Blog -end of line- Trayvon Martin and the myth that is Fight club
I live in the UK and okay, I have to say that I am an Obama fan (yeah I'm out the closet) but I also think that his decision in coming out on the side of Trayvon, or at least by identifying with Mr. Martin a very strange thing to do, as it has the air of courting public opinion on a contentious issue, that perhaps he really should have stayed out of.
I say that, as I feel, that by taking sides in this case or at least by identifying himself with Trayvon as a teenager, he is unwittingly questioning the jury’s decision; and in turn, forcing up issues that many would rather not discuss.
From the UK, the Trayvon/ Zimmerman case has been very interesting to observe; especially as there is little real news on the topic and even less about the on-going protests’ which I have had to watch on “you tube”.
However in my private research, I found out that the jury had to rely on what appears to be a lot of circumstantial evidence, and very unclear eye witness statements from people whom really couldn't (or possibly chose not to) see what was happening and therefore could not decide with clarity, whether Trayvon was killed or Zimmerman attacked in self-defence.
The fact that the Jury still chose to believe that Zimmerman was innocent, shows clearly that there are complex issues at the heart of this case; which is its fascination for me.
In my research I found Stefan Molyneux “ Philosophical” broadcast one of the most insightful and possibly the most thought out argument in relation to the evidence at hand; and if you are interested in the case, I do recommend that you watch this broadcast as well. However, I also suggest that you simply stick to the evidence, and not get side tracked by the political postulations at the end of the segment, which, in my humble opinion does nothing to give weight to the case.
According to Stefan, Trayvon Martin was apparently found to be on a substance he terms as "Lean". To make “lean” is quite easy, you require the following: Promethazine w/Codeine VC “ Sizzurp” (active ingredient.) Original Sprite Soda- Mixing ingredient (although different flavours of sprite are now used, such as sprite remix) and Jolly rancher candy or “skittles” as a flavour additive, this is mixed in a Styrofoam cup and ingested. According to the link "It is the codeine that is mainly responsible for the euphoric feeling after drinking “lean”; as Promethazine causes motor skill impairment, lethargy, extreme drowsiness, as well as a dissociative feeling from all other parts of the body, specifically the stomach and digestive system."
However, according to Molyneux the side side effects of "Lean" are both disturbing and devastating: they include "increased paranoia and heightened aggression, dependency and eventual brain damage". But there is more to this than a drug fuelled confrontation in an alleyway.
What is really interesting about Molyneux broadcast is the evidence he gives relating to the text messages, which are between Trayvon and a female friend on Trayvon’s mobile phone. All of which is evidence that is in the public domain. In analysed the content of the messages, It seems that Trayvon was also possibly taking part in an underground movement of MMa bare knuckle fighting.
Where is the evidence for this? Again, like a lot of this case it is circumstantial, and has to be read into. Not only that, the language that Trayvon uses has to understood and analysed.
The Philosophical broadcast relates to phrases that Trayvon used on his mobile. Phrases like: “in a ducked off spot” or an area where they would not be seen, and “I lost the first round, but I won rounds round 2 and 3”. So what is meant by that?
In looking up the Wikipedia link into what defines M.M. A fighting, I found this:- “In March 1997, the Iowa Athletic Commission officially sanctioned “Battlecade” Extreme Fighting under a modified form of its existing rules for “Shootfighting”. These rules created the 3, 5 minute round, one-minute break format, and mandated “shootfighting” gloves as well as weight classes for the first time. Illegal blows were listed as groin strikes, head butting, biting, eye gouging, hair pulling, striking an opponent with an elbow while the opponent is on the mat, kidney strikes, and striking the back of the head with closed fist.” (Wikipedia 25/08/13) All of which adds to the suggested evidence to conclude that Trayvon was involved with an illegal M.M.A group and in connecting this statement to the text messages it seems that Trayvon Martin either was involved with the planning of the fight or there was another person who arranged the planning and foresight, to make sure that the location used by Trayvon and the other individual on that day were free from the eyes of the police who would want to prevent a fight like this occurring. The text messages do not suggest a brawl after school over a girlfriend, or lunch money, or where kids punch each other to get rid of their frustrations, It really cannot be interpreted in any other way.
