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Posts Tagged ‘Trayvon Martin’

Justice Dept: Looking into Civil Rights Charges Against Zimmerman

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

On Monday, July 15, the U.S. Justice Department issued a statement confirming that it and two other federal agencies were investigating whether or not to bring federal civil rights claims against George Zimmerman for the shooting death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Florida last year.

Zimmerman was found not guilty in a criminal trial which ended on Saturday, July 13.

In addition to the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, are evaluating evidence from the criminal state trial, as well as the evidence gathered in a federal investigation.

“Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department’s policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial.”

The criminal trial ended on Saturday, July 12, with a finding by the Sanford, Florida jury that George Zimmerman was not guilty of second degree murder when he shot Trayvon Martin with a 9 mm handgun on February 26, 2012.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has gathered more than 800,000 names on an online petition asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Ben Crump, the lawyer who represented Martin’s divorced parents, called on the Justice department to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman, whom Crump claimed killed Martin because of his race.

In order for the government to succeed on civil rights charges against Zimmerman, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, shot Martin because he was black.

Martin’s family has already received a confidential settlement from the homeowners’ association in the gated community where the shooting took place, the Retreat at Twin Lakes.  The family is considering bringing a civil suit against Zimmerman.

 

Obama Urging Calm in Wake of Zimmerman Acquittal

Monday, July 15th, 2013

President Barack Obama appealed for calm on Sunday, after a Florida jury comprised of six women acquitted George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, of murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

In a written statement, Obama called the death of Trayvon Martin a tragedy for his family and for America, but said “we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”

The acquittal of Zimmerman Saturday dominated television news and the Internet on Sunday, with incidents of protests in communities as far away as San Francisco.

The 17-year-old Martin was killed on February 26, 2012 in a struggle with the armed Zimmerman, who is Hispanic. Many said Martin was profiled and targeted because he was black and walking at night in a gated, mostly white community. Zimmerman—a neighborhood watch volunteer—spotted Martin and called police. He then got out of his vehicle and followed Martin. A confrontation and struggle followed, ending with Zimmerman shooting Martin.

The case made national news after it was discovered that Zimmerman was not charged for more than six weeks after the shooting, because police accepted his claim that he shot Martin in self-defense.

Now, it appears, the jury did as well. But the U.S. Justice Department said it is looking into the prosecution of Zimmerman under federal statutes. So the other side might get its brand of justice, in the end.

State Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda says he was disappointed by the ruling, but will respect the jury’s decision. The prosecution argued that Zimmerman profiled the teen and followed him because he assumed Martin was going making trouble in the gated Florida neighborhood.

Immediately after the verdict, Martin’s supporters, including his family members, used media to express their rage about the jury decision.

Zimmerman’s defense lawyer, Mark O’Mara, was ecstatic. “George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense. I’m glad that the jury saw it that way.”

Two Men, No Authority

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Daniel J. Flynn is taking heavy fire over at The American Spectator for his editorial post on the Martin-Zimmerman case, “Two Males, No Men.”  Flynn’s thesis is that neither George Zimmerman nor Trayvon Martin exhibited the traits of responsible manhood in their deadly nighttime scuffle.  Martin, in his personal life, knew no better than to try to establish himself as masculine through delinquency and street fighting.  Zimmerman, for his part, was seeking a masculinity his passive father never modeled, struggling with cage-fighting classes and an aspiration to enter law enforcement.  Flynn summarizes it this way (my interjections):

Civilizing men out of existence has come at great cost to civilization. Instead of men, we get feminine imitations lacking beauty. [Zimmerman] We get lost boys compensating by becoming barbarians. [Martin] We get Sanford, Florida, February 26, 2012.

Pace his critics – most of whom are off doing battle with red herrings – Flynn has got something here.  That said, what he’s got is incomplete.  It starts with the statement of his premise: that we are “civilizing men out of existence.”  We’re not.  Civilization depends as much on men as it does on women.  Men are an indispensable part of civilization.  What we do by denigrating the masculine and perverting the feminine is destroy civilization altogether.

