Who Watches the Watchmen?

A neighborhood watch sign attached to a door.

A neighborhood watch sign attached to a door. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband’s biological mother – psycho as she is – was absolutely right about at least one thing: “There’s three sides to every story.” The truth always lies somewhere on the continuum in between the two sides. I am now going to jump in and apply this analogy to the current Martin/Zimmerman tragedy. But with this caveat: We may never know exactly what occurred between these two people. So, what if – feeling threatened by someone following him – Trayvon was standing HIS ground? Eyewitness accounts differ -and the 911 tapes are unclear about who exactly was yelling for help.

Mistakes were made by Zimmerman – HUGE mistakes. Mistakes that Trayvon Martin paid for with his life. Neighborhood watch personnel are NOT supposed to be armed. The key word there, my friends is “watch”. Neighborhood Watches are supposed to be trained to observe and report – nothing more. They are civilians who do not have the expertise to handle potentially violent or criminal events. Emergency Response Personnel (ie the Police) are trained to use their weapons, and only as a last resort. And as we have so sadly seen – someone is dead now because a trigger happy cop wannabe used a gun he should not have been carrying whilst “on duty”. What kind of training and oversight was provided to Zimmerman – and the Neighborhood Watch organization in general? WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN???? These are questions that absolutely need to be answered – and soon.

Zimmerman outweighed Martin by at least 70 pounds if not more -so I find it hard to reconcile that he did not fight back with his fists instead of shooting – IF in fact Martin attacked him as he is alleging. Although Zimmerman did show signs of being involved in a physical struggle (bruises, contusions, and grass stains). I work in human services -where it sometimes becomes necessary to “restrain” or subdue folks who are in danger of doing harm to themselves or someone else. In those cases, we are obligated to only use the amount of force necessary to overcome active resistance, nothing more. Its apples to apples. How can a grown adult justify shooting an UNARMED teenager who isn’t even in his weight class? (OK Trayvon was 6’2″ but certainly not filled out at 140 pounds) To my way of thinking, standing your ground should mean using equal force to repel an attack. Clearly, a bullet is a disproportional to a fist . I could see an unequal response (perhaps) if the “Watchman” was in fact a lady. (ok yes, I have a gender bias here) I’m sure we all can agree a young adult male could definitely present a threat to any woman, armed or not. But this was not the case.

And lets look at the race card here for a moment – Zimmerman is not a “white supremacist” by any stretch of the imagination. He’s got a Caucasian father and a Hispanic mother. NO white supremacist “organization” would touch him with a ten foot pole. They would consider him Latino – period. So those people who are draping him with the proverbial white sheet are WAAYYY off the mark.

Let’s lose the Rhetoric and put this simply- What we have here folks is a person who used extremely poor judgement & inserted himself into a situation that should best have been left to the police to handle. He aggressively pursued Martin after the police specifically told him NOT to. Then instead of defending himself man to man when allegedly attacked-took the cowards way out and shot his alleged attacker. And then, invoked the “stand your ground” defense to deflect the blame from himself. Typical of this society today. Let’s blame everybody else for our own lack of judgement….

And the kicker for me is that if anyone had a “stand your ground”defense it was Trayvon Martin. Being chased/threatened by an armed man for no apparent reason?? Yeahhhh….If Zimmerman had done as he was supposed to and stayed within the scope of his watch responsibilities then Trayvon would still be alive, mad and bewildered at the cops perhaps, but breathing nonetheless. What happened is not a hate crime, but it most certainly is a crime. And an arrogant one.

But it’s not about race- its about an inflated sense of self importance and paranoia (Zimmerman’s ego, and alleged tendency to cry wolf and label just about anyone “suspicious”). Crime Watch organizations really need to start scrutinizing and screening their volunteers carefully, thoroughly, & thoughtfully. Are CORI checks done? I would think so, but that’s not enough. What type of training is provided? Recertifications? Psych Evals? Oversight? I say again – Who watches the Watchmen? – because they clearly need an increased level of supervison if tragedies like this are to be prevented in the future.

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13 thoughts on “Who Watches the Watchmen?

  1. Regardless of what happened, we are still a nation of Constitutional law and due process of which Zimmerman is not getting in the court of public opinion. Vigilante justice and Monday morning quarterbacking are fueling the fires of something this nation may unfortunately regret.

  2. Eye witness accounts are rarely accurate, especially in emotionally charged, quick situations. We usually see what we anticipate seeing. For the “three sides of the story”, we may have Zimmerman’s account some day. We may have other people around the scene. We will never have Trayvon’s side of the story. I doubt that we will every really know what happened.
    Oscar

    • and one of the eyewitnesses is only 13. Found out this morning Z’s father is a retired judge. Z has had run ins with the law prior – including one arrest and charges of domestic battery that were later dropped. So, 1. how did he get cleared to carry a firearm with an arrest record? 2. How did he get cleared to join a neighborhood watch with said arrest record? CORI’s are supposed to catch that kind of stuff, right? And, he had applied to and attended some sort of citizens police training in VA, lending some credence to my theory about him being a frustrated cop-wannabe… But its still not adding up to a hate crime in my mind…. I’m looking into this with great interest and great sadness. And strangely, my 19 year old and her friends seem to be almost completely unaware of all the brouhaha. I got her up to speed pretty quickly but I thought it was odd that people her age around here were pretty much in the dark about the incident. (you’d think it would be trending on their social networks, but apparently not)

  3. Hello momma E.

    Been doing a lot of reading on this and can only conclude that we know Martin is dead and Zimmerman shot him. All NWatch training teaches see and report, do not follow, do not try to apprehend. Absolutely no guns allowed!

    Personally if Zimmerman was attacked, it still has no bearing on the outcome. See my latest blog and I have more info coming.

    Good job, we need to keep these situations out front.

    • just found out that the watch “organization” Zimmerman was part of was not even affiliated with the National Sheriffs Association Neighborhood Watch Program…. so not even the benefit of their resources was available. So who provided guidance and training? This keeps getting curiouser and curiouser – and not in a good way.

      • All NW’s are self managed, under the central guidelines. Local police/sheriff have liaison personnel, but in the end it is a self governing group. I hadn’t heard about him not being associated with the official organization. That’s another curve in this case.

        Stay tuned…

  4. You raise a lot of questions that I hope a LOT of community organizations are asking this week. For mercy’s sake, we have to have background checks to assist CCD instructors.

    • I have to be CORI ed just to chaperone my kids’ class trips…. Just seems to me like this Zimmerman guy might be one of those ” thwarted” police types. Too short, too fat, or too unstable to get on the force? I’d really be interested to know if in fact he’d ever applied to be a cop. But sure, go ahead and be on the crime watch, dude….. I’d also like to know more about the vetting and training processes for crime watch volunteers. Do they differ from city/city , state/state?

    • “George Hall, a retired Presbyterian minister, said he was Zimmerman’s neighbor for 20 years in Manassas, Va., until about 2001. Hall said Zimmerman and his brother attended church, and he wrote a recommendation for Zimmerman for a police academy in 2004.” BOOM! called it! But sometimes I hate being right! Here’s the entire article – http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20120328/US.Neighborhood.Watch.Zimmerman_s.Support/

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