Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega
Location
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Birthday
September 11
Title
A (Sometimes) Respectable Negro
Bio
Editor and Founder of the blog We Are Respectable Negroes He has been a guest on the BBC, Ring of Fire Radio, Ed Schultz, Joshua Holland's Alternet Radio Hour, the Burt Cohen show, and Our Common Ground. His essays have been featured by Salon, Alternet, the New York Daily News, and the Daily Kos. The NY Times, the Daily Beast, the Utne Reader, Washington Monthly, Slate, and the Week (among others) have featured his expert commentary and analysis on race, politics, and popular culture.

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Editor’s Pick
APRIL 27, 2012 11:14AM

George Zimmerman: Right-wing American Jesus and Martyr

Rate: 18 Flag

 We are running out of metaphors with which to describe the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Is this saga a Rorschach test, one where the polarizations of race, class, and political orientation (quite literally) color how we interpret the events of that tragic evening? Or is the killing of Trayvon Martin better described as a projection of sorts—where the realities of the color line and a society that systematically devalues the lives of black and brown people are amplified on a national stage? 

At this point in our national ordeal, tragedy has succumbed to absurdity. In all, these matters have devolved into a three ring traveling circus worthy of PT Barnum and the flim flam artists of the early 20th century. 

Zimmerman has offered a bizarre “apology” for killing an unarmed teenager that makes his death sound more like an act of God and random accident, than the result of one person’s desire to irresponsibly play vigilante toy cop. Thugs have assaulted innocent people as “retribution” and “revenge” for Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman’s defenders on the Right have magically discovered a deep love for the health and safety of black folks, as well as a profound concern about “black on black” crime. The reverse racists, racism deniers, and conservative adherents to the trinity cult of “gun rights,” white racial resentment, and black criminality have reimagined Zimmerman as a martyr, victim, and mascot. 

This week, Reuters news service opened a new exhibit in this perverse roadshow. Chris Francescani’s profile of Zimmerman has all of the elements of a great spectacle, one that draws upon old anxieties and tropes about race in American life, while also adding some new twists. According to Reuters, George Zimmerman is apparently “part-black” through his great grandfather from Peru. Moreover, Francescani has innovated upon the classic “best black friend defense” for those who are accused of acting with racial animus, by profiling how Zimmerman’s grandmother was a babysitter for two African-American children. 

In this tale, there is also an unnamed black informant who legitimates Zimmerman’s racial profiling of Trayvon Martin. She paints a portrait of a neighborhood under siege by black hooligans and thieves. Thus, in this narrative, George Zimmerman was a “reasonable” person who acted in good faith, as he meted out his version of justice on a person he decided was “suspicious” by virtue of his identity as a teenager who happened to be black, male, and walking down the street. 

Apparently, in “post-racial” America, blood quantum, melanin, DNA, and familial associations are now immunizers for any charge or assertion that racism could have played a role in George Zimmerman’s decision to hunt down and kill Trayvon Martin

Historically, race has been made, reproduced, and created in bizarre and absurd episodes such as the above. In the landmark Thind and Ozawa cases during the first decades of the twentieth century, Asian and Sikh Americans were denied citizenship in the United States by an arbitrary standard in which the Supreme Court famously decided that being “white” was determined by the common sense norms held by the average white man. Scientists studied skulls, bones, brain size, and posture in order to rank racial and ethnic groups in a hierarchy where “whites” were naturally and always on top. In the year 1915, during the height of Jim and Jane Crow and the KKK’s reign of terror, Leo Frank, a Jew, was convicted of murder and subsequently lynched for killing a white girl (an accusation he denied) in a show trial that hinged on the testimony of Jim Conley, a black man.

At present, America is at a demographic crossroad. With the “browning” of America and the growth of Latinos and Hispanics as America’s largest “minority” group, popular assumptions about identity and race are being challenged and renegotiated. For example, Latinos and Hispanics are an ethnic and cultural group; but they can be of any race. Many in the public are apparently unable to comprehend this fact. 

George Zimmerman is an object lesson in these dynamics. The efforts to defend Zimmerman through appeals to his “racial identity” are one more part of a long and bizarre national play. In some contexts he is a Hispanic and honorary white person, who, like white conservatives, is a “victim” of black people in mass, and bogeyman activists and “race hustlers” such as Al Sharpton. Here, Zimmerman is framed as some type of model minority and “good” Hispanic who, like white people in the Age of Obama, is oppressed, a victim of reverse racism and racial hysteria. 

