Despite knowing full well ATS is very well known for argumentative, passive aggressive wordsmiths and armchair lawyers (including me at times), I am
putting this out there to see if amongst the most astute, something like a new law could/should be in order to prevent the tragedy that occurred
between Martin and Zimmerman. Let me preface this by saying I am in full support of the justice system and according the law, as well as the evidence
of the case, the right call was made with regards to Zimmermans not guilty verdict. Having said that, I still feel it was a tragedy in as much that a
17 year old young mans life was taken and another life ruined (Zimmerman), both of which I feel could have been avoided.
I propose a new set of rules/laws with regards to participants of any neighborhood watch program. Now, before any of you jump the shark here, I am not
insinuating that Zimmerman or any other concerned citizen (as a member of a neighborhood watch) needs reform because I feel his actions were wrong, as
in Zimmermans case he clearly broke no laws. However, as a member of a neighborhood watch program, you are indeed putting yourself in a position of
authority, accountable to the neighborhood, accountable to the police with regards to reporting, and accountable for actions (or lack of) you may
take. You are volunteering to potentially put yourself in a position of confrontation, a position of authority with respect to protecting your
neighborhood. I think it only reasonable and responsible that anyone who participates in such endeavors should hold true to some form(s) of rules and
1. I think anyone who participates in a neighborhood watch program should be required to take some form of training. This training should include, but
not limited to, how to properly report an incident. How to properly handle different (common) situations that may arise. And to teach applicable rules
and/or laws with regards to participating in a neighborhood watch program.
I think this is important because, in this particular case, if Zimmerman was properly trained on how to handle the situation, he may have been able to
avoid a confrontation or at the very least, how to better handle the situation instead of fostering a situation that could potentially (and did)
escalate in to death. Again, I am not proclaiming Zimmerman guilty here, but a bit of training on how to avoid these situations, if at all possible,
could potentially go a long way. Even when one is 'in the right', it is always best to try and avoid violence when possible. If some training
increases that possibility then it should be mandatory.
2. All neighborhood watch participants should have to wear some form of universal identifying marker. Something that no matter what city, town, or
state you are in, you know who they are when you see them.
Also with regards to this case, if Trayvon had seen and recognized Zimmerman as a neighborhood watchmen he very well may have moved along without
altercation. And lets be truthful here, the object is to deter illegal activity, not to simply witness it. And I firmly believe that many/most would
probably move along knowing they are being watched by a neighborhood watchmen, instead of just some guy following you around in the shadows.
Mind you, I am not saying Zimmerman did anything wrong here either, I am simply saying if there was a law that all neighborhood watchmen had to wear
identifying markers, this tragedy may very well never have happened. And to that end, if confronted or questioned, you should have to verbally
identify yourself as such also. When Trayvon confronted Zimmerman and asked him what his problem is, if Zimmerman replied "I am a part of the
neighborhood watch program, the police have been alerted and are on their way", I believe there is a good possibility Martin would have just skated
out of there. Maybe, maybe not, but overall I think more would be less willing to do illegal activities knowing they are being viewed by members of a
neighborhood watch program, as opposed to just someone looking at them, following them.
And while we are on this topic, lets be honest here, if someone was following you at night time to the point you began to be suspicious of their
actions, to the point you felt you had to confront them, and when you questioned what they were doing they basically said "nothing', all one is now
left with is some guy has been following them and has no good reason. I believe some at this point would take a pre-emptive strike, as perhaps Trayvon
did (albeit illegally), and again we would find our self in a position of violence. A position that, in my opinion, would be avoided more often then
not compared to unmarked and unknown person(s) watching/following you. A neighborhood watchmen puts himself in that position voluntarily and as such
should have the responsibility to ensure that misunderstandings does not happen by wearing a designated and distinguishable marker allowing anyone who
may see them to know who they are and why they are there.
3. Regardless of the local laws, NO Firearms while on duty.
As a neighborhood watchmen, your voluntary duty it to 'watch' and report any and all suspicious and/or illegal activity. However this does not mean
you should try and interfere or stop said illegal activities. Prevention through viewing and reporting, nothing else. There should be no reason to
follow anyone or even get close enough for interaction. However, I concede there may be times where confrontation is all but unavoidable (perhaps in
this specific case) so any non-lethal weapons like a tazer or pepper spray would be adequate. I have little doubt that if Zimmerman was equipped with
pepper spray and/or a tazer instead of a gun, he would still be a no-one and Trayvon would still be alive, albeit perhaps in jail.
Point being here, if you are simply walking the streets at night with a gun looking for evil doers, you are a vigilante. If all you are suppose to be
doing, all that is required for you to do is keep an eye out and report what you may see, you really have no need for a firearm, especially since you
are willingly putting yourself in a position that may lead to confrontation, simply by the nature of what you are doing through your own actions or
Now, believe me, I know how easy it is to wordsmith an argument for any and all of these things, but let us try and think as rational human beings for
a moment. Let us forgo what is right and/or wrong according to the letter of the law and try and understand the nature of confrontation, the purpose
of a neighborhood watchmen, and the value of life. Despite Zimmerman breaking no laws that I can tell, his inability to preserve life through action
(or inaction) here still remains.
After calling the police and reporting what he saw, in detail, that should have been the end of it. He should have went back to a predetermined
location and waited for the cops to show up. This should be standard training for any neighborhood watchmen. I understand the reasoning behind
following him and trying to see what he is doing next, but at that point but it was that action that inevitably led to the death of 1 and the life
ruined of the other, despite no laws being broken on Zimmermans end.
edit on 16-7-2013 by HomeBrew because: (no reason given)
edit on 16-7-2013 by HomeBrew because: (no reason
edit on 16-7-2013 by HomeBrew because: (no reason given)