The masculine and feminine both matter equally to healthy civilization, but today I am concerned with a particular aspect of masculinity.  It’s a concept we have carelessly trampled in the project of neutralizing men, and it was glaringly obvious, from the Martin-Zimmerman confrontation, that we lack it now.  That aspect of masculinity is the authority of the individual, and, in general, the idea of authority as a positive good in human life, which we each become eligible for through self-discipline and proven character.

The 20th century gave authority a really bad name.  It changed the way we reflexively define it, and changed our perspective on it.  One big culprit was collectivism of various kinds (including Western progressivism), which proposed to invest all authority in a totalitarian state.  Another was the rejection of God, who in Judeo-Christian philosophy is the ultimate model of uncorrupted authority.

But the proponents of collectivism actually made their political inroads – with young people especially – through decrying authority, all the while having in mind a future of absolute state authority.  In short, they lied about it all, and still do to this day.

What we expect of authority became quite perverted.  Western culture as a whole lost the habit of defining authority for social purposes, and training its children to both respect and administer it.  The proper point of authority is not that it is always held over us; it is that one day we will hold it, and ought to hold it responsibly and well, whether as Scout leaders or parents or bosses or teachers, ministers or priests or peace officers or property owners, or simply as the older people in a given situation.

Authority is properly a moral project of the individual character first, before it is a project of collective action or the state.  It is tied up inextricably with responsibility.  What we have responsibility for, we must have authority over.  Having authority over nothing more than what time we get ourselves home on Friday night may seem like a small thing, but it’s how teenagers establish a pattern of self-discipline and trustworthiness.  As you know if you’ve tried it, being responsible with a little authority quickly gets a teenager a good reputation – and more authority – just as it does an adult.

There is no question in my mind that the passion for proving oneself worthy of authority is a masculine trait.  The urge to define authority and set the wickets for access to it is a pattern of men.  Men are wired to see themselves as being somewhere on a landscape of authority, in a way most women aren’t.  This doesn’t mean no women are wired in this way, but it does mean that if it were up to women, the visceral urge to establish for society a mode of individual authority would not be a catalyst for civilization.

And in that case, there would be no civilization.  There would be only short-lived serfs under the control of non-accountable despots.  Sustainable civilization is bound up with a certain minimum level of self-government, and being eligible for self-government is inseparable from being eligible for authority: moral authority, authority before God, authority that commands respect, authority that wins obedience and trust.  Unless a society naturally and voluntarily enforces, from one generation to the next, this concept of individual authority, the society can’t foster self-government or any of the good things that flow from it: wealth creation, compassion, cooperation, invention, heroism, art.

In America today, our culture has all but abandoned the concept of individual, non-governmental authority.  Sixty years ago, there would have been no question in anyone’s mind who was the authority figure in the Martin-Zimmerman confrontation: who should have been respected and obeyed, even before it came down to who had the right to defend himself.

But in most of America,  long before such a confrontation arose, the teenager in the case, whatever his race, would have spent his youth learning from his father, grandfather, and/or uncles how to behave in the authority structure in which all of them had their masculine identity.  He would have learned not to hang out on the streets of “other people’s” neighborhoods at night, just as my brothers learned, absorbing the lesson more by osmosis than by precept.  He would have learned it not from fear but from discipline, self-respect, and good judgment.  A man has better things to do.

Respecting a social authority structure eliminates many of the problems we now expect the police to referee.  It doesn’t matter if you have the “right” to lurk on the streets at night, if your father has raised you not to.  But if he hasn’t – if the only authority you have experience with is that of the state – you have no reason to see authority or self-restraint as something positive and enabling.  You see whatever thwarts you as an attack on your “rights.”  Authority comes in a uniform and carries a gun (or, by contrast, it comes in a skirt and merely frustrates you); it is not something you are aligned with and will one day wield yourself, but rather something you get brief satisfaction from striking blows against.

If you are “George Zimmerman,” meanwhile, your demeanor as a neighborhood watch captain is likely to be different, if you have walked in authority as an adult, as your father did, and know that society is ranged behind you.  Who knows how many situations could be defused, even if they were not averted entirely, by the masculine confidence that is fostered in a social authority structure?