Ironically, the very same conservatives who embrace and amplify Zimmerman’s Hispanic identity for the purposes of smearing Trayvon Martin, share a political worldview that is explicitly xenophobic and hostile to non-whites. This reality has been repeatedly demonstrated by Right-wing populist rhetoric such as “real America,” and “take our country back,” its adherents’ support of such conspiratorial fictions as birtherism, and their embrace of racial profiling, deportation of “illegal” aliens, as well as the elimination of Ethnic and Chicano studies programs in Texas and Arizona. 

For the conservatives who have embraced George Zimmerman as a martyr and victim, his racial status is circumstantial, contingent, and wholly dependent on the political whims and needs of a given moment. Ultimately, if George Zimmerman was accused of hunting down and killing either a white teenage boy (or God forbid, a young white woman!) in exactly the same circumstances, his “Hispanic” identity would be turned into a liability and a sin, his honorary whiteness quickly and inexorably revoked. 

As the public discourse surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin has revealed, many Americans still have a facile, flat, and thin understanding of how racism is more than mean words and deeds. It is complex, structural, and operative in many, if not most, areas of American life and culture. 

However we choose to navigate the circus and spectacle that the Trayvon Martin saga has become, several facts remain true. By carrying a gun, George Zimmerman, self-styled vigilante and pretend cop, violated the rules of the block watch group he so obsessively fawned over, and in which he apparently had a near pathological investment in. George Zimmerman ignored police directives as he stalked and harassed an innocent person. George Zimmerman decided that Trayvon Martin was “suspicious” and guilty by association because he committed the “crime” of being black, male, and wearing a hooded sweatshirt on a rainy evening. And George Zimmerman made a series of choices that resulted in the unnecessary killing of a seventeen year old boy. 

Unlike George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin will never be afforded a detailed accounting of his life such as the one offered by Reuters. He is dead, killed in the street by George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin’s life was stolen, not free to have the ups and downs, successes and failures that Zimmerman experienced in his 28 years (and in the decades likely to come). Trayvon Martin’s family is left asking what could have been. The answer was denied them by one man’s series of poor choices, and his obsession with “these assholes” that “always get away.”

Regardless of the color or race which George Zimmerman may identify with, one thing remains certain: he is a vigilante killer.

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Not much I can add to this, except to say that this Hispanic woman agrees with you 100 percent.
Weary, I grow so very weary of this, yet as the energy flows out of my soul I know I can't give up... it will continue for years and after I'm dead and gone, it will continue for decades with different names and in different places until somehow we finally come to our senses or completely lose our souls.
and to those black women on this board who defend indefensible actions, by obamination, listen to Chauncey's use of the swords reverse racism. To those who would dare accuse Chauncey of racism, GFY, which is NOT an abbreviation for Good For You.


-R-
Once again you explain it perfectly.

OS won't accept my rating.
As a gun nut, (I can't call myself an enthusiast, enthusiasts don't buy plastic), I have to say that not all gun nuts support this zimmerman punk.
What he did was terrible. Murder + Igniting an unnneccsary debate about Stand Your Ground Laws = Devil, not Savior, in my oversimplification.
With the wash of scandals, 24 hour news cycles and continuing horrors around the world, the shockwaves of this will continue to be felt for a fleeting moment in the public awarness, only to be drown by another, equally horrific and divisive event.
Where is Pete Seeger when we need him?
Perfectly stated, as always. ~r
If George Zimmerman is a "white man," it's a good thing he isn't in Arizona. Not that there isn't enough racism in this country to go around for everyone.
Zimmerman won't escape justice.
The right-wing adoption of Zimmerman is disgusting to me. Under any other circumstances they would be assuming he is Mexican and checking to make sure he is not an illegal alien. Or if Trayvon had been white, he would be being vilified by the same people who have run to his aid.

But the issue is far more complex than that. It is conceivable that a black man living in a similar environment and being similarly obsessed with law and order and the safety of his community and himself, could have done exactly the same thing. Because Trayvon was a stranger; because all the recent criminal activity in the complex had been allegedly perpetrated by African American males; and because the man involved was "tired of them getting away with this stuff," anybody might have been wary of Trayvon. But wary is not the same as gun-toting and confrontational. Zimmerman may or may not be a racist in the classic sense, but he IS a vigilante and he is responsible for the death of Trayvon. What may never be determined in this landmark case is whether the motivating factor was fear or profiling and racism.

