Justice and Security: Neighborhood Watch Captain Attacks, Kills Unarmed Teenager

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Are you certain of that? I had the impression that the relevant homeowners association or somesuch had actually designated him as some kind of watch organizer or contact point, distributed newsletters identifying him as such, etc. Maybe not "formal," and certainly not "Neighborhood Watch" with capital letters (since he intentionally violated several of their most important, well-considered guidelines on how to run a watch), but still something above and beyond just a guy acting on his own.

    Or am I mistaken? Wikipedia has an entire section on exactly this topic:


    As the only person to volunteer when the homeowners association wanted to organize a community watch, Zimmerman was appointed coordinator by his neighbors, according to Wendy Dorival, Neighborhood Watch organizer for the Sanford Police Department. The homeowner's association told residents who saw suspicious activity to call Zimmerman if they could not contact the police.​
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  3. Neverfly Banned Banned

    I cannot make heads or tails of most of your post.
    Considering that reacting angrily has only led to unproductive bickering, I'll just refrain from trying to organize it into a coherent reply.

    Considering the 3 Witnesses changing their story:

    Changing witness testimony seems like it would simply be a matter of someone remembering more clearly what happened.
    The problem with memory is that the mind can add or take away from a memory very easily.
    Changing ones story makes them seem to not be a credible witness.

    I think forensics would have to be relied on as heavily as possible for this case.
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  5. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    These are all reasons that eyewitness testimony is highly unreliable in general - even when nobody "changes their story." People tend to treat eyewitnesses as highly reliable, maybe because they don't like to admit that their own perceptions are variable and mutable. But the fact of the matter is that eyewitness testimony is actually highly unreliable, generally.

    So it may be a good thing for the accuracy of the result in this case if the eyewitnesses are regarded as not very credible - now, if only we could get jurors to regard all eyewitnesses that way...
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  7. Neverfly Banned Banned

    Which is where my stance is. The case is complex. If we were talking physics in another thread, we'd probably agree that the issue was a complex one and agree that careful wording would be necessary.

    I, inadvertently, made a really good example of what happens when one grabs a few facts and runs with them (I'm a hothead and prone to such behavior time to time). Now, it's embarrassing to post in the thread. But that in itself isn't grounds to stop.

    I don't think the case can be summed up in just a few words. And I do not think quick judgments based on preconceptions or opinions about any particular person involved is proper to use to sum up those few words. {Lesson learned, ouch...}
    Whether it's the shooter, the victim, the police, the witnesses or the news reporters.

    We cannot entirely discount witness testimony. If all witness testimony was utterly discounted, all we are left with is Zimmerman all beat up with clean knuckles and Martin having no blunt force trauma and abraded knuckles.
  8. Bells Staff Member

    It's who you know apparently..

    Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman had a relationship with members of the police department in Sanford, Fla., long before he shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin to death in February, newly released information suggests.

    During a community forum on Jan. 8, 2011, more than a year before Martin was killed, Zimmerman, then a criminal justice student, told city officials he had ridden along with Sanford police officers on patrol. Zimmerman blasted Sanford police as lazy and criticized outgoing Police Chief Brian Tooley, who was forced from office in a scandal involving the son of an officer caught on tape beating a homeless black man.

    “I would just like to state that the law is written in black and white, it can not be enforced by those who are in the thin blue line,” Zimmerman told an audience that included newly elected Mayor Jeff Triplett, according to an audio recording published by the Miami Herald. Zimmerman said he saw firsthand how bad Sanford police could be during his ride-alongs.


    A police station video taken three days after the shooting, released by the State Attorney’s Office with a trove of other evidence, shows Zimmerman walking unescorted through the police station. That suggests a “cozy” and “comfortable” relationship with the police, said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin’s family.

    “This video of Zimmerman just walking through the police department so casually underscores that people in that department have a famiiiarity with him,” Crump told HuffPost. “It means that he had a relationship with the Sanford police department. And it’s just unusual that all along they would say they didn’t. But he went on several ride-alongs with them and he was comfortable enough to walk unescorted through their department.”

    Zimmerman had longed to be a law enforcement officer and lobbied local law enforcement officials for a job. He was a student at nearby Seminole County Community College, where former Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, who stepped down amid the Martin scandal, was a professor and ran the police academy.

