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Posts tagged ‘trayvon’

15
Jul

A Few Points From a Worried Mind About Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman (and Our Nation)

By John M. Phillips

An original civil rights pioneer, Abraham Lincoln, often said “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

We, as a country, were founded on freedom- freedom to do, say and act how we wish.  It was a system of ideals – a literal Constitution– that stemmed from oppression and longing for expression.  But that very freedom was tucked inside Pandora’s Box.  Because my free expression and your free expression (or desire to avoid my expression) may contrast. Our grandfathers may not have valued each others’ rights, but that doesn’t mean that we have to hold on to that dowry of hate.  We cannot hold on to that.  Pandora’s box of freedom is open and making everyone upset, some people crazy and dividing this nation further.  As KRS-One rapped, “Self destruction, (we)’re headed for self destruction.”

Even though some hold sacred the Constitutional Right to the violent ‘defense of self’ guaranteed by the Second Amendment, other Amendments were drafted to provide rights to women and minorities- to force peace and quality.  It means our forefathers were wrong sometimes, too.  Even Thomas Jefferson thought the Constitution of this nation should be redrafted every generation or so.  Yet, some now use those very Second Amendment guarantees to define freedom in America. Lincoln would undoubtedly define that as- “faltering.”  We cannot impinge or insult one another and use the Second Amendment to bail ourselves out of mere free or misunderstanding.  We cannot be violent mice waiting for our tail to be stepped on to teach the great elephant a lesson.

What if -and this is just a hypothetical- George Zimmerman is as much of a “wanted man” as his own family and legal counsel claim.  And what if -to continue that hypothetical- someone he considers menacing (a black child with candy, soft drink and a possible bad attitude, perhaps) comes at him in his car or in a store- fist in the air.  Can he shoot and claim he was standing his ground or was in defense of self?  And do it again?  And do it again?  Where is the line of defense of self and reason?  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world where the Stand Your Ground killer is not only legal, but he (or she) is festering among us.  ‘Dexter’ could run four more seasons if the writers dare approach the laws of lethal force and Stand Your Ground in Florida.

I respectfully ask -so what- that you agree Michael Dunn was wrong to kill Jordan Davis.  It won’t bring Jordan back– a college bound kid with a more potential than Dunn ever had.  It is time to stop the faltering.  Or it is time to give up on some freedoms.  Or just to find some common thread of kindness.  We are headed towards self destruction.  I don’t need you to agree, I need you to act.

As for Zimmerman, the jury has spoken.  Yet, the jury had a -still- unanswered question before it spoke- a question I still ask -why didn’t anyone explain manslaughter?  When you drive recklessly and kill someone, it is arguably manslaughter.  When you act carelessly with a firearm, it is arguably manslaughter.  When you kill someone with the intent to simply pull the trigger, it -legally- is manslaughter.  And it was never argued.  And I don’t believe it was self defense for any of about 50 reasons located here.  The Prosecutors’ silence to omit manslaughter is only made louder by their desire to go on every talk show and justify their failures.

My only request, you have trial in less than two and a half months of a murderer who never had a hair harmed, ever called the police, who just went to his hotel and ate pizza after shooting ten times in a car, killing Jordan Davis- Because Stand Your Ground told him he could.  And this nation falters under bad attitudes and worse laws.  Get to work, please.  Justice depends on it.

11
Jul

Legal Links: Legal, Sports and Weird News

Freedom of Speech? No thanks: 7 people who have been arrested because of something they wrote on Facebook (Business Insider)

If the SCOTUS/Anthony Kennedy do not intervene, California will release 10,000 prison inmates (Business Insider)

Lawyer abandons his $200k Ferrari to get to court on time (Above the Law)

Attorney John M. Phillips gives his case for a conviction of manslaughter of George Zimmerman (Know The Lawyer)

Death Valley is so hot you can fry an egg- literally…And it is becoming a problem [Video] (Yahoo! News)

Here is one of the better summaries of the Aaron Hernandez situation (US News)

A second Denver Broncos executive is facing DUI charges (CBS Sports)

A woman was caught trying to to hire an undercover cop to kill her husband, because “divorce” and “breaking his heart” were not options (YouTube)

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is due in court today, makes first public appearance (Chicago Tribune)

World’s largest debt collection agency agrees to pay record settlement of $3.2 million for harassing individuals with phone calls (ABA Journal)

9
Jul

George Zimmerman – The Case for Manslaughter (Because It’s About My Child, Too)

atticusGeorge Zimmerman – The Case for Manslaughter

(Because It’s About My Child, Too)

by John M. Phillips

I keep asking myself- have we opened Pandora’s Box so wide that what George Zimmerman did is ACTUALLY legal and reasonable and entirely free from punishment? Early on, I thought it might be.  Before I saw a deceased Jordan Davis and consoled his tearful parents, before Newtown, before spending months really looking at this country, I thought George Zimmerman was just “looking out for his own neighborhood” and might have had to shoot to protect his own life.  And then I looked at life around me.  And then I looked at all of the unreasonable and avoidable actions and inactions that caused him to take Trayvon’s life.

