Trayvon Martin Case: Perception and the Law

Friday, March 23, 2012

Columbia University Law School professor, and columnist for The Nation magazine, Patricia Williams discusses the difficulties when perceptions of threats are protected under the law--in the context of the Trayvon Martin case and the Stand Your Ground law in Florida as well as in the Dharun Ravi conviction. 


Professor Patricia Williams

Comments [72]

Political Pop

JUst saying.... IF colored people wanted to take over usa we could...

Mar. 26 2012 02:49 PM
lcruz from brooklyn

while it should make a different, perhaps if we saw a picture of Zimmerman when he was like 17 years old there would my more sympathy towards him, after all the image of trayvon is of a much younger kid than of his actual age when he was shot.

Mar. 26 2012 10:36 AM
Linda from Brooklyn, NY

Racism is thriving in the United States.... It is indicated in some of these comments being made here on this blog...

Mar. 25 2012 01:39 PM
Chris Garvey from Amityville

Criminals, lunatics and the mentally unstable can always acquire guns, especially if they run the government. See Joe Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.
Even without using conventional ammunition, a variety of effective guns can be cheaply built from hardware and plumbing supplies, using various alternative propellants such as electricity, compressed air, propane, hairspray, or others.
A gun was found in the possession of a prisoner in England, where guns are totally banned.
Laws can't disarm evil people. Laws can only disarm the law-abiding.
In the 20th Century, evil individuals committed only 18 million murders, while evil governments killed about 180 million of their own citizens, not including those killed by war, which raises the total to about a quarter billion.
Leo from Queens will never find a safe world, but he can make it more dangerous by disarming good people, who might otherwise defend him from criminals, lunatics and the mentally unstable, such as Tim Sullivan, the corrupt lunatic who passed NY's gun law in 1911.

Mar. 24 2012 11:07 AM
Leo from Queens

Chris Garvey and CaptainDRG : You validate my point. These massacres occured because the gun traffickers ( I.e., Gun manufaturers, NRA) have made it easy for all lunatics, criminals and hateful individuals to acquire guns that can massacre as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Why continue to make it easy for criminals, lunatics and the mentally unstable to acquire guns? is the expectation that people will commute to work with a gun in their briefcases and purses and that kids will go to school packing heat?

What can possibly go wrong?

I get that uneasy feeling I see these National Guards in crowded subway and train stations with these long automatic weapons.. What do you think would happen if someone started shooting with a gun or a terrorist decided to blow himself up? More dead people than would have been killed in the first place. I don't feel any safer

Mar. 23 2012 09:59 PM

@Patricia Jacobsen You said: "There was racial profiling here not only by the shooter, but by the 911 operator who almost immediately asked - Is he hispanic or black?"

You misheard the tape or misread the transcript. The 911 operator asked if he was "white, hispanic, or black." There is plenty to be angry about without perpetuating untruths.

Mar. 23 2012 08:34 PM
Deron from New york city

As a parent I see all children as my own, I cannot make a separation emotionally. There is a failure on the part of the police to be an example of a law abiding citizen, the run red lights, park any ware, and as the keepers of the law one should be the ultimate example of the law or you are viewed as a hypocrite. The police harass the youth regularly especially black youths and this acceptance embolden Mr Zimmerman. Bigotry and firearms are a volition mixture, the lack of sensativity that allows one person to view themselves as better than another because the other is less than human is the justification to brutality world wide, compassion is the answer. To walk in another shoes and feel there pain will cure the cancer of hatred.

Mar. 23 2012 01:45 PM

If you listen to zimmerman's 911 call-he sounds cool ,calm and collected and then gets a bit perturbed that the operator told him where the police would meet him.He tells the operator that no he will be at another location- unwilling to take orders from the 911 operator as he has plans of his own regarding trey. His call was a caluclated cover for his pre meditated desire to murder this boy. Why or when he decided to murder him we don't know but the only "incident" that occurred was zimmerman's hunting down and murdering trey. The tape reveals trey screaming for help.Why ws he screaming? That is grounds for arresting zimmerman as his shots followed trey'screaming for help. He, zimmerman is a cold blooded murderer and that is the gist of it. He also made racist comments in the 911 tape .This is a premeditated murder and a hate crime.Pure and simple.