    According to the Herald report, city records show that in March 2010, Zimmerman’s application to ride along with the police was approved despite a background check revealing a criminal history that included resisting arrest and assault on a police officer. (The charges were later dropped.) Zimmerman wrote on the application that he hoped the ride-along would “solidify my interest in a career in law enforcement.”

    He complained about their stroppy police work, but he sure did like being the beneficiary of said stroppy police work when it involved his shooting an unarmed teenager.
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Then he's delusional and perhaps should be in a mental institution. Cops go through rigorous background checking, psychological profiling and training, to make sure they know how to act so as to minimize the possibility of lethal violence.

    They also wear uniforms and drive cars that can be identified as cop cars from half a mile away. If Trayvon had seen a police car trailing him and then a man in a police uniform had yelled at him to stop, he would probably have stopped because he would have felt that he could trust him to treat him fairly. (Or maybe not since this is the Deep South and we can't ignore the region's history, but that's an issue for another discussion.) But what if your teenager saw a plain ordinary car tailing him and then a guy with no uniform jumped out of the car and told him to stop? (Someone else brought this up earlier but I can't find the post so excuse me for the plagiarism.) Would you prepare him for incidents like this by telling him to stop and let the fellow approach him??? With pedophilia and child abuse in the news every single day? Or would you tell him to run like hell and knock on the first door that appeared to have people home and yell for them to call for the police?

    Or in this case, since the kid was big and strong he figured he could just take the bastard down, which he did. Unfortunately he didn't realize Zimmerman was a big enough bastard to be carrying a gun.

    Try thinking like a parent here. If I can do it, without ever having actually been a parent, I'm sure you folks can do it too. (I know you're a parent, Bells. I didn't mean that remark to be directed at you specifically. But so many of these people don't seem to have stopped and thought about the things they tell their children to be afraid of. Zimmerman is one of those things!)

    It was completely unreasonable for Zimmerman to expect cooperation since he had neither the car nor the uniform nor the training to convince anyone that he was anything but a weirdo chasing a kid late at night. Which in fact is exactly what he was, although instead of a weirdo child molester he was a weirdo police impersonator.
    Only to report a traffic hazard. I don't want people sending the pigs after me so I extend the same courtesy to them.
    You make a nice apologist. He's not "proactive." He's obsessed!
    It's a long, long way from saying that one of those dozens of people in Queens 48 years ago, who heard and watched Kitty Genovese being abducted and murdered right under their window, should have called the cops... to saying that Zimmerman should have gone out into the night with a fucking goddamned GUN looking for people to hassle just because he didn't like the way they looked.
    You mean another lunatic running loose in the streets with a gun? How would that help? Or do you mean a real Neighborhood Watch volunteer sitting inside his house with binoculars and a telephone? That is not "another Zimmerman." That's a decent, sane citizen.
    Yes. The difference is that we're intelligent enough and civilized enough to not go out looking for people to hassle when we're in that frame of mind. Nobody has ever been killed by prejudiced and angry words posted on a pseudonymous internet board. But people are killed by assholes with guns every day.
    What??? Who gives a damn? A lot of my neighbors leave their garage doors open when they're home, and it's not always easy to tell if they're really at home since every family in America seems to have three cars, two trucks and a motorcycle.

    Can you spell "busybody"?
    I would be very careful about accusing someone of domestic abuse. Some people yell at each other, some people trade blows. You get in their face about it and next week they'll come to your house together and beat the crap out of you for not minding your own business.

    Did I already ask if you can spell "busybody"? Australia sounds like a terrible place to live, with everybody spying on each other. I'd rather take my chances with the gun-totin' wackos in America.
    The American rule about being treated as innocent until proven guilty only applies to the government. OJ cannot be denied the right to vote, a permit to own a firearm, a business license, matriculation into a public university, etc., because he is legally not guilty, whether or not he made a confession out of court. Private citizens can treat him any way we want. I rather enjoyed Eddy Murphy's assessment of the case back when it happened: "He was watching another man drive around with his wife in his Ferrari, spending his money on lavish vacations. Now I'm not saying he should have killed them, but I understand!"
    You don't seem to have much respect for these organizations. They have to do a better job than that or they'll be sued every other Tuesday.
    I'm sure they didn't realize they were creating a monster when they did that. My homeowners' association wouldn't do anything that stupid. Of course I live in the civilized part of the United States, not the Deep South.
  10. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    FR you might like to revise your post before bells sees it concidering that the argument you quoted against her WAS HERS and you missinterpreted her statements
  11. Neverfly Banned Banned

    As established and agreed.

