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Reactions to Trayvon Martin’s death in context

By the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell*

A UMNS Commentary

When George Zimmerman was found not guilty of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, one of my African-American clergy colleagues had to wonder about the outcome. HowIseeIt OneLine TradeGothicjpg 300x288 Reactions to Trayvon Martin’s death in context

It seemed to him that Zimmerman’s belated arrest and trial was the State of Florida’s way to respond to the expectations of Martin’s parents and many others, while the actual charges and the prosecution’s case “were geared to meet the expectations of those who wanted a not guilty verdict.”

In other words, my colleague was saying that just as in the past, when the trials of white individuals who killed black men and boys were “fixed” to produce not guilty verdicts, so was the trial of George Zimmerman.

I agree with him, but there will be those who will disagree with that assessment. Even so, I hope all who read this commentary will acknowledge the “lamentation, unbelief, rage, pathos and resignation,” cited by Florida Bishop Ken Carter in his own commentary, which many individuals of all races feel as a result of the trial in Sanford.

Before any people ignore the gravity of the response of black individuals like myself to the killing of Trayvon Martin and the trial of his killer, I suggest they turn in the United Methodist Hymnal to No. 519, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

These words are descriptive of the history that every black person, young and not-so-young, bring to this moment in history: “We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, we have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.”

GilCaldwell600x600 300x300 Reactions to Trayvon Martin’s death in context

The Rev. Gillbert H. Caldwell. UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

If any United Methodist cannot understand or accept the historical and current truth of those words, then they will be unable to understand what it means to be black in the United States of America in 2013.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners offered a response to the tragedy in Sanford, “Lament from a White Father,” in which he writes, “It’s time for white people — especially white parents — to listen, to learn, and to speak out on the terrible, painful loss of Trayvon Martin.”

Wallis reminds us of words from the “I Have a Dream” speech of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Too many times, black people are judged negatively by the color of their skin, without any assessment of their character at all.

What is it about blackness, not in color but in self-identification, that provokes less-than-positive attitudes in those who are not black? How many of those of us who are black have “internalized” racism so that we either are passive in our acceptance of racism or we have allowed it to cause us to hate those who hate us?

The words of a black South African pastor spoken during apartheid are instructive: “By the time white people get around to loving us, I am afraid we shall have gotten around to hating them.”

How might United Methodists respond, not only in Sanford and Florida, but in each local church, to the lessons of Sanford? Can we listen and speak to each other with our hearts and spirits open and rely on our faith to allow us to:

  • Embrace the reality of the sin of racism in the liturgy of our worship services, prayers, responses, music and preaching.
  • Hold serious, candid and honest discussions about race within the familiar context of the local congregation.
  • Use that context to assess and acknowledge the subconscious reality of racially insensitive remarks or racist attitudes and actions.

Some political pundits have said that the massive concern about the killing of Trayvon Martin ought be directed at the black-on-black killings in Chicago and elsewhere. I agree. Gun violence should not be tolerated in Chicago, in Sanford or in any urban area in the nation.

The grief of the parents of black young men who have been shot and killed in Asbury Park, N.J., where we live, is not a lesser grief than the grief of the parents of Trayvon Martin. United Methodists, whether they are conservative or liberal, Republicans or Democrats, should be able to agree that gun control legislation in our nation is a must and not a maybe! If we had the will, we could influence the legislation that is currently dormant.

As the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, noted in the Huffington Post, “It is the media environment in which we discuss the meaning of faith and its applicability to the hard issues of life that help us discover who we are, whose we are, and how we live together and flourish as God intends.”

Race is one of those “hard issues of life” that from the beginnings of our nation we have not dared to discuss honestly or have avoided, today believing the lie that this is a “post racial/racist time.”

It is not, and deep in our hearts, we know it is not.

*Caldwell, a retired African-American pastor who served eight churches in five states, is a co-partner in TruthinProgress.Com, a website and upcoming documentary film discussing the intersections of racism, heterosexism and religion.

