They do not want to simply accept the acquittal: from New York to Los Angeles thousands of indignant people have taken to the street because they either do not understand or cannot accept that George Zimmerman is once again out of prison.
A jury of six women declared the 28-year-old member of a vigilante group “not guilty.” This verdict declared him guilty neither of murder nor of manslaughter nor of involuntary manslaughter, although he indisputably shot unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to death on the night of Feb. 26, 2012.
This weekend, Americans in 100 cities want to demonstrate against this verdict. “Justice for Trayvon Martin” is their motto. The black civil rights organization NAACP criticizes this acquittal as racist and is pressuring Attorney General Eric Holder to proceed with a civil rights suit.
But was the acquittal really unjust? Was racism actually involved?
It cannot be ruled out that self-appointed deputy sheriff Zimmerman followed young Trayvon Martin because he was black, and that he perhaps found him to be suspicious because Martin was wearing a hoodie — the sweatshirt pullover with a hood that is typical for young blacks. Perhaps the half Latino Zimmerman also harbors prejudices against African Americans, and is perhaps even a racist at heart.
Shortage of Evidence
Yet the proceedings in the criminal court did not supply any information that proved that killing Martin was intentional and not, as Zimmerman said in his defense, an act of self-defense. Other than Zimmerman, there were no other witnesses to the crime. There was a lack of decisive evidence for a conviction.
That is unfortunately the way that it sometimes is in a nation of law: The verdict leaves one dissatisfied and with mixed feelings. But it could not have been decided otherwise due to the lack of evidence.
Naturally, it is true that blacks in America are named as the suspects of crimes disproportionately often, and that they are disproportionately often arrested and mistreated in police custody. Likewise, blacks are locked up in prison more quickly and for longer compared to whites.
Indeed, it is likewise a sad truth that young black men commit far more violence in proportion to young whites. In New York City, for example, only 25 percent of the residents are black. But three-quarters of all recorded instances of gun use are traced back to African Americans.
In addition, Zimmerman was not acquitted because the six women of the jury were guided by racist motives. The trial provided no indication of that.
The problem lies completely elsewhere. Trayvon Martin might still be alive if it weren’t for this abstruse, far-reaching right to self-defense in Florida. It is named the Stand Your Ground law, which means as much as ‘don’t yield’. In case of a threat, or also even if one believes to be observing a crime, the threatened or witness does not have to withdraw, but is permitted to play the macho in the manner of the Wild West.
According to this law, in Florida it is permissible to follow a suspect, apprehend him, seize and not let him go. Members of vigilante groups patrol their neighborhoods as Zimmerman did, invoking this law, and of course with a weapon in a holster.
Some say that especially many blacks fall victim to this fatal law, because they, as discussed above, are suspected and followed more frequently than whites. Statistics offer no reason for that. But that doesn’t matter. Because this law exists and Zimmerman played policeman, Martin is dead.
Black musician Steve Wonder has drawn the right conclusion. He no longer wants to appear in states that have passed such a law or a similar one. Boycotting the weapon insanity is the correct answer.