As I try to gather my composure after realizing the acquittal of George Zimmeman is not just a dream (well, nightmare) I think back on the days of trial. What went wrong?
George Zimmerman, neighborhood watch captain and vigilante, was charged with second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in the killing of Trayvon Martin. On February 26, 2012 he profiled Martin, followed him then shot him in the heart then alleged that Martin violently attacked him to the point that he used deadly force in fear for his life.
Zimmerman’s self-defense claim fell apart in court, at least it appeared that way to me. The prosecution’s case was filled with circumstantial evidence that the defense instructed the jury to disregard. But circumstantial evidence should not be ignored, it is the stuff reasonable doubt is made of. Because after all, reasonable doubt does go both ways, right? If you didn’t believe Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, the prosecution presented the court with enough inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s story that one had to consider the notion that there was enough evidence to support the theory that something wasn’t right. Whatever it be, something wasn’t right. And Zimmerman’s stoic court stare was indicative of it as well.
The jury of six, consisted of all women–five of them were White and one of them Hispanic. The majority of them were connected in some way to gun advocates. It was the jury the defense said they wanted.
So again, what went wrong? Nothing. This case was doomed from the start and it wasn’t anything the prosecution could do, unless they went back a couple 200 years to when the severe oppression of African-Americans all began. What Blacks haven’t done, that Jewish people accomplished after the Holocaust, is reach a fully restored state.
Stereotypes about Black realities like poverty, Black-on-Black crime, diseases, led to Zimmerman’s assumptions about Trayvon. Trayvon was Black so of course he fit the prototype of thief (because all Black men steal).
Mark O’Mara would like to think this case has nothing to do with race, but then again, he isn’t Black. White people are oblivious to the plight of Black people. They will never understand what it is to be racially profiled. And we don’t fault them, we just know they have no reference point. They will never know why this trial was so important to us.
In most cases, Black people inherit a distrust for the government and legal system from birth. Their parents taught them not to trust the justice system, so they told their children the same thing. Zimmerman’s acquittal just reaffirms what Blacks already felt, and that is the justice system is a faulty entity that doesn’t favor Blacks.
In today’ society our young Black boys are being gunned down by cops, vigilantes, and each other, it’s evident we’ve been desensitized to the situation. Trayvon Martin was walking home from the local 7-Eleven when George Zimmerman, parked in his car with a loaded Keltec 9mm deemed him suspicious then followed him against the order’s from the non-emergency line dispatchers. He initiated the situation making him the aggressor (unless you’re dealing with White America, who believed it was Trayvon because he acted on Zimmerman’s threat. Zimmerman even called Trayvon a punk and a**hole, labeling him a criminal. Yet still, the jury weren’t able to see even manslaughter.
Among the many different versions of Zimmerman’s story: Trayvon jumped out the bushes and attacked him; Trayvon told him “You’re going to die tonight;” Trayvon pummeled him until he could stand no more; and the oddest claim– ‘I didn’t know I shot him [Trayvon],’ were all disproven by eye and ear-witness accounts, evidence and common sense.
Years ago, I was told “common sense isn’t so common.” Clearly. There were two different perceptions of the Trayvon Martin tragedy–people who saw a case about a kid being stalked while armed with skittles, and the opposing perspective from people who saw a hero watch caption confront on duty and acting in defense otherwise that little “thug” would have killed him. A difference seems to lie in race. Blacks sided with Travon and Whites with Zimmerman– because in their mind, void of certain harsh realities, that’s what makes sense. And that played out in the jury. There wasn’t one Black person to bring those realities to the table.
“If Trayon were White and Zimmerman were Black, would the verdict have panned out how it did on July 13th,” is the question floating around Twitter and we pose it to you all.
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