11 March 2012

Florida News (Pathos and Bathos)

by Leigh Lundin

Florida postcardAsinine Mule

Stuart, Florida.  How desperate is your cocaine habit? Martin County police arrested Roman Blair on drug charges and found crack in his, er, crack. What an ass.

Streaking Justice

Melbourne, Florida.  While one dude had crack problems, another had streaks. Melbourne fugitive Matthew Ibarria was caught napping naked in Georgia. The (alleged) fool decided to outrun police and smartly turned onto a street that dead-ends at a river, where he bailed. Vans don't float and neither did Ibarria's excuses.

Elvis has Left the Asylum

Miami, Florida.  In 1990, Michael Conley was convicted of murdering a Canadian tourist at a Fort Lauderdale motel, but beat that rap due to prosecutorial error. Last month he was back in a motel threatening police SWAT, bomb squad, and FBI with ricin and C-4. He later blamed the threats on 'diabetic disorientation'. Conley is known for another crime: He's an Elvis impersonator who sang outside the courtroom during his murder trial.

Elvis has Gone Bananas

Naples, Florida.  It gets worse: A man monkeying around with a gun claimed to be Elvis' brother, a friend of George Bush, and director of the CIA, also told police he's part orangutan related through 'monkey blood'.

Government Gone Bananas

Miami, Florida. 
2600 high school kids helped shape government response when adults miserably failed.

A top Miami senior honors student and valedictorian who's studying to become a heart surgeon and is courted by Ivy League schools, is caught up in the politics of the day. Even though Daniela Pelaez has lived in this country since the age of four and her father and brother (who serves in the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan) long ago had been given legal residency, a federal judge last week set an example and denied her and her younger sister a green card and ordered the siblings deported to Columbia.

Shocked at this miscarriage, her fellow students made Miami proud, making posters and planning a protest, joined by Superintendant of Schools Alberto Carvalho. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wrote ICE asking them to exercise restraint.

Even the White House made its concerns known. Vice President Joe Biden called the decision 'mindless'. He went on to say "Why in God's name would you want to take a kid with this talent and this capacity and deport her? It's against our national interest."

And ICE 'sort of' listened. They postponed Daniela's deportation for two years. It's not a perfect decision, but it's a start.

On a Sad Note

Floorida bleeding

Sanford, Florida. 
At one time, I had an Orlando neighbor who was in his mid-to-latter twenties. He obviously worked out heavily and he cultivated an intimidating stance in which he leaned forward, looming large toward those he was talking to.

Within the first few minutes of meeting someone and often after that, he'd inform people he was a former cop. "Why 'former' cop?" another neighbor mused. "At his age, that would be an awfully short career. I wonder if he was dismissed?"

Two weeks ago in the town of Sanford directly north of Orlando, a teenage boy was strolling down quiet, gated community streets of The Retreat at Twin Lakes, having bought an Arizona Iced Tea and Skittles for his little brother. Minutes after his purchase, Trayvon Martin was shot dead.

To date, there has been no arrest or even hint of an arrest.

There is no doubt who shot him; in fact, the killer readily admitted he killed the boy. The shooter used a licensed 9mm automatic. The killer also happens to be the 28-year-old captain of his Neighborhood Watch who, according to friends, is studying to be a cop.

And… the boy is black and the shooter is white.

Which brings up the question circulating here in Florida– why hasn't the shooter been arrested?

The man, George Zimmerman, violated several rules. First, Neighborhood Watch wardens are not permitted to carry firearms. Secondly, they are supposed to travel in pairs and aren't allowed to confront suspects. Thirdly, the police 911 operator apparently instructed Zimmerman not to follow the 'suspect' and not to leave his car. I say 'apparently' because authorities haven't released the 911 recording.

Zimmerman disobeyed all those instructions and a boy is dead.

His defense is… self defense. He claims he was within his legal rights both in confronting the victim and 'shooting in self-defense' with his legally permitted weapon. This against a teen armed with tea and Skittles.

Debate on the web has polarized: one side questions if Zimmerman was a gung-ho cop wanna-be who started a fight and was possibly getting his ass kicked, or if the boy was a troublemaker recently disciplined in school. Some have absurdly questioned why a teen boy was out strolling at seven on a Sunday evening!

Three things appear obvious to me. One is that Zimmerman can't claim a castle defense. The boy didn't attempt to enter anyone's home or car. His sin may have been WWB, walking while black.

Another is that few of us expect to lose a son on a quiet Sunday evening's stroll. The Martins certainly deserve to see the case in court.

And finally, a family's lost a child and a man his reputation. No matter what happens in the future, he has a death on his hands. There are no winners here.


  1. That's a tragic story.

    I can't help thinking that the obsession with gated communities and 'security' is often a cover for old fashioned racism.

