Kevin Foley: Justice needed in Trayvon Martin tragedy
by Kevin Foley
Guest Columnist
April 13, 2012 12:00 AM | 1301 views | 14 14 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Trayvon Martin tragedy sparked a firestorm of debate in Barack Obama’s “post-racial” America leading, 45 days later, to an arrest and charge of second degree murder.

The details of the Feb. 26 shooting remain sketchy. Police say George Zimmerman, a cop wannabe and self-appointed, armed neighborhood watchman called a police dispatcher to report a shady character hanging around his apartment community.

When he began following the “suspect” the dispatcher told Zimmerman not to, recordings reveal. Next, screams for help were heard on another police recording and then gun shots.

The episode brought to mind a novel I published in 2008, “Where Law Ends,” a title that might also fit for the Trayvon Martin case.

I tell the fictionalized story of the Montana Vigilantes who conducted a vicious reign of terror in a remote corner of the American frontier in 1863.

Like Zimmerman, the vigilantes of old were self-appointed. They considered themselves upstanding citizens whose duty it was to maintain law and order even though a sheriff had been duly elected for that purpose.

So the vigilantes kept a sharp eye out for those they considered disreputable. When they spotted one, they might banish the “offender” but more often than not, they just threw a stout rope over a tree limb and strung their victim up.

It wasn’t crime the Montana Vigilantes were worried about when they policed Virginia City and Bannock, although that was their excuse. It was the presence of foreigners, drunkards, suspected criminals and “undesirables” attracted to the wild gold mining camps of the region.

Along comes George Zimmerman 150 years later in the truest gun-slinging vigilante tradition. Last year he called the local police nearly 50 times to report suspicious goings on and people, most of whom were black. “Undesirables,” as the vigilantes might have said.

Trayvon Martin was just a 17-year-old high school student who apparently got into some trouble at school. It happens to a lot of kids. It happened to me and probably you. He was minding his own business, walking to his home after buying candy, wearing a hooded sweatshirt because it was raining, not that any of this should matter.

What made Trayvon suspicious was that he was “WWB,” walking while black.

Sanford police should have arrested Zimmerman immediately after the killing of Trayvon, and they should have conducted a thorough investigation of the shooting. They did neither.

Zimmerman, whose father is a retired judge, was released after he gave police his account of what happened. Case closed, or so the cops and Zimmerman hoped.

I was mesmerized by Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, who, at a news conference following the arrest of George Zimmerman, said, “A heart has no color.” That might be a better title for whatever book comes out of this near miscarriage of justice.

Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, must have agreed with her because he told Trayvon’s parents, “We have to get this right” when he met with them just before he appointed special prosecutor Angela Corey to investigate the case.

Corey admitted at her news conference that “information (about the shooting) was leaked that should have never been released,” alluding to Sanford police wrongdoing, compounding a botched and maybe racially biased case.

So now it comes down to a trial or a plea bargain, which really isn’t the point. What matters now is that justice will be served for Trayvon Martin and his family. Some 45 days after prosecutors say he was murdered.

Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.
Comments
(14)
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marketing ploy
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April 14, 2012
what a way to peddle his book...all the while doing the same thing to Zimmerman that he says Zimmerman has done..wow
what the
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April 15, 2012
Yer right marketing ploy, why would anyone use a book they published as an example when they could use FOX & FRIENDS!
Kevin Foley
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April 16, 2012
Marketing Ploy (whoever you are) - Yes, I'm sure MDJ readers will send me soaring to the top of the NYT Best Seller list. Why don't you re-read the column and try to learn something if that's within your capabilities.

Maatf
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April 13, 2012
Excellent column.

What we do know is that Trayvon Martin would not have been killed if Zimmerman had obeyed the 911 people. Zimmerman was told not to follow Martin and he did anyway. So a kid sipping a bottle of tea and chewing skittles was shot by a man with a gun.

Kenneth D. Parrott
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April 15, 2012
Please either read the transcript of the 911 call or listen to the full recording (Google it) and you will discover that he was told "you don't have too follow him" and not "don't follow him" as so many have misquoted. Then study the layout of the gated community they were in. Then decide if you had been in Zimmerman's place, and trying to "do your job" while awaiting the arrival of police, what you might have done.

None of us know the full story of exactly what happened that night and attention seeking, self promoters like Al and Jesse, and now apparently Mr. Foley have muddied the waters quite a bit. Some facts are indeed very clear; #1 a young boy is dead. The truth needs to be determined and made clear; and all of these disgusting self promoters need to get back under their rocks and let the legal system do it's job. Watch it carefully, but let it work.

