There are two brutal, dangerous fantasies at play in the tragic – and completely avoidable – killing of Trayvon Martin, who was guilty of nothing more than walking “suspiciously” in a Florida neighborhood. The first was the delusional paranoia of George Zimmerman, a murderer against whom the fury of the public has – rightfully – turned. This was a man who sought danger around every corner and, inevitably, found it.
The second fantasy is perpetrated by the Sanford Police Department. After having failed in their basic policing duty to fully investigate the killing of an unarmed teenager – self-defense or not, the death of Martin is still homicide – Sanford police chief Bill Lee has had the audacity to suggest that he, and the police at large, has been unfairly criticized: we are the victims of a media witch hunt!
As The Atlantic rightly pointed out: “Our investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color. I know I can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn't mean anything to anybody.”
Oh woe is Lee! As a "white man in a uniform," he must surely be under constant scrutiny. This country – and the rabid anti-establishment, radical racist media – is always seeking to tear down the words and dignity of white men, especially those in uniform. Clearly, in our "post-racial" society, everyone’s first instinct is to actively distrust the words of this persecuted minority.
Leaving aside the tricky issue of race for a second, society has every right to hound Lee’s handling of the case. As new evidence emerges, it seems highly unlikely that Zimmerman was ever in any real danger; self-defense could not have been a valid reason for his actions, whatever “Stand Your Ground” laws might say. This was a man who actively left the safety of his vehicle to harass a teenager. Calls to 911 from several witnesses further paint a picture of a neighborhood bully, drunk on his own power, resorting to violent ends.
That all of this could be dismissed by the police in view of Zimmerman’s not-so “squeaky-clean” record points to a poisonously dangerous relationship between the neighborhood watch and the police department. Despite the ambiguity surrounding the Martin shooting, already evident that very night, the Sanford police were only too quick to shelter someone who was on the verge of becoming "one of the boys."
As many have already pointed out, race was probably a factor into the police’s decision and an ongoing issue within the Sanford police system. (Sanford being the sort of place that used to be, colloquially, subdivided into Old, New, and N***** towns) But beyond that – and giving the Sanford police some very generous benefit of the doubt – they are at least culpable of being lazy, naïve, incompetent, and criminally negligent.
Which would it be, Chief Lee? Negligence or racism?
Photo Credit: conner395