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Patch Poll: How Would You Feel if Florida Man Represented Your Neighborhood Watch?

A Neighborhood Watch volunteer for a gated community in Florida shot and killed an unarmed teenager in February, claiming self-defense. The incident has raised questions about self-defense laws and the neighborhood community program.

The shooting Feb. 28 of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida has been sparking marches in New York and Miami this week and heated exchanges about whether his death was justified.

The teen was shot outside a gated subdivision, where his father lived. The shooter, Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman, said he acted in self-defense.

Exactly what happened is unknown. According to news reports, Martin was unarmed and carrying iced tea and a bag of skittles. Zimmerman, who was licensed to carry a concealed weapon, spotted Martin, called police to report suspicious activity and then followed the teen.

Zimmerman told police he was attacked by Martin and police said he had injuries consistent with the story. Under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, Zimmerman was released. He has not been charged. 

The family says Martin was targeted because he was a black teenager walking in a predominantly white neighborhood. There are questions about why Zimmerman was patrolling on Neighborhood Watch with a gun and why he disobeyed a dispatcher who told him not to confront Martin. 

The police chief stepped down temporarily yesterday as a result of the growing controversy. Local prosecutors are pursuing the case, and a grand jury has been scheduled for April 10.

The controversy has raised questions not only about Florida's self-defense law, but also about the Neighborhood Watch operations. 

According to a recent New York Times article, Neighborhood Watch rules expressly prohibit carrying weapons while on patrol

...the National Sheriffs’ Association, which sponsors the program nationwide, is absolutely clear on one point: guns have no place in a watch group. A manual distributed by the association repeatedly underscores the point: “Patrol members do not carry weapons.”

The manual warns that watch members should “not attempt to apprehend a person committing a crime or to investigate a suspicious activity.” It should be emphasized to members of patrols, the materials state, that “they do not possess police power and they shall not carry weapons.” The consequences of not following the guidelines are severe, the manual states: “Each member is liable as an individual for civil and criminal charges should he exceed his authority.”

What do you think of Zimmerman's actions? If he were in your Neighborhood Watch, would you support his actions? 

Aloofnd March 28, 2012 at 12:21 PM
The lean 6 footer Martin engaged Zimmerman from behind belligerently, struck Zimmerman first, knocking him to the ground and then proceeded to climb on top and bash a semi-conscious Zimmerman about the head. Some reports have Martin attempting to take Zimmerman's gun. Had Zimmerman not managed to retain at least partial control of the gun in the struggle, the very strong possibility is that Zimmerman would be dead. For the crime of looking after his community. Would Sharpton, Jackson and the law firm of Parks & Crump be wailing about that injustice? Would an attractive picture of Zimmerman as a child be making it's way around the world? Would Zimmerman's family be hosted by Democratic members of congress? Would basketball teams be wearing Neighborhood Watch shirts? Would Zimmerman's family be attempting to patent the brand? Would Martin even have been identified, much less caught? There was a struggle. This event could easily have had an ending that would have been neither much noticed nor long remembered: Trayvon could have shot Zimmerman with his own gun and fled - with the gun. For as much complaint is made about the lack of value we as a society assign to young black males - from a publicity point of view - clearly we assign much less value to white/mixed-race young male adults. Where is the outcry? Where is the justice? Where is the organized 'interest' group? Where are George Zimmerman's law firm and national advocates? Where is even a smidgen of equal treatment?
HB March 28, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I don't believe all the facts are out in this case. What is Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law? Regardless of anyone's opinion of who was criminal or victim, there is a mother out there who lost her child.
seen2mch March 28, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Was Zimmerman acting as a "Neighborhood Watch" concerned citizen or was he a vigilante in this case? Does the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms give any of us the right to act as judge,jury and executioner at any time or any circumstance? How do you not conduct a thorough investigation in a shooting death by an armed citizen taking the life of a kid with a bag of candy and can of iced tea..NO WEAPON? If after first hearing this story you didn`t think to yourself, "there is something really wrong here", the last few days attempts at demonizing the victim should put the cherry on the cake for ya! Finally...removing all of the self serving BS from all sides(Sharpton,NRA,MSNBC,Fox news,Jesse Jackson,right wing/left wing).Do you really want to be sitting at home evenings while your kids are out and have to have the terrifying thought of what could happen in the back of your mind because we allow paranoid lunatics to enact laws that create the climate for these things to occur.
Martha Martin April 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Zimmerman was a "self appointed" neighborhood watch captain who should have stayed in his car, as he was instructed by the police dispatcher. I am a 60 year old female caucasian. I now need to fear: 1. wearing a hoodie 2. when it is raining 3. at 7pm at night when I am walking home from the gym in our village, because a gun toting, trigger happy self appointed watch captain decides he should shoot me???
Martha Martin April 20, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Louisa, You wrote, "nor should Trayvon had been there." Trayvon was only a few houses from his home. Why should shouldn't Trayvon be there? It is Zimmerman, the self appointed neighborhood watch "captain," that should not have been there. The condo association would be quite worried about a suit against them if Zimmerman was allowed to be an armed captain. Neighbor hood watch is just that "watch." Fine for Zimmerman to see, report and then let the academy educated policemen do their job.

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