Lezlie
"Regardless of the color or race which George Zimmerman may identify with, one thing remains certain: he is a vigilante killer."

OK, now how about applying your searing analysis to the identity of the other person involved--Trayvon Martin?

Or are you happy to come to your conclusions based on a half analysis?
Mark writes: "To those who would dare accuse Chauncey of racism, GFY, which is NOT an abbreviation for Good For You."

I don't know if he is a racist per se, but he obviously views things through a racial narrative. Note the last line of his post: "Regardless of the color or race which George Zimmerman may identify with, one thing remains certain: he is a vigilante killer."

After a six-week investigation by two professional criminal investigators and a prosecutor often described as "hard-nosed," the State is unable to say how the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin occurred or who was the initial aggressor. But somehow Chauncey is "certain" that Zimmerman is a vigilante killer. This is because he doesn't need facts, a jury, or a trial. His racial narrative tells him all he needs to know.

And when the Reuters news agency sends a reporter to actually interview the people who live in the housing development, Chauncey dismisses that as a new exhibit in a "perverse roadshow." The reporter discovers "dozens of reports of attempted break-ins and would-be burglars casing homes [that] created an atmosphere of growing fear in the neighborhood," with many of those crimes committed by young black men. One particularly disturbing incident involved a home invasion by two black, men while a female resident fled to an upstairs bedroom. But to Chauncey, people concerned about their own personal safety during a literal crime wave in the neighborhood are nothing more than racists.

Lezlie writes: " . . . But wary is not the same as gun-toting and confrontational."

Again, at this point no one knows who confronted whom, or what the initial confrontation involved. Concerning "gun-toting" -- there are millions of people in the U.S. who have concealed handgun permits. The State of Florida alone has issued more than 2 million permits since 1987. For many people, carrying a handgun is a routine part of life. I've had a permit for almost 16 years, and for me carrying a handgun is just as normal as wearing a wristwatch or carrying a pocket knife, even as I am always aware of the great responsibility inherent in carrying a gun. Just because someone carries a gun does not mean that the person is a sociopath or budding vigilante, in the same way that people who study martial arts are not psychopaths.
Mish states, “…the State is unable to say how the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin occurred or who was the initial aggressor.”

That seems to me to the crux of the case, despite that statement being factually false. Despite any public comments suggesting it is unknowable as to who was the initial aggressor, the evidence is clear as to who initiated this event.

It’s clear that Zimmerman simply refused to disengage and pursued Martin, even against instructions not to do so. Anything that happened beyond that is factually irrelevant in determining the instigator and responsibility for Martin’s death simply because, not only do we not KNOW what happened in detail, but the facts clearly show that Zimmerman pursued and refused to disengage. Anyone who argues otherwise is engaging in willful blindness.

But this will come down to what two opposing attorneys can make people believe, not what actually happened. It seems to me, looking in from the outside, the entire matter revolves around one distinction, which is “when did the encounter
BEGIN?”


Factually speaking, it began when Zimmerman refused to disengage; everything that happened after that is the result of Zimmerman’s instigation and continued pursuit and actions. Will jurors see that? Or will jurors decide to base their decision on the pure speculation of the defense attorney? Will Zimmerman’s clearly expressed intent on stopping Martin, despite the fact that Martin not only wasn’t doing anything wrong, but also the fact that Martin was living in the neighborhood at the time, point the jury toward understanding who was the aggressor, or will the jury choose to believe fictional speculations and theories?

The only facts we have clearly indicate that Zimmerman was the aggressor who refused to disengage. Anything beyond that is speculation. Will the jury convict on facts, or on speculation? This case will ultimately be decided by racial prejudice and various other biases of jurors and law enforcement, not by facts, which is ultimately almost as sad as Martin’s murder.
Not much I can add either, except to note that the gated community is plagued by unknown burglars, but somehow the Reuters informant knows they are black. /r/
Excellent piece.
Chauncey, well said. And you and I know that it has not ended -- or could end with Zimmerman doing 15- 20. We know that in Chicago here, that another quite similar case has just gone down. Can we train people who possess deadly force to use it --ONLY within absolute certainty that they are seeing things clearly. Self defense is too damn wide. Not buying it.
The Right will, and actually is, using this to further divide us: they can not stop themselves with more nonsense about everyone being armed. It's beyond reason. I am waiting for the Repubs to make Zimmerman -- he is Hispanic -- a cause celebre for their desperate effort to back "Stand Your Ground". It just galls me to hear Zimmerman say, I didn't know if he had a gun ... This is not premeditated? The guy's delusional -- but he was defending himself? Sure, well FL. can thank it's Right wing zealots. It all goes to prove that you are safe with like-minded people in a gated community. I bet that they are proud of themselves ...
@Gordon Osmond

Definition of Vigilante: "A member of a volunteer committee designed to suppress crime and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate). Broadly: a self-appointed doer of justice. Example: The danger of these self appointed vigilantes is that they sometimes go after innocent people." From Mirriam-Webster.

