Stand Your Ground: Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and Bill Cosby

Intentious | Controversial Case - Treyvon Martin shot by George Zimmerman - Bill Cosby on Stand Your Ground, gun ownership, not race

Teenage boy, Trayvon Martin

The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman took place on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American boy who was unarmed; George Zimmerman is a 28-year-old biracial Hispanic American who, at the time of the shooting, was the community watch coordinator for the gated community where the shooting took place.

How Zimmerman killed Martin

While on a private errand, Zimmerman saw Trayvon Benjamin Martin walking inside the gated community. Martin was 6’0″ tall high school junior in the Miami area of south Florida, had turned 17 three weeks ago. Martin lived with his mother and older brother in Miami Gardens, Florida. On the day he was shot, he was visiting his father and his father’s fiancée at her townhome in The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida.

Zimmerman, probably due to being a bit of a stereotype-upholding racist, called the Sanford Police Department describing Martin’s appearance (ie: being a black person?) and behavior (walking through a community who are suspicious of racial stereotypes?) as suspicious.

  • Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
  • Dispatcher: OK, and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?
  • Zimmerman: He looks black.
  • Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?
  • Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s [unintelligible], he was just staring…
  • Dispatcher: OK, he’s just walking around the area…
  • Zimmerman: …looking at all the houses.
  • Dispatcher: OK…
  • Zimmerman: Now he’s just staring at me.
  • He further stated that Martin had his hand in his waistband, was holding something in his other hand (a phone). Zimmerman is then heard commenting “these assholes, they always get away” a clear indication that suspicion had quickly turned into full criminal judgement in Zimmerman’s mind.

Zimmerman, armed, then began following Martin around the darkening neighbourhood streets.

Meanwhile, Treyvon Martin was on the phone…

At the same time, Martin was talking on his cellphone to his girlfriend, according to her and confirmed by phone company records. Martin’s girlfriend said that he expressed concern about a strange man following him, and she advised him to run.

She says she heard Martin say “What are you following me for?” followed by a man’s voice responding “What are you doing here?”
She said that she heard the sound of pushing and that Martin’s headset suddenly went silent, leading her to believe that he had been pushed.

She attempted to call him back immediately, but was unable to reach him.

Shortly afterwards, the confrontation ended with Zimmerman fatally shooting Martin once in the chest at close range.

Strengthening George Zimmerman’s claim that he was attacked, police acknowledged that he was bleeding from the nose and had a wound on the back of his head.

Police initially believed the shooting was in self defence, then changed their minds, then changed their minds again, and after many eyewitness interviews and surveillance footage, decided to charge Zimmerman with second-degree murder on April 11th, after allegations and evidence mounted that Zimmerman was motivated by racism, obvious racial profiling, and no clear great threat to his life which justified fatally shooting the boy.

However, Zimmerman’s former lawyer Craig Sonner stated that Zimmerman is not a racist, and that he had mentored black youths in the past. Joe Oliver, a former television news reporter who is acquainted with Zimmerman, noted “I’m a black male and all that I know is that George has never given me any reason whatsoever to believe he has anything against people of color.”

Being followed by a Neighbourhood Watch Volunteer

Sanford Police volunteer program coordinator Wendy Dorival told The Miami Herald she met George Zimmerman in September 2011 at a community neighborhood watch presentation. Dorival stated she gave a warning in regard to vigilante behavior at that meeting:

“I said, ‘If it’s someone you don’t recognize, call us. We’ll figure it out. Observe from a safe location.’ There’s even a slide about not being vigilante police. I don’t know how many more times I can repeat it.”

But Zimmerman took his role seriously. From 2004 to 2012, he made 46 calls to 911, due to the apparent lack of private safety in the area: crimes committed at The Retreat in the year prior to Martin’s death included eight burglaries, nine thefts and one shooting.

Opinion and Gun Laws

To many, this was a tragedy that should have been avoided. It seems as though if both men were left out of each other’s lives, no one would have died and it’s quite likely no burglary would have been committed. Racial profiling is certainly one of the main factors that caused the needless confrontation that resulted in needless death.

Zimmerman had a right to carry a gun, but did he have a right to shoot it?

Self-defense laws in the United States, particularly regarding justifiable homicide, vary by state. In Florida, they have a “Stand Your Ground” provision, under which a person does not have to retreat before using deadly force if he reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm.

The law does not say that a person has a right to confront another.

When Zimmerman began following Martin through the darkening streets, he became the suspicious character.

Suddenly Trayvon Martin becomes the one who has the right to use self-defense.

