To the Honorable President Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Charles Schumer of New York
I, along with you and the rest of the country, have been shocked by the incident in Florida in which a young man died after being shot by another man. Depending on which side of the argument you listen to, the young man was either murdered in the streets or was shot because he caused another man to fear for his life. The facts of what happened are still being investigated by the police and a grand jury in Florida is going to decide if charges should be filed against the shooter in this case.
Both of you have made public statements calling for federal investigations of the incident and to use it as a bludgeon against your political and ideological foes.
Neither of you is from Florida. Florida has two senators who are quite capable of looking into the incident on their own, as is the representative of the district in which the incident occurred, if, in fact, a federal investigation is warranted. The local authorities, including police and prosecutors, are investigating what happened and are presenting their findings to a grand jury, who will hopefully look at the facts of the case dispassionately and either order that charges be filed or decide that the shooter was right with the law.
That is how the system is supposed to work. Justice is supposed to be deliberate, thoughtful, thorough, and dispassionate. Fast justice is bad justice. Both of you are lawyers, so you should know better than to try to influence the process by making public statements such as the ones I have seen in the past few days from both of you.
No-one is saying that it's not a tragedy that a young man is dead. Either because he didn't act right or because someone else made a mistake, his life is over and the life of his family has been shattered. Our society has lost another son, regardless of the person that son was at the time of his death. No matter if he was a good young man who was staying out of trouble or if he was a young man who had lost his way and was heading for trouble, we have lost the potential good he could have brought to us all.
At the same time, we must remember that the man who shot him is a citizen who has rights. He has the right to defend his life if he fears for it. If a grand jury decides that he should be charged with a crime, he has the right to be tried by an impartial jury of his peers in a fair trial with good representation. He has the right to not fear that the mob in the street will hunt him or his family down and extract vigilante justice. If he broke the law, the process will discover that and deal with him according to the laws of the state of Florida and the Constitution. If he did not, then all of this discussion is moot.
Please, for the sake of the Constitution you both swore to uphold and the system of justice that Constitution and the Constitution of the state of Florida provide, stop making inflammatory remarks in the public square in order to score political points. Please use whatever influence you have with those who are whipping up hatred in our streets to get them to tone it down and let the system do its job. If you have issues with laws such as the "Stand Your Ground" law that is being lambasted by politicians, demagogues, and the press right now, do it after the family of Mr. Martin has had time to grieve and for justice to be served either by trying Mr. Zimmermann or by clearing him of wrongdoing. Making law in the heat of the moment will guarantee that bad law will be produced.
You are both consummate politicians. I ask you now to start being statesmen.
Daddy J. Bear