Zimmerman was part of a volunteer committee designed to suppress crime because he viewed the processes of law as inadequate. He directly disobeyed a police order to leave Trayvon Martin alone.

Killer: Someone who kills. He killed Trayvon Martin.

Vigilante Killer? I think it's pretty clear. Beyond the shadow of a doubt.
George Zimmerman is a vigilante killer. I don't see how that can be questioned. The pursuit of his self-anointed duty to not only "watch" but participate as a legal enforcer (though Tray wasn't breaking the law) makes him a vigilante. He killed Trayvon. He was a vigilante and he is a killer, so this would succinctly be stated as: Zimmerman Is A Vigilante Killer.

I don't know at what point that fact would be introduced to a jury, but I think it would be in the "like duh" stage of the hearing. Is he a vigilante murderer? That will be the question.

Maybe there's a way out of "vigilante." Perhaps we could say that because no crime was being committed and an innocent kid was being stalked by a guy with a gun, it wasn't vigilantism. Perhaps irresponsible thrill-seeker would work as well. Maybe because Zimm was stalking his prey we could say he was hunting. There's usually only one animal with a gun in the average predator-prey killing event. Zimm is just a sportsman pushing the envelope all the way to just short of an illegal kill.

I can see a clear legal argument that says Zimm acted in legal self defense. Perhaps it's knowledge of that that has some seeking to also justify his irresponsible actions. Why not just stick with neener-neener, he gets away with it instead of trying to cast criminality upon the dead kid? Zimm doesn't need that "I was attacked" suckerbait to win his case, so why accommodate an unneeded lie?

George Zimmerman is a vigilante *and* a killer. I put the "and" in there so he won't be confused for being one who kills vigilantes. However, if, on that evening, he had been a vigilante killer, Sanford would just have another suicide case. Tray would have arrived home safely and the only person acting suspiciously and recklessly would be dead. And we would have never known he deserved to be.
Let a judge and jury sort it out.
Hay Chauncy...still at the poor me bullKKKRap eh?

Just can't deal with the fact that someone might know how to defend him/herself and a liar to boot!

Fact is buddy you don't know whether or not Zimmerman defended himself or if he is indeed a vigilante.

But that doesn't matter to you does it because you have that particular form of poltical and cultural myopia that does not allow your mind to be free like Herman Cain's is.

" You can think like a democrat or you can think for yourself"

Try it sometime big guy......but then again that takes courage right?

Hey I noticed that you don't allow my comments to post under your
articles. What is it big guy you only allow the relation crowd in? Addicted to praise are ya? Well that figures...affirmative action babies usually are.

JO
At present, America is at a demographic crossroad. With the “browning” of America and the growth of Latinos and Hispanics as America’s largest “minority” group, popular assumptions about identity and race are being challenged and renegotiated. For example, Latinos and Hispanics are an ethnic and cultural group; but they can be of any race. Many in the public are apparently unable to comprehend this fact.

Are you kidding me? You still reaching for that elusive ' Da White guy did it ! " thing?

Look there are plenty of white criminals who are racists that don't have a single drop of minority blood in their veins....just so happens that in this case you picked a Peruvian - Jew.... Now I know that's inconvenient for the narrative but then again so is the fact the Obama's mother is white. Yeah.....I never see you writing anything about that. Ya know....that could be why you are relegated to a place like this....because no national Journal is going to take your one sided BS seriously.

So you think there's absolutely no disticntion between the White and the Lation eh?

Check with LaRaza on that one pal....they have a different opinon.

In the mean time do carry on becoming less and less relevant as the world of men grows around you.

It reminds me of the clean up in the Phillipines after world war two. finding Japanese soldiers ten years later still dug in and ready to fight. The war is over Chauncy...and there are no losers only winners. I realize that's bad news for the victim industry...but hey you might check with the Jews....they have managed to keep the Shoa business going strong so maybe you can get some pointers from them?

