Community Voices

Monday, Jul 15 2013 11:00 PM

IAN PICKETT: Zimmerman verdict causes anger and comfort at the same time

Much of the anger directed at the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict comes from trying to say what we think happened versus what the state of Florida could prove happened.

Many say Zimmerman had a premeditated plan. Maybe so. Aside from the fact that there is no evidence of that, the state obviously didn't even think so, otherwise they would have charged him with first-degree murder.

The entire case in legal terms came down to the physical fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin -- and that is that. Unfortunately, only one man could speak to what happened because the other was dead. But the state, knowing that, should have never stretched for a second-degree murder chage because they knew full well they couldn't prove it. Did Zimmerman profile Trayvon? Yes. Is it wrong and disgusting to profile someone based on clothing and race? Yes. Does profiling equate to murder or manslaughter in legal terms? No.

As much as the situation infuriates many of us, and as hard as it is to admit for some, I would hope people are bit comforted by the verdict -- because it may one day be you or me on trial. I would prefer to not be convicted on conjecture or circumstantial evidence.

The court system does not exist to exercise revenge disguised as justice, and to scream for justice disguised as revenge is hypocritical at best. It's quite possible racism had everything to do with how Trayvon Martin was profiled and nothing to do with the verdict. And if we are truly interested in justice, than that is a small, yet important, comfort we can take from all of this. The trial system worked, whether we like the outcome or not.

What sickens me the most is how we scream for justice in the case of a white man killing a black man, yet turn a blind eye to the violence happening in our cities via black-on-black crime. Not to slight the loss of Trayvon Martin's life, because neither should be more important than the other. But judging by the outrage, clearly one is.

Many people who championed this case, including the likes of Al Sharpton, continue to ignore the violence taking place in our black communities and even go so far as to excuse it because of factors like economic hardship and disenfranchisement among the poor.

Black-on-black crime has everything to do with this because the excuse of "lack of resources" in murdering the innocent should be just as deplorable as the profiling that leads to thinking someone is up to no good because they are black and wearing a hoodie.

Lack of resources doesn't excuse a six-month old being shot five times while getting her diaper changed. Lack of resources doesn't excuse murdering a 17-year-old because he refused to join a gang. Lack of resources doesn't excuse shooting mothers and their children. Lack of resources doesn't excuse over 1,500 people being shot in the last three years, does it?

That is the reality for Americans in Chicago that has been largely ignored by these high profile champions for justice, and Chicago is just an example of an epidemic across our nation.

There are plenty of poor people with every card stacked against them that don't kill others for any reason. To even imply there is an excuse for the genocide taking place while condemning Zimmerman's excuse for profiling is the definition of hypocrisy. And it is the reason we cannot have an open, honest dialog about racism and culture in our country.

This case highlights a horrible reality of profiling in America, but how is that any more or less important than thousands dying every year? Is it less important because a black kid killing a black kid doesn't get ratings, doesn't get votes and doesn't divide "teams" as efficiently as a white killing a black?

Every single black person in the United States -- along with the victims' families who don't get the benefit of family lawyers, press conferences and the attention of Barack Obama or Sharpton -- should be offended that Trayvon's life has been portrayed as more important than their child's. And every white person that denies that racist profiling exists should hope that their child is never mistaken for a suspicious person while simply trying to come home.

Until we can admit these truths, any conversation we have will simply be rhetoric, and probably a conversation we only have around election time.

Ian Pickett is a former U.S. Marine and correctional sergeant. He currently coaches high school track. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words.

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