Nel's New Day

July 23, 2013

Zimmerman Trial Leaves Terrible Legacy

The dialog surrounding the Trayvon Martin killing and the George Zimmerman trial has swirled throughout the media for the past ten days, with terrifying responses. Conservative pundits used President Obama’s speech about Martin to continue their racist statements. Sean Hannity wondered if Obama compared himself to Martin because “he did a little blow.” Fox News’ Todd Starnes called President Obama “unpresidential” and “race-baiter in chief” who is “trying to tear our country apart.” Conservative commentator Pamela Geller called the president a “buffoon,” “racist,” and “eager to publicly lynch Geroge [sic] Zimmerman” and argued that the president is guilty of “sedition.”

According to Geraldo Rivera, Martin was responsible for his own killing because he wore a hooded sweatshirt on that rainy night. The smear campaign on conservative media last week continued the one that they have waged for the past 15 months since the Zimmerman killing became a national story. George Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, furthered the racists remarks in his book, published a month before the trial finished, in which he listed many black organizations and leaders in the chapter “Who Are the True Racists?”

In the beginning of the discussion, even conservative columnist Rich Lowery agreed with Al Sharpton that Zimmerman should be charged because of the killer’s “stupendous errors in judgment.” Glenn Beck, however, fanned the fire of hatred by publishing a list of criminal offenses that Martin might have committed while he was alive. On Fox, guest Doug Burns, a former federal prosecutor, hypothesized that it was possible to kill someone with Skittles or break a bottle of iced tea and kill someone with the jagged edge.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote a column explaining why Zimmerman was not at fault when he assumed that Martin’s hoodie made it clear that the boy was a thug. As an older white man, Cohen described Martin’s sweatshirt as  a “uniform we all recognize,” probably just as “we all” know that women who wear provocative clothing deserve to be raped.

By the end of the trial, many people still didn’t know that Zimmerman had stalked Martin, even after the police had told him to stop. And they have the support from the NRA that claimed “Stand Your Ground” laws are “a fundamental human right.”

Since the trial, revelations indicate that the flawed process may have contributed to Zimmerman’s exoneration. Initially the sequestration of the jury members was depicted as onerous, but the $1,500 expenditure per day per juror makes the experience appear rather luxurious, especially with steak dinners, manicures and pedicures, and excursions. They were permitted to watch television and movies, visit shopping malls, and receive unsupervised visits from families, and check their cellphones at the Marriott where they stayed.

Juror B-37 shows this freedom when she wrote about discussing her proposed book—now scuttled—with her husband, just the morning after the jury decision was announced: “The potential book was always intended to be a respectful observation of the trial from my and my husband’s perspectives solely and it was to be an observation that our ‘system’ of justice can get so complicated that it creates a conflict with our ‘spirit’ of justice.”

The same juror clearly revealed her bias in her interview with Anderson Cooper when she said Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place” when he tracked and killed Trayvon Martin but refers to Martin as “a boy of color.” Although the juror didn’t consider the man she called “George” guilty, she said about him: “I think he just didn’t know when to stop. He was frustrated, and things just got out of hand.”

Although Zimmerman did not proclaim the “stand your ground” defense, it was used in both the jury’s discussion and in the jury instructions. Judge Debra Nelson clarified that the jury should consider the law:

“If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

After the trial, Juror B-37 said that they used the “stand your ground” defense to declare Zimmerman innocent of murder. Using that law, the jury came up with the only verdict that they could, using Florida’s law allowing people the right to hunt down another person and then claim self-defense. The dead person has no rights to self-defense, but the killer has many rights with no need for remorse. Especially helpful in Zimmerman’s case is that his father is a retired Virginia Supreme Court magistrate who published the e-book, Florida v. Zimmerman–Uncovering the Malicious Prosecution of My Son George, immediately before the trial.

Although hindsight is 20/20, William Boardman’s analysis of the lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda rings true. He describes de la Rionda’s voice in his closing as “flat, his tone subdued and resigned” when he characterizes Martin an “almost dismissive way.” Throughout the trial, the prosecution humanized Zimmerman far more than it did Martin. De la Rionda also spent ten minutes apologizing for his witness, Rachel Jeantel, and, after the trial, said, “We don’t get to pick our witnesses.”

Jarvis DeBerry wrote about the comments from a former prosecutor who tried hundreds of cases in the defendant in his column, “Did George Zimmerman’s prosecutors try to get him off?” The lawyer argued prosecutors should have sought a change of venue because of the potential conflicts, including a probably tainted jury pool. The jury was composed of six white women, including the infamous B-37 who claimed that there were “riots in Sanford” that never happened.

Running the prosecution team was elected state attorney Angela Corey, who was appointed by the governor as special prosecutor for this case after the local prosecutor’s recusal. Corey is a controversial figure in Florida legal circles and was accused of filing a “perjurious affidavit” in the Zimmerman case by attorney Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School in 2012. Corey was criticized by others for charging Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder since, they argued, there wasn’t enough evidence to prove it.

When the Department of Justice took the gun used to kill Martin as part of an ongoing civil rights investigation, right-wingers became incensed about the lack of his rights and the thought that he wouldn’t have a gun available to stalk and kill someone else. A variety of sources, including a gun store, conservative author, and an Ohio PAC, have offered to supply him with weapons.

First, Zimmerman still has at least one gun because he and his wife had multiple guns. And second, Zimmerman’s own attorney, Mark O’Mara said, “That particular weapon, he should never carry again. There’s no reason to carry a weapon that’s already killed somebody.”

With the end of Zimmerman’s criminal trial, Florida continues with another “stand your ground” defense. Michael David Dunn, 45, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of an unarmed black teenager who listened to loud rap music while sitting in the back seat of a car. Witnesses saw the white guy get out of his car and shoot the teen at least eight times.

Dunn said he felt threatened and acted in self-defense because the law gives him the right to “stand your ground.” It’s a case of SBSWB: Sitting in the Back Seat While Black. Steven Colbert may be right when he said that the United States needs border security to protect us from Florida.

Martin’s death is tragedy enough, but it is followed by parents across the United States being forced to tell their black children that they are second-class citizens. Parents can tell their white children, “Stranger Danger.” Black children must be trained to see every white man as “Stranger Killer” who has the right to murder blacks with no justification other than they felt threatened by the black’s existence. That is the legacy of ALEC’s “stand your ground” law and George Zimmerman’s trial.


  1. Hasn’t ANYthing changed?


    Comment by Lee Lynch — July 24, 2013 @ 12:06 AM | Reply

    • No, apparently not . How can this be so obviously wrong, and yet widely accepted amongst not just white people, but now other ethnicities , such as mexicans etc. are jumping on the band wagon also. There appears to be no need to be fair of respectful to black people whatsoever. I just can’t understand this !


      Comment by Will Kelley — September 17, 2013 @ 4:53 AM | Reply

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