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What Should Trayvon Martin Have Done?

For those of you stating TM should have done this or he should have done that, please consider this article and stop victim blaming. 

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/07/what-should-trayvon-martin-have-done.html

Here are my favorite parts:

I still don?t understand what Trayvon Martin was supposed to do. I?ve asked before, and received many confident answers; since the moment George Zimmerman shot him dead, there has been no shortage of loudly stated certainty about his actions and explanations of how it all ought to have gone. Most are presented as self-evident. Many are contradictory. None are satisfying. In part, that?s because we don?t know exactly what Martin did in the very last minute of a life that ought not to have ended. More than that, too many of the prescriptions are not about what Martin was supposed to do, but who he was supposed to be.

When Anderson Cooper asked the woman known as Juror B37 if she thought that Martin played a role in his death or if it ?was just something that happened to him,? she said,

Oh, I believe he played a huge role in his death. He could have, he could have?when George confronted him, he could have walked away and gone home. He didn?t have to do whatever he did and come back and be in a fight.

?To do whatever he did??even in blaming him, she doesn?t really know. And it seems yawningly facile to say that when he was confronted by Zimmerman, a man in the dark with a gun, ?he could have walked away.? Is the idea that Zimmerman would have stood there like a statue? Juror B37?s answer seems to be that Trayvon should have done something he might well have tried?something that probably wouldn?t have worked.

Should Martin have just followed the law? He was lawfully walking where he had every right to walk. If being a law-abider means acting according to the logic of Florida?s Stand Your Ground law, then, as Jelani Cobb has pointed out, Martin, stalked and scared, could have invoked it.

How could Martin have prevented the confrontation in the first place? Even Juror B37 recognized that that wasn?t entirely his job. Of Zimmerman, she said, ?He should have done what he did except for the things before??the ?things before? being everything that night until he was losing in some kind of tussle and pulled out his gun. When Cooper asked if she thought Martin was the aggressor, she said, ?I think the roles changed.? Martin, a teen-ager, should never have had to decide what to do when he saw a strange man (not in a uniform) following him in the dark. But how could he have made the choice that didn?t end with him dead?

When I asked on Twitter, there were two sorts of answers about what Martin should have done at this stage of the night: variations on ?run straight home? and ?not be black.? Zimmerman?s lawyers argued that Zimmerman was properly scared; more subtly, they made the case that it was perverse of Martin not to recognize and manage his own scariness. And yet there are complications in instructing a black teen-ager to start running: Martin seems to have alarmed Zimmerman and the police dispatcher both when he moved too quickly and when he was slow. As Charles Blow wrote in the Times, ?So what do I tell my boys now? At what precise pace should a black man walk to avoid suspicion??

Other advice?that he should have deferred to Zimmerman, politely explained who he was, led him to the house where his father?s girlfriend?s son was waiting?assumes that Martin ought to have known that Zimmerman was just a nice man out to protect the neighborhood. Known how? Because we see how it turned out, we might wish that it had gone one of those ways?run, walk, wheedle, smile, just get home alive and grow older. And, for the moment, never mind the fairness of it all. But he is dead, and we should mind.

There is an echo, in what people say Martin should and shouldn?t have done, of what people say to women when bad things happen to them in dark places. Why did you walk that way, why were you out in the rain? Why did you walk in the direction of the man instead of running? Why did you think you had the privilege to go out and get candy for a child? You didn?t; you should have known. It shouldn?t be that way. A woman should be able to walk on a dark street in Florida, or anywhere. That she might not be able to doesn?t make a similar restraint on Martin any more reasonable?one injustice doesn?t vindicate another?and, in a way, only adds to the pain.

One of the answers, among the most mortifying, and rightly underlying the rage at the verdict, is that Trayvon Martin wasn?t supposed to act like a man.

He wasn?t quite one, yet. He was a child, who had just turned seventeen. He was learning how to be a man?and he had some reasonable guides in his parents, as we have learned through watching their utter dignity throughout the trial. That night, though, Martin was just guessing.

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Re: What Should Trayvon Martin Have Done?

  • This is an excellent article. And I want to tell you I teared up reading it.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • image chiualover:

    This is an excellent article. And I want to tell you I teared up reading it.

    Thank you for sharing.

    thanks. I did too.

    I also want to add that I'm sorry if I'm coming off as arrogant or anything in some of my other posts.  I just really care about this case and I get carried away sometimes. 