61 comments

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  1. Citizen Elsie

    Zimmerman had called the police. The police had told him “We do not need you to follow him.” The police were on their way. Why didn’t Zimmerman stay in his car? And why did he keep following ‘the young black kid’?
    Zimmerman was an overzealous self-appointed neighborhood watch. He had failed to be hired by any police department but was determined to make a name for himself.
    Until he realized that he was being followed, Trayvon was just walking back from the store.
    Buying a treat for your kid brother is not a crime. Bringing it home is not a crime.
    Zimmerman is guilty of not obeying the police. He caused his own problem.
    If he was able to reach for his gun, he was able to get away from the young man (boy)
    and should have done so.
    I’m glad I do not live in his neighborhood

  2. George Kilpatrick

    A 17 year old young man made a horribly wrong decision and it cost him his life. People make bad choices sometimes and the results can be deadly. Drinking and driving. Doing drugs. Texting while driving. It is very sad that another young man has died just because he chose not to turn and leave.

  3. Tom Terry

    I wish Rev. Caldwell had not included his final comments about gun removal from citizens’ control. His comments on racism are well spoken and racism is apropos the killing of Trayvon Martin, but addressing the need of the Church to strengthen its sensitivities to the sin of racism and to guard against participating in that sin should not be used as a sleight of hand call or justification for removing guns from citizens’ hands. Perhaps a good historical understanding of the state’s long participation in racism would be a good way to realize that the state is as complicit in racism in America as NGO’s and individuals.

  4. Gil Caldwell

    I have read the comments to my article with satisfaction and with some sadness. I am pleased that my words prompted these responses, We who are within the United Methodist Church and those beyond it, must be willing to engage in discussion, debate and decision-making on matters of race and so many other issues.

    However we must do this with sensitivity, civility and responsibility.

    As I read the responses, it is clear (again) that so many persons seem to have no awareness of how the killing of Trayvon Martin, the trial of George Zimmerman
    and the not guilty verdict, all are linked to the history of black persons in the USA. Some
    of the replies are written as though the writer has no understanding of the negatives of
    the black experience in the USA. I wonder, if they had been alive, what would have been
    their replies to the enslavement and segregation of blacks? What might they have written
    about the killing of Martin Luther KIng, Medgar Evers, or James Reeb, the white Unitarian
    minister who was beaten in Selma and died from those beatings?. And, how would they have responded to the many, trials, of white men who killed blacks and were found not guilty?

    Of course, I am deeply concerned about black men killing black men. I have written and spoken about this in the black community. But, even as I have done this, I have said that the prisons of our nation that are filled in out-of-proportion ways with black men, do not
    rehabilitate them, but instead, return them to the streets of their communities, better
    equipped to engage in more violence.

    I was deeply wounded by the reply of the writer who said of me of me, “I am glad he is
    retired.” (smile). It is good to know that one of my critics wishes me well in my retirement.

    I wish that writer the best in whatever he/she is doing with his/her life.

    ps I cannot help but ask Bob Dylan’s question; “How many ___________ must a person have, before they can hear people cry?”

    1. Pastor Tim Reeves

      Rev. Caldwell, thank you for your reply…and I would agree some of the comments have been way out of line and over the top…but with all due respect, your initial comments were also borderline “over the top”……because you made this trial an issue of “white” on black crime…..may I remind you that George Zimmerman is NOT white…..actually he is a Hispanic Jew (Jewish by his parent). I would ask, why do you and others continue to promulgate the fallacy that this was about “white vs. black?” Yes, we have issues about white on black crime, murders, etc. but the truth be told (and facts bear this out) the single biggest problem we all face is black on black crimes in America today; 90% of all black murders are committed by other black individuals; white murders of black individuals are almost too low to be counted….7,000 of the 14,000 murders in America last year were committed by black individuals AGAINST other blacks yet blacks account for only 13% of the total population. Rev. Caldwell, with all due respect, I believe you could have used your esteemed position ina much better way than you did. As a church, united by our love of Jesus Christ and powered by the Holy Spirit, we must come together regardless of our skin color and rise above the emotionally charged and fallacious arguments and preachments….racism extends both ways and is endemic throughout ALL communities, whether white, black, yellow, red, green, purple, whatever….instead of re-living the past, should we not be working to build a better community? A new Jerusalem? A color-blind culture of love, mercy and grace? Please forgive me, but I found your initial comments borderline offensive and not productive in working toward building this new community. Thank you and God Bless.

