Gregory Alston and George Zimmerman share a common infamy — they are killers.
Alston, 39, of Philadelphia, is the low-life caught on helicopter video Friday night fleeing from police when his vehicle rammed into a car, killing a man plus critically injuring a woman and a 4-year-old child.
Pursuing police captured Alston.
George Zimmerman, 28, is the target of nationwide protests arising from his late February fatal shooting of teen Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., a small town about 20-miles from mega-theme-park famed Orlando.
No helicopter video caught the murder of Martin which Zimmerman proclaims was self-defense.
Zimmerman’s self-defense claim now smolders atop hot questions involving guilt-confirming evidence emerging subsequent to that night Zimmerman shot the unarmed Martin.
Alston and Zimmerman both share arrest records for violence.
But Alston, unlike Zimmerman, is a convicted felon with an extensive record of 21 arrests that include attempted murder, weapons charges and escape.
Zimmerman’s 2005 arrest for shoving a policeman outside of a Florida bar was plea-bargained downward resulting in his entering a pre-trial diversion program ironically set aside for persons with initial arrests for non-violent acts.
Zimmerman’s second 2005 arrest, for domestic violence, involving an ex-fiancée became muddled with him seeking a restraining order against her and courts issuing orders restraining each against the other.
Alston and Zimmerman share the disgusting distinction of pistols playing pivotal roles in their respective cases.
Alston, Philadelphia police said, pointed a pistol at officers during a traffic stop, triggering a wild pursuit through a half-dozen neighborhoods before he plowed into that car at 10th and Ontario streets, then ran away before his capture.
Zimmerman, unlike career criminal Alston, was legally authorized to carry a pistol.
Florida features a notorious concealed weapons law. That law even allows persons with misdemeanor violence convictions to get a gun permit after the end of their probation or other court-imposed conditions.
It is unclear whether Zimmerman obtained his gun carry permit before or after his 2005 arrest on charges of battery of a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence because a 2006 Florida law shrouds gun permit information in secrecy.
It is clear that carrying a concealed weapon in Florida “does not make [a person] a free-lance policeman …” according to Do-Not provisions posted on the website of the Florida government agency responsible for issuing gun permits.
Additionally, that website clearly states that a person with gun carry permit in Florida should never display a handgun to gain “leverage” in an argument.
So, from the Do-Not provisions posted on that Florida gun permit issuing agency’s website, it is clear that Zimmerman did not follow those provisions because on the night he fatally shot Martin he told police that he was acting as a self-appointed town watch leader — the kind of “free-lance policeman” role specifically prohibited by those provisions.
While those Do-Not provisions are not legislative law, the precise law-based wording of those prohibitions undercut Zimmerman’s self-defense claims as does his refusal to follow clear orders from 911 dispatchers.
Those dispatchers ordered Zimmerman not to confront Martin after Zimmerman called 911 reporting that he thought Martin was acting suspiciously.
Zimmerman, according to leaks from the Sanford Police Department, told police that Martin attacked him as he was returning to his vehicle after some kind of confrontation with Martin — contact that 911 dispatchers told Zimmerman not to initiate.
Evidence that Sanford police ignored in their initial investigation includes the last call Martin made before his death.
The friend talking to Martin moments before Martin’s death told the attorney representing Martin’s family that Martin talked about a man following him, expressing his fear of that man.
Sanford police, inexplicably, did not check Martin’s cell phone … even ignoring frantic calls to that phone made by Martin’s parents desperately trying to locate their then missing son.
While sinister similarities exist between Alston and Zimmerman, there is one circumstance they do not share: a jail cell.
Alston’s in jail awaiting trial and needed conviction producing at least a life in prison sentence.
Zimmerman, however, is neither jailed nor awaiting trial.
Top Sanford police and prosecutors refused to arrest Zimmerman despite a Sanford detective recommending the arrest of Zimmerman for manslaughter.
Sanford authorities manipulate Florida’s outrageous “Stand Your Ground” law seemingly defending Zimmerman, claiming he rightfully used deadly force because he felt endangered.
Authorities pretend there isn’t probable cause to arrest (son-of-a-judge) Zimmerman despite the fact that Zimmerman — acting as aggressor when confronting Martin — negated his protections under that SYG law.
Other persons in Florida acting provocatively like Zimmerman have faced arrest for manslaughter and/or aggravated assault with a firearm — some sustaining convictions.
Anti-Zimmerman protestors raise the logical question of why authorities refuse to arrest this reckless shooter enabling the traditional process of trial to determine his guilt or innocence.
Given the racial dynamics roiling around this incident it’s not surprising that some blast Black anti-Zimmerman protestors for ignoring Black criminals like Gregory Alston.
But such criticism ignores the history of Blacks opposing wrongdoing inside and outside their communities like Philadelphia Black leader, the Rev. Richard Allen, publicly condemning misconduct among Blacks following a Black murderer’s conviction in March 1808.
Claims of Zimmerman not being a racist do not mitigate the fact that he clearly acted in a prejudicial manner reflexively profiling Martin as a criminal because Martin was Black and wearing a hoodie.
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship Program.