This country is a bit uneasy these days following the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. His accussed killer, George Zimmerman, was aquitted of all charges by a six-person jury.
Zimmerman shot Martin, he said, in self defense, as he patrolled a neighborhood. He thought Martin was a thug. He said Martin attacked him and he shot to protect himself.
Martin’s friends, family, attorneys and many, many others across this great land say the only reason Martin was killed was because he was black and because he was wearing a hoodie.
Protests have erupted in cities across the United States. Maybe not here in St. Joseph, but one needs to wonder if what happened with Zimmerman and Martin could happen here?
This is a diverse area. It’s a college town. There are lots of young people wandering around at night, some of them probably wearing hoodies. Not in the hot summer months, mind you, but how about in the fall, when thousands of college students return for the school year and the after-night activities they partake in pick up?
Of course, there probably aren’t a lot of armed neighborhood-watch fanatics also roaming the streets of St. Joseph. But what about homeowners who are licensed gun owners and responsible citizens?
What if they believed they were in danger, or their property was?
Yes, it could happen here. One need only look up the road a few miles to Little Falls where a man will soon be on trial for killing two teenagers he said broke into his house last winter. He said he felt in danger. He pumped several bullets into each, a young man and a young woman, and then he kept their bodies on a tarp in his basement over the Thanksgiving Day holiday because he said he didn’t want to bother the police.
Because the teens were white, there wasn’t the racial element involved in Little Falls like there was with Zimmerman and Martin.
But what if those teens would have been black?
And what would it be like for such a thing to happen here in St. Joseph with the nation’s eyes scrutinizing?
Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and think about this incident for awhile. Think and ask yourself what would you do?
Zimmerman didn’t need to get out of his car that night and pursue Martin. There are other ways to deal with people who are suspected of being up to no good.
We wonder if he had to do it over, if Zimmerman would agree?
And even though he survived his first trial, Zimmerman’s life isn’t going to return to anything such as normal. He is still likely to face a civil trial. And he will be judged by the court of public opinion for the rest of his life.