  5. Citizen Elsie

    So, George Zimmerman is of Jewish stock. I don’t know whether or not most Jewish people consider themselves white; I do know that most would not list themselves as black.
    And, the most members of the jury were white…as were most of the area police and officials.
    As I understand it, the ‘stand your ground’ law was to apply to one’s home. George WAS NOT at home. AND, the police had told him that they did not need him to follow the person in the neighborhood. George is guilty of disobeying authorities. He was where he should not have been.
    IF Trayvon Martin had beaten this pursuer to death, would the jury have found him not guilty of murder??????? He was, after all, just “standing his ground” on the way home!!!
    Again, I am glad that I do not live in George Zimmerman’s neighborhood. His actions would not make me feel safe. He refuses to obey authority. He is scary.
    Racism? Yes. George Zimmerman in his frequent calls to police had referred to “them,”
    “those people,” “they always get away.” To feel ones self different from “the other” is,
    indeed, racism.
    No matter what our religious background, we must heal ourselves from “otherness.”
    We must remember that The United States was started by people from many places, including black men in the revolutionary army.

    1. Charles

      Let me see if I understand what you are saying. If one uses the phrase “those people” or “they always get away” they can only be talking about people of color. Is that correct? George Zimmerman could not have possibly been talking about suspected robbers who had been reported in the neighborhood, now could he? And we cannot tolerate “otherness”? Which, of course, means that we must sink to the level of those who do drugs, and or perpetrate crime so they won’t feel “singled out”, and we will be their “equal”s.

      1. Citizen Elsie

        I do not have a list of George’s comments at hand, but I think that some of them referred to the “suspicious person” as a black person, and in some of his phone calls, too.
        You are really stretching the point in finding ‘otherness’ you don’t want to be equal to.
        I’m still glad that George Z. is not my neighbor.

        1. Gil Caldwell

          I am replying to all of the persons who are participating in this e-mail conversation. Although there are differences among us, sensitive, civil conversation is important. Some thoughts: 1.My concerns and the concerns of many others transcend the killing of Trayvon Martin and the not guilty Zimmerman verdict. 2. Our concerns relate to how we
          move into the future, recognizing how the legacy of racism hovers all of us. All of us I
          assume acknowledge that we have become a better nation and a better people because of the gains achieved by the Civil Rights Movement. 3.Bishop Bickerton has written a helpful article on white privilege. I as an African American male, have had to come to understand that I possess, “male privilege”. Privilege, regardless of its source, calls
          us to live in ways, that keep us from exercising our privilege, knowingly or unknowingly.
          4. There is a denfensiveness, maybe even insecurity, that comes through in many of us as we respond to those who have perspectives different than our own I have thought
          that one of the most contradictory oxymorons is “Christian Insecurity”. If we claim acquaintance with and acceptance of what God done in Jesus, our Christ, why do we verbally bash each other because we differ with each other? My hope is that as I rejoice and learn from these interchanges, others will as well.. Would that we could take more time, imagining what it would be to “walk in each other’s shoes”.