Mar. 23 2012 01:40 PM
Chris Garvey from Amityville

Gun-Free Zones Copr. 2000 C.Garvey

The observation tower of the Empire State Building was a gun-free zone.

The Texas Restaurant, where Suzanna Gratia-Hupp watched her parents
and 21 others executed,
while her gun sat, as required by law, in her car,
was a gun-free zone.

COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL was a gun-free zone.

Long Island Railroad 5:33 to Hicksville,
was a gun-free zone,
for all except for crazy Colin Ferguson, alone.

Hitler's Germany, for all but government Nazis,
Was a gun-free zone.

Parts of the South were gun free zones,
But only for slaves.

East Timore was a gun-free zone.
And was helpless to resist Suharto's invasion,
And 25 years of Indonesian genocide.

The 767 Flights of Nine Eleven, from Boston to the World Trade Center, were gun-free zones.

The death toll of gun-free zones:
thousands, millions, and it accrues,

Massacres at shooting ranges, gun shows:
But that's not news.

Mar. 23 2012 01:00 PM

Those schools were all Gun-Free Zones. The killers ignored the gun laws.
Only the victims obeyed the gun laws.
That's why they made such good helpless victims.

Mar. 23 2012 12:58 PM
Leo from Queens

CaptainDRG: You must actually live in a parallel universe with it's own sense of reality. TRUE, crime has been going down for the past 15 years thanks to improved police tactics; decline in drug use and programs to help troubled youth and putting dangerous criminals away.
but gun violence has been steadily increasing and we have had a surge in the number of young people being executed and massacred across schools and colleges. Yet none of the NRA board members and board members of the gun manufacturers are being held responsible for intimidating and buying off politicians so they can more freely traffic in guns and make it readily avaialable to organized crime; the mentally unstable and prejudiced individuals

Mar. 23 2012 12:50 PM

Florida's Right-to-Carry gun licensing has resulted in a steady decline in violent crime.
As have such laws in 41 states. See Lott, "More Guns, Less Crime" (whose research made him alter his intended title of "More Guns, More Crime").
Zimmerman's misuse of his gun is tragic. He may be civilly or criminally liable for his action. But his misguided vigilantism is rare enough to make national news.
On balance, more lives are saved by arming victims than by disarming them.
Most self defense is accomplished by merely displaying the gun, at which point the aggressor departs.
It is not possible to disarm all those willing to break laws to obtain guns.
Only the law abiding are easily disarmed by gun laws.

Mar. 23 2012 12:13 PM
Christiane M

Listening to the news and the many opinions the last few days, it seems, that for most people this case is about racism, the Florida Law regarding self-defense and poor training for police officers. These are all important issues, but I believe, that it does not matter how this case will be resolved, it will not resolve the actual issue, which is the huge problem in this country regarding shootings of innocent people. The true problem is America's gun law! I do not understand why the gun law does not get discussed at all. The news are full of school shootings, killings of innocent people and gun related accidents. What does it take for politicians and law makers to strip the population of all guns? People would not need a gun for protection, if nobody had a gun. What is a guy on neighborhood watch walking around with a gun?

I must admit that I have not realized that especially black young men have to be educated by their parents on how to behave, when dealing with authorities or with anybody for that matter, because anybody might have a gun. Even though, correct behavior might still not save his life. People still harbor hatred; policemen might use their guns too fast, when under stress; and how can one prove that a person did not feel attacked? As long as Amercia is armed, anybody is in danger of being shot, but especially minorities.

Mar. 23 2012 11:38 AM
Lawrence H. McFarland from Carmel, NY

Of course you invited a guest who said no matter what happened to Twanny (sic) Brawley, a crime was committed.
No wonder she is invited on your show and op-eds for the NY Times.

Mar. 23 2012 11:34 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Bill from Central NJ:
As hard as it may be to rid oneself of learned prejudices (as Sandra says), your son's fears are in no way "reasonable". Perhaps you live a segregated life, that you need to change, for your son's sake. Like too many others, you definitely need to be educated.