It takes cultivating gentlemen – and doing it unapologetically – to make men who can be polite and forceful at the same time.  No one is born to it without intensive intervention.  Women are important to that process, but there must be something for men to be, if they are to turn into it.  For men, a place in a code and an authority structure ordained by men is a key source of moral shape and purpose.

None of this is to suggest that women don’t or can’t participate in authority.  Most women are capable of self-discipline and of wielding authority in an authority structure.  But it is manifest today, given the last 40 years in Western culture, that in a society where men and their qualities are denigrated, no one will fill the societal vacuum of individual authority.  There comes to be only governmental authority; and the very concept of authority changes.  It no longer means a natural social institution in which individuals are tested, enabled, promoted, and protected; it comes to mean only the armed force of the state.

Is that not the situation we have arrived at today?  Older people might see a level of governmental as well as social authority in the “George Zimmerman” figure, because he is a responsible adult, a citizen, a voter and taxpayer.  We see the law and the operation of the police as ultimately under his supervision – and we are satisfied with that, if not necessarily with the performance of Zimmerman himself on 26 February 2012, because he is one of a host of us participating in the responsibilities as well as the privileges of authority.  We – and he – have moral authority; therefore, we constitute and supervise the government that judges us.

But the two generations which have now come after mine have been reared largely without any concept of individual authority.  To their eyes, the ultimate authority in the Martin-Zimmerman case is the government’s law-enforcement apparatus: the courts and police.  Whatever is done outside their immediate control is done without authority, and can only beg the indulgence of the state.  This idea stands self-government and unalienable rights on their heads, and cuts out from under it the premise of self-defense.  But the generation of men who model the alternative idea of authority and where it comes from is getting smaller and smaller in our rearview mirror.

Neither men nor women live happily under this post-civilizational construct, but it is men whose character and purpose suffer most immediately.  Even feminists haven’t been able to prove that a social authority structure is as innately a project of women as it is of men; they long ago shifted to insisting that since it isn’t as innate to women, society should somehow organize itself differently.

But, of course, society can’t do that, because authority is essential, for a number of irreducible reasons.  If individuals are not defining and exercising authority over themselves – through family, faith, and work – something else is going to.

The idea of individual authority, meanwhile, which women appreciate but men cannot live purposefully without, is essential to self-government and civilization.  Requiring society to do without it – requiring men not to define it or live by it – is signing a death-warrant for civilization.  Of that terrible prospect, the Martin-Zimmerman case, with all its grinding pathologies and its torturing of the rule of law, is nothing if not a harbinger.

Wrong Side of the Street

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

The Zimmerman case is about many things, but it isn’t about George Zimmerman, an Hispanic Obama supporter who campaigned against police brutality only to find himself plucked up by the hand of Big Brother to play the villainous white racist in the latest episode of liberal political reality television.

Zimmerman is the latest Bernie Goetz; another wholly unlikely cult figure who currently campaigns for vegetarian lunches in public schools and squirrel rescue. It’s not that the two men had anything particularly in common. Unlike Goetz, it is very unlikely that Zimmerman jumped the gun, so to speak, but they both fill a similar niche. They represent the embattled lower half of the middle class.

To understand the Zimmerman case, you have to live in a neighborhood that has just enough property values to keep you paying the mortgage and just enough proximity to dangerous territories to make you feel like you’re living on the frontier.

The chain of events doesn’t make much sense to the elites, which is one reason why they assume that the explanation must be racism. There weren’t a lot of New Yorker readers cheering as Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey stalked the subways and parks of the city blowing away hoods. The perfect target audience for the Death Wish movies or for Goetz saying “You don’t look too bad, here’s another” was that bottom half of the middle class that didn’t have enough money to leave the city and didn’t have enough liberalism to accept the violence as their just due.

But the case isn’t about race either. It’s about a struggling middle class in a precarious economy trying to hang on to what it has. And it’s about a culture of dropouts from the economy who celebrate thuggery and then pretend to be the victims. It’s doubtful that anyone in Zimmerman’s neighborhood who weathered multiple break-ins has much sympathy for the Martin family. And that’s one reason that the prosecution hasn’t found any useful witnesses.