        2. Gil Caldwell

          In my last reply, I should have written, “what God HAS done in Jesus” Old UM preachers
          don’t go away, they just allow their glaucoma and cataracts to affect what they write. “Old men, dream dreams…” (Joel). But, we don’t write with ease anymore. (smile)

        3. Charles

          Gil, thank you for an intelligent and astute comment. Yes, as an adult white male, I agree that I enjoy certain advantages over minorities. I did not design this situation, nor do I encourage it. Where we as a white majority have failed, is in not helping our less fortunate brothers to rise above (for some {most?}) the level of poverty in which they are compelled to live and for so long did not offer them better opportunity for education and jobs. We must not assume that because Trayvon Martin was black, that he was up to mischief, nor must we assume that George Zimmerman suspected him only because Trayvon was black.
          Now, Citizen Elsie, If you watched the trial, you saw those Zimmerman comments related under oath, and at what point it was known by George that Trayvon was black. I believe it was proven in the trial that Trayvon attacked George (whether provoked or not) and that George’s life was threatened by that attack. No, I cannot vouch for the Florida legal or judicial system any more than you can vouch for either Trayvon’s intent that night or Georges intent. This is a very unfortunate incident
          Let me refer you to the Christian-Newsome case tried in Knoxville, Tenn, in which two black males and a black female were proven beyond the shadow of a doubt to have raped murdered, mutilated, and burned (possibly alive) a white couple. There was no national outrage. This was cold premeditated mayhem by three people who happened to be black. They have been given retrials and every opportunity to prove their “innocence”. The liberal press gave this case much less publicity than the Martin-Zimmerman case and made no predetermined verdicts. Why? Was this not a hate crime of the most evil degree? Why was there not public outrage equal to the Martin-Zimmerman case?

    2. Mark Miller

      To citizen Elsie – I am a Chaplain for our local Sheriff’s Department, and according to a police officer with Law enforcement experience since 1991: “There are no laws for refusing to follow a dispatcher’s advice. A dispatchers instructions are a request and not legally binding, nor do they have legal authority to give an order (police dispatchers are trained civilians, not police officers – cheaper that way and no pension offered). The dispatcher only has the information given by the caller, they rarely have all the information needed. Often the caller’s information isn’t even accurate. For this reason, having a law requiring you to obey a dispatcher would not be practical.”

      Furthermore, the dispatcher simply said, “we don’t NEED you to do that…” (http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/326700-full-transcript-zimmerman.html) Does that sound like an order to you? The dispatcher did not say, “Stop following that suspicious person immediately! Officers are on the way.” Also, just a little bit earlier, the dispatcher told Zimmerman to “just let me know if he does anything, OK?” How can he do that if he stops following so he can see? Confusing directions from the dispatcher. Lastly, if disobeying the dispatcher were against the law, he would have been charged for that offense. He was not, nor has he been. The most George Zimmerman is guilty of (as pertains to the dispatcher) is not following wise advice, not authoritative legal orders.

      As to the fact that George Zimmerman was not officially “on duty”, so what? Off duty police, fireman, EMT’s, doctors, etc. render their aid all the time. Do you realize that Sanford, FL has (2010 data) a 108% greater crime rate than the US average? It was in 2010 that the gated community elected George Z. to be their Neigborhood Watch organizer and captain. According to information I discovered, the crime rate in the community has dropped significantly (now down to only approximately 70% above the national average!!!). Any wonder why George and others like him remain vigilant, even on their own time?

      As for your statement, “IF Trayvon Martin had beaten this pursuer to death, would the jury have found him not guilty of murder??????? He was, after all, just “standing his ground” on the way home!!!” Oh please! Being followed is not being attacked, punched in the nose, straddled across the chest, and punched while having your head banged against a sidewalk! Trayvon had a cell phone. He could have called the police and reported Zimmerman suspiciously following him! He could have double stepped it to his uncles home. Instead, Trayvon, a 17 yr old boy, chose to double back twice (see transcript) on Zimmerman and then jump the “creepy ass cracker” that was obviously almost twice his age! Please don’t get me started as to what is now known about Trayvon Martin, including the fact that his girlfriend told Pierce Morgan on a TV interview after the verdict that the real reason Trayvon Martin jumped Zimmerman was because he suspected Zimmerman was a gay pervert that might try to RAPE him! So, is Trayvon a gay bigot? Is this why we have such a tragic ending?

