Regardless of where one comes down on the Trayvon Martin shooting, it is a tragic scenario that has exhibited the best and worst of America.
The best is reflected in the power of social media, transforming a local issue into a national news story that swept the nation.
The worst was evident by both sides of the divide, demonstrating little patients for the facts to unfold before not only rendering their decision prematurely, but engaging in the most reprehensible behavior.
Filmmaker Spike Lee took matters into his own hand by publishing on Twitter what he believed was the address of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Martin on February 26 in Sanford FL. The address was not Zimmerman's but a septuagenarian couple who feared for their lives as they received needless threats.
Assuming it was Zimmerman's address, what was Lee thinking?
Not to be outdone, some supporting Zimmerman have also participated in the worst behavior. After the shooting, gun range targets meant to resemble Martin went on sale in Florida and reportedly sold out within two days.
What's striking is the moral gap that exists between what we think we know and how jurisprudence is actually practiced in Florida.
Under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, the section most applicable to Zimmerman's second degree murder trial states:
"A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony."
How the aforementioned statement is understood may very well determine whether Zimmerman is exonerated without a jury trial. Zimmerman's attorney could seek a "Stand your Ground" hearing.
In a "Stand your Ground" hearing one's fate does not rest with a jury of one's peers but only with a judge. If the judge rules stand your ground law applies, case closed, and Zimmerman is a free man.
Assuming there is a "Stand your Ground" hearing, the judge's decision could rest on how widely the facts apply. If stand your ground is limited to the immediacy of the shooting, the gashes on Zimmerman's head, and that he is the only surviving member of this tragedy who knows exactly what occurred, could bode well for his release.
But what if a wider range of circumstances are included? What if Zimmerman's stand your ground defense began on September 11 2011, when he hosted a neighborhood watch meeting?
According to NBC, a PowerPoint presentation conducted by a Sanford police officer at the neighborhood watch meeting, expressly stated do not pursue or attempt to capture subjects, do not carry arms, and no vigilante justice. Does stand your ground exempt one from the neighborhood watch PowerPoint presentation?
Or what about the simple fact that after Zimmerman placed his 911 call alerting them to Martin's "suspicious" behavior, confirms he is following Martin and is told by police dispatch, "We don't need you to do that," he gets out of his car?
In this light is Zimmerman still justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat because he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death?
Zimmerman getting out of the car after being told by law enforcement essentially to "cease and desist" seems problematic for his defense. Under Florida's stand your ground law, can one leave the safety of one's vehicle, ignore police instructions, and still be exonerated without a jury?
If so, the "Sunshine State" will harbor dark clouds for the foreseeable future.
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