So whaddaya think ? In 2050 when the Latinos are 55% of the American voting block will MLK still be remembered?
"Racism is more than mean words and deeds" -- thank you, Chauncey, for so eloquently making this point.
Of course he's a vigilante killer, taking the law into his own hands when he was told not to pursue by the law. He pursued. What was he doing out there stalking around with his gun anyway? And what does his grandmother's babysitting job have to do with anything?
Malusinka

Is it possible that you're so dim as not to realize that I was not challenging Chauncey's characterization of Zimmerman? I was simply stating the obvious (well, maybe not so obvious to some) fact that Z's status is only part of the story.
Sorry I sent you to the dictionary. Probably a painful and novel trip.
Zimmerman stalked Martin. The 911 operator said, "Sir, do not follow him." Zimmerman followed him. Which one of those facts doesn't the GOP Socialist party understand?
thanks for the very thoughtful article. there's a couple of comments here carrying the flag for zimmerman, i'm thinking of mishima's comments "...After a six-week investigation by two professional criminal investigators and a prosecutor often described as "hard-nosed," the State is unable to say how the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin occurred or who was the initial aggressor..." Sir, the state hasn't really put it's case out there yet. they've avoided the press with discipline, which is proper. you ought to wait for the trial along with the rest of us.

i've been reading michael connelly's lincoln lawyer novels, and in reflecting on the zimmerman case i have tried to imagine the proscutor's case. forensics, witnesses, timeline, and zimmerman's given statements. i really think a lot of this hot air will go away when the case is really laid out in court.

perhaps those with more legal juice could comment on this: will the flawed investigation by the police become an issue in this trial? perhaps, as the evidence is presented it will result in spin-off charges at the state or federal level?

thanks again~
@Gordon Osmond, what are suggesting about Trayvon Martin? It has been established by Zimmerman himself that they were total strangers to each other. The boy was walking, unarmed in his neighborhood, where he had every right to be. Zimmerman initiated contact by following the kid, even though he was instructed not to do so. Are you implying that if Trayvon had been in "trouble" at school, or had ever been in a fight, or had overdue library books that he would be giving off a criminal vibe or something? Are you one of those guys who think a woman who is raped "deserved it" if in her past she slept around? Don't bother answering, I can figure it out by your comments.
Roscoe writes: "Sir, the state hasn't really put it's case out there yet. they've avoided the press with discipline, which is proper. you ought to wait for the trial along with the rest of us."

I look forward to the trial. Based on what we do know, my initial sympathies lie more with the Zimmerman side of the case, but I have been saying since the beginning that with the most significant events no one really knows what happened -- except, of course, for Chauncey de Vega, so he thinks.

As you say, the state has not put forward their total case. But it was very instructive to hear the state investigator say that the prosecutor's office didn't know what happened. Concerning what was likely the most important event, all the state could say was that "a struggle ensued."
As I have pointed out before, the arrest affidavit says more about the snack foods purchased by Martin than it does about the event that led to his death.

The case certainly has generated a tremendous amount of outrage. I suspect that had George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin with a Swiss Army pocket knife, the outrage would have been much less. For many people, especially for those on the political left, handguns have a very negative connotation. They don't like handguns, they sure as hell don't like the concept of concealed carry, they hate laws that allow concealed carry, and they consider people who carry guns to be deranged if not actual sociopaths. Throw race into the mix, and you have a situation that offends many people on a variety of levels, and Zimmerman becomes a symbol for much of what they hate about American conservatism. I think a lot of that goes back to the handgun.

Island Time writes: "The boy was walking, unarmed in his neighborhood, where he had every right to be."

Not necessarily. Twin Lakes is a "gated community." Zimmerman had been selected by the homeowners association to head up the neighborhood watch program. That program was started because of the large number of burglaries and attempted break-ins in that area. Zimmerman didn't recognize Martin and didn't know what he was doing there. The incident with Martin occurred on private property. Legally, Zimmerman had every right to observe, follow, approach, and question Martin in order to ascertain whether Martin in fact had "every right" to be there. (This assumes that Zimmerman did in fact approach Martin and initiate contact with him; I think it was the other way around, but for the sake of argument I'll go with Zimmerman approaching and initiating contact with Martin.)