If Trayvon Martin had been the clean cut innocent kid that the media tried to pretend he is, the reaction might have been different. But he wasn’t. The gap between Martin and Zimmerman wasn’t race, in other circumstances most liberals would have called both men members of minority groups, it was aspiration.

George Zimmerman wanted to to be a cop. Trayvon Martin wanted to be a hood. It’s quite possible that Martin got no closer to his ambition than Zimmerman got to his. Both men were just going through the motions on the edge of a game of cops-and-robbers that suddenly turned deadly real. And even in a country where the thug tops the entertainment heap, the vulnerable parts of the middle class have more sympathy for aspiring cops than for aspiring thugs.

What are cops and thugs? Cops are the protectors of the middle class and thugs prey on the middle class. Not just any part of the middle class, but the vulnerable parts, the men and women without enough money and mobility to get out when neighborhoods turn bad. And then it all comes down to territory and who can intimidate whom. Either the cops intimidate the thugs or the thugs intimidate the cops.

Everyone is the hero in their own story, but George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were living out different stories. George Zimmerman was looking out for his neighbors while Trayvon Martin was looking to live the thug life. Martin’s story ended with him realizing that sometimes attitude isn’t enough and Zimmerman’s story ended with him realizing that sometimes even when you try to be the hero, you’re going to be drawn as a villain.

But the Zimmerman and Martin story is an American story. That’s why it has become so big. Back in the 70s, when Paul Kersey was skulking around on the silver screen, it was mainly an urban story. Now it’s an everywhere story. It’s a story about homesteaders and savages, about a shaky middle class built on piles of debt trying to protect what’s left of its way of life while across the street, there’s the glamor of not working and scoring money any way you can.

Dershowitz: Zimmerman Prosecutor’s Conduct Entirely Unprofessional

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

State Attorney Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case, recently called the Dean of Harvard Law School to complain about my criticism of some of her actions. She was transferred to the Office of Communications and proceeded to engage in a 40 minute rant, during which she threatened to sue Harvard Law School, to try to get me disciplined by the Bar Association and to file charges against me for libel and slander.

She said that because I work for Harvard and am identified as a professor she had the right to sue Harvard. When the communications official explained to her that I have a right to express my opinion as “a matter of academic freedom,” and that Harvard has no control over what I say, she did not seem to understand. She persisted in her nonstop whining, claiming that she is prohibited from responding to my attacks by the rules of professional responsibility—without mentioning that she has repeatedly held her own press conferences and made public statements throughout her career.

Her beef was that I criticized her for filing a misleading affidavit that willfully omitted all information about the injuries Zimmerman had sustained during the “struggle” it described. She denied that she had any obligation to include in the affidavit truthful material that was favorable to the defense. She insisted that she is entitled to submit what, in effect, were half truths in an affidavit of probable cause, so long as she subsequently provides the defense with exculpatory evidence. She should go back to law school, where she will learn that it is never appropriate to submit an affidavit that contains a half truth, because a half truth is regarded by the law as a lie, and anyone who submits an affidavit swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Before she submitted the probable cause affidavit, Corey was fully aware that Zimmerman had sustained serious injuries to the front and back of his head. The affidavit said that her investigators “reviewed” reports, statements and “photographs” that purportedly “detail[ed] the following.” It then went on to describe “the struggle,” but it deliberately omitted all references to Zimmerman’s injuries which were clearly visible in the photographs she and her investigators reviewed. That is Hamlet without the Prince! The judge deciding whether there is probable cause to charge the defendant with second degree murder should not have been kept in the dark about physical evidence that is so critical to determining whether a homicide occurred, and if so, a homicide of what degree. By omitting this crucial evidence, Corey deliberately misled the court.

Corey seems to believe that our criminal justice system is like a poker game in which the prosecution is entitled to show its cards only after the judge has decided to charge the defendant with second degree murder. That’s not the way the system is supposed to work and that’s not the way prosecutors are supposed to act. That a prosecutor would hide behind the claim that she did not have an obligation to tell the whole truth until after the judge ruled on probable cause displays a kind of gamesmanship in which prosecutors should not engage.

The prisons, both in Florida and throughout the United States, are filled with felons who submitted sworn statements that contained misleading half truths. Corey herself has probably prosecuted such cases.