    I guess this one depends on how it gets reported.
    Apparently, Zimmerman has called in 46 times.
    Wow, that seems like a lot.
    How long has he been making these calls? It was originally reported by the news that it was 46 calls since 2011.
    But apparently, it has been 46 calls since 2004. That's 8 years.
    That averages out to about 6 calls per year. It's actually 5.75, but no one makes 3/4 of a call...
    And we do not know what circumstances were involved that caused him to call in. All of 6 times per year average.
    That has not been reported.

    The rest of the post has a lot of strawmen, directed at just about everyone, Bells, Asguard and anyone who doesn't hate a gun. You must have misunderstood Bells post because your response has little to do with what she said.
    The first part of your post was her argument toward me.
    Fraggle Rocker, I think the one thing your post makes abundantly clear is a very strong prejudice on your part against firearms.

    I can appreciate this outlet the thread has afforded you to speak your mind and get this aggression you may be feeling out. But I believe that your prejudice is influencing your thoughts on this matter.
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
  12. Bells Staff Member


    It was unreasonable to Zimmerman to have followed him and then chased him and then shot him.. much less for not co-operating..

    I believe in this instance it is spelled "Zimmerman".

    His actions, such as calling the police when people left their garage doors open, shows a bizarre and strange obsession with control. It reminds me of Gladys Sharp in Over the Hedge.

    When I see someone drive the face of his terrified former spouse into a glass window and then punching the hell out of her while screaming about killing her, I'm sorry, but that is domestic abuse. The same when I see a woman trying to escape from a car as the male in it is punching the shit out of her to the point where she is losing consciousness.. That's abuse and assault..

    If you're happy to see someone getting beaten up because you don't want to be a "busy body", then hey, that's you.:shrug: There was a case in Australia many years ago when a young woman was violently and brutally raped in the backseat of her car, the door was open and she was screaming for help as people walked by in the busy shopping centre carpark. No one interfered because they didn't want to be "busy bodies". My best friend was sexually abused and molested for years by her stepfather and the people who knew the family did not say anything because they wanted to mind their own business. She later killed herself. I'm sorry, but sometimes being a "busy body" can save someone's life. Must be an Australian thing to actually help someone who needs it..:shrug:
  13. Giambattista sssssssssssssssssssssssss sssss Valued Senior Member

    Wow, then that totally explains the lack of police brutality we have in this country.
  14. Giambattista sssssssssssssssssssssssss sssss Valued Senior Member

    Imagine my extreme disappointment after hearing so many intimations that this was a white-on-black hate crime, and actually seeing George Zimmerman's face. Well, I suppose he IS a "white Hispanic" or so I'm told.
    I was getting worried that deck of race cards had finally run out.

    Incidentally, what is it with these celebrity murder cases? I call them that, because they happen all the time, but the media latches on to one particular case and treats it like some new talent that's never been seen or heard before.
    I don't recall Al "Processed Head" Sharpton and throngs of protesters getting all hot and bothered about the little girl murdered in cold blood by cops in Detroit.. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/17/aiyana-jones-7-year-old-s_n_578246.html
    I know it's old, but it didn't seem to spark any particular outrage on the national scene like the Travyon thing did.

    So, which council decides which murders and crimes will be plastered everywhere and which will be pushed under the rug all hush-hush and stuff?
  15. Neverfly Banned Banned

  16. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Except when they don't, of course.

    But, yeah, point still applies: even a plainclothes cop in an unmarked car would clearly identify himself as such - and wave his badge around - if attempting to apprehend someone.

    "Fairly" is a strong word, as you note, but I'd have to agree that his perception of possible threat and evaluation of the appropriate response to such would have been markedly different.

    Is Florida the "Deep South" though? Maybe if we were talking about the panhandle part of FL that would be clear... but when it comes to Sanford I'm less certain.

    Regardless, let's not imply that black Americans outside of the Deep South have a default expectation of total fairness from the police and other authorities.

    That's a myth, by the way. Only a few people witnessed anything untoward that night, and they did call the cops.

    Indeed - had the guy actually adhered to Neighborhood Watch guidelines, and complied with instructions from 911, he'd likely have been making a positive contribution to neighborhood security. Instead, he racially profiled and then killed an unarmed high school kid. Those guidelines and instructions exist for a reason.