Then there is the way Zimmerman was attacked. The pictorial evidence, which is free to analyse, suggests that Trayvon assaulted Zimmerman in a very specific way. The technique used on Zimmerman is called “pound and ground”. To “pound and ground” someone, firstly the attacker has to almost render the opposition unconscious. This is done either by a kick or a very specific quick side punch to the nose. Then, when the assailant is on the ground the attacker then jumps onto the assailant and with a series of quick punches to the face renders the assailant unconscious. This is not the type of assault that anyone one can do. This needs training, practice and dedication, because M.M.a, fighting is a form of hand to hand combat that goes back to the Classic Greek era. It is called Pankration. From Ancient Greece, it evolved into street bare knuckle fighting, then with added martial arts moves became the MMa that is actually promoted on NBC.
In fact, I found a web page dedicated to the sport and though most of the images are promotional, of one specific individual, halfway through the promo there is part of an M.M.A match that a famous MMa fighter “T***** S*****” takes part in. In the promo, the fight shows a very similar technique to “pound and ground” used by T.S to destabilise his opponent; and the broken nose that the opponent sustains is frighteningly exact to that of the injury also sustained upon Zimmerman by Trayvon Martin. The image of Zimmerman’s face is also seen on the Wikipedia page associated to the case.
Do these M.M.A fight clubs exist? I did find some evidence that they are about, but posts are quickly removed as they are created, leaving me to consider that though they might exist, they exist in a romanticized notion of the possible facts: facts are in Trayvon Martin’s text messages to his friend, and suggest that people as young as sixteen are possibly enticed into fighting and that adults might stalk the schools and look for possible candidates whom could be manipulated into this lifestyle that can only lead into a life of drug dependency crime and death, at the expense of others, in a world of high stakes and gambling.
Is Stefan accurate in his findings? It is accurate to state that he does not paint a very nice picture of Trayvon, however, he also considers Zimmerman as a man whom is not a racist, whom also has many coloured friends, one whom is a partner in a business venture. And despite some of his postulations at the end of his broadcast, He sounds genuine. his findings and do not consider the angle I have considered about MMA fight clubs, so I have to humbly admit, like most of this case all I have given is an hypothesis based upon phone evidence and on line research, which seem to fit the facts given to me.
So here is the scene:- Trayvon is on “lean” and is walking in the dark, it’s raining, so he is wearing a hood up, he is seen by Zimmerman, who considers him suspicious; Trayvon, reacts as he is on “lean and is possibly on a comedown from a fight. Zimmerman, who is armed, confronts Trayvon, who hits Zimmerman first, therefore Zimmerman is the victim of an assault carried out by Trayvon, Zimmerman then defends himself and Trayvon is killed. These are the bare facts: however the bare facts do not ask questions like, why was Zimmerman armed in the first place? Why did Zimmerman leave his car? Which was against protocol, And the biggest question and most tragic question of all:- Why did passers-by who eye witnessed the incident, make the decision not to get involved? If I am right, If this is the case, and Trayvon was on his way back from a fight, it might explain Trayvon’s state of mind, his aggression and his paranoia; heightened by the use of “ Lean” .
But what of Zimmerman? I have learned that Zimmerman is portrayed as a pillar of his community; he is also a frustrated police officer, his father being a state judge that he himself is living close to what is termed a gated area, where exclusive properties are placed within walled locations within what might be termed as run down poverty stricken areas. Also Zimmerman was part of the local neighbourhood watch team, which unlike the united kingdom, is not a group of nosey neighbours with notebooks but is a form of volunteer police force. In fact Zimmerman was a captain of a neighbourhood watch team that is trained in means to observe but not confront. Today is 50 years since Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech and the United States has moved a long way in that time. However the nation, like the rest of the “free” democratic world is still not free. And though racism is still endemic to society it is not so much about the boundaries of colour any more, but is more about class; which is why Obama cannot fully comprehend the issue and perhaps why he made his comment . In many ways was Trayvon was trying to fight his way out of poverty, while Zimmerman was protecting the wealthy of the area maintaining the status quo and keeping law an order.
