How Common Are Deaths Like Trayvon Martin's?
The same screeching about racism appeared because the shooter was white and the dead man was black. The difference is that there were lots of witnesses to what happened. Some say that Davis pushed Eichstedt, others say that Eichstedt punched Davis. Still others reported that the first physical contact was when Davis attacked Eichstedt with a solid metal bar eight inches long and 1 ½ inches in diameter, hitting him in the head. This is the point where Eichstedt, in fear for his life, shot Davis. Not surprisingly, the grand jury refused to indict Eichstedt.
Like what appears to have happened with Zimmerman and Martin, cooler heads needed to prevail. Both Eichstedt and Davis had been drinking (although they were not legally drunk), and it may have contributed to this tragedy. Both men should have backed away from the confrontation, exchanged insurance information, and let it go. Eichstedt, being armed, especially should have backed away. A paint chip isn’t worth someone’s life -- ever. But once Davis attacked Eichstedt with that metal bar, Eichstedt was completely lawful in using deadly force.
As I said earlier, we do not know, and likely never will, exactly what happened in the dark between Zimmerman and Martin. The burden of proof works to Zimmerman’s advantage, as it inevitably must in a criminal case. This is not a problem of racism; this is a natural consequence of the high standard of proof required in a criminal case.
I do have one final disturbing thought on this matter. A lot of energy is being focused on the death of Trayvon Martin as a sign of racism in our society. Yet I find myself deeply troubled by the very selective upset of civil rights leaders. In 2010, 6470 blacks were murdered in the United States, more than 17 per day. Examining the single offender/victim table shows that 90% of black murder victims were murdered by another black. (No surprise: most murder is within race.) I don’t mean to suggest that Trayvon Martin’s death is unimportant. But where is the outrage and fury of the civil rights groups about the 16 black-on-black murders that happen every day in the U.S.? We don’t know if Zimmerman did something criminal, or just something stupid that led to Trayvon Martin’s death. But we do know that every day there are sixteen black-on-black murders in the U.S., and they almost never receive this kind of attention and concern. Or is it only a concern if the killer isn’t black?