  2. It does make one wonder, Janice.

    A CWP gun-owners forum with a friend of Zimmerman's as a member took a reasonable approach trying to puzzle out what happened. The thinking seemed to run that the boy noticed he was being followed (stalked?) and took exception, and Zimmerman may have taken exception to the lad taking exception and it went downhill from there.

  3. I started not to comment on the report about the guy who shot the Black teen because when I read such stories, I get extremely angry and have to sit in my easy chair for about 30 minutes to cool down. It seems that in this so-called post-racial society (I’m not even sure what they means), it is still safe to kill a Black kid without fear of punishment. It doesn’t make any difference whether the shooter was a wannabe cop or the kid was a trouble maker, killing him was a crime that at least should have put the killer on trial for something. Was the kid armed? Or was it a case of a Black kid walking in the wrong neighborhood?

  4. Thanks for mentioning defensivecarry.com

    There's no excuse I can see to justify the shooting or not taking him into custody. Our discussion didn't get why the report was blacked out and the 911 tapes not released. Gambler99 is a friend of the shooter but he also wonders whats going on. I don't get why the DA says he won't take the case to court until the sheriff makes the arrest and the police say they won't arrest until the DA indicts. Makes me wonder if the guy has more friends than we know about.

    Anyway thanks for a fair mention.

  5. Louis, I agree. Almost everyone seems confused why an arrest hasn't been made. We're striving to be fair with a paucity of available information, but it seems clear the kid was unarmed and innocent of wrongdoing while his killer appears to have violated all sorts of protocols. You don't get to walk when something like this happens.

    Jeff, I didn't read anywhere close to 100% of the comments, but a thorough sampling seemed that most on that site were honestly struggling to come up with answers. I noted even George Zimmerman's friend seemed perplexed by the events and the ho-hum aftermath.

  6. A Broad Abroad11 March, 2012 23:45

    On a lighter note: Asinine Mule must have been the butt of many a joke once the police got to the bottom of the case.

  7. Jee wiz, neighborhood watch! I know they can be useful. (And, out here, they’re expressly forbidden to carry.) Yet, in my neighborhood, the old lady who’s the leader used to fire off these flyers that are just nutty. In the last one, she told everyone who the Neighborhood Watch thought they should vote for in local, state, and even the presidential election! Haven’t seen another flyer since then, I’m glad to say. lol

  8. Dixon, my area has Watch signs, but I've never heard a peep out of them, maybe a good thing.

    ABA, that's "capital" PUNishment.

  9. The news reported today, Wednesday 14 March, that the decision whether to prosecute was being considered in the George Zimmerman case. According to the National Sheriffs' Association, Zimmerman broke more rules than I delineated above. Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel published this opinion piece.

  10. Today, Friday 16 March, the state attorney's offices spent the day saying the 911 tapes will be released in half an hour… all day long, according to WFTV channel 9. The possibility remains the tapes could be released tonight or tomorrow.

    Robert Zimmerman told the Orlando Sentinel the 911 recordings will exonerate his son and 'prove' his son did not confront Martin. One source says Zimmerman left his vehicle and that Martin attacked him.

    Two witnesses told WKMG channel 6 they attempted to telephone 911 to say they heard Trayvon Martin screaming for help. In their view, both women believe javascript:void(0)George Zimmerman has no basis for self defense.

    Meanwhile, George Zimmerman quietly moved out of his residence to an unknown location.

  11. About 10:45p, police finally released the recordings, one from Zimmerman and eight from witnesses. Apparently some of the confusion is that police believe the man heard screaming is George Zimmerman while witnesses believe the screaming person is Trayvon Martin.

    Zimmerman's call: "Real suspicious guy. … Looks like he's up to no good, on drugs or something. Just staring, walking around staring at the houses. … Now he's coming toward me… hands in his waistband. … Something's wrong with him, yup. He's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. These assholes always get away. He's down for it. He's heading toward the back entrance." And moments later Zimmerman says "He ran."

    In other words, Zimmerman himself reports that Martin is running away from him. Police 911 clearly tells Zimmerman not to follow him, but Zimmerman didn't heed the advice.

    Zimmerman seems simultaneously scared and running on adrenalin. However, it's difficult to see this case as anything other than an excited execution.

    One problem is the huge gap between Zimmerman's perception he was seeing a miscreant versus the reality that an innocent kid was on the way back from the store. One of the things we learned today was that prosecutors told the police they don't have enough to prosecute. That seems a bit hard to fathom.

  12. Late Monday evening, 19 March, we learned that 3 federal agencies is investigating the shooting.

    We also learned a few days earlier that Trayvon's suspension was due to tardiness and not any other kind of discipline problem.


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