Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Lynching Mentality Rolls On

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

A century-and-a-half after Lincoln freed the slaves - and fifty years since LBJ thought he had put an end to Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act, we are offered up an example of just how unswervingly racist the American psyche seems to be.   Last night a goodly portion of the nation was shocked when an all-female and nearly all-white jury found George Zimmerman, a cop wannabe, not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of a seventeen-year-old unarmed black male - a shooting that Zimmerman readily admitted.

Zimmerman professed his innocence under Florida's "stand your ground" law, a piece of bad legislation which says its alright to kill someone if you feel threatened.  Apparently a teen carrying a bag of skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea - and wearing a hoodie, can be perceived as a threat - at least in some places.

Trayvon Martin, the deceased victim, was shot and killed by Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, three weeks to the day after his seventeenth birthday, and although he was barely seventeen, he has been tried in the conservative press almost since the day of his murder as some sort of adult gangster who would have certainly raped or murdered some poor white woman before going to bed that night.  Rush Limbaugh went on one of his stupidity-laced tirades because he felt the mainstream press was making Martin look too young and innocent.   A friend of mine who is an annoyingly phony "good Christian" sent me a chain email showing a forty-year-old black man who looked like he had just escaped from the Florida State Penitentiary - with a caption stating that it was a picture of the "real" Trayvon Martin.  Another person I know said basically that the killing had been justified because the youth had a record.

It turned out to be (as Arlo Guthrie famously said in his epic Alice's Restaurant) "another case of American blind justice."  George Zimmerman is a free man tonight, and he reportedly even has his gun back - a gun without a safety.

George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, called the police on the evening of February 26, 2012, when he saw Martin walking through his gated community - a community in which the youth was residing.  Zimmerman told the police that the youth, who was wearing a black hoodie, "looked suspicious" and was looking at houses and things - and walking nonchalantly in the rain.   The police instructed Zimmerman to remain in his car, a directive that he chose to ignore.

Several states now have "stand your ground" laws, which are little more than invitations to commit murder.  Of course, if the person standing his ground is a person of color, that defense might not work.

George Zimmerman may have not intended to kill Trayvon Martin, but he did.   He purchased a gun in a country that is awash in guns, volunteered to work with a neighborhood watch, and acted as a vigilante.  When a tall, skinny black kid wearing a hoodie ambled by inside of a gated community, Zimmerman reacted - and he reacted badly.

America was a dangerous place for young black males in the 1950's when 14-year-old Emmett Till was brutally murdered, and it remains a dangerous place for them today.  Somehow things have got to change.


Xobekim said...

In this case intent is not the same thing as premeditation. Intent is the absence of accident or mere negligence.

Zimmerman did not negligently wear the gun concealed in the small of his back. He did not negligently reach back, grasp his weapon, and shoot the young man. He did those things intending to do those things.

I had a sinking feeling when the jury was selected. I thought the state's case lacked the impact that I have seen applied to other criminal defendants.

One case, I remember well, ended with a police officer being acquitted. The officer, his buddies, his lawyer, and the prosecutors all walked out of the courtroom together, all smiles.

Ironically, yesterday's Psalm spoke to the verdict: "How long will you judge unjustly, and show favor to the wicked?" Psalm 82:2.

Don said...

I think the big problem here was something never addressed at trial: Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

The jury could hardly have been unaware of the law (it received massive doses of publicity when passed) and some members could have been thinking that because the state originally cleared Zimmerman's behavior, he must have been justified in killing Trayvon.

The performance of the prosecution team was so wretched (especially the lack of preparation of the girl talking to Trayvon when the shooting went down) that I was not surprised at all by the verdict.