There has now been an arrest in the murder of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder. This of course is the case down in Florida, where the 17-year-old Martin was killed by Zimmerman. That fact is not disputed. The case has galvanized the country and appropriately caused great concern for us all. Never should any family have to live through such a tragedy. The sad truth, though, is that there may be significantly more pain and suffering than the loss of life of this young man.
What is known is that Martin was in an area in which Zimmerman was patrolling on behalf of some sort of neighborhood watch. We do know that Zimmerman made a 911 call and suggested to police that Martin was up to no good. We know that the police told Zimmerman to back off and await their arrival. We know that he did not wait; a scuffle ensued and Martin ended up dead. We know the police did not arrest Zimmerman at the time. We know that the family of Martin, devastated as any family would be, demanded that something be done. These are all the facts that have been made public. Now, it is what is not known that may exacerbate this tragedy.
We do not know what really took place after the 911 call. We do not know for sure why Zimmerman killed Martin. We do not know what Martin was doing that night. We do not know whether this horrendous event was sparked by illegal or suspicious activity by Martin. We do not know if Zimmerman is a racist or a nutcase.
What has taken place in regard to this case with the media, public officials and others is only making worse the tragedy in Florida. Because they all think they have to rush to judgment on what happened and why. It’s instant opinion. We have seen this before and they never learn to wait for the facts or to give cautious assessment to motives and reasons.
A Florida congresswoman has already concluded that Zimmerman, the police and the prosecutors are corrupt, incompetent and likely to be racists. No less a person than President Obama has insisted on commenting on this case — and rather bizarrely too! One would have thought he would have learned the last time.
Then there is the omnipresent Al Sharpton, who feels he must take the first flight out whenever a controversy can put him in front of the camera.
I am not saying that a serious despicable crime was not committed. Nor that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense.
I am not saying that we do not have stupid vigilantes running around playing cops and making up their own robbers. I am not saying that we do not have racial issues in this country.
I am saying we have a lot of jumping to conclusions here. We have a trampling of constitutional rights, maybe on both sides. And we have improper influence from the media and the politicians. Their instant opinions are no more than that.
What I am saying is that we should all sit back and allow the evidence to be gathered and presented.
Let the case be tried in the law courts, not in the courts of the always-fickle public opinion. Only after there has been a thorough sifting of the evidence and a judicial determination should we make our own judgments. On this case and its implications for our country.
Jon Edney is a former El Centro city councilman.
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