|Don’t make the same mistake once.|
Word to my son
– By: Larry Walker II –
A police officer once explained to me, as he poked his finger into my chest, “If you so much as touch another person, like this, without their consent, you have committed simple battery, and if that person calls the police you will be arrested.”
Since the law is undisputed, then isn’t the act of walking up to a total stranger, punching him in the face, and then attempting to inflict as much bodily damage as humanly possible also a crime? Certainly, and although this may be painful for race-baiting rabble-rousers, had Trayvon Martin (T) survived the infamous brawl, which he himself commenced, he would have certainly been charged with a crime. Let us face the facts; T is the one who assaulted George Zimmerman (Z), as the evidence proved.
Unbeknownst to a tiny segment of the population, roughly 0.2% (700,000 petition signers out of a population of more than 313,000,000), watching a suspicious person in your neighborhood and reporting them to the police is not a crime. Lord only knows how many times I’ve done that, White, Black, Hispanic or whatever, and the police generally say they appreciate it. Most of the crimes that happen around here occur when least expected, in the middle of the night when no one is looking out, so it’s wise to keep a watch, especially in your own neighborhood.
In my early 20’s I worked as a security guard for a short time. One of my jobs involved guarding a large industrial facility, all alone, from the middle of the night until the wee hours of the morning. Among my duties was to periodically get out of the car and physically walk every square inch of the grounds. So I have an idea just how dangerous keeping watch can be. Luckily there were no incidents in my day, but it was kind of scary at times wondering what may lie around the next corner, and at the same time, the thought of being the one who might break up some major crime was rather exhilarating. It so happens that patrolling your own neighborhood in the same manner isn’t a crime at all.
Getting out of your vehicle to see where a suspicious person may have gone isn’t a crime either, although it may be dangerous. But even your grandfather, who’s now around 76 years old, is commissioned to drive around his neighborhood as part of the neighborhood watch crew. That man never ceases to amaze me. But they’ve had a lot of thefts in that area, so everyone in the neighborhood knows one another and they have made a commitment to keep their eyes open. While keeping watch on your own neighborhood is not a crime, assaulting another human being is.
Who called the cops?
When it comes to assault and battery, intent is an essential element. Under the laws of most of the States, it is only necessary to have the intent to commit the act that causes the harm. In other words, the assault must be voluntary. Did T intend to assault Z? Well, let’s think about that for a minute. Which one called the cops? Common sense dictates that a person about to commit a criminal act generally doesn’t stop and call the police a forehand. According to the evidence most of us saw and heard, it was Z who called the police, not T.
The way I understand it, T is the one who confronted Z, stepping out of nowhere and asking him if he had a problem. When Z said no, T told him he had one now and then proceeded to punch him in the face and bash his head repeatedly against a concrete sidewalk. As I alluded to earlier, inflicting physical harm on anyone for any reason is generally a crime, that is, unless it’s done in self-defense or in the middle of a boxing ring where there is mutual consent. Did T assault Z? Apparently so, as the bloodied nose and wounds on the back of the latter’s head would later testify. So as I stated above, had T survived the gunshot wound, he would most certainly have been charged with a crime.
The lame excuse that Z, who turned out to be the neighborhood watch captain, was following him and reporting him to the police, doesn’t hold water as far as justification for an assault. Initially, T may have been a kid carrying a bag of candy and an iced tea trying to get home, but at some point his actions became those of a NWAA (“n-word” with an attitude), hell bent on ambushing a stranger and cracking his skull open. Unfortunately for T, he chose the wrong “cracka” (a 19th Century southern slave owner). Some people don’t play like that son. I don’t play like that. I’m too old to be street brawling with some juvenile delinquent with a chip on his shoulder. I don’t blame Z for fighting back with what he had at his disposal, in this case a gun.
So what was T thinking? What was his plan? To kill Z and dispose of the body? To knock him unconscious and then run home hoping to never see him again? To cripple Z, so he could never testify against him? What exactly was T’s plan? That is the question. I don’t care what injustice you may imagine someone has committed against you, if they haven’t touched you physically and you decide to lay your hands on them suddenly, in a violent and vicious manner, and they perceive that you are trying to take their very life, survival instincts will kick in, and somebody will wind up dead, justifiably you.