Mar. 23 2012 11:15 AM

To those who question the relevance of this discussion to the national dialogue, reframe the question: what if this had been my son, my husband or my father, stalked and gunned down for being perceived as a dangerous interloper, an outsider (although we should not forget that the gated community in which Trayvon Martin was killed was integrated). Kudos to Brian and his eloquent guest, Patricia Williams, for their thoughtful discussion of Trayvon's murder by a self-appointed neighborhood vigilante. From all accounts (911 calls, Trayvon's call to his girlfriend - he said he would just walk away slowly when she advised him to run from his stalker), Trayvon was hunted down and killed, the incident was covered up by the county police, and justice must be served. Thank you Brian, for giving Trayvon's murder the attention it deserves. Please continue the conversation on air - and perhaps live in the Greene Space?

Mar. 23 2012 11:11 AM
The Truth from Becky

No one walks in the suburbs? No they just jog...doesn't matter! You have the right not to be killed while walking down any street in AMERICA!

Mar. 23 2012 11:10 AM
bernie from bklyn

let's not make this more than it is idiot in an idiotic state that murdered an innocent kid. the rush to make everything into a race issue is intellectually dishonest.
and just to keep the race rhetoric in context, can we ever talk about about black men on the streets of nyc target white people every single day- robberies, assaults, gun violence and threats. every single day. white hipster kids are targeted every day in nyc and for some reason, that's not considered race related. that's because black people can never be racist, right? so if you want to pull the race card in these crimes than can we see the big picture please?

Mar. 23 2012 11:08 AM
Sandra from Essex County

I am a white woman who has spent most of my adult life working to live a life of non-discrimination at work, within my family, and in my community. Many years ago I was mugged outside of my upper West Side apartment by a man who happened to be African-American. A couple of weeks later, a Latina co-worker, who walked to work along the same route as I did, asked me why I crossed the street every time a Black man came along. I was horrified; I had no idea that I was doing that. It was completely unconscious behavior on my part. I am not saying this to justify my actions nor those of anyone else. I certainly would not have pulled a gun on any of these men. My point is that it is incredibly difficult, even with the best of intentions, to entirely rid oneself of prejudices learned as a small child.

Mar. 23 2012 11:03 AM
Leo from Queens

John A:I perfectly understand that risks that police officers face every day. I have friends who are cops. - The problem with the NYPD is that they are not being properly trained and the 'leadership' of the NYPD is pursuing tactics that unnecesarily put the lives of police officers in further danger. -
I understand that people should be 'trained' on proper behaviour when dealing with cops.. but the edginess is primarily created by the police officers themselves.
if you look at the case of the kid executed in the Bronk, the police, ACCORDING TO THEM, was surveiling a store known for selling drugs.. The kid came out of the store.. they started following him. The kid saw these guys dressed in regular clothes following him.. There is a video from a security camera that shows him rushing up the steps of his house; taking a key out and going into HIS house. Some seconds later it shows the police officer coming up to the door, kicking the door in and going into the apt in the house and then inside (no video) kicking in the bathroom door while hte grandmother is there and executing the kid in the bathroom.
There are so many things wrong with this picture - But let's look at it from a police officer's perspective - you suspect the kid is dealing or buying pot, you follow him to his home.. you barge in with fear for your life not kwowing if this house was a drug then with other men with guns there - isn't it stupid for a police officer to barge into a house alone not knowing what's behind and unknowingly put his life in danger?
He could have taken note of the house and the kid and come back with a warrant or call backup and ask the kid to come out instaed of barging in on his own. It was reckless on this part and AGAIN where in the criminal code does possessing a small amount of Pot qualifies you for an extra judicial execution?
where in the criminal code do police officers have a right be be police officer; prosecutor; judge; jury and executioner?

Mar. 23 2012 10:59 AM
Jennifer from Bloomfield

Thank you Kim!!!! I felt the same way. I was very upset about the comment Bryan made about The President reading Patricia Williams blog. It was a very offensive (perhaps unintentional) remark and shows how people do not see the President as an African American father who suffers as do the rest of us with the sadness and fear of death coming to our children because of the color if their skin. I would like Bryan to do a segment/dhow on this an open it up to discussion and self-examination on his part!