I do agree with Foley regarding Sybrina Fulton's comment "the heart has no color." That wonderful woman is an angelic model for us all, and if hearts did indeed have colors, hers would probably be purest gold. She is such a beautiful spirit, and my heart goes out to her.
anonymous
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April 13, 2012
"What made Trayvon suspicious was that he was “WWB,” walking while black."

What make this article suspicious is that the author was "WWB", Writing While Biased".

why not
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April 17, 2012
In Zimmerman's place trying to "do your job"? What was his job? He wasn't a cop, he was a police wannabe and a member of a neighborhood watch! His job was to "watch and report" suspicious behavior to the police. He was supposed to be unarmed, had absolutely no arrest authority or any more right to pursue, confront or detain anyone than you do.
Thermidor
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April 13, 2012
A young American died needlessly in Florida. This is not the fictional novel that you are flogging; it is a tragic and completely avoidable tragedy. This was not some vigilante lynching, nor a premeditated murder cleverly planned so it would be monitored by police radio. It was the result of stupidity on one part and lack of caution on the other.

The press, the special prosecutor and even the Florida governor have gone out of their way to assume Zimmerman’s absolute guilt and Travon’s complete innocence. Perhaps the officials’ response is thought necessary to prevent further trouble, but it does not look very much “innocent until proven guilty”.

Everyone knows that had the racial roles been reversed, there would have been only a brief media story and no visitors would have come from Chicago, New York or Washington D. C. if Travon had been the shooter, would President Obama have mentioned that if he had had a son he would have looked like Travon? By the way, everyone knows Travon’s name, but how many know that Zimmerman’s name is George?

I don’t think that George Zimmerman is innocent. He is certainly guilty of ignorance and delusional behavior. Any non-official person who carries around a loaded nine mm handgun while walking at night should expect that the weapon will eventually be fired, likely resulting in someone’s death. It is possible that a jury will be able to discover the actual events of that night. When (or if) that happens, “George” should certainly be held responsible for whatever was his role of causing Travon’s death.

This could awful confrontation could have been avoided had the parents been more protective of their 17 year old, or if someone (anyone) had relieved George Zimmerman of his weapon and his illusions.

Novelists deal in fiction and hope to profit by it: Correspondents should base their writing on facts and not self-aggrandizement. Connecting a tragic death to your preconceived pattern of human behavior is obnoxious.

Kevin Foley
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April 14, 2012
Thermidor (whoever you are) I can assure you I never "profited" from my novel, nor am I flogging it here. I merely draw the parallel for the purposes of causing readers like you to think.

Zimmerman behaved like a vigilante: self appointed and armed, imposing his uninformed judgement and not letting the duly elected law enforcers impose their judgement. An innocent 17-year-old died as a result.

After Trayvon was gunned down, it took 45 days for something to happen that would have taken 45 minutes if the roles were reversed.

I note you and others in this forum engage in anonymous, personalized attacks on authors when you read things with which you disagree. That's pretty juvenile and, frankly, pretty ignorant.
JustAQuestion?
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April 13, 2012
This is truly a screwed up situation that could have been avoided if the cops had just handled correctly.

Citizens have a right to expect that from its' LE organizations.

Obviously the incident itself was regrettable. It was also avoidable, but both Zimmerman and Martin used bad judgement and what happened, happened.

But what occurred afterward is where things really went awry.

I think that almost any LE officer would agree with that.

Zimmerman screwed up, Martin screwed up, but most of all the Sanford Police screwed up. None of that can be undone.

Now the entire country is being traumatized by this incident.

It is what we do from this point forward that really matters.

anonymous
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April 14, 2012
You are right Martin screwed up! Who in their right mind would walk to a 7/11 to buy something? Who in their right minds would walk through a residential where they were a resident? Who in their right minds would have their heads covered when it was raining? All of this could have been prevented if Martin has never ever went outside his house or was white.
JustAQuestion?
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April 14, 2012
What I meant was that the confrontation could have been avoided if Zimmerman and/or Martin had chosen to avoid it.

It sounds like they both had the choice of going their seperate ways.

Was Zimmerman a stupid, overzealous, self appointed " LE wanna be" who was way out of bounds in his actions?

Obviously.

But Martin apparently felt like he had to "man up" so he could brag to his homeys how he had made whitey pay for disrespecting him.

Bad decision making on both their parts. Bad outcome.

One is dead and the other will probably do prison time and likely end up dead or wish he were dead by the time this is all over.

Life is tough enough as it is, but it is really tough if you are stupid.

In this case they were both stupid!!

Bill Millette
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April 13, 2012
Shouldn't we wait until all the evidence is in?? I haven't read or seen enough to make a decision.
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