    HOA's or Neighborhood Watches?

    Neighborhood Watch seems like a reasonable program.

    HOA's can go die of hideous ass-cancer for all I care. I'd never buy property in a neighborhood subject to one.

    True enough, I suppose - and an interesting suggestion. Maybe someone should file a civil suit against the HOA in question for empowering this creep's delusions of authority. Certainly seems like it contributed to his killing of Martin.

    Doesn't sound like they thought it through at all, frankly.
  17. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Your poor memory is not evidence of anything but exactly that. Read the damn Wikipedia page - it mentions right in the first paragraph that there was "national media attention." The cops who pulled that stunt got indicted for it, as did people who abetted their cover-up - unlike in this case, until the national attention forced Florida to act like the rule of law is a thing there.

    On what planet is this whole style of strawman trolling effective? You and syzygys should go have a manufactured false-outrage party, somewhere far, far away from here.
  18. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    The controversy is not so much that the murder might have been racially motivated, although that's a part of it, but that the police chose to not arrest the man who did it. Given that some black people are sent to jail for as little as shooting a warning shot in their own home, it struck many people as horribly unjust. It gave the appearance that the police only chose to trust Zimmerman's side of the story because the victim was black.
  19. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, it's a reminder that the most salient racial divide in the USA is "black" vs. "everybody else." Yeah, there are other racial divisions and problems, but that's the big one.

    It's also kinda hilarious to see all these types coming out of the woodwork and expressing shock and disdain at the idea that there exist white Hispanic people. As if Spain is somewhere other than Western Europe, and as if legions of Irish, Germans, etc. hadn't immigrated to Latin America over the years. And as if the latest US census didn't explicitly separate "Hispanic" from the "race" category, exactly to capture white Hispanics vs. black Hispanics vs. others.

    Having grown up in the southwestern United States, this kind of thing has been obvious to me for a long time. But I guess there are a lot of blinkered types who think "Hispanic" means "dark hordes" or something. I have to suspect that they probably already know white Hispanic people, and that it just hasn't ever occured to them that they are, indeed, Hispanic.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This thread is so long and complicated, I'll apologize in advance even though I'm not quite sure what I've done. Fortunately Bells knows that I love 'er so hopefully she'll forgive me.
    Yeah okay, good for you. You have good judgment. Unfortunately a lot of people don't.

    For example, there are abused husbands in America. Some little boys are beaten by their mothers and like most of us they may grow up unconsciously looking for a wife who is very much like their mother. Obviously wife-on-husband abuse is far less prevalent than husband-on-wife abuse, but it does happen. When one of these husbands walks into a self-help group for domestic abuse, coming from his own background of course he doesn't think about the fact that probably ever other person in the room will be female. Most of the men who try it discover that the women don't believe them, start berating them and telling them to get the hell out. The few who do believe them call them chicken-shits and tell them to grow some cojones and go home.

    In other words, they go looking for help and instead they get more abuse.
    I would just be cautious. There truly are married couples whose evenings resemble a WWF battle. People call the pigs on them and they walk to the door together and say, "Good evening, how can we help you?" The answer is, "There has obviously been domestic violence here and the law [at least in Virginia] says that somebody is going to jail tonight. You can decide who."

    Yeah okay, they should keep the drapes pulled shut but sometimes a face gets smashed against the glass.
    People can be very squeamish about the whole concept of sexual abuse, especially when children are concerned. Sometimes they would rather let it go than have to come to terms with it. I think it taps into parts of us that we've never explored.
    And sometimes it can get somebody arrested and the arrest record will cost him his job and his whole family will end up on welfare. Accusations of domestic abuse, just like accusations of sexual assault, take on a life of their own that endures long after the accusation was dismissed as baseless, mistaken, or outright fraudulent.
    I wouldn't be surprised. In American cities, where more than 50% of us now live, people get very adept at literally not seeing or hearing what's going on next door. It's a coping mechanism.
    No. The fact that we still have police brutality is evidence that even with the psychological profiling, the training and the supervision, police still occasionally get carried away with their bad selves or simply make tragic mistakes. What then can we say about the probability that a civilian with none of that stuff will screw up, lose control, or start living out a fantasy?