Mar. 23 2012 10:59 AM
Bill from Central NJ

Where is the discussion (with respect to 'reasonable') that a significant portion of the culture for 'people of color' glamorizes violence, agressive behavior, gangland style use firearms and so on. As sad as it is to post this, taken as a whole with crime stats, I really do think fears on the part of Zimmerman can be born out as 'reasonable' (though his pursuit of Trayvon was definately not, and seems a blatant act of agression). Sure, there needs to be 'understanding' and 'healing' between societal factions, but that simply isn't reality today. It sounds cruel and judgemental, but not 'unreasonalbe' to write these six words: 'My son reasonably fears Trayvon Martin'

Mar. 23 2012 10:54 AM

I was listening when Bryan commented on President Obama's statement about the case. Bryan, the president didn't need to read someone else's comments to think that Trayvon could have been his kid. That thought occurred to every black adult in America. It is a normal rite of passage for black kids to be told what to be careful of when it comes to authorities because of their race. And you can bet most parents of teens have had a refresher conversation since this situation happened. I know I will be mentioning it when I see my nieces and nephews this weekend!

Mar. 23 2012 10:51 AM

Besides being a race issue this is also a gun issue.

Clearly, Zimmerman was looking for trouble and clearly itching to try out his shiny new gun.

He CHASED the victim DOWN!

If you've got it in your pocket, you WILL be excited to use it - that's why a borderline psychotic gets a gun, in the first place!

Mar. 23 2012 10:48 AM
Leo from Queens.

To Nathan Gilbert: This 'stand your ground' law is so misguided and misleading and the way it's written in Florida it basically allows you to kill anyone at anytime for any reason. I understand that if someone attacks you or someone invades your car or your home that you have a right to defend yourself if you can.
What this law allows is for me to go anywhere, bully or confront somebody, and if that person reacts in any way that is not submissive or docile, (this is code for ensuring that people of color know their place and know how to properly behave as in the good old days of slavery in the South)then I have a 'right' to stand my gound and execute that person because I can reasonably claim that my life was in danger because this person was confronting me.
And for police officers to take the aggresor's word at face value and not make an attempt to get the facts is very troubling and indicates that this law was passed to intimidate and keep certain people in their place.!

Mar. 23 2012 10:46 AM
John A.

Jerry Korten,
I was having problems with someone hitting my car so left it behind to talk to him; good to know. The man did in fact threaten to deck me.
Leo from Queens,
I called police just this week. They had to warn me more than once to not put my hands into my pockets. The men are on watch for their lives much of the time. If the kid ducked out behind a door, police were definitely up on watch that he could've just picked up a weapon. Good rule of thumb: do not evade.

Mar. 23 2012 10:44 AM

Excellent show, excellent guest.

Thank you, Brian.

Mar. 23 2012 10:43 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Everyone knows that black crime/ incarceration rates is a problem.

George Zimmerman killed an unarmed kid that he pursued for no good reason and the police let him go, without an investigation. Zimmerman still walks free. Apparently, too many people are/were unclear that several things about this scenario are problems. Ergo, the need for international attention.

Mar. 23 2012 10:42 AM
Marty-Ann Kerner

Thank you for an excellent show, yet again. As a mother of two white boys, I also tried to educate them about how to behave with police, but not with everyone. I often was aware that had they been black they would have had episodes that could have turned awful. Every child could be a Trayvon Martin and every boy could look like him to a person like Zimmerman.

Mar. 23 2012 10:41 AM

john from office ~

She is fairly "articulate", though...

Mar. 23 2012 10:40 AM

Before you bring up the Dharun Ravi case, it would be smart to get clear on the facts Brian. Normally a big fan of yours but along with the "professor" you guys continue to perpetuate falsehoods while crying about every other poor kid who got killed or offed themselves. Just as long as they aren't Asian. Is it only okay when the geeky skinny Asian kid gets victimized? Shame on you and shame on society for being tacitly ok with this. The NJ verdict proved it and you and the professor perpetuate it. smh

Mar. 23 2012 10:39 AM
Leo from queens

Tom P : NOPE, they did not take his gun away.
The kid had a cell phone and the cell phone hasn't been produced.
the Police made no attempt to look at hte cell phone logs to identify the kid and just took the body to the morgue
The Police made no attempt to call EMS or take the body to a hospital
The police put the body in a morgue and made no attempt to identify or contact the family. The father found out only after reporting him missing and they went to his house to show him a picture of his son's face with blood coming out of his mouth so he could identify him.
There was NO attempt to investigage anything - This kid was treated as an animal you just happen to run over on the highway - move the body away; dispose of it and move on.