I start with a little about me and my family and what I learned about fear and prejudice in America.  We were burglarized last August.  Seeing my crying wife hold my crying child while police invaded our invaded house, made me wonder- do we all need to arm up to prevent the bad from taking over.  With this thought and $50, I wound up with about 100 others in a Concealed Weapon Permit class, driven there by fear.  This only made my fear worse.  That was the its design- profit off of fear.  Fear sells guns and breeds contempt and power.

The class was put on by a gun store with a cheesy name and the two men who ran the class were like circus barkers:

FoCWPBadger just $162 and 4 hours, you, too, can be master of the universe.  We even sell a book written by the top gun lawyer in the country, which you must buy.  It tells you how to ‘get away’ with self defense.  Live in the grey area of the gun laws.  It tells you more than just, ‘don’t shoot them in the back,’ but what Stand Your Ground really means and how it protects your rights as an American citizen.

The two gun store employees proceeded to tell us more about boycotting certain specific businesses who did not allow guns on the premises than the laws we needed to know.  Over the four hour presentation, they each pulled out six or seven guns from their various hiding spots, taking a few moments to give the sales pitch on each. I was so entranced, I actually bought one of the guns they pitched- the Bodyguard. They did well that day.  They sold- America.

And, as I went alone, I remember just listening to the conversations around me.  It was a few weeks before the 2012 Presidential election and most were there in fear of the re-election of “the black President.”  Others had bought the NRA’s propaganda that the FBI was coming door-to-door to take guns or that permits would be more tightly regulated.  Some spoke against the “thug” in Sanford who had been shot and speculated on who he was “staking out.” The rise in crime, the fear of minority power and other conspiracy theories drove quite a few people there to join the 1 million Concealed Weapon Permit holders in the State of Florida.  Some had been victims.  Some just wanted to feel less fear. All craved the lustful taste of power over fear a gun was promised to provide.

I left, hanging my head in shame.  Who had I become?  Had I let fear overcome me? Having grown up in the great State of Alabama, I knew racists.  But they were only racists when they were around those they trusted.  Now, racism is openly justified by crime reports, broken politics and black teenagers in the wrong place at the wrong time. Holy shit.

And then, weeks later, the God above put me on the couch of Ron Davis. His son, Jordan Davis was just shot and killed by a man with a gun in his glove box.  Michael Dunn’s infamous last words were, “you aren’t going to talk to me like that.”  People say it was about loud music, but it was about where we are as a society.  It was about hate and intolerance, not race as I said in one of the first national interviews I did on the matter. I sat there with tears pouring down my and my associate’s faces- a broken man.  Ron and Lucia had media trucks following them trying to scoop one another.  All three local stations knocked on the door while I was there.  Days earlier, he was a happy father hearing his son lead the Thanksgiving prayer for the first time, and now he was a broken man because of another broken man- Michael Dunn and his legal gun and the empowerment and control it brought him.  He claims self defense and Stand Your Ground, as well.

We will deal with that matter in due course, but it changed me.  It changed the way I view life and tolerance, love and passion.  I grew very angry with lawyers, victims advocates and others who were using these victims or were in it for the profit.  I grew impatient with the close minded.  I walked as close as I could in the shoes of someone who had lost a child to gun violence.  I wound up wanting to find solutions more and more.  I felt (and feel) I can stop a few bullets. Trayvon can stop more.  Jordan can stop more.  The butterfly effect of all of our efforts can stop even more.  Or maybe heal some hearts.  Or something.  We have to, because the next bullet could be flying towards any of us.  And instead of Michael Dunn’s death sentence of “you aren’t going to talk to me like that,” George Zimmerman’s was basically, “you aren’t going to walk in my neighborhood like that.”  What sentence will do you in.

My dad always said, “don’t start no shit, and there won’t be none (sic).”  Let’s look at that-

So, why do we need George Zimmerman to be convicted and why, as a lawyer, do I feel he should be convicted?

On February 26, 2012, Zimmerman did one right thing- he called police. That was the LAST thing he did correct, reasonably and with any intelligence.  If he stopped there, Trayvon Martin would be alive and George Zimmerman would be free of the justice system.  But he compounded neglect of omission and commission thereafter- manslaughter. Read more »