Whether Zimmerman's decision to follow Martin was prudent is a different matter. But there was absolutely nothing illegal about following him. If in fact Zimmerman approached Martin, the prudent thing for Martin would have been to say "Hi, I'm Trayvon Martin, and I'm staying with so-and-so down the street." Martin wasn't in a city park. He was on someone else's private property, so he had no right to be offended by someone following and questioning him about what he was doing there.
@ Gordon

Yep, it's quite rare that I have to use a dictionary. I have an extensive vocabulary. I aced the verbal/English sections of the SATs, GMATs, and Foreign Service exams, without studying. Thanks to my high scores, the college and business schools I attended were rated in the top ten of the country.

But, sorry, it wasn't a painful experience.
@Mishima

You need to look at it from Trayvon Martin's point of view. He was walking home in his neighborhood, and being stalked by a scary, armed guy (I can't imagine Zimmerman was radiating friendliness when following a boy he suspected of being a criminal) of a different race.

What would you do in those circumstances? Turn around and say, 'Hi, I'm Mishima, pleased to meet you?

And yeah, a pocket knife would have made a big difference. If Zimmerman had a pocket knife, and thought Martin had a gun, he'd have run, not used his weapon.
Trayvon was walking in a neighborhood where he had every right to be. Necessarily so. Gated has nothing to do with that truth, nor does Zimmerman being a neighborhood watch captain.
onislandtime
With all due respect, I was asking for Devega's analysis of Martin, not yours.

malusinka
I haven't read a more defensive, elaborate statement of self-regard since PJOR's recent pronouncements. Maybe you and he can split a shrink's bill.
There is a solution to this race problem. BLEACHING! I, and many other Bleached Blonde Whites would like a Government Great Society Program to bleach all Negroes and finally give you what you so dearly covet: Honorary Caucasian Status. Oh, but dear me, we would still have to maintain multi-billion dollar Affirmative Action programs to get you all newly bleached folks to graduate from high school. Sigh, back to the drawing board....wink
Rated. As usual your writing is so succint , concise and expresses what I believe better than I could express myself. Whenever one writes about race between blacks and whites in the US it is a difficult subject for blacks and whites. It is much easier for some whites to deny the reality than it is for blacks, because blacks live it. For the posters here who have criticized Chauncey for being a racist or consumed with the race, I say talk to people around the world. I've lived around the world for 26 years and people worldwide have a pretty good understanding of what is going on here. I daresay many of them understand it much better than many Americans do.
Rated. As usual your writing is so succint , concise and expresses what I believe better than I could express myself. Whenever one writes about race between blacks and whites in the US it is a difficult subject for blacks and whites. It is much easier for some whites to deny the reality than it is for blacks, because blacks live it. For the posters here who have criticized Chauncey for being a racist or consumed with the race, I say talk to people around the world. I've lived around the world for 26 years and people worldwide have a pretty good understanding of what is going on here. I daresay many of them understand it much better than many Americans do.
Paul writes: "Trayvon was walking in a neighborhood where he had every right to be. Necessarily so."

Let me put it this way: Let's say that you and your family decided to have a picnic on the very spot where the incident between Zimmerman and Martin occurred. You would be picnicking on private property, and you could be asked to leave. Whether you were doing anything illegal is irrelevant. You would have no right to be there, unless you were invited to be there by one of the residents.

Likewise with Trayvon Martin. In fact, he was staying with one of the residents and thus had every right to walk through that part of the community. But this was not clear to Zimmerman, and given the number of burglaries and attempted break-ins there, and given that Zimmerman did not recognize Martin, it would have been entirely reasonable for Zimmerman to be suspicious of Martin, and to wonder what he was doing there.

People try to portray Zimmerman as some kind of crazed monster, who was wrong even to suspect Martin of wrongdoing. That was not the case. You may disagree with how Zimmerman responded, but his suspicions were entirely reasonable.

Malusinka writes: "You need to look at it from Trayvon Martin's point of view. "

We also have to look at it from Zimmerman's point of view. Many OS members are unwilling to do that because it conflicts with their Zimmerman-as-monster point of view.

Malusinka: "He was walking home in his neighborhood, and being stalked by a scary, armed guy (I can't imagine Zimmerman was radiating friendliness when following a boy he suspected of being a criminal) of a different race."

It wasn't "his neighborhood" per se. He was a guest there, apparently sent there to live while serving his third suspension from school. Initially, Martin had no idea that Zimmerman was armed.

Malusinka: "What would you do in those circumstances? Turn around and say, 'Hi, I'm Mishima, pleased to meet you?'"

Yes, absolutely, when I'm walking through someone else's private property. I would identify myself and tell the person what I was doing there.

