George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, two men whose names will be ever entwined because of a bunch of stupid acts. Oh yes, one man was white the other black; one is dead and the other… Well, I would not want to call what George Zimmerman will experience in the next decades as being alive.
As a liberal, I am appalled at the idea of any discrimination by stereotyping because of skin pigmentation. It exists and will continue to exist until we see that discrimination is an economic problem, that skin color or language or religion is only a device we have to separate “us” from “them.” But that is not the point here.
The events that led to the shooting and killing of Martin by Zimmerman will remain in the guise of speculation – there were no witnesses.
Allow me to say that once again – There were no witnesses to the entire incident, from the time Martin entered the property to the arrival of the police. There are some unidentifiable screams, there was a telephone conversation, but no eye witnesses.
Our court system, one of the fairest on the planet, has the sole responsibility to remain “an impartial and independent judiciary.” We are given the opportunity to be judged by a jury of our peers, a jury that is charged to make their decision solely based on the facts presented; not on speculation, not on political motivation, not on facts not presented.
What we are seeing from the public comments and protests are judgments being made on speculation, political motivation and facts not presented. We actually know more than the jurors, but that is not the point. The point is the jurors made their decision on a set of rules and guidelines prescribed by the court.
In this case, as in most court decisions, justice is served regardless of the outcome of the trial. Justice will lean one way or another. I am sure that if Zimmerman were found guilty, there would have been protests by those who disagreed with the verdict.
Are there wrongful convictions? Absolutely. Are those who should be found guilty set free? Absolutely. It is known as the Blackstone Formula, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” Our system has a special provision; that once one is found not guilty of a crime, for whatever reason, that person cannot be prosecuted for the same crime a second time. Double jeopardy. That is the case here. Deal with it.
However, from Attorney General Eric Holder to the guy sitting at the table behind me at Panera’s this morning, the anger concerning the decision of the court is based on conjecture, speculation and political motivation. This is not to say that discrimination has been rendered null, but it is to say that we are sometimes blinded by our own prejudices.
Geraldo Rivera and I agree on three major points and a fourth point made by one of the jurors.
First from Rivera – “You Dress Like A Thug, People Are Going To Treat You Like A Thug.” In fact, both men were guilty of this “wise saying.” Martin in his hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, gangster style, most likely hunched a bit looking as large as possible in response to the man who was following him. Zimmerman, in his “I am the protector of all men” attitude, included a handgun as part of his costume. Both men took up the “dress like a tug” role and they both paid the price.
This brings me to the comment made by one juror, that both men made major errors in judgment. That the shooting and killing of Martin was the result of too many bad decisions. It appears from the information the public has been privy to, both men had multiple times where the confrontation could have de-escalated. Neither man took advantage of the opportunities.
Back to Rivera. Agree or not, justice was served and based on the facts made available by the prosecutors, who had the responsibility to prove Zimmerman did not act in self-defense. The bar is based high, that the jurors must believe and vote for guilt without reservation, that they believe beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution did not clear this bar.
Our justice system is in need of major overhauling. The punishments for minor crimes are out of proportion to the crimes themselves. We focus so heavily on drug offenses, which we tend to blame all other crimes on the war on drugs; a war we will never win. Our jails are disproportionately filled with American minorities who are serving longer terms for lesser offenses.
Rivera said one more thing with which I agree. If you do not like what happened, change the law. Not just the “stand your ground” and “make my day” laws, but the laws that are punishing our citizens disproportionately, that are based on economics and not justice, and that are forcing us to spend more on jails and prisons than we spend on schools.
Protesting will not change the system. That must be done from within by changing the laws and, sometimes, changing the law makers. Your pulling a lever, filling in a marker or simply signing your name has more power than George Zimmerman’s handgun will ever have.
Post Script: I heard too often that there was a picture showing Trayvon Martin with tattoos. that is not Trayvon Martin by rapper “The Game” or today “Game” Jayceon Terrell Taylor from Compton, Calif. PolitiFact.