This weekend was one of those visible moments of spontaneous analysis for American Justice. It seldom is on full display unless there’s an opportunity for the media to gain market share. After all we have lived with the 24 hour news cycle for quite some time. I’m referring to the Trayvon Martin death and the George Zimmerman trial. As much as I don’t want to not get caught up with media hype and the emotion of this outcome demonstrates racism in our judicial system, when exposed as part of a panoptic view of recent court cases, it moved me to scrutinize this further.
The complexities of these type of cases may exhaust and bore some people however, another response might be deep compassion. I got into a discussion with friends and friends of those friends about the George Zimmerman verdict. Some reacted as if this was an obvious racist verdict. My reaction was more of how the prosecution presented evidence to make this a case of 2nd degree murder. It seemed to me the prosecution went on a fishing expedition. Exchanges between the two opposing sides initiated by the prosecution, attempted to add a felony charge based on “child abuse,” on the grounds that Trayvon Martin was 17-years-old while beating up George Zimmerman. This motion was made after the trial was in progress, not researched during the year before.
By this time it was obvious to me, even the prosecution felt they didn’t have a strong enough case to obtain a murder conviction. No matter what observers thought sitting in the court room or individuals watching on TV felt through their own personal bias, the prosecution exhibited their case was weak. Let that sink in for a moment. If the prosecution wasn’t confident they had a winnable case during the last days of the trial, how were they to convince a jury? I’m not a legal professional however when you are in the business of convincing others you have the correct facts, all or most of the answers to a puzzle which must inescapably conclude you know what happened, you proceed by painting a picture describing all those facts to the point where a jury can only logically conclude you’re right.
That didn’t happen. Inconsistencies prevailed and the prosecution didn’t turn this case by portraying Zimmerman as the aggressor, instead the defense made a case for Zimmerman was defending his life. If you’re reading this, understand this one thing, I don’t know conclusively what happened that night, but I do know two men were fighting, one had a gun and one is dead. The circumstances involving that death were not portrayed in a way that set aside doubt and since one of those involved is not able to testify, the jury came to a conclusion which seemed logical based on what was presented to them.
Immediately after the verdict, protests were written along with live demonstrations. Accusations were shouted, Zimmerman is a racist, the jury is racist, the outcome of this case is based on race! Well, this has been claimed before and it looked as if you’re a darker skin color you probably will say this is racism on display, if you’re a lighter skin color you might say this isn’t such an example. So who’s right and who’s wrong about this specific situation? Given the fact I’m lighter skin, my opinion was immediately dismissed. According to some people, my skin color automatically disqualified me on having an opinion if it was anything other than Zimmerman was guilty. I’m sorry, but that says racial bias to me. I’ve routinely stated, I wasn’t there, facts are in play, I don’t know positively if Zimmerman’s life was in imminent danger. He could’ve been the aggressor but I’ve had people follow me before and my reaction isn’t to confront them and get into a fight which unfortunately changes the perspective considerably. Martin should have gone home. Zimmerman should not have followed him. These to me are the clouds in the coffee, they aren’t necessarily what convicts or makes a good defense.
No matter what, this is a tragedy for all and most especially for the Martin family. Their son didn’t deserve to die at 17. No attorneys need convince me of that fact. I do see a problem of a larger magnitude here, there’s a reason why there’s a divided opinion and perhaps it’s because all of us are biased. I try to to be objective, but certain things push you in a direction and we tend to see what we want when we want. That’s my introspection. If you read this, maybe your soul needs to be searched as well. It’s a whole lot easier for you to manage your own rather than looking at someone else.
Let me suggest you take the time to familiarize yourself, if you haven’t done so already with this woman and her legal problems. Marissa Alexander, a black woman with a master’s degree and no criminal record, fired a weapon as a warning shot to protect herself from an abusive spouse. A Florida jury took 12 minutes to convict her of aggravated assault, for which she was sentenced to 20 years in prison. If you are the type of person who wants justice to be fair and equal independent of race, this is one place to start to examine fairness for all.
Here is the original motion to dismiss which wasn’t granted. When you read it you might understand why someone of color in this country reacts to anyone not getting their right to justice in our courts. We are the land of the free and the scales of justice need balance. Examine these facts as you might however, they portray a country with problems that require more than passive attention.
The U.S. incarceration rate is 500 prisoners per 100,000 residents, or about 1.6 million prisoners in 2010, according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Incarceration rates are highest for those in their 20s and early 30s. Prisoners also tend to be less educated: The average state prisoner has a 10th grade education, and about 70 percent have not completed high school. Incarceration rates are significantly higher for blacks and Latinos than for whites. In 2010, black men were incarcerated at a rate of 3,074 per 100,000 residents; Latinos were incarcerated at 1,258 per 100,000, and white men were incarcerated at 459 per 100,000.
I understand how this might just be another post by another nobody in the blogosphere. That’s perfectly acceptable to me, what I hope you don’t find acceptable are the problems which may someday affect you. You might go on trial. It’s already proven that innocent people are sometimes convicted. Even if you don’t fit a specific demographic, you may see yourself, a relative or a friend in court opposite jurors who enter the court with their own bias. Wouldn’t you like to see that as neutral as possible?
The jury had three choices: to find Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder; to find him guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter; or to find him not guilty.
For second-degree murder, the jurors would have had to believe that Martin’s death was an unlawful killing; “done from ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent” and would be “of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.”
To convict Zimmerman of manslaughter, the jurors would have had to believe he “intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin.” That charge could have carried a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, although the jury was not informed of that possible sentence. The prosecution didn’t focus the jurors on those charges by fitting the facts with each of them. They left it up to the jury to determine.
“The whole world was looking at this case for a reason; we’d be intellectually dishonest if we didn’t acknowledge the racial undertones in this case.” “So we have to have very responsible conversations about how we get better as a country and move forward from this tragedy and learn from it.” – Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump.
- Jury Acquits George Zimmerman of Second-Degree Murder (nation.time.com)
- Zimmerman Verdict Prompts Calls For Action By The Justice Department (boston.cbslocal.com)
- George Zimmerman could still face charges over Trayvon Martin death (standard.co.uk)
- Trayvon Martin And The Irony Of American Justice – The Atlantic (theatlantic.com)
- CNN’s Crowley: ‘Is American Justice System Innately Racist?’ (ijreview.com)
- CNN Fans the Flames of Zimmerman Verdict (breitbart.com)