Why isn’t Trayvon Martin’s killer under arrest? On Feb. 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead in Sanford, Fla., by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, 28. But so far, Zimmerman, who is half Latino, has not been arrested or charged for killing an unarmed youth. Why? Here, three theories:
1. Florida’s “Shoot First” gun law makes prosecution futile
The 2005 ”Stand Your Ground” law allows permitted gun owners like Zimmerman to use lethal force on anybody, in any public space, if they reasonably believe it will “prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” Courts say the burden is on prosecutors to prove that the shooter was not acting in self-defense. According to Henry Pierson Curtis of the Orlando Centennial ”In case after case during the past six years, Floridians who shot and killed unarmed opponents have not been prosecuted.”
2. The local cops were negligent and sloppy
The police either lied or didn’t know about Zimmerman’s past run-in with the law, evident vigilanteism, and 46 calls to 911 since Jan. 1, says Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones. Then there’s a witness’ allegation that a Stanford cop told her to change her story to hearing Zimmerman — not Martin — call for help, Martin’s mysteriously vanished cellphone, the police’s inexplicable failure to test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol, and the police department’s troubling history of not prosecuting attacks on black people.
3. Martin was black and Zimmerman isn’t
“Activists have gravitated towards racism as the prime motive for the shooting,” and it’s hard to disagree, says Chauncey DeVega at Salon. And “common sense renders a clear judgement here: If a black man shot and killed a white kid for holding a bag of Skittles he would already be [in] jail.”