Robert Stacy McCain explains that if Miami-Dade law enforcement had thrown his punk ass into juvie (as he richly deserved), then he would never have been suspiciously casing residences in the gated community of Sanford, or had occasion to try beating in the head of the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who annoyed him by subjecting poor Trayvon to undesired surveillance, and young Trayvon would still be alive today.
Trayvon Martin was not from Sanford, the town north of Orlando where he was shot in 2012 and where a jury acquitted Zimmerman of murder charges Saturday. Martin was from Miami Gardens, more than 200 miles away, and had come to Sanford to stay with his fatherâ€™s girlfriend Brandy Green at her home in the townhouse community where Zimmerman was in charge of the neighborhood watch. Trayvon was staying with Green after he had been suspended for the second time in six months from Krop High School in Miami-Dade County, where both his father, Tracy Martin, and mother, Sybrina Fulton, lived.
Both of Trayvonâ€™s suspensions during his junior year at Krop High involved crimes that could have led to his prosecution as a juvenile offender. However, Chief Charles Hurley of the Miami-Dade School Police Department (MDSPD) in 2010 had implemented a policy that reduced the number of criiminal reports, manipulating statistics to create the appearance of a reduction in crime within the school system. Less than two weeks before Martinâ€™s death, the school system commended Chief Hurley for â€œdecreasing school-related juvenile delinquency by an impressive 60 percent for the last six months of 2011.â€ What was actually happening was that crimes were not being reported as crimes, but instead treated as disciplinary infractions.
In October 2011, after a video surveillance camera caught Martin writing graffiti on a door, MDSPD Office Darryl Dunn searched Martinâ€™s backpack, looking for the marker he had used. Officer Dunn found 12 pieces of womenâ€™s jewelry and a manâ€™s watch, along with a flathead screwdriver the officer described as a â€œburglary tool.â€ The jewelry and watch, which Martin claimed he had gotten from a friend he refused to name, matched a description of items stolen during the October 2011 burglary of a house on 204th Terrace, about a half-mile from the school. However, because of Chief Hurleyâ€™s policy â€œto lower the arrest rates,â€ as one MDSPD sergeant said in an internal investigation, the stolen jewerly was instead listed as â€œfound propertyâ€ and was never reported to Miami-Dade Police who were investigating the burglary. Similarly, in February 2012 when an MDSPD officer caught Martin with a small plastic bag containing marijuana residue, as well as a marijuana pipe, this was not treated as a crime, and instead Martin was suspended from school.
Either of those incidents could have put Trayvon Martin into the custody of the juvenile justice system. However, because of Chief Hurleyâ€™s attempt to reduce the school crime statistics â€” according to sworn testimony, officers were â€œbasically told to lie and falsifyâ€ reports â€” Martin was never arrested. And if he had been arrested, he might never have been in Sanford the night of his fatal encounter with Zimmerman.