Of course the boy ran in fear to “lose” Zimmerman.

Wouldn’t you?

International Media Attention

The story has gone viral and received tonnes of television, radio and celebrity commentary. One celebrity of note is Bill Cosby, who stated the bigger question is what Zimmerman was doing with a gun, and who taught him how to behave with it.

Cosby said during the interview that he once owned a gun but no longer does. He says there is a need to get guns off the streets, and that people should be taught to use every possible alternative before shooting someone. The “Stand Your Ground” law is a very powerful law to envoke: if the court sides with Zimmerman, not only will he be forever immune from facing criminal charges for shooting the teenager — even if new evidence or witnesses surface — he will also be immune to being sued for civil damages by Martin’s family for wrongfully causing his death.

This is because successfully arguing “Stand Your Ground” awards even more protection to the defendant than any acquitted murderer.

The trial continues.

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Crime, Multiculturalism, Politics, Law

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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8 Comments on “Stand Your Ground: Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and Bill Cosby”

  1. April 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    “biracial Hispanic American”
    I’ve never heard that before.

  2. April 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    The thing that people must not lose sight of in this case is that there ought to be more people held accountable than just George Zimmerman. Bill Lee, the police chief of the Sanford Police Department at the time of Trayvon Martin’s killing, and Norm Wolfinger, the State Attorney who initially directed the investigation, never saw fit to bring charges against Zimmerman. It took an enormous amount of public agitation from the parents of Trayvon Martin, and their supporters, before charges were finally brought. That should never have been necessary if law enforcement were doing their jobs from day one.

  3. Timothy O Shea
    April 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Reblogged this on

  4. April 27, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    Yes, there’s the question of what he was doing with a gun but if he was legally allowed to be in possession of the weapon there the question ends.

    If you live in a gated community where many crimes have taken place then you have every right to question an unfamilair person. If the kid was supposed to be there why couldn’t he simply have said so? I can’t bring myself to believe that the shooting was completely unjustified. Zimmerman was reported to have wounds on the back of his head. (To me that doesn’t seem to fit with a scared kid running away.)With a head wound sometimes it doesn’t take much. I can see him re-acting in self defense in that moment. Being disorientated from being knocked on the head will do that. That being the case he shouldn’t have followed the kid in the first place and the dispatcher instead of saying ‘we don’t need you to do that’ should have pointed out he wasn’t ALLOWED to do that. Being a vigilante is frowned upon in America because the government has the monoply on violence.

    It’s obvious that no one seems interested in the truth as the media has warped the coverage so badly. I’ve seen newscasts that have gone back and forth on whether Zimmerman was even injured. Also, it’s unashamedly blatant that they used such out of date pictures to try and portray the victim as innocent as possible AND that they seemed to have found the most sinister photo of Zimmerman they could. The witness’ testimony is so different that to say that this man can be convicted beyond a shadow of a doubt of murder is to not understand that term.

    • heratyck
      May 17, 2012 at 4:10 am #

      “If you live in a gated community where many crimes have taken place then you have every right to question an unfamilair person. ”

      And they have every right not to answer you if they’re not on your property. They owe you no explanation.

      “I can’t bring myself to believe that the shooting was completely unjustified.”

      There’s a difference between defending yourself from being attacked while you’re doing your own thing and defending yourself from being attacked because you decided to take the law into your own hands and chase after someone because you thought they looked suspicious. Martin retreated and Zimmerman decided to pursue him anyways. That’s when Zimmerman became the aggressor and (by all rights) should’ve lost any justification he might have had under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

      “Being a vigilante is frowned upon in America because the government has the monoply on violence.”

      This is the comment that made me want to reply even though it’s almost a month old. It reminded me of this quote from J. Angelo Corlett from Responsibility and Punishment…

      “What makes vigilantism morally wrong is that it violates a fundamental fairness that relies on a due process system to determine, as best it can, guilt from innocence based on the facts of each case. In a legitimate and well-functioning legal system, problems of an epistemic nature regarding guilt, and the circumstances of guilt, are revealed. But the vigilante cares not about such fairness. Even if the vigilante is herself an eyewitness to a crime of murder, it would be a moral mistake, not to mention a legal one in at least most contexts, for the vigilante to exact justice on the accused. For the epistemic uncertainty regarding the circumstances of the crime are virtually unknown to the vigilante. Justice and fairness dictate that due process rights ought to be upheld for the accused so that a determination of her guilt or innocence, along with the extent to which she may be guilty or innocent, might be determined.”

  5. July 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this board and I to find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to provide something again and help others like you aided me.


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