And let's look at this some more from Martin's point of view. Martin should have realized that he was on private property. One would think that the large metal gate and the two large warning signs at the main entrance would have clued him in to that. One sign said "Neighborhood Watch Program in Force. We report all suspicious persons and activities to the Sanford police department." The other sign said "Closed Circuit Cameras Monitored and Recorded 24 Hours a Day. Any acts of theft, vandalism, or trespassing will be prosecuted as allowed by law." There were also a number of other neighborhood watch signs posted throughout the area.

So Martin had more than enough warning to know that people would be on the lookout for suspicious persons and behavior. And since this was a gated community, he should have known that if anyone eyeballed or followed him, that person would be a resident of the community.

But for many OS members, the idea that Martin had any responsibility at all to act in a certain way or identify himself while on private property is outrageous to them. For them, in the midst of a crime wave, Martin should have been able to just wander around the place at night without being suspected of anything, and anyone suspicious of Martin must have been an irrational racist vigilante. I mean, people criticize Zimmerman even for calling the police. In Chauncey de Vega's race-infected worldview presented in his March 21 post, the neighborhood watch program is a "slave patrol" populated by "petty tyrants" who look for "for any excuse to put their boots on the throat of a black person."
No, mishima, a reasonable suspicion would be grounded in something besides a kid being black and walking. If Zimmerman wanted to affirm Tray's right to be there, he should have asked. However, because he had already decided Tray was a criminal or was in the act of a crime, he calls the cops. Evidently he doesn't perform this simple, civil act of direct inquiry because he's been told to report, not get involved with, a suspected crime. In actuality, he's a prick, and if we dig a bit deeper, obviously gets off on being G Zimm, Crime Fighter.

Even the way he describes Tray shows he's laying on the bullshit, trying to describe what he knows is not truly a suspicious person in lame, but suspicious terms. I'm sure his "he's just walking about, staring" and "looks like he's on drugs" are just to boost his idea of a credible reason to call the police. It also shows he's preloaded the idea this black guy is a criminal and everything he does after shows that to be true.

You have a very low standard for "wrongdoing." Tray had performed nothing to indicate "wrongdoing," so how can it be reasonable to suspect him of "wrongdoing?" I see why you stretch reason to offer a defense of Zimm's actions...to you it's not a stretch. However, it was Zimm's inappropriate framing of Tray as a criminal that caused him to stalk Tray and not wait for the police.

I have nothing at all against you, but I had to laugh at the idea of putting the responsibility on Tray for stopping to identify himself to his stalker. Private property, mish? Do you truly think Tray spent a second thinking about private property as he * walked to the home where he was a guest?* Do you think Zimmerman had, for a moment, some concept of private property as motivating his actions? I'm sorry, but that angle is absurd. Further, Tray likely used the unfenced cut-through to leave and enter the addition, not the main gate. In either case, there was nothing identifying Zimmerman as Lord Protector of the Private Property, nor did Zimm take the easy way to assert that by asking a simple question.

I don't think Zimmerman is a monster, just a guy who took his voluntary job way too seriously and was overly self-involved in the idea of himself as neighborhood cop/enforcer. The last time he had called the cops to report a Person Walking While Black, the "criminal" had disappeared before the cops showed up. This time, psycho-guy figured, the "perp" wasn't going to get away. He didn't want to be the Boy Who Cried Wolf and become an object of rolling-eyed ridicule by the cops that kept coming to investigate Zimm's shadow suspects.

Zimmerman is also a liar. Trayvon did not ambush attack him. There are ear-witnesses who corroborate the girlfriend's story that Zimmerman approached Trayvon. That an argument happened with Zimmerman being the aggressor. It was not a surprise attack, a punch, a head-banging and a shot.
That it is sure Zimmerman lied, we have to ask why he's lying. The most obvious and time-tested reason is he didn't want to go to prison. The other related reason is he knew it wasn't self defense, so he created an attack scenario to "justify" the killing. The most likely reason the fight happened is he wanted to detain Tray so the cops could perform the simple task that coward Zimmerman refused -- verify Tray's right to be there and remove any suspicion that might have existed on some level. And to show the cops that he was really calling about an actual person, by golly!