  6. Gil Caldwell

    I do not know how long UM Connections keeps open, replies to an article and replies to replies. This I believe is my 3rd response to those who responded to my article. This will be my last. 1. Again, I express appreciation for the give-and-take that my article made possible. I believe all of us must participate in this process and continue to learn how to express our thoughts without demeaning thoughts or persons that differ from our own/us.
    2.The Trayvon Martin killing and the George Zimmerman trial and verdict I believe, encourage and empower us to “talk” about race and its history and impact upon all of us.
    3. One of the major learnings from our sharing in these moments, a learning that was mine many years ago, is that many persons do not connect the slavery of blacks and the segregation of blacks to this moment in history. I have thought that there is a deeper understanding of the struggles of Native Americans and Jews and others, than there is of blacks.Why? 4. Some of the responses above, have in my reading, an angry dismissal
    of the legitimacy of those of us who see the incident in Sanford, Florida different from their response. I often wonder if people have any comprehension of how blacks in the USA and blacks in South Africa (Nelson Mandela is an example) have had to work at “anger management” in order to be in relationship with whites? Some of those who replied, gave examples of how black persons have done things that shaped their less-than-positive attitudes about blacks. Do they realize how I and millions of black persons have had to place our many negative experiences with whites in file 13 as a way of being in “community” with whites?

    My hope is that this dialogue, has opened up some new doors of understanding that will lead to the possibilities of authentic justice and reconciliation.

    1. Pastor Tim Reeves

      Dear Rev. Caldwell, thank you for your responses….and I have enjoyed reading them as well. Some of the comments, like you I will admit, have been less than what I would classify as Christ-like…..but every one has been informative.In that vein, I would share one final comment with you…and a suggestion. Whatever conversational time you want to spend looking backward at the historical question of slavery and its impact on today’s culture, let us all resolve to spend twice as much time looking at the current situation with blacks/black communities in America and formulating a road map for the future. There is no question that the current road that black communities and black individuals are on in this country is a road map for disaster, both for blacks but for the entire culture. None of us can suvive with 3 of every 4 black babies being born our of wedlock; with young black males ten times more likely to both commit and be a victim of murder than white AND Hispanic young men put together; with the holocaust of young black males in communities around our urban centers; with the all-pervasive drug and gang culture which controls many black communities; with the vast, vast majority of young black men growing up in father-less homes and the only “role” models they have are gangsta rappers, drug dealers and pimps. All of us must stand up against the “race baiters” whether they be white, black, whatever skin color and tell them “No mas!” and we will not permit them to keep us from creating a better and more Christ-like society. I fully understand the historic plight of blacks in America. Even though I am a white middle age male, I, too, have been discriminated against; I have been passed over for jobs because of my gender and my ethnicity. Yes, we need a national conversation on race but not one that is bound to the past. The times have changed; culture has changed; issues within the black communities have changed; and right now, the black culture in America faces the very real possibility of collapsing from within because of the disintegration of the black family. Believe me, I want a conversation; I want to discuss the issues, but I want to discuss the “real” issues of where are we now and where are we headed. Let’s agree that the past was wrong and that vestiges of it still remain, but the degree to which that past controls us today is where the problem lies. The real issues of today—gangs, drugs, out-of-wedlock births, babies having babies, absentee fathers, etc. are the issues we need to finding solutions for…..and not continuing to center our time, efforts and energy on the past nor allowing us ourselves to be corrupted by those who are professional greivance merchants. Jesus Christ came to show us a better way; a way that we could move away from the chains of the past. Let’s resolve to take that way. Thank you and God Bless.

      1. Charles

        AMEN !!! AMEN !!! AMEN!!!

