Trkingmomoe: Finance and Society
Maiello: A Blog Called Crime and Punishment
"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," says the President.
There are moments when President Obama says just the right thing. He cuts through the chatter and babble.
Now think back to when Obama remarked that the police had "acted stupidly" when they arrested Harvard professor Skip Gates outside of his own home. What sturm and drang erupted. The President is criticizing a hard working police officer! The President is taking sides! He's taking sides with... with... an African American!
Of course, this will all happen again as the Justice Department investigates a young man's death that the local police deemed unworthy of much scrutiny beyond the shooter's word that it was a valid act of self defense.
This, despite the fact that even the sponsor of Florida's "stand your ground" law, which means that you don't have to attempt to retreat from a fight in order to make a self defense claim, believes that the shooter was out of line.
I'm not optimistic that the Justice Department is going to make federal charges stick in this case. The shooting is a local issue. The gun was owned and carried legally. usually, for the Feds to get involved, you'd need something like an illegal firearm transported over state lines. Otherwise the killing is a local issue and the local authorities have passed.
So, for the Feds, it become a civil rights issue. Was Trayvon killed for looking like the President's hypothetical son? I have little doubt that he was. My gut says that my own son, who seems to be headed in the tall, blonde and white trajectory, would not even have been pursued by the vigilante George Zimmerman, much less shot.
Or, maybe Zimmerman would have shot anyone passing through his gated community on the wrong night. If that's true, the Fed's will not have a case. But here's another hunch, one that I suspect the President shares but is too smart to say bluntly -- if this guy had shot a tall, blonde white kid, the police would have taken him in. His "self defense" claim would have been evaluated by a court, not the police.
In a lot of ways, I'd like to see the Justice Department focus less on Zimmerman and more on the local police. Zimmerman is dangerous, no doubt, and left free with the idea that what he did was right (and in his head, it likely was) probably makes him more dangerous. But the Feds are probably best equipped to go after the police department that left Zimmerman off the hook. For the Feds to get involved in a local matter they need all manner of abuses and crimes. The most prosecutable civil rights cases is are probably wearing uniforms in South Florida.
I wasn't going to right about this, but damn did Obama bowl me over with that line.
And if I hear any right wingers complaining that the President is "interfering in a local matter," I might start slapping people and claiming defense of my sanity to avoid prosecution.