Mar. 23 2012 10:39 AM

john from office ~

It must be the color that makes 'em so stupid...

Mar. 23 2012 10:39 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well John - being educated doesn't make one immune from being a victim

Mar. 23 2012 10:38 AM

john from office ~

You're right, how can "they" all be so stupid??

Mar. 23 2012 10:38 AM
Patricia Jacobsen from bklyn, new york

There was racial profiling here not only by the shooter, but by the 911 operator who almost immediately asked - Is he hispanic or black? This young boy was killed for walking black. Makes me wonder why we don't have a holacaust museum for all the African Americans who were killed on our soil by white americans, and while we are at it, for the Native Americans slaughtered by the invading forces who then became americans.

- We delude ourselves and think we delude the rest of the world by saying we are a democracy and a free country. I am a white italian/american woman and am disgusted and ashamed by the racism here. I find it difficult to hold my head up high when travelling out of the United States.

Mar. 23 2012 10:37 AM
Nathan Gilbert

I don't see a problem with the "stand your ground law" it only ensures the right of someone who is threatened with great bodily harm to defend themselves without having to think "have I made an attempt to leave" It does not allow one to pursue the supposed threat.

Mar. 23 2012 10:36 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Becky - you know that is not true. So-called black "leaders" simply don't get the same political capital from "advocating" for black victims of black crime, as they do from cases like this.

Mar. 23 2012 10:34 AM
john from office

Interesting how even an educated African American has the victim mind set

Mar. 23 2012 10:33 AM
Lonnie from Brooklyn!!!

It's the notion in the White American Psyche that the Black Man is supposed to 'Submit' and behave like a prisoner whenever a Police Officer appears. Something a White Man is NEVER expected to be.

Also-- I often try to correct people when they say Black 'Male'. It's Black Men. It's Black Boys. It's Black Sons. MALE is Prison Terminology. It's even WORSE when Black MOTHERS say it. Say: "My Son." Don't Say: "My Male Child"

White people never refer to their children as "My White Male child." They say: "My Son."

Mar. 23 2012 10:32 AM
Bernard from Bronx

Based on Zimmerman's 911 tape I would reasonably say that he had an anti-black frame of mind. Notice his sneering use of the phrase "black male"; his opinion that "they always get away with me" lead me to believe that Zimmerman was waiting to explode on any black male to show that they wouldn't get away with it as far as he was concerned.

Mar. 23 2012 10:32 AM
Leo from queens

John. you are trying to just pigeonhole this execution as just something related to neighborhood watch groups - This is part of a bigger pattern of keeping certain people in their places by constantly questioning them about what they are doing as they go about their business. There is definite a pattern and in many cases, kids who might not be angels - let's say the kid executed in the Bronk last month for having a small amount of pot - are killed and the media and even civil rights champions ignore it because you can't argue for the life of someone who is not sqeekie clean.
Where is the law that says that a black kids should be executed for possessing a small amount of pot? yet white young men smoke and consume drugs at a higher rate but police officers don't feel that is a problem.

Mar. 23 2012 10:31 AM
Susan from Brooklyn

My six words? Staples: "Black Men and Public Space."
Staples published this essay in 1986. Everyone should be reading it today

Mar. 23 2012 10:30 AM
real nyer

I think you're making this more complicated than it is and giving Zimmerman unnecessary excuses. Self defense is if YOU are in immediate, inescapable threat. Martin was running away...where is the threat to Zimmerman?

Mar. 23 2012 10:30 AM
Tom P from NYC

Zimmerman has not been arrested, but did they at least take his gun(s) away from him?

Mar. 23 2012 10:30 AM
Stephan Cox from Manhattan

Is it too off topic to bring up the fact that Trayvon Martin would likely not be dead if George Zimmerman weren't licensed to have a concealed weapon?