    2. Charles

      Gil, let me make one more point. I am a white male, born in poverty in 1936. My dad was a farm worker ($10 per week then) and the most I ever saw him earn was $1.00 per hour. He died in my senior year in high school (1954) and I had to go to work to finish school. I applied myself in school (I was NOT an honor student) and found permanent work as soon as I graduated. Today I am retired from a major corporation after raising four successful children who are happily married and have successful children and grandchildren. I do not believe that it is any more difficult for an intelligent, fairly well educated person of color to become employed today than any other race. It is up to the individual. There is a story of two frogs who fell into a churn full of milk. One just gave up while the other just kept paddling. Next morning one was dead, but the one who kept paddling was sitting on a nice large pat of butter resting. He was a survivor. That is what it takes to overcome poverty and adversity.

      Thanks for sharing and may God bless you and yours. Only when we reach our heavenly home will we all be considered equal equal by each other (as we are in God’s sight).

      Charles (UM Certified Lay speaker, former Lay Leader, Sunday School Superintendent, and choir director, and currently lead congregation music)..

      1. dmack89

        A great story, however it is important to identify the difference between you, and an individual of color that may have come from the very same circumstances. You were able to get that first job, and then make the steps upward which allowed you to retire from that corporation. I ask you to look back and consider – how many blacks, or other people of color had jobs alongside you, how many were promoted to higher levels? How does that compare to the population of your area in general? Do you really think that young black men – who may have been lucky enough to have even gotten the schooling needed to graduate – did not even apply for those same jobs? The difference is (and here it comes again) the white privilege that all those like us share. We do not do anything special, we do not ask for anything, and often we do not even realize what benefits we get from it, but it is there – as evidenced over and over again by the fact that we even had to institute Affirmative Action programs to help others find work in the first place. I have seen first hand – throughout my life and even continuing today – just how differently people are treated based on their skin color. For example watch this video from a TV news show where both a black man, a white man and a white woman are sent to cut a chain from a bike in public. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge7i60GuNRg . The white male is barely questioned, the white woman is even helped! but the black man – is converged upon by a gang, police are called…etc. This is White Privilege. Why were the white people not confronted in the same way. Because they recivied the benefit of the doubt. Yet they were just as “guilty” of the same action as the black man.

        That same difference in attitudes has existed for generations and in all aspects of life. It has been a major contributing factor for why the culture that you and Pastor Reeves say must change. And I agree, it would benefit everyone if it could. However how can it, how can the frog possibly survive, when at every turn he is more likely to be pushed down into the milk, than to have a hand offered to help him out. After awhile, it is easy to give up. In contrast, I know the story of a young black youth who moved into a suburban school system from a city one. He was extremely intelligent, yet in the city system, his abilities made him stand out, and it was difficult to find acceptance until he conformed with our cultures expectations for him. When he moved to the suburbs, those around him expected more, even pushed him, and soon his natural abilities shone through and he became a top student. The same person, faced two very different futures based on what those around him, allowed him and encouraged him to do. Thankfully the new system was one full of diversity, with students from cultures around the world, who refused to accept the stereotypes for this young man that our society had created for him. It is a problem of culture, but one – that to solve, we must all accept what our role has been in creating it, and take active steps to insist on change – not by blaming those who have been trampled down by it, not by denying that such issues exist, but by accepting that they do, and working to change those conditions in positive ways. Did not Christ come to ” to proclaim good news to the poor.. to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,” (Luke 4:18 NIV)

