest (and I’m pretty sure he will be arrested), the prosecutor is going to paint him as someone somewhat obsessed with being a police officer. I normally don’t use blogs as references, but this one makes his obsession pretty obvious.

    There’s always some guy who just can’t wait to go catch ‘the bad guy’, whoever that bad guy can’t be. It’s just like in the military – there’s always some guy who just can’t wait to get “in the shit” (into a firefight). From everything I’ve seen, Zimmerman was almost certainly one of these.

  • tampa guy

    From Wikipedia:

    Media Take Out is a blog-style gossip website catering to people that are interested in drama.????????????

    URL

    MediaTakeOut.com

    Slogan

    The Most Visited Urban Website In The World

    Available language(s)

    English

    Owner

    Fred Mwangaguhunga

    Launched

    January 2006

    Revenue

    Ads

    Current status

    Active

    Media Take Out is a blog-style gossip website catering to people that are interested in drama.

  • John Lake

    #29 gees make a little effort, Tampa Guy.
    By the by I was aware of the “f**king coon” allegation, but it was written as if it sounded like that, but not certainly.

  • John Lake

    I listened to the audio. There’s no doubt in my mind, it’s a young boy screaming. At one point Zimmerman says something, and he’s cool and collected. The “f**king coon” is by no means certain. But the operator had a better opportunity and she had no doubt.

  • Igor

    I take it that “f**king coon” is a bowdlerized version of “fucking coon”.

  • Igor

    OK tampa guy, I looked at that URL and it was stupid nonsense.

    What am I to think about your posts? They never have any substance. So I conclude that, right or wrong, they are a waste of time.

  • tampaguy

    There’s gonna be alot of red faces when “everything” finally comes out. Bottom line is that it is really a shame all this had to happen.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    tampa –

    Perhaps. As Igor pointed out, you really need to find better references, for the ones you gave were clearly biased. Yesterday – it’s not on the website today – the LA Times posted a story showing that the police department was saying that it really did look like self-defense on Zimmerman’s part, that Martin did assault Zimmerman.

    But the story didn’t address Zimmerman’s continued pursuit of Martin after he was told not to, nor did it address why Martin assaulted Zimmerman (assuming he did) – after all, what is this tall black kid’s range of options when he sees this chubby white guy stalking him?

    The picture of the whole incident is getting muddier all the time.

  • Cannonshop

    #36 Based on Florida’s own law, given that this 28 year old man chased him, hunted him, and threatened him (which constitutes Assault in MOST jurisdictions), I’d say Trayvon Martin WAS just Standing his Ground, and if there is an allegation of Self-Defense to be ACCURATELY assessed, it is Trayvon Martin’s attempt to defend himself from an armed man-with predictable results when you bring a bag of skittles and a pop can up against a gunman.

    Zimmerman LOST TRACK OF HIM for five minutes-that indicates he was HUNTING this kid. The kid was being hunted, pursued, harried-Tampaguy, that’s based on Zim’s own DEFENDERS, can you dig that?

    What would YOU do, if someone was hunting YOU? I certainly HOPE Martin bloodied the son of a bitch’s nose, and only wish the engagement had been on more equal terms-if the boy’d been armed, Zimmerman probably would’ve left him ALONE, and nobody’d be dead now. Bullies shy from targets they know can really HURT them.

  • Gloria Toftness

    The man that shot Trayvon needs to be arrested; this is horrible. In addition, they are now trying to make Trayvon sound like a troubled teen – which is not the case and is not relevant to the shooting of Trayvon. The shooter stating that “he did not look like he belonged in the neighborhood” – give me a break. Being shot in the back and that statement in itself should be enough to arrest the murderer. Trayvon was seventeen who was walking to the store to get candy he was not stalking the man in the SUV; however, the man in the SUV was stalking Trayvon. Why has the murderer not been arrested? Also, if the murderer felt threaten why did he pursue the young man? After all he was in a vehicle. This is so sad and does not say a lot about our justice system or does it? It tells me that our justice system needs to be overhauled with people who have morals and does not tip the scale of justice.

  • james

    Tampa I agree with everything you say Zimmerman should not have confronted the kid. In fact he should have asked him if he needed a ride. But people are ready to crucifie him with out thinking. There is no reason to assume he’s racist or even that he thought the hoodie was suspicious he described what the kid was wearing and what he looked like that is it. And Igor how come u dont ask any one except Tampa to prove what they say? Prove that the officers didn’t collect evidence.

  • tampaguy

    Gloria – you have to understand what is in evidence.

    1-Z’m did NOT shoot Martin in the back
    2-Z’m was NOT stalking Martin (he was following him to let the police know where he was located when they arrived)
    3-Z’m did NOT feel threatened until he was on the ground being pummeled by Martin

  • Glenn Contrarian

    tampa –

    If I’m walking around a neighborhood and some guy is obviously following me, as far as I’m concerned, he’s stalking me. The police officer who coordinates neighborhood watches stated that she told Zimmerman to do nothing more than report – but Zimmerman didn’t do that, did he?