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  • Honestly, I do think that Trayvon Martin probably punched George Zimmerman. He was a kid, a 17 year old, and 17 year olds are not known for their superlative decision making skills. He saw a creepy guy following him, who then approached him, and I can only imagine what was said. I can guess it was something along the lines of "what the F are you doing here, ****?" My guess is that Trayvon got pissed off at this and swung at him. He probably hit him in the face, which is where the (possibly) broken nose came from, Zimmerman probably fell on the ground, and as Trayvon went to hit him again, Zimmerman pulled out his gun and shot him. From the evidence and from my own personal knowledge of 17 year old boys, that's my best guess as to how it all went down.

    But being punched in the face is not a reason to fear for your life, and it is not sufficient to shoot and kill someone just because you think you might possibly lose a fight that you provoked.  And if Zimmerman hadn't followed and confronted Trayvon for the "crime" of walking slowly and being a young black male, none of this would have happened in the first place.

    image
  • I agree with you Geraldo.  I personally think that's pretty much how it went down too. I don't think the prosecutors painted that narrative well enough for the jury.  They basically conceded that there was a struggle, one of them was on top of the other one and one of them was screaming for help as heard on 911 tapes.  Tm's friend and his mom testified that they thought it was trayvon screaming. The defense argued it was gz screaming. In the end the jury thought there was a possibility gz feared for his life and prosecutors couldn't convince them beyond a r doubt that he didnt fear for his life.And juror b37 specifically stated she based her decision at least in part on syg which is just beyond me -- i don't understand how that's allowed when gz never invoked it.  Sorry i'm rambling.  I agree with you though.
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  • image GeraldoRivera:

    But being punched in the face is not a reason to fear for your life, and it is not sufficient to shoot and kill someone just because you think you might possibly lose a fight that you provoked.  And if Zimmerman hadn't followed and confronted Trayvon for the "crime" of walking slowly and being a young black male, none of this would have happened in the first place. 

    A thousand times, THIS.  It's what this case comes down to for me.  Zimmerman provoked a fight with someone, felt like he was losing, and then shot that person to death.  The fact that this is legal in Florida (and elsewhere) is horrifying.  And all the people defending it scare the sh!t outta me.   

  • image missymo:
    image GeraldoRivera:

    But being punched in the face is not a reason to fear for your life, and it is not sufficient to shoot and kill someone just because you think you might possibly lose a fight that you provoked.  And if Zimmerman hadn't followed and confronted Trayvon for the "crime" of walking slowly and being a young black male, none of this would have happened in the first place. 

    A thousand times, THIS.  It's what this case comes down to for me.  Zimmerman provoked a fight with someone, felt like he was losing, and then shot that person to death.  The fact that this is legal in Florida (and elsewhere) is horrifying.  And all the people defending it scare the sh!t outta me.   

    All of this, exactly.

  • image GeraldoRivera:

    Honestly, I do think that Trayvon Martin probably punched George Zimmerman. He was a kid, a 17 year old, and 17 year olds are not known for their superlative decision making skills. He saw a creepy guy following him, who then approached him, and I can only imagine what was said. I can guess it was something along the lines of "what the F are you doing here, ****?" My guess is that Trayvon got pissed off at this and swung at him. He probably hit him in the face, which is where the (possibly) broken nose came from, Zimmerman probably fell on the ground, and as Trayvon went to hit him again, Zimmerman pulled out his gun and shot him. From the evidence and from my own personal knowledge of 17 year old boys, that's my best guess as to how it all went down.

    But being punched in the face is not a reason to fear for your life, and it is not sufficient to shoot and kill someone just because you think you might possibly lose a fight that you provoked.  And if Zimmerman hadn't followed and confronted Trayvon for the "crime" of walking slowly and being a young black male, none of this would have happened in the first place.

     

    OMG!!!!  SO THIS!!!!!

    For the life of me I still can't understand how all 6 of those jurors were swayed.  There is no way in hell they could have changed my mind to vote not guilty on manslaughter.  Absolutely no way!!  At best, they would have had a hung jury.  Juror B37 pi$$es me off so much everytime I hear her try to rationalize why she voted not guilty. 

  • image missymo:
    image GeraldoRivera:

    But being punched in the face is not a reason to fear for your life, and it is not sufficient to shoot and kill someone just because you think you might possibly lose a fight that you provoked.  And if Zimmerman hadn't followed and confronted Trayvon for the "crime" of walking slowly and being a young black male, none of this would have happened in the first place. 