        1. Charles E. Spickard

          Yes, Gil. Christ did come ” to proclaim good news to the poor.. to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,” (Luke 4:18 NIV), and we should indeed follow his example. And I agree that even today the scales are tipped to favor “majority society”. And further Christ did not discriminate against Samaritans (as for instance, the woman at the well, who was perhaps the first evangelist outside of Christ’s circle of followers”. Also may I refer to the “good Samaritan. I also know a white man who because of a disease, is quite grotesque in appearance. He relates that once when offered to assist a lady who’s care would not start, was refused by her to allow him to help because of his appearance. I think many people are conditioned by their environment to have preconceived ideas about the integrity and social habits of others. I grew up in a Christian home where I was taught Christian values. Of course I have different views about some things than you do, because of environmental effect. I probably enjoy different music and perhaps different foods because of the habits of people with whom I grew up. I would dearly love to meet you and be able to shake your hand and have a good discussion. I know that I could learn much from you and I would hope that you too could reap some benefit. You indicated that you would like to stop the discourse, so I wish you success, blessings and since I believe you said you were also retired, that you are given comfort and joy.
          May God Bless you and yours,
          Charles

        2. Rev. / CH (Maj ret.) Kent Svendsen

          You both agree on this statement “today the scales are tipped to favor of majority society”. I don’t necessarily agree. Not that occasional discrimination and unfair preference doesn’t happen we all know it does. But to allow that statement to stand creates division, bad attitudes, and prevents the goal of eliminating discrimination of all kinds. One of the ways to create positive change is to assume the best and declare the worst as an anomaly that needs to be corrected. What doesn’t help is to assume the worst and then reinforce that across dividing lines. I’ve know many cases in which the “minority” won out over the “majority” because they had a good attitude, they strived for excellence, and didn’t make excuses that they didn’t get the goal because of bigotry and prejudice on the part of the “majority”. They assumed that being the best has its rewards and didn’t wait for some affirmative action program to hand them something. (And I’m not against affirmative action programs.)

  7. Henry

    Once again, the ultra focus is on a Latino who shot a pot smoking black youth who attacked him. The liberals and most of the black community are outraged. Where is the similar outrage of blacks killing blacks by the 1000s in cities like Detroit, Chicago, Miami, etc.? Not a word. Heads turned. Heads in the sand.

    1. Elsie Gauley Vega

      “pot smoking” (?) There was no drug test taken on George Zimmerman, so let’s not use that derogatory phrase about the young black victim.
      George was the one breaking the law from the moment he continued to follow Tayvon.
      George had called the police, they were on the way. George was overzealous in his pursuit of the young man who had every right to be where he was.
      Apparently George was of a Jewish background, so he can’t be held to Jesus’s great commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But the old Jewish prophets had taught to be kind and welcoming to the stranger.
      A couple web sites might help people understand that we must heal ourselves of suspicion and mistrust of “the other.” and .
      Besides, I thought that ‘stand your ground’ referred to protecting yourself, family and property within your own home (castle). Not going out to find someone to kill.

      1. Mark Miller

        To Elsie – George Zimmerman may have been “over zealous” but he broke no laws. I am a Chaplain for our local Sheriff’s Department, and according to a police officer with Law enforcement experience since 1991: “There are no laws for refusing to follow a dispatcher’s advice. A dispatchers instructions are a request and not legally binding, nor do they have legal authority to give an order (police dispatchers are trained civilians, not police officers – cheaper that way and no pension offered). Reason – Because the dispatcher only has the information given by the caller, they rarely have all the information needed to give legal orders. Often the caller’s information isn’t even accurate. For this reason, having a law requiring you to obey a civilian dispatcher would not be practical.”

        Furthermore, the dispatcher simply said, “we don’t NEED you to do that…” (http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/326700-full-transcript-zimmerman.html) Does that sound like an order to you? The dispatcher did not say, “Stop following that suspicious person immediately! Officers are on the way.” Also, just a little bit earlier, the dispatcher told Zimmerman to “just let me know if he does anything, OK?” How can he do that if he stops following so he can see? These were confusing directions from the dispatcher. Lastly, if disobeying the dispatcher were against the law, he would have been charged for that offense. He was not, nor has he been. The most George Zimmerman is guilty of (as pertains to the dispatcher) is not following wise advice, not authoritative legal orders.

        Also, check your Bible, “Love thy neighbor…” originated in the Jewish faith and was not original with Christ (see Leviticus 19:18 and Luke 10:25-28).