    There’s plenty of blame to go around, and if Zimmerman’s history is any indication (calling 911 FORTY-FIVE TIMES since 2004, mostly because of black males as young as 7-9 years old), if he’d acted as he’d been TOLD by the 911 operator, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Actually, Glenn, about half of his calls were to the non-911 police number: it seems the Sanford police set-up has the 911 operator pick those calls up anyway. Also, only about half of his calls are documented as being about black males. The race of the “suspect” isn’t mentioned at all in many of them, from which I presume we should infer that they were white – a bit sad, really, that.

    Without pulling a Dan and focusing exclusively on Trayvon’s negative qualities and exclusively on George’s positive ones, let’s try to take a realistic look at what might have happened, which is probably more than the courts will do if the case ever reaches them.

    This is starting to look like a perfect storm. If the police report is to be believed – not a given by any means, in this case – Trayvon was beating up on George. Like many a 17-year-old, he may have had a few anger issues: he’d just been suspended from school (for, I understand, a non-violent infraction); his parents were separated and his dad was about to remarry; and he was away from home, his friends and his girlfriend and bored out of his skull. So he realizes he’s being followed and takes the unwise course of confronting the guy rather than avoiding conflict and seeking safety (prudence is not a trait commonly associated with teens).

    On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that George doesn’t have a first-class ticket for the well-adjusted bus either, as has been well documented.

    This was a tragedy waiting to happen.

    A big concern is what happens now. Under the Florida law, I don’t think George really has a case to answer. But would the police have applied the law if it had been Trayvon who was the shooter? We can’t know for sure, of course, but I suspect that he would have at least been arrested.

    Does anyone know of any other Florida cases in which an African-American was the shooter and claimed self-defense? And what the response of the police and/or the courts was?

  • Igor

    Even if one factors out the race questions and thinks of each person as white, the crime of Zimmerman is evident, and the police coverup flagrant.

  • John Wayne

    Where are all the pics of Martin as a seventeen year old..Not the ones of him as a little boy? Where are the ones with him with his pants sagging,and throwing up gang signs?Where are the pics of the 6’1″ Trayvon?

  • John Wayne

    Why is this being hidden from the public?

  • Commerce Cowboy

    Does seem odd that we’ve yet to see a picture of Trayvon at 17.

    People are so quick to see race, like Igor repeating the falsehood about Zimmerman being white and never admitting bis mistake, they look past how the legal system actually works. With only Zimmerman’s side of the story, it’s likely the DA didn’t think they could get a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet everyone is compelled to have an opinion without much information.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Here you go, guys.

    Trayvon is the one on the right. Apparently the delay in releasing the image was because Photoshopping out the devil horns and the belt decorated with the skulls of white folk was an intricate job and took longer than expected.

  • http://jetsgayheadlinenews-jet.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Headline: Martin funeral director: No signs of fight on body
    By Mark Strassmann .(CBS News) SANFORD, Florida – The defense of George Zimmerman rests on a violent fight that he said occurred before he fired the shot that killed Trayvon Martin.

    Trayvon Martin was buried in Miami with a gunshot wound to his chest. But otherwise, according to Richard Kurtz, the funeral director who prepared Martin for burial, his body showed no injuries.

    “We could see no physical signs like there had been a scuffle [or] there had been a fight,” he said. “The hands — I didn’t see any knuckles, bruises or what have you. And that is something we would have covered up if it would have been there.”

    A surveillance tape shows, George Zimmerman in handcuffs, 40 minutes after he killed Trayvon Martin. He seemed to show no apparent injuries, either.

    Yet Zimmerman claims Martin beat him and threatened his life, so he shot the teenager in self-defense.

    But Ben Crump, the lawyer for Martin’s parents, said the video shows a murderer.

    “Look at that video,” he said. “Do you see any blood on his head? He said he broke his nose. Look at that video. And look at how easy he walks out of the car.”

  • John Lake

    Jet:
    I’m concerned about the phrase, “We would have covered it up if it would have been there.” Is that a typo? Do we have a link?

  • Djp

    I don’t think one IDIOT should “represent” all white people. Do I think Zimmerman is racist? Yes! But not all non-black people are…

  • Sad Day

    I think it is sad that it is made to be such a raciest event, when in fact race has nothing to do with it. I watched onetime a white kid (US Marine) get shoot at point blank range by a black kid because he didn’t want to give up his car. Now if I were to hold a rally saying our people are being discriminated against I would be called a raciest. The truth is that unfortunately the Marine lost his life and I am sure that the system worked to serve justice. At the end of the day it is sad that Tray is no longer with us and in my mind this has nothing to do with race. This has to do with the justice system doing its thing and getting what you pay for when it comes to law enforcement. I think the world is over the whole poor me I am being discriminated against. Let make this about what it should be about and that is justice and not white people verses black people. I am praying for the families of both men and hope the justice system can see the truth in the evidence and act accordingly.