Voice experts say the howling on the tape before the shot wasn't Zimmerman. If that's Tray howling it means Zimmerman has some great degree of control, yet he shoots anyway. Probably because he's pissed off, but under no circumstance was it because he feared for his life. The Bouncer and sometimes surprisingly violent tough guy was being "beaten to death" by a 150 pound kid. Yeah, that sounds believable...
The lone eyewitness to the shooting says after the shooting she's pretty sure, even though it was dark, that the guy on top stood up. Another witness just after the shot sees Zimm on his knees, straddling Tray, with his hand on Tray's back. I guess those cop classes taught Zimmy something--how to hold down a dead guy.

No blood on Zimm's shirt. Considering he shot somebody who was on top of him, banging his head on the grassy "concrete," you'd think it would be a bit messy, what with the splat and gravity.

There are several gaping holes in Zimm's story. The guy who says he saw Tray on top of Zimm didn't see the shooting that happened after he went to call 911 and then run upstairs. The lady who heard the argument start and escalate (meaning no ambush) and was watching as the shot was fired thinks the guy on top was the shooter.
I can see why one of the on-scene detectives wanted to file manslaughter charges because he didn't belive Zimm's story...it's not believable. To get to Zimm's tale being true, you have to flip reality and probability on its head and make the gun-toting aggressive stalker the victim and the kid walking home the aggressor.

Zimm may well have a way out under the SYG law, but anyone saying he acted reasonable is being unreasonable. Besides that, Zimmerman is a liar.
So the "Right" has embraced an adopted (responsible) latino with black roots in his background-oh yeah-and he has a Jewish last name? Did I mention he was a registered Dem who voted for Obama? I you accusing them of enlightenment?
I know not a person watching this that wants something other than the truth to come out.
The wacko's are the ones that create the bogeyman and then attack him.
Similar method was during the Sandra Fluke fiasco-The right is attacking women"- Uh, no-just protecting the Constitution. Go across the street to Target and pick up a cycle for 7 bucks instead of going for the double Latte and have at it all night long and in-between classes, just don't make me pay for it.
Great article and I agree with most if not all of your points, but a couple of items of clarification. 1. I don't really understand the Leo Frank KKK example you gave. Was that meant to mark a turning piont where for once a black man was believed over a white man? Or was it to indicate a hierarchy that Jews were the more hated race at the moment?

Also, don't you agree that man young black males share some of the conscription for how society has come to view them? It's not as if many young black males aren't committing exceptionally heinous crimes of violence, to include burglary and murder. My personal feeling is this is the moment when black America can finally stand up and assert itself (such as you're doing) but to simultaneously clean up elements within their own population, to specify thru the raising of their children, that no matter what was done in the past, thugism will not be tolerated any longer, and get them complicit in understanding this before they become teenagers and follow the path of "oppressed black male so I'm going to be violent" role they self-validate themselves with.
Nice analysis. Rated.
Nice analysis. Rated.
Preliminary comment[s] (after several hours of reading, here):

1. To Jay Richter's recent comment: "I know not a person watching this that wants something other than the truth to come out". This comment stuns me. Who, Jay Richter, other than the comment-ers on Chaunceys' blog, are the "persons you know"? In the length of time it takes me to keep up with, the comments on Chauncey's blog [thank you, Chauncey -- I guess? ;-) -- for not having yet closed comments@], I ?must confess? I find few people "wanting the truth to come out" vs. the number of people (myself now included) who are using Chauncey's blog to "sound off". [Isn't that what "open comment" blogs invite?]

2. @ Rick Lucke: You wrote: "It seems to me ... the entire matter revolves around ... "when did the encounter begin". Well, sir, for you -- or for the court procedures, maybe. For Chauncey -- and to an extent for many of us who read Chauncey's blog and sometimes comment or post our own blogs, the "entire matter" carries a whole history of "race" and "racism" -- issues that will not be ?put to rest? by whatever court procedure pronounces about this event. But -- given ?"the long and the short"? of this particular media obsession of the moment (sorry bout det) not "the entire matter" but a big part of it, has to do with concealed weapons laws. Had George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin -- whatever their ages, biases or personal dispositions, "encountered each other" at that particular moment in time and under those circumstances, and GZ had not had a gun, might I presume to assume no one (Trayvon, George, or anyone else) would have suddenly died from a gunshot wound?
P.S. O.K., so not "suddenly", but "swiftly", or "soon", o.k.?
Look like his life has been back at the table eating fajitas, burritos and shit. His ass is fat as hell. I can tell he was gon go back to eating when he walked out of jail the last time with them bag of groceries. Looking for cheapest auto insurance in Florida?

Love the pic of George Zimmerman being taken into custody, just give him rope, he will hang himself.