Ironically, Corey has now succeeded in putting Zimmerman back in prison for a comparably misleading omission in his testimony. His failure to disclose money received from a PayPal account requesting donations for his legal defense made his testimony misleadingly incomplete. In her motion to revoke his bail, Corey argued that Zimmerman “intentionally deceived the court” by making “false representations.” The same can be said about Prosecutor Corey. She too misled and deceived the court by submitting an affidavit that relied on a review of photographs and other reports that showed injuries to Zimmerman, without disclosing the existence of these highly relevant injuries.

Even if Angela Corey’s actions were debatable, which I believe they were not, I certainly have the right, as a professor who has taught and practiced criminal law nearly 50 years, to express a contrary view. The idea that a prosecutor would threaten to sue someone who disagrees with her for libel and slander, to sue to university for which he works, and to try to get him disbarred, is the epitome of unprofessionalism. Fortunately, truth is a defense to such charges.

New ‘Zimmerman’ Trial in Baltimore, This Time with Orthodox Jews

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The trial of the brothers Eliyahu and Avraham Werdesheim, who are accused of beating a black 15-year-old on November 19, 2010 as they were patrolling an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Baltimore, is scheduled to start today, Tuesday.

Eliyahu Eliezer Werdesheim, who was 23 at the time of the beating, was a member of the Shomrim Society, a public safety group made up largely of Orthodox Jews.

In a case disturbingly reminiscent of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, the brothers have been charged with assault, false imprisonment and carrying a deadly weapon. If convicted on all counts, they could be sentenced to up to 13 years in prison. The teenager suffered a cut to his head and a broken wrist. Both brothers have claimed self-defense, testifying that the teenager was holding a nail-studded board.

According to the prosecution papers, Eliyahu and Avi pulled up next to the teenager in their car, got out and “surrounded him.” One of them threw the teenager to the ground and the driver hit him in the head with a handheld radio and patted him down.

The brothers Werdesheim are white and Jewish, two facts which seem to appeal to local activists, who are hoping for a new Trayvon Martin case.

Eliyahu Werdeshei’s attorney Andrew Alperstein told Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Sylvester B. Cox that it would be difficult to assemble an unbiased jury in this case, “given the saturation of media coverage in this matter, and the inextricable intertwinement of the Trayvon Martin saga.”

In Baltimore, protesters have been urged to attend the Werdesheims’ trial, Alperstein wrote, adding, “Needless to say, the impact of such a demonstration on prospective jurors could only have served to contaminate the Defendant’s (sic) right to a fair and impartial jury here.”

Alperstein noted “conspicuous” similarities the cases: “Both involve young African-American males walking along on public thoroughfares, who supposedly were accosted by one or more Caucasian members of citizen patrol groups who felt they didn’t belong in the area, and allegedly subjected to unprovoked attacks.”

Consequently, Alperstein argued, “We believe a delay until the Zimmerman matter settles down would be in the best interests of justice,”

Judge Cox did not rule on the defense’ request, but ordered the brothers to show up Tuesday morning, ready for trial before another judge. Alperstein will probably be given the opportunity to argue his motion fully then.

Farrakhan Tweets Retaliation for Slain Trayvon Martin

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

As federal and local authorities investigate the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and whether or not Florida’s “stand your ground” law applied to the shooter, George Zimmerman (not Jewish), Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has been calling for “justice” in typically disturbing ways.

The Blaze reports that Farrakhan has been using Twitter to send calls for peace, justice and retaliation that could be interpreted as a veiled threat.

Farrakhan tweeted:

“I am deeply saddened by this beautiful young man’s loss of life.”

“Let us see what kind of justice will come for his breaved family and our bereaved community.”

“Where there is no justice, there will be no peace. Soon and very soon, the law of retaliation may very well be applied.”

“Think. Reflect. Then get up and do something for self or suffer the consequences.”

“No one respects a beggar. The time has now arrived where you must beg no man. You must get up and do it for yourself.

When we fail to do justice, we literally set up conditions that destroy peace.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/farrakhan-tweets-retaliation-for-slain-trayvon-martin/2012/03/25/

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