However, an article entitled “Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for the “Atlantic” magazine, gives a very different portrait, and I feel that this article really needs to be considered. It points out the heart of the problem and really brings into the open the troubled heart of America: “In trying to assess the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman” She begins, “two seemingly conflicting truths emerge for me. The first is that based on the case presented by the state, and based on Florida law, George Zimmerman should not have been convicted of second degree murder or manslaughter. The second is that the killing of Trayvon Martin is a profound injustice.” and from this point one she genuinely considers the use of force by an aggressor, which is described in law thus:
Use of force by aggressor.--The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless: (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force. In other words, I can entice an individual into a fight, and if I start to lose that fight, I can legally kill you, providing, I believe myself subject to “great bodily harm”. She then points out very clearly, that it is then the state's job to prove -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- that I either did not actually fear for my life, or my fear was unreasonable. This is also seen in the summing up the Jury, the document is also attached to the Atlantic Article. And is also reprinted here.
“In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” (Ta-Neshi Coates Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice The Atlantic/ summing up notes The Zimmerman trial 24/07/13)
Though Molyneux feels that “stand your ground” is not effective here, and Coates seems to agree, she feels that “the contravention is contravened the fact that it is cited in the instructions to the jury. Taken together, it is important to understand that it is not enough for the state to prove that George Zimmerman acted unwisely in following Martin. Under Florida law, George Zimmerman had no responsibility to -- at any point -- retreat. The state must prove that Zimmerman had no reasonable fear for his life. Moreover, it is not enough for the jury to find Zimmerman's story fishy.” (Ta Neshi Coates 24/07/13) and here she cites again form the Judges Summing up of the case:-
“George Zimmerman has entered a plea of not guilty. This means you must presume or believe George Zimmerman is innocent. The presumption stays with George Zimmerman as to each material allegation in the Information through each stage of the trial unless it has been overcome by the evidence to the exclusion of and beyond a reasonable doubt. To overcome George Zimmerman's presumption of innocence, the State has the burden of proving the crime with which George Zimmerman is charged was committed and George Zimmerman is the person who committed the crime. George Zimmerman is not required to present evidence or prove anything. Whenever the words "reasonable doubt" are used you must consider the following: A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt. Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find George Zimmerman not guilty because the doubt is reasonable. It is to the evidence introduced in this trial, and to it alone, that you are to look for that proof.” And though the evidence is clear, what is not clear is why Zimmerman was armed and why did he possibly provoke Trayvon into an act of aggression.
Her point is lucidly put. It is that it’s not the incident that is on trial here, but the entire legal framework of the United States, that seems to let off people who kill people, who test people, and goad people into acts of violence. And the death of Trayvon is not the only one.
There is the incident in November last year, when a seventeen year old youth called Jordan Davis was shot and “allegedly” killed by Michael Dunn 46, because an altercation between both Davis and Dunn became heated over the loudness of the radio from Davis’s S.U.V. the next piece is taken directly from the Atlantic Article:-
“Upon returning and seeing Dunn put his gun back into the glove compartment, Rouer asked why he had shot at the car playing music and Dunn claimed that he feared for his life and that "they threatened to kill me." The couple drove back to their hotel, and claim they did not realize anyone had died until the story appeared on the news the next day. After killing Jordan Davis, Michael Dunn ordered a pizza." She concludes far better than I : -
"When you have a society that takes at its founding the hatred and degradation of a people, when that society inscribes that degradation in its most hallowed document, and continues to inscribe hatred in its laws and policies, it is fantastic to believe that its citizens will derive no ill messaging. It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended. To expect our juries, our schools, our police to single-handedly correct for this, is to look at the final play in the final minute of the final quarter and wonder why we couldn't come back from twenty-four down. To paraphrase a great man: We are what our record says we are. How can we sensibly expect different?" How can I disagree with that?
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