COMMENTARY | A little over a month ago, George Zimmerman, a resident of Sanford, Fla., shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin as he was walking back to his father’s house. The teenager was not carrying any weapons on him at the time he was shot. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, says that he shot Martin, an African American, in self-defense after the teenager attacked him. Martin’s family on the other hand asserts that Zimmerman committed murder; they further contend that the gunman’s actions were racially motivated. As the Standard Examiner notes, people across the country have organized protests to condemn the killing and to rail against what they consider to be the inept handling of the case by local and state authorities. MSNBC reports that the FBI has begun its own investigation into Martin’s death. All sides should be thankful that the agency has decided to become involved in this case.
Martin’s family has criticized the way in which local and state authorities have handled the case and have been requesting an FBI investigation into the murder for weeks. Today, they obtained their wish, as the case will now be examined by federal authorities. Protesters around the country who have been calling for justice for the deceased teen should also be happy that the FBI has decided to step into the fray. They can be fairly assured that the federal agency is a neutral party who will review the evidence in as unbiased a manner as possible.
Ironically, George Zimmerman might also be thankful that the FBI has decided to investigate the Martin case. As The Christian Science Monitor notes, the information on the shooting that has emerged so far has not provided any clear picture as to whether Zimmerman is innocent or guilty of murder. However, millions of Americans across the country have already determined that he is guilty, and the media are constantly analyzing his actions on television, on the radio, and in the newspapers. Zimmerman must be under a lot of pressure from the intense public focus on the Martin killing. If he did act in self-defense and is acquitted by the FBI of any wrongdoing; he might be able to begin to return to normal life.
Finally, the local and state agents who were responsible for handling the Martin case can breathe a sigh of relief now that the FBI has entered the investigation. The federal agency’s presence should take some of the pressure off of the Florida authorities. These individuals will probably rest even easier once the FBI finalizes its investigation, regardless of its findings.
While some stakeholders in the Trayvon Martin shooting might not realize it yet, the FBI’s entry into this case might be to everyone’s benefit. The federal agency may finally determine once and for all what actually happened on that fateful February day and bring some closure to this event.