    A thousand times, THIS.  It's what this case comes down to for me.  Zimmerman provoked a fight with someone, felt like he was losing, and then shot that person to death.  The fact that this is legal in Florida (and elsewhere) is horrifying.  And all the people defending it scare the sh!t outta me.   

    A million times this!!!!!

  • Still waiting for the NRA and gun lovers on this board to chime in with, "If Trayvon had a gun on him, he would still be alive! Guns for everyone!" 
  • What could/should he have done?

    Use his cell phone to call the police to say there was a strange man following him.  Walk up to a neighbors door and ask them to call the police, judging that said strange man wouldn't attack him on a neighbors doorstep.

    Deciding to circle back and punch Zimmerman was a bad decision and Zimmerman's decision to follow Martin with a gun was an absolutely awful decision.  As the older man, he really should have known better. 

     

  • image sandsonik:

    What could/should he have done?

    Use his cell phone to call the police to say there was a strange man following him.  Walk up to a neighbors door and ask them to call the police, judging that said strange man wouldn't attack him on a neighbors doorstep.

    Deciding to circle back and punch Zimmerman was a bad decision and Zimmerman's decision to follow Martin with a gun was an absolutely awful decision.  As the older man, he really should have known better. 

     

    i disagree. I think he felt threatened/scared and so he punched him.   TM was the clearly the victim in this in my mind.  As for what you think he should have done I think other posters have commented that he might not have trusted the police and I'm sure if he approached the houses to ask for help GZ wouldn't have thought that was suspicious?? GZ made up his mind about Trayvon the minute he walked in the neighborhood.

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  • image lasposa425:
    image sandsonik:

    What could/should he have done?

    Use his cell phone to call the police to say there was a strange man following him.  Walk up to a neighbors door and ask them to call the police, judging that said strange man wouldn't attack him on a neighbors doorstep.

    Deciding to circle back and punch Zimmerman was a bad decision and Zimmerman's decision to follow Martin with a gun was an absolutely awful decision.  As the older man, he really should have known better. 

     

    i disagree. I think he felt threatened/scared and so he punched him.   TM was the clearly the victim in this in my mind.  As for what you think he should have done I think other posters have commented that he might not have trusted the police and I'm sure if he approached the houses to ask for help GZ wouldn't have thought that was suspicious?? GZ made up his mind about Trayvon the minute he walked in the neighborhood.

    You don't get to punch people just because you're scared of them. By that reasoning, its ok for Zimmerman to shoot Martin if he's scared of him. Besides, Zimmerman lost sight of Martin for several minutes and Martin circled around in back of him to strike him from behind. That doesn't meet the definition of self-defense. I'm not backing either man's actions. Martin had a right to walk in the neighborhood and so did Martin. If Martin thought Zimmerman was suspicious, he should have done what Zimmerman did, and reported it. His friend should have called the police. But Zimmerman should have used the sense he was born with to realize that maybe this was just another resident and maybe he was just scaring the kid by following him. Why he never identified himself or told him that he called the cop, I'll never understand. If he thought tis person was a suspicious thief, he should have been glad that he was running away, and not been following him. People want to make it more black and white than it is, IMO. Zimmerman is no hero and his actions played a part in the loss of a life, but so did Trayvon's actions. Listen, don't we all tell our children not to fight, and especially not to pick a fight? Now we have to add "Because you never know if the person you decide to attack has a gun or not".
  • I hear you but I respectfully disagree.  There's a big difference between feeling threatened and punching someone in the nose out of that fear compared with feeling threatened and shooting someone dead.  I don't think Trayvon was responsible for his death in the least.  That's my opinion.  I know others disagree and think that T was using deadly force with his bare hands but I don't think he was and GZ shot him because he was losing.

    I tell my kids to treat others with respect because it's the right thing to do and it hurts others when you don't treat them respectfully.  Not because someone might be packing heat.  How sad is it though that that's the sad reality in this country where so many people own guns? 

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  • Great eye opening video!

  • image ascornell:

    Great eye opening video!

    Barf.

    Again, trying to be respectful but .... Barf.

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  • image ascornell:

    Great eye opening video!

    Um no. Please stop posting crap here. 

    image
  • image GeraldoRivera:
    image ascornell:

    Great eye opening video!

    Um no. Please stop posting crap here. 

    i second that motion.

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