Things have spun out of control in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case in Sanford, Fla. ("Zimmerman's account of killing corroborated," Web, Thursday).
The police were instantly and unfairly blasted for failing to arrest Mr. Zimmerman, the Sanford police chief stepped down when he shouldn't have, Mr. Zimmerman was already fingered as the guilty party before a thorough and fair investigation was completed, civil rights leaders descended upon the town pointing accusatory fingers, and a bounty was placed on Mr. Zimmerman's head. In addition, media outlets and talking heads put their own spin on the story.
The case has now devolved into a turf battle of tense race relations. Parties are jumping to conclusions that are not based on facts or evidence but instead on the preponderance of divergent public opinion.
Undoubtedly it is a tragedy that this episode occurred at all and resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin. However, in light of new facts based on an autopsy of the deceased, photos of Mr. Zimmerman coupled with a paramedic's report, additional witness reports and other information, the determination of who the bona fide victim was may, in time, demonstrate that Trayvon Martin was not the completely innocent party some might have hoped.
Certainly Mr. Zimmerman made a tremendous mistake in not obeying the dispatcher's orders to remain in his vehicle until police arrived. What followed that instruction, however, is where the case presently stands.
Like everyone else in this country and under the tenets of the Constitution and the laws of the land, Mr. Zimmerman remains innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. What is particularly disturbing is the hatred that has been directed at him, to the point of a bounty placed on his head by groups that have faced no consequences for such threats.
It is also disconcerting to contemplate the possibility that Mr. Zimmerman could be scapegoated to avoid the eruption of civil unrest if the results are less than satisfactory to some individuals.
Calm heads, objective professionalism and the desire to seek the truth without bias or the sway of public opinion must prevail. Anything less than that will lead to the demise of the values and laws of this country.
KAREN L. BUNE
Department of Criminology, Law and Society
George Mason University
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