As a society, we are entering a new age where we need to rethink who we are and what we are about. The United States is one nation divided into fifty states. Our system of government is often misunderstood by those not actively a part of it. This country has a unique system which allows us as a society to monitor ourselves with the laws of the state we live within as well as the laws in place on a federal level.
This concept was created at the signing of the Constitution to keep a separate but equal balance in place among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government for the good of society. Special interest groups are often unhappy. Our government must address the concerns of all its members, not only those of the loudest special interest group. This is why the Constitution is the law of the land.
The United States is facing many battles these days. Aside from international terrorism, we are concerned with domestic terrorism, the role of the active shooter, growing gang violence, and so-called sovereign citizens claiming they are not answerable to representatives of state governments. Now a separatist group identified as The New Black Panther Party and its leader Hashim Nzinga, are calling for a bounty for the apprehension of George Zimmerman. Nzinga was subsequently arrested March 26 for parole violations as a felon in possession of a firearm in DeKalb County, Georgia.
Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman when Zimmerman was serving as a self-appointed neighborhood watch member. Zimmerman reported Martin as a suspicious person to the Sanford, Florida Police Department. The police dispatcher advised Zimmerman that an officer was responding to his location.
According to the 911 tape, the dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin. After a short period of time, there was a confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman. It is reported that Martin attacked Zimmerman. It is possible that a racial epithet was recorded by the police prior to the confrontation.
Zimmerman reportedly suffered physical injuries and Martin is now dead. Martin did not have a weapon. Zimmerman has not been arrested. Media outlets are reporting on a public demand for justice across the United States. Some citizens believe the police did not impartially investigate the facts. The public reaction is as if the investigation is over when, in fact, it has just begun.
I truly understand why there is such an outcry for justice, but justice is never served when decisions are based on pure emotion or one’s personal views. Justice is served by ascertaining the facts. It appears to many onlookers that the Sanford Police Department is not doing its job.
That may not be the case. Initiating an immediate arrest is not always the most appropriate course of action. In a major case, such as the circumstances causing the death of Trayvon Martin, it is wise to initiate a two-pronged approach.
The first is to initiate an investigation. Obtain the facts. If an immediate cause for arrest is not present, then an arrest should not be made. This is not an uncommon approach by law enforcement. We often have heard about cases of a missing child or spouse reported by a family member. Quite often, the person who reported the missing person is not arrested. This very person may become a person of interest if their statements do not support the facts. Law enforcement agencies may initiate a follow-up investigation based on the facts first obtained from the caller. This may be the case in the Trayvon Martin investigation. The circumstances requiring the use of deadly physical force as alleged by Mr. Zimmerman are under review.
The secondary investigation focuses on establishing probable cause for arrest as well as establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This step often is misunderstood and goes unrecognized.
I understand members of the community who question what has happened, but there is no room for taking the law into one’s own hands by establishing a bounty. This situation should bring us together, not divide us. There is no other appropriate course of action outside of the law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation.
Keep in mind that George Zimmerman has cooperated with the initial phase of the investigation. His actions and those of Trayvon Martin are under investigation. The one crucial bit of information provided by the media is that Zimmerman was told by a police dispatcher not to confront Martin. This is a key issue, because the police department instructed Zimmerman not to take any action. The reason is simple. At this point, Trayvon Martin was doing nothing more than walking down a street. Walking down the street is not against the law.
Since the incident, Zimmerman has retained a lawyer who has indicated that he was attacked by Trayvon Martin. Reportedly, Zimmerman sustained injuries. All this information, along with the statements made by Zimmerman to the police at the time of the incident will help in the fact finding. Since the time of this incident, there has been growing tension, which has spread nationwide. Zimmerman has now isolated himself as advised by his attorney.
The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) has taken action which does not serve a legitimate purpose. This group is recognized as a separatist group of the Black Panther Party according to the (SPLC) Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. This is indicative of true justice. It is centered on one and all.
The NBPP is of the opinion that it needs to take the law into its own hands since law enforcement failed to do its job. This perception is incorrect. The NBPP believes that Zimmerman is subject to a citizen’s arrest. That is also not an accurate statement.
If a citizen initiates a “citizen’s arrest,” the citizen is required to turn over the person in custody to the local police department. Once this is done, the police department follows up with the arrest or releases the person from custody if probable cause is not present. Since the investigation is still active, there is no probable cause to act upon.
Once the investigation has been concluded, if grounds are present for Zimmerman’s arrest, then law enforcement officers will initiate the arrest, not a citizen. Once again, an investigation is going about the shooting of a youth. The ethnicity of the youth is not the issue. The issue has to do with the circumstances which led to his death. We are one society. Justice is to be sought for our society as a whole.
Mr. Baylor Johnson, spokesperson for the ACLU of Florida indicated it is inspiring for so many people calling out for justice. He stated, “There is a tragic hateful history of crimes with clear and undeniable racial motives that have been overlooked or swept under the rug.” Unfortunately, when immediate action wasn’t taken in this case, it was presumed the Chief of Police had made up his mind regarding what happened. Once again, this was at the beginning of the case not the conclusion. An open investigation is still in place.
Johnson was asked if he believed charges should be brought against Zimmerman. Reportedly, Johnson stated that is up to law enforcement to come to what conclusions they think are fitting. This gentleman spoke with the voice of reason. He, in essence, is calling for the facts to determine the appropriate course of action.
A number of steps have been taken since this incident unfolded. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, Jr. has temporarily stepped down for the good of the investigation. A special prosecutor was assigned to the case The FBI is overseeing this case and Department of Justice is involved in determining if this incident should be addressed as a Hate Crime. The response in place is what society has a right to expect. The findings of the investigation will determine the next step.
The bounty should be withdrawn in the interest of justice. It is unclear how New Black Panther Party leader Hashim Nzinga’s arrest will affect the bounty.
Learn more about this article here: