Before yesterday, I thought there was no way Zimmerman walked, because there’s no way someone could possibly get away with killing an unarmed teenager in cold blood.
Thanks, George. I’m awake now.
George Zimmerman was found not guilty yesterday.
On all counts.
This case has hit home for me in a number of ways. First, I grew up in Florida, and most of my family still lives there. Trayvon Martin could easily have been my cousin Ray, a young man whose at his most scary when beating noobs at Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. His life can abruptly end tomorrow, simply for being black in the wrong Florida neighborhood.
That’s because, according to the state of Florida, a white person can track and kill your black child like prey, and tell the cops he was defending himself. He won’t even have to spend the night in jail, because your kid was black, and that in and of itself makes him dangerous and scary.
For all the complaints about how the state mishandled the prosecution, or how their star witness did not end up helping their case, or whatever other reason one could conjure to justify this lopsided miscarriage of justice, this came down to the simple fact that the jury believed Trayvon Martin, a young, unarmed and completely unimposing black teenager was so scary that a large white man, a man with more than 40 pounds on this young man, had to shoot him in order to save himself. It’s a travesty, and it’s wrong.
It gets worse, because the “Stand Your Ground” law that was invoked is not so cut and dry. Case in point:
This woman, Marissa Alexander, fired a shot into a wall to scare off her ex husband, killing exactly zero people. Apparently, she didn’t stand her ground right, because she is spending the next 18 years in prison working off a 20 year sentence.
See, in Florida, along with the newly christened “It’s OK to kill Black Kids” law, there is also a “10-20-Life” law. It states that if you fire a gun in the commission of a crime, it’s an automatic 20 years in prison minimum. So, by not allowing her ex-husband to do whatever he was going to do, this woman was actually committing assault with a deadly weapon.
But, you know, she’s black, so that makes perfect sense.
My home state has long had a complicated history with lopsided verdicts and decisions in cases where race was a factor. In Florida, a 14-year old black teenager was charged with first degree murder and given life in jail a few years back when he was playing wrestling moves and accidentally killed a friend. To be fair, a white teenager was given a similar sentence, but only after convincing police he was the love child of Hannibal Lecter and Satan.
If the situation were reversed, Trayvon Martin would have promptly been charged with first degree murder – not second, not involuntary manslaughter (which, if any portion of Zimmerman’s story is to be believed, should have been the case here), but straight up murder. He’d have been just another black man going to jail, and there would be no one saying he was right to “Stand his Ground”.
The shame is not that such a large public outcry for justice in this case has gone unanswered. The shame is that, deep down, all of us saw it coming.