Mar. 23 2012 10:30 AM
Melanie from Staten Island

Thanks to Prof. Williams for bringing such eloquence to this issue. To me, this is obviously a race-based crime. Zimmerman should be held accountable for his crime. If it were a white woman in a hoodie, how Zimmerman is being treated would be completely different. It's shocking to me that this isn't transparent to the general public.

I was in a neighborhood watch program for a short time in Syracuse, New York, because my neighborhood was suffering from car break-ins. My car had been broken into, in fact. At the last meeting I attended, a police officer said we should call if we saw anyone suspicious, and somehow it was made clear that people of color on our block was suspicious. A few nights before, I had watched a young African-American kid ride his bike in circles around my block in the evening, and I so I asked if that would be considered "suspicious." The police officer said "Yes, definitely. You should call that in."

"Just for riding around?" I asked.


I was shocked. It seemed racist then, it seems racist now. It reminded me of those dystopian Ray Bradbury stories where a man is arrested when he is out for a casual walk. I never went back to one of those meetings. That is not a culture I wanted to align myself with in any way.

Mar. 23 2012 10:29 AM
Clare from manhattan

Why are we talking about "presumed innocence"? Don't you have to be charged for a presumption of innocence or guilt to be relevant?

Mar. 23 2012 10:29 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

John from NYC: So should black males be subject to suspicion, and aggression based on that suspicion, for being black and male?

Mar. 23 2012 10:29 AM

Being black can get you killed. That is a fact of life and the sad state of afairs in this country.

Mar. 23 2012 10:29 AM
The Truth from Becky

The outrage is the same from the community concerning Black youth on Black youth crime, it is just that the MEDIA doesn't find this interesting enough to broadcast.

Mar. 23 2012 10:29 AM
Amy from Manhattan

You don't have to be a parent to be conscious of this. I live in a very mixed building, & I start worrying about my neighbors' black or Latino sons when they get old enough to "fit the description." (Here it's more a question of the police than of neighborhood watch members, for the reasons Brian's showed covered yesterday.)

Mar. 23 2012 10:29 AM
Theresa from New Rochelle

My kid (college aged teenager white) regularly gets stopped by the local police especially if he's with one of his black friends. He's become very cynical about the law. But he's also gotten a pretty good sense of what it's like to be walking while black.

Mar. 23 2012 10:29 AM
Linda from NJ

If a creepy white guy in an SUV followed me as I walked home, and then approached me, assuming I couldn't call for help or panicked and didn't, I'd fight like hell, no matter how he identified himself (if he wasn't a police officer).

Mar. 23 2012 10:28 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

If you are a black male, you're probably 1000% likely to be killed by another black male. This sort of hysteria - mostly by black women, when tragic cases like this happens - shows that black on black crime is almost not even acknowledged.

Mar. 23 2012 10:27 AM
Sherman from Brooklyn

I think it's prejudicial to presume that this "fashion" adopted by young men and women is intended by them to appear as "threatening manner." People's reasons for wearing certain clothing (and people's reasons for reacting to other people's fashion preferences) are arguably complex, and less likely to be based on a mere interest (or concern) for appearing "threatening" to fellow human beings.

Mar. 23 2012 10:27 AM
The Truth from Becky

The "stand your ground" law no longer applies when you actively pursue someone for confrontation.

Mar. 23 2012 10:27 AM
linda from LES

I'm not excusing Zimmerman in any way with this, but In a lot of suburbs people don't walk. There aren't even sidewalks in a lot of suburbs.
It's hard to imagine in NYC but when I go visit my family in Oklahoma and I take a walk people come to the windows to see what I'm up to. I'm a white woman.

Mar. 23 2012 10:26 AM
steve from new york city

If Zimmerman is able to successfully claim "reasonable" fear as his defense, or even claim his past experiences with "these kinds of people" as reason to believe that something was wrong, then Robert Bales is equally innocent, as was Bernard Goetz or Charles Manson or almost any murderer...

Mar. 23 2012 10:25 AM
john from office

A few things. Yes this is tragic.

It is unfortunate that the Black community does not have good representatives. It is always the same cast of characters. Sharpton, Jesse, etc. The time has come for good representation, not the race baiters.

Also, why does WNYC seem to need to have a black law professor on for this segment. Is not that a form or racism???