The lesson: If you step up on a stranger, with the intent of unleashing bodily harm, for whatever reason, then you should know that it may be the last act you ever commit.
Does your life show enough evidence?1
Once in my early 20’s I impulsively traveled to Houston, Texas (long story) where I became stranded after a group of Mexican gang members stole my car and my money. I felt ashamed, embarrassed and disgraced. I called the police and they came out, but they didn’t believe me because I had nothing to prove to them that I even owned a car, since I wasn’t a resident. As I walked through the streets aimlessly, wondering what to do, I started to notice that I was being followed. If I went a couple of blocks to the left or to the right, the same car full of Mexicans would reappear, wantonly staring me down. As nightfall approached, I began to get scared because I had nowhere to go, and didn’t know a soul in that city. So what did I do?
I gave up. I didn’t have the answer. So I began to pray, right there on the street, “God please get me out of this, and I promise I will never stray again.” Then a pay phone appeared, so I placed a collect call to your grandfather (the only other person next to God who really cared about me). I explained my dilemma, and he told me to call the police again and ask them to get me out of that area, and then call him back when I was safe. So I ran across the street to a fast food restaurant and asked the manager to please call the police because I was being followed and feared for my life. He did and the police came. Although a little reluctant, they decided what they could do was drive me a couple of miles down the road and then I was on my own.
To make a long story short, the police dropped me off at a hotel where I was able to call your grandfather back, and he was able to wire some money so I could buy a bus ticket and get the heck out of that awful city. I would submit this to you son, if you think someone is following you, and you feel uncomfortable about it, your first act should be to call on the Lord. But you should know that by now. Then if you can get to a phone or happen to have one in the palm of your hand, call the police and let them handle it. T had choices to make and he chose wrong. Not knowing how to handle the situation, he decided to take the immature route, like many young men do these days. He assumed that Z was a creepy looking person who was following him and therefore deserving of a T-style beat down.
What could T have done differently?
What did T do when he thought he was being followed? Did he call the police? No, instead he chose to take matters into his own hands. So he ambushed Z, and delivered the first blow. Now that’s a good way to get yourself killed son, because you never know what kind of weapon your victim is carrying. Thus, I’m not surprised by the outcome.
He could have simply walked up to Z and asked him who he was, whether or not he was following him, and if so, why. For all T knew, Z could have been an undercover cop, a security guard, or a member of the neighborhood watch patrol. How would he know without asking, and why would he not ask since he had just as much right to be there as anyone else?
Since T had already gotten away from Z, who lost sight of him for around 4 minutes, he could have simply ran home, or continued hiding until Z left the area. Had he done so, the police would have eventually arrived and found out what was really going on.
If T was really concerned for his own safety, he could have simply dialed 911, instead of squandering valuable phone-time describing the situation to his lady-friend. Had he done so, the police would have promptly phoned Z and told him that T was just a kid who lives in the neighborhood.
If I had a son would he look like Trayvon? Well, in my case I don’t have to speculate, because I am blessed to have a son, and to me he doesn’t look anything like Trayvon. Some say he looks like me when I was younger, but he’s really a cross between his mother and me. But that’s not the point. Looks are deceiving. What matters most is the content of your character.
I pray to God son that you never choose to act out like T. Please don’t handle your affairs in that manner. If something is going down, and you’re not sure how to handle it, please call me. I have learned some of life’s more bitter lessons and may be able to offer at least a tiny smidgen of advice. And if I’m not around, hide yourself if you can, and then call the cops. I beg of you, if at all possible, don’t take matters into your own hands. If a bird lands on your head, you don’t have to let it build a nest.
Do these three things and you will not fail: Resist evil with good, lay hands on no man suddenly, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. T’s fatal mistake came the moment he decided to physically assault Z. It wasn’t so much the act itself, but rather the decision to commit the act that matters. Here’s a word for you son, “Think it all the way through.” Whenever you have a crazy thought, just ask yourself this question: “And then what?” That is the beginning of wisdom, and all wisdom is from the Lord.
For reference: Evidence, (page 16)1