        You said, ‘we must heal ourselves of suspicion and mistrust of “the other.”’ Zimmerman lived in a city that had a crime rate 108% higher than the national average, and a gated community with a crime rte of roughly 70% higher (an improvement over the outer city that could be attributed to the “neighborhood watch.” When you are watching to guard you and your neighbors from harm, it is hard NOT to be suspicious of “the other” that is acting suspiciously.

        Lastly, you said “Besides, I thought that ‘stand your ground’ referred to protecting yourself, family and property within your own home (castle). Not going out to find someone to kill.” Stand your ground was not an issue here and was not used by the prosecution or the defense to either condemn or defend. However, you are wrong. In Florida and many other states, it does not matter where you are attacked, you can legally “stand your ground” if you believe you life is threatened. Also, your characterization of Zimmerman as “going out to find someone to kill” shows ignorance of the facts of the case, if not some subconscious bigotry of your own.

        All of this was a terrible tragedy that occurred because two fallible, imperfect human beings made terrible mistakes. What Zimmerman did and did not do has been “beat to death” but lets remember that a 17 yr old teen had a cell phone and did not call the police on the “weird ass cracker” following him, and he TURNED BACK on an adult almost twice his age and attacked him instead of retreating to safety.

        1. Elsie Gauley Vega

          If George could get out from under Trayvon (assuming Trayvon was over George), enough to reach his gun, then George could have gone ahead and gotten away from the “beating”………and not shot Trayvon. It was totally unnecessary murder, a totally unnecessary killing.
          You say that George understood he was to report on where the “suspected intruder” was, but he could have stayed in his car. Your overzealous wannabe police officer was too anxious to be a hero. He should have stayed in the car….or just gone home after being told that the police were on their way.
          Trayvon was not a ‘thug’….he was a bright young teenager being raised by hard working parents who loved him…..a kid who was kind to his younger brother. His death is a loss to society.
          George was wrong to assume the kid was a thief. “Never assume.”

        2. Rev. / CH (Maj ret.) Kent Svendsen

          If you listen carefully to the interview George Zimmerman granted last year when the operator told him he didn’t need to follow Martin he stopped following and was about to head to the place the police were going to meet him when Martin attacked him. Secondly Stand Your Ground was never used as a defense. Self defense was used as a defense. He was attacked and Martin was severally beating him and when he saw Zimmerman’s weapon he reached for it.

      2. Mark Miller

        To Elsie –
        PS: This might be of particular interest to you. Did you hear that Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend, Rachel Jeantel, confessed on the Piers Morgan TV show that Trayvon thought Zimmerman might be a gay man who wanted to “rape him” and that is why Trayvon turned to give Zimmerman a “whoop ass”! So even Martin was not “standing his ground” but was attacking a suspected gay man out of bigotry. More than enough blame to go around for everyone in this tragedy.
        See: http://www.christianpost.com/news/rush-limbaugh-rachel-jeantel-said-trayvon-thought-zimmerman-was-a-gay-rapist-100228/

  8. Parson

    Friends,
    Are we expecting a non-Christian, non-believing, society to function like followers of Christ? Shouldn’t we expect the non-Christian world to be full of prejudice and fear and discrimination?

    Yes, we should pray for the “Kingdom to come” – on earth as it is in heaven – and to do the hard work toward that end, and try to facilitate peace and reconciliation. And we need to challenge our political and government leaders to do the right thing.

    But shouldn’t we have some fear of the church becoming mostly concerned for political “salvation,” that is often coerced – and less concerned for a true heart change in people?

    Yes, I want peace and justice for all people – but it seems to me that a church that is mostly focussed on swaying its government and political leaders to make things “right” has lost a concern for the “heart” of the matter that so concerned Jesus – and for establishing a Christ-transformed community that can show the non-believers how things ought to be.

    We’ve got some work to do – no doubt – inside and outside the church….

    Parson

    1. Charles E. Spickard

      Well put, Parson

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