Investigation into killing of Trayvon Martin by Florida Latino is not matter of race, but of justice
The FBI and the US Department of Justice's announced last night that they will be opening an investigation into the killing of Florida teenager Travyon Martin, a controversial incident that has sparked national debate. Martin was shot last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer, 28-year-old Hispanic George Zimmerman.
Martin, 17, was walking from a convenience store in Sanford to the house of his father's girlfriend when Zimmerman first noticed him. According to the New York Times, Zimmerman was on high alert after several break-ins occurred. The volunteer called 911, reporting that the teenager looked like "he's up to no good or on drugs." The dispatcher told him that police were on the way and to remain in his car, but Zimmerman got out and followed the teen.
Soon afterwards, neighbors, who also made several calls to 911, reported hearing cries for help from a male voice and then a shot being fired. Martin, who was unarmed at the time, was later pronounced dead. Zimmerman, who said he acted in self-defense, has not been punished and no charges have been brought against him.
The killing has cause an outcry around the country, with Martin's family and other protesters accusing the Florida police of tailoring the investigation to Zimmerman's account of the story. Some have also called Zimmerman a racist who purposely targeted Martin because he was black. And the incident has created great tension in the community, causing students to hold rallies on the campus of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and outside the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, where prosecutors are reviewing the case to determine if charges should be filed.
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So is this whole terrible incident really just a matter of race? When it really comes down to it, I don't think so. Having a second federal investigation that could possibly lead to Zimmerman's conviction is not necessary just because Martin was black. It's necessary because Zimmerman's actions were, without a doubt, wrong and irresponsible –and those rash actions cost a young teenage boy his life.
I mean, so many questions have been left unanswered. Why did Zimmerman ignore the dispatcher's clear directions to stay in the car? What could have possibly prompted him to shoot the teen who, even if he did look suspicious, was unarmed and of a much smaller build than Zimmerman? But most importantly, why weren't charges ever filed?
Do I know if Zimmerman was really targeting Martin? No, I have no idea. Even if the two guys involved had been white, Asian, or purple, I would still believe that Zimmerman needs to be held accountable for his actions and that a much closer examination is needed. After all, the police's shaky handling of the initial investigation and Florida's deeply flawed self-defense laws are big part of why Zimmerman is free.
In the end though, the most important issue in this case is not one of race --it's that someone's child has died at the hands of a reckless man and that man needs to be punished for his harmful actions. That's the issue that the public and authorities should really be focusing on, not their skin color.
What do you think of the case? Is a new federal investigation necessary?
Images via Orange County Jail, AP