Mar. 23 2012 10:24 AM
Mary from Westchester

The shooter seemed to be stalking that young man, which is terrifying. And if that young man had run, the police probably would have arrested him...which is probably why the kid didn't run.

Mar. 23 2012 10:23 AM
Robert from NYC

Just based on the 911 operator telling him not to follow Trayvon is reason enough, I should think, for the cops to at least pull the guy in to question him. This guy makes up in his head situations so he can use his gun to glorify himself as a hero to his community.

Mar. 23 2012 10:21 AM

I've heard this tape several times not and it never gets any less shocking. I don't know how you can possibly listen to this and come to the conclusion that racism wasn't the primary motivation for this killing. It's disgusting.

Mar. 23 2012 10:21 AM
LB from Manhattan

This is just such a sad tradegy and I totally believe there should be charges brought up, but my fear is G. Zimmerman will not be charged especially since I believe the lawyer representing the Martin family seems so inept and inexperienced.

Mar. 23 2012 10:19 AM
John from NYC

Here is what is disturbing about this segment:

Let's assume that Zimmerman was completely wrong. He committed a crime.

Now the question becomes:

Is this know of crime so common that it describes a pattern worthy of on-and-on air time?

How many black kids in the US, in the neighborhood under discussion, in NYC, and in the neighborhood in Brooklyn where I work, on the street in the past twenty years have mugged or killed someone?

Now, how many neighborhood watch white man in the past twenty years in these locations have over-reacted and killed someone?

Without those statistics, we do not know if we have a pattern worthy of discussion.

I have a suspicion as to why we are not given those statistics.

Mar. 23 2012 10:19 AM
John A.

Amazing things happen when one person thinks s/he can control another person. Zimmerman seemed to be fully into that mindset, that he controlled that neighborhood.

Mar. 23 2012 10:19 AM
Tom P from NYC

I am very, very uncomfortable with an untrained civilian carrying a firearm on a neighborhood watch. If he had followed the police's instructions, this tragedy would not have happened.

Mar. 23 2012 10:18 AM
Elliott from Bridgeport,CT

Brian, this is so specious to argue whether this was "self defense!" Zimmerman did not act as a "reasonable" person. What "reasonable peson" after being told by authorities not to pursue and to stay in your car continues on this path. Zimmerman provoked this incident by acting outside the law. He should be in jail.

Mar. 23 2012 10:17 AM
Eric from NYC

His "reasonable belief" of serious bodily injury or death must be both "objectively reasonable" (whether a reasonable person would be in such fear) as well as "subjectively reasonable" (whether he himself actually believed in this fear).

Mar. 23 2012 10:16 AM
Jerry Korten

Nobody is talking about the fact that Zimmerman left his car to confront Trey. In other states, leaving your car can be considered an assault if you end up in a fight.

The fact that Zimmerman showed this aggression by leaving his car to approach Trey is an act of assault. Therefore the "stand your ground" argument has absolutely no merit.

Mar. 23 2012 10:15 AM
Leo from Queens

Can you ask Professor Williams if there is any legal avenue to be pursued against the politicians who are supposed to be overseeing and in charge of these police departments that are basically institutionalizing the extra judicial killings of young men of color.
my main concern is the NYPD and the recent execution of Ramarley Graham in his home in front of his grandmother. The practices being employed by the NYPD unnecessarily put police officer's lives in danger and have led to the killing of many innocent civilians. Though this has been brought to the mayor's and city council president's attention they have refused to do anything about it and have not wanted to review suggested changes to the policy and to improve or even provide basic training to the police officers that are being unleashed on poor communities in plain clothes and without training or oversight.
Don't politicians like the NYC mayor and city council president and the mayor and supervisor of Samford have a legal responsibility to do their jobs? Aren't they legally liable for failure to perform their jobs - ESPECIALLY when they have previously been made aware of the problems.
Workers in the private sector are legally liable for recklessness which leads to the death of innocent civilians. why not politicians who are supposed to control and manage these police departments

Mar. 23 2012 10:15 AM
natalie from MA

The hood and baggy low fashion and looking down it's a very threatening manner by which young people present themselves.

Mar. 23 2012 10:14 AM

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