The Chip on Trayvon’s Shoulder

George Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, moved into the Retreat at Twin Lakes, a 260-unit, fully-integrated, townhome community at Sanford, Florida in the summer of 2009.  In the weeks that followed their arrival, the Zimmermans and others were terrorized on a number of occasions by a vicious free-roaming pit bull.  After filing complaints with the dog’s owner and with Seminole County Animal Services… all to no avail… the Zimmermans obtained a canister of pepper spray.  However, a Seminole County animal control officer advised them otherwise.  According to a Zimmerman friend, the animal control officer said, “Don’t use pepper spray.  It’ll take two or three seconds for the pepper spray to take effect, but only a quarter of a second for the dog to jump you.  Get a gun.”

With that advice in mind, the Zimmermans purchased a 9mm Kel-Tec PF-9 handgun, attended firearms training classes at a local firing range, and received concealed-carry handgun permits.

Like most urban communities, Sanford was not without its problems.  According to a 2012 U.S. Justice Department report, Sanford had become a hub for the distribution of much-abused pain- killer drugs such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.  According to the report, during calendar year 2011, Sanford pharmacies ordered enough painkillers to supply a city eight times its size.  With  a population of 53,000, Sanford pharmacists ordered enough oxycodone or hydrocodone to support a population of 400,000.

And there were other types of crime, as well.  Police records indicate that, between January 1, 2011 and February 26, 2012, police were called to The Retreat 402 times.  In that one-year period, Sanford police responded to eight burglaries, nine thefts, one shooting, and dozens of attempted break-ins at The Retreat.  In July 2011, a black teenager stole a bicycle from the Zimmermans’ front porch.  Police were called, but the bicycle was never recovered.

On August 3, 2011, a resident of The Retreat, Olivia Bertalan, was home alone with her infant son when two black men repeatedly rang her doorbell.  She did not answer the door, and when they forced their way in through a sliding glass door at the back of the house she ran upstairs, locked herself inside the baby’s nursery, and called police.   According to a report in Reuters, she asked the police dispatcher, “What am I supposed to do?  I hear them coming up the stairs!”

With a crying baby in her arms, she armed herself with a pair of rusty scissors and waited for the intruders to burst into the nursery.  When police arrived the burglars fled out a back door.

Later, a concerned neighbor, George Zimmerman, arrived.  He gave her a card containing hisphone number and invited her to call or visit his wife if ever again she felt unsafe.  He returned later and gave her a stronger lock for the sliding glass door that had been forced open.

A month later, in September 2011, Sanford police volunteer coordinator Wendy Dorival conducted an organizational meeting at The Retreat during which residents voted to create a neighborhood watch program.  George Zimmerman was present at that meeting and was selected by neighbors as their neighborhood watch coordinator.

In late February 2012, a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin, was staying temporarily with his father’s fiancé in a rented home at The Retreat after having been expelled from his Miami-area high school for his third disciplinary suspension of the school year.

At approximately 7:09 PM on February 26, 2012, a dark rainy night in Sanford, Zimmerman was driving down a street near his home when he noticed an unfamiliar person dressed in a “hoodie.”  The young man he saw was Trayvon Martin, who was returning to his father’s fiancé’s residence after purchasing some candy and iced tea at a local convenience store.

Zimmerman telephoned Sanford police to report the unknown individual, saying, “We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy, just walking around looking about.”  He continued, “This guy looks like he is up to no good or he’s on drugs or something… these assholes, they always get away.”

About two minutes into the call, Zimmerman reported, “He’s running!”  To which the dispatcher responded, “He’s running?  Which way is he running?”  Zimmerman then left his vehicle in an attempt to learn the direction in which Martin had fled, but immediately lost sight of him.  And when the dispatcher asked Zimmerman if he was following him, and Zimmerman responded, “Yeah,” the dispatcher said, “We don’t need you to do that.”

Zimmerman replied, “Okay,” and asked that police call him when they arrived so that he could provide them with his location.  However, not knowing the exact street address of his location, Zimmerman proceeded to search for a street name and number.  It was then he was confronted by Trayvon Martin.  According to Zimmerman’s account, Martin approached him out of the darkness, demanding to know, “You got a f_ _ _ing problem, homie?”  To which Zimmerman replied, “No.”

Martin replied, “Well, you do now,” and punched Zimmerman, knocking him to the ground.

Contrary to the fiction pushed by mainstream media reporters and black race-hustlers such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the conflict that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin did not begin when Zimmerman left his truck to see in which direction Martin had fled.  Zimmerman had every right to report the presence of a suspicious person in his neighborhood, and he had every right to be on the sidewalk where the confrontation occurred.  Likewise, Trayvon Martin had every right to make a trip to the local convenience store and to walk home in the rain.  The incident that resulted in Trayvon Martin’s death began at precisely the instant when Martin approached Zimmerman, asked if he had a “problem,” and received a negative response.

If at that point Martin had said, “Okay, fine,” turned on his heel and walked away, he would almost certainly be alive today and there would have been no politically-motivated, nationally-televised show trial with George Zimmerman’s life on the line.  What Trayvon Martin did not have is the right to put his fist against George Zimmerman’s face.

In the instant that Trayvon Martin struck George Zimmereman with his fist, breaking his nose and knocking him to the ground, he was guilty of assault.  And when he sat astride Zimmerman’s prostrate form, punching him with repeated blows to the face and pounding his head against the concrete sidewalk, all the while shouting, “Shut the f_ _ k up.  You’re going to die tonight motherf_ _ _ er!” he was guilty of a second crime: attempted murder.

Putting ourselves in Zimmerman’s shoes, it is easy to understand that the only thought running through his mind was that he was about to suffer grievous bodily injury, or death.  Accordingly, he was totally justified in taking his 9mm pistol from its holster and using it to subdue Trayvon Martin.  Being in fear for his life he had every right to use whatever deadly force he had at his disposal, and that is exactly what he did.

Within the black community, nationwide, there is a euphemism for a race-related phenomenon called “driving while black,” or DWB, describing a situation in which black male drivers are the target of traffic stops far more frequently than their white or Asian counterparts.  However, the Trayvon Martin episode is indicative of yet another race-related phenomenon within the black community, a phenomenon that might be referred to as “walking with chip on shoulder.”

Yes, black unemployment in the United States is at least twice that of the overall population.  And yes, unemployment among black teens is well over 40%, six times the rate for all U.S. workers, so it is understandable that young blacks might feel as if they are being denied access to economic opportunities.  To fully explore why this is the case would require volumes.

However, it is safe to say that, since the dawn of the civil rights era in the 1950s and ‘60s, much has been done to level the playing field for minorities.  Trillions of dollars have been spent on economic support programs such as AFDC and housing, while affirmative action programs have given minorities a decided advantage in access to employment opportunities and higher education.  The opportunities are there for anyone who wishes to take advantage of them.

However, recalling the old adage that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” it is clear that far too many young blacks fail to take advantage of the many opportunities available to those who are willing to study hard, work hard, and behave themselves.  What it all comes down to is a matter of good parenting versus bad parenting.  Instead, they blame others for their lack of success while they walk around with a huge chip on their shoulders.

When Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman on that sidewalk in Sanford, Florida, on the evening of February 26, 2012, it was not a well-behaved, academically superior, optimistic, and enthusiastic young teen who asked George Zimmerman, “You got a            f_ _ _ing problem, homie?”  That wasn’t Trayvon Martin speaking.  Those words came directly from the huge chip Trayvon carried on his shoulder.  It is a major tragedy for the Martins, for the Zimmermans, and for every caring person who continues to believe that America is still the greatest nation on Earth.

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