Many on the Left insist rather irrationally on labeling Martin’s death a hate crime committed by a racist.
The teen’s death doesn’t even come close to a hate crime. I’ve mentioned in previous columns the call records of George Zimmerman’s reports as he conducted personal street patrols in his gated neighborhood. Zimmerman reported all types and colors of people. As I said, he even reported potholes. Whatever he deemed “suspicious,” he called it in.
I explored possibilities for Zimmerman’s behavior that night, starting with the 911 audio of the watchman’s call.
Unlike major TV networks, I didn’t edit the transcript in order to fan racial tensions. For instance, Zimmerman only described Martin as someone who “looks black” after the dispatcher asked Zimmerman whether the individual was black, white or hispanic. The dispatcher then asked what the person was wearing and the response came back “a dark hoodie like a gray hoodie.”
Members of Congress who belong to the Black Caucus launched a public relations effort to paint the hoodie as a garment associated with black people. That idea is preposterous. One example is shown above in the graphic that consists of three screen snips taken from a Dept. of Homeland Security video, “See Something, Say Something.”
The DHS video repeatedly messages the viewer that hoodies are suspicious. The hoodied folks in the video are white. President Barack Obama’s own DHS came up with that video.
Aside from clothing, gated neighborhoods might be a topic for discussion. Most gated neighborhoods do not welcome strangers. I recall a friend of my younger daughter, a young male college student who started a lawn mowing business. He often carried promotional fliers around and left them on doorsteps. One day he told me the gated neighborhood next to my (ungated) neighborhood didn’t exactly welcome him. One resident told him in no uncertain terms he better not come back to her neighborhood with his marketing materials.
You might think that gated neighborhoods are only sought by the wealthy. You’d be wrong. There’s an interesting analysis of gated neighborhood trends in USA Today. The piece ran ten years ago. At the time, more Hispanics lived in gated neighborhoods—a surprise to me. The paper said:
“Homeowners in gated communities live in upscale and mostly white developments. But renters, who are more ethnically diverse and less affluent, are nearly 21/2 times as likely as homeowners to live behind gates or walls.
Whether they own or rent, Hispanics are more likely to live in such communities than whites or blacks. That may be partly because there is a large Hispanic population in the West and Southwest, areas with the largest concentration of gated communities.”
The International Foundation for Protection Officers also has information about gated neighborhoods as well as crime watch programs.
IFPO offers definitions for different types of gated neighborhoods. Zimmerman’s neighborhood, based on what I read in news accounts, would fall into the “Security Zone Community” category. IFPO said:
“The final type of gated community is the security zone community. Unlike the other two communities, security zone communities are gated by the residents themselves and can somewhat represent a ‘fortress" mentality.’ The fortress mentality is perhaps clearest here, where groups of people band together to shut out their neighbors"(Tucker, 1998, p. 3). Many of these new communities are located in inner city and lower income neighborhoods where the residents see crime increasing. The fear of crime and outsiders is the major reason that these people gate themselves in.”
[In the section on neighborhood watch patrols, IFPO provides information about what to expect:]
“Citizen patrols utilize volunteers who walk or drive an area on a regular basis to report incidents and problems to the police and provide a visible presence that deters criminal activity. They are in no way police officers; in contrast, they carry no weapons, are non-confrontational, and always plan their work with the local authorities. A citizen patrol, as the NCPC (1999) reports, can cover a neighborhood, an apartment complex, a business district, or a park. They contact the police dispatcher through two-way radios or cellular phones.”
Martin’s death was possibly the end result of missteps, fear of strangers, abandonment of common sense, outright panic and poor decision-making on the part of the shooter. The teen’s death was an unnecessary tragedy that raised many questions from the entire community, regardless of skin color. There was a near-universal call for a more thorough, public investigation of the events that caused a teen to lose his life.
However, by no stretch of the imagination could Martin’s death be called a hate crime. It’s likely that even those shouting the label for political ends know that in their hearts.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/April 3, 2012)
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