    This is why civilians should never attempt to do police work, except in the rarest circumstances.
    Absolutely. He is required by law to do so!
    Indeed. Fortunately, however, there are places like that so they give us hope.
    You mean Phil Ochs exaggerated in the lyrics to "A Small Circle of Friends?"
    Townhouses (what the Brits call "row-houses") are proliferating in American cities. When you share a wall with your neighbor and you all share rights and responsibilities for a "commons," you gotta have an association.
    Wow, this thread has generated a great new idea. Unfortunately HOA's don't have much money in their treasury so it would probably not be worth the trouble. Ours is lucky to have $20K, because it was a mild winter and we didn't have to have the lanes plowed six times.
    No, it's still "white" vs. everybody else.
  21. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Indeed, and these are among the reasons that I will not ever consider purchasing a townhouse.

    Which is kind of a problem, since I live in an area with extremely high housing prices and so can't afford to buy a detached house.

    Actually, that's an interesting point - what are the legal liabilities of an HOA? Are the homeowners in the association shielded from liability? What about the individual officers in the HOA that made the actual decisions? It's not clear to me that there isn't a target for litigation there...

    I'm not so sure - for example, social expectations and outcomes for Asians seem to be rather similar to those for whites, these days. Better, actually.

    Unless, that is, you're including Asians in "white." Certain people make fairly persuasive arguments that the definition of "white" is simply "sociocultural majority," and really has nothing to do with appearance at all (these types deem, for example, the Huxtable family portrayed on the Cosby Show as "white.). But even if you don't in for all that, it does seem clear that the definition of whiteness has been expanding in recent years (and historically, c.f. Irish and Italians) what with the changes to the census regarding "Hispanic," etc.
  22. Balerion Banned Banned

    Is your chauvinism so strong that even after citing two instances of Australians being no better than Americans at turning a blind eye to their friends' and neighbors' problems that you can still say something so blindingly absurd as "Must be an Australian thing to actually help someone who needs it?"
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    This and That

    One can certainly take that from Bells' post, but I think if we compare that paragraph to what it responds to, we might see something else happening:

    • Two examples of what happens when people don't want to be busybodies.

    • Statement that sometimes being a busybody saves lives.

    • Bells is horrified by the idea that not wanting to be a busybody is an excuse for inaction in dire circumstances; the "must be an Australian thing" statement is a sarcastic point comparing her own unease with potential consequences to what she perceives as a lack thereof in the other.​

    I mean, it's not that I don't see what you're getting at, but I think that interpretation is contextually insensate.

    • • •​

    Meanwhile ....

    Two notes on garage doors and police.

    I actually know of a local subdevelopment where the CCRs forbid garage doors to remain open for more than two hours at a time.

    No, really.

    So, yeah, calling the cops for that is kind of ... ahem ... er ... um ... yeah.


    But my first thought was actually of an occasion a couple years ago on which I actually did call the police about an open garage door.

    The thing was open well into the night.

    For some reason, my associates sent me to knock on the front door. I wouldn't have answered if I was the old woman who lives alone in that house, either. So they figured out to send a woman who actually lived in the house where I was hosted. She did not answer.

    The thing is that it just looked creepy. This garage door that was never open suddenly gaping. We didn't think anything of it at three o'clock, or six. But by nine, as dusk fell, and an interior light flashed in the garage like the one in the movie ....

    Everyone seemed to think the police needed calling. Apparently they figured it should be me. I did point out, "You know, you do live here," before calling.

    And I even tried calling the non-emergency number. Yes, Seattle still has one. But I ended up going through five computer interactions with the phone system before it dumped me onto 911.

    And as I apologized to the 911 operator and explained that I tried to call the non-emergency line, the old woman came out and shut her garage door without ever looking at me.

    The 911 operator gave me his sympathy, chuckled along with me at the futility of the moment, and thanked me for at least being concerned.

    The alternative to that kind of embarrassment—being something of a busybody, and as a result frightening a reclusive elderly woman who hadn't figured out what was going on yet—is the ugly kind where they roll out the fly-drawn corpse of a woman who had fallen and hurt herself, and expired before anyone knew anything was wrong before lying there unknown days later. Or worse, I guess.

    But some things shouldn't be a hard choice. Sometimes, there is no flip of the coin. Sometimes, you just have to be a busybody. Hindsight says we were unnecessarily busybodies. Maybe we were right or wrong to have undertaken such concern at all. Maybe it shouldn't have been a hard call.

    So it goes.

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