The Tragedy Of Trayvon Martin And George Zimmerman

May_Day_Immigration_March_LA68There are so many things wrong with the scenario that led to demonstrators in the streets yesterday. First I find it sad that a neighborhood could be targeted for break-ins and petty theft–repeatedly–without some kind of intervention by law enforcement. (In little over a year, police were called over 400 times; there were dozens of attempted break-ins, eight burglaries, nine thefts, and a shooting).

I also find it unsurprising that in a state that has a stand-your-ground law like Florida’s, there was a tragic shooting. Yes, tragic. No matter who thinks which party or what government agency or media handling or lawyer errors were at fault, the fact is that a seventeen-year-old young man died. That’s the worst part of all these events.

Yet I’m also disturbed by the way the media tried and convicted George Zimmerman before he’d been arrested–before anyone knew that his head had been bloodied; in other words, before all the facts came out. People had already taken sides, drawn their lines in the sand, and had made this a case of race.

That’s another thing that is sad about the events surrounding Trayvon’s death–race has once again been trumpeted as an endemic disease in America. This, after we elected an African-American, twice, to the office of President. Fact: not every confrontation between people of different races has something to do with race.

Add to all the sad events, the fact that most people apparently don’t understand how the legal system works in the US–that it has less to do with uncovering truth than it does with winning by playing according to a specified set of rules.

Another sad part of this saga is that people disregarded Trayvon’s parents’ wishes in the name of defending Trayvon. They ignored President Obama, too. But in the end, a number of them seized the opportunity to get their faces on TV and to have a good time parading in front of the media. I can’t help wondering how many demonstrators would have showed up if the cameras hadn’t been rolling. Be that as it may, the actions of a part of the demonstrators was nothing short of self-serving and criminal.

Yet a media person who had just reported about a group of people wandering onto a California freeway and stopping traffic, had the gall to say that the demonstration was law abiding. Behind her were approximately fifty to a hundred people walking down the middle of a downtown street.

This is how our media sees law abiding.

The media also reported “dozens of cities” where people were demonstrating, and “all across the country” people were protesting. Interestingly, the “dozens” was changed in the next news hour to “half a dozen,” with no admission of the incorrect number reported earlier.

In all, I never saw on the news shots, a group larger than a hundred to two hundred in any one place. I also never heard of a place where demonstrations were being held other than New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and … I’m leaving one out, I’m sure.

Somehow small groups can capture the attention of the media, which then blows up the event out of proportion by interviewing person after person who is part of the demonstration. Who was interviewing the people that thought George Zimmerman got a fair trial, that he had acted in self defense? Who was rallying Hispanic-Americans to defend the rights of one of their minority? Who was crying “racism” on his behalf?

Yes, Trayvon’s death was terrible. No one can deny that–even if he turned and attacked George Zimmerman. I can see that happening. In this same troubled neighborhood, why wouldn’t Trayvon think that he was being stalked by someone, perhaps with the intent to rob him? Why wouldn’t he take the initiative to protect himself? In a troubled area, it’s hard to imagine he’d do otherwise.

Is there a solution to this mess?

We need an overhaul of police procedures in high crime areas. We need a criminal justice system that is bent on getting to the truth (so no lingering suspicions and allegations can continue to haunt an innocent man). We need a media that is interested in truth more than in hype or in their own skewed way of looking at the world. We need people who are willing to forgive rather than seek revenge.

In short, we need changes in people’s hearts–from the criminal element that started the snowball rolling, right on down to the demonstrators who, in their efforts to get noticed, jeopardized the safety of countless people. No institutional fix is going to bring about the radical changes that need to take place. PEOPLE need to change, but sociology will tell you the odds are long for that happening.

Ah, but there is good news! There is a God in Heaven who longs to make a difference in people’s lives, who heals the brokenhearted, who sets the captive free, who saves and forgives and restores. Perhaps His Church needs to be about the Father’s business in a more pro-active way.

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6 Comments

  1. Hear, hear! That was excellent, Becky. May I suggest some proactive things? We can dare to intervene in so many ways!

    In some areas, you can volunteer to speak up on behalf of such delinquents as Trayvon in jail or prison. You have to be pretty adept at working with kids, to accomplish much, but coupled with prayer, that can be life-changing.

    Another opportunity is to continue Chuck Colson’s vision, and reach those small children, younger brothers and sisters, left at home, dreaming about the gangs. Summer camp is a marvelous way to interrupt that cycle, and so is Angel Tree, and the mission to incarcerated children overseas, some of whom are born in the prisons of the world, and never see the light of day, as a result, unless someone outside reaches inside.

    Some churches hold after-school programs and keep kids in protected and positive learning environments. There is a special group that pairs a volunteer tutor in the schools with an intercessor, who prays simply for one student!

    Child Evangelism Fellowship has won the right to minister in schools, and they can teach you their program, as well.

    There is a parent-run watch on the media and on the prime-time shows, that always needs support and encouragement, and there are Dove-edited versions of films available, to protect our children from an overly invasive media presence, which has managed to teach our children not only how to commit crimes, but how to laugh at ignoring the laws and lie about it and have everyone act as if there are no pipers to pay!

    Christian schools and daycares may be expensive, but how do you buy back your child’s heart?

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    • Peggy, I think these strategies are very good suggestions.

      Just to clarify a point–from what I read, Trayvon did not have an arrest record and had not been in jail. He had been suspended from school for things that are often precursors to more serious trouble, but he wasn’t “there” yet.

      There’s an organization that’s doing some really good work in a number of inner cities called World Impact. They’ve even started some Christian schools and are doing a lot of other exciting things.

      I watched the couple hundred “protesters” on TV the second night as they turned to open vandalism. It’s apparent to me we Christians have neglected high crime areas far too long!

      If nothing else, we can pray for God to break through and send hope and help, to rescue those in the prison of sin and the mess our society has made.

      Becky

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  2. Great post, Becky. The media’s reporting of this event was, as is typically, simply abysmal.

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    • Thanks for your encouragement. I agree that the media did a bad job from start to finish (though I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this yet). I can’t help but believe it’s because their bias is showing. I can’t help but wonder if they’d put the facts out from the beginning whether this would have never been treated as if it was about race.

      It was about two guys in a high crime area being suspicious of one another and believing they had to defend themselves against potential criminal activity. It’s horrible that a guy can’t walk down the street without someone thinking he might be casing a house or another guy can’t walk behind him without appearing to be stalking him.

      Why can’t the media report that very real story instead of manufacturing one that fits their preconceived liberal notions? We don’t have the kind of press a democratic society needs.

      Becky

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  3. Good post! It’s nice to read a post of yours I can agree with (well, most of it, at least). I’m also pleased to see you corrected the comment calling Martin a delinquent, because that kind of statement seems to be part of the other skewed view of the world. People seem to go for one side or the other and accept anything they’re told from their camp.

    It’s interesting that you haven’t mentioned anything about gun control. Do you not find it relevant that so many tragedies like this occur because private citizens wield deadly weapons at their leisure?

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    • Thanks, Violetwisp. I agree–people seem to accept their camp’s view without thinking things out, and that only polarizes us further. Ironically, as some have pointed out, George Zimmerman is a registered Democrat who voted for President Obama, so it’s odd that he’s become someone conservatives rally behind.

      I didn’t mention anything about gun control because I don’t think guns are the issue. I personally hate guns and see no reason a regular citizen should own an assault weapon. People also overlook the fact that the right to bear arms preserved in the Constitution was specifically so that the people could overthrow an unjust government. But passing stricter gun laws doesn’t eliminate gun violence–see for example, Chicago.

      The thing that frustrates me the most with the ongoing discussion is the fact that no one is addressing the ongoing crime in that neighborhood. There should never have been a need for a self-styled security guard or a policeman advising him to get a gun. But no. Our police are too busy to deal with “petty crime.”

      That’s a travesty. Those people who were robbed and had their homes violated didn’t look at those crimes as petty, I can almost guarantee.

      Small losses to poor people are just as big to them as big losses to rich people, and it’s time the authorities stop putting a dollar sign on crimes.

      Becky

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