Immediately after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Facebook and Twitter were ablaze with Zimmerman's supporters strongly rationalizing his actions and celebrating the court's decision as if they were related to the defendant. His detractors were too busy to care, spewing how racist the state of Florida and the U.S. have become.
After my public calling for the immediate arrest of Zimmerman after the tragic shooting, and even correctly predicting that there was no way Zimmerman could be convicted of second-degree murder based on the evidence, the conclusion of this whole tragedy just doesn't sit too well with me. I feel troubled. Sick. Conflicted.
But first things first. I have to speak directly to my emotionally-charged black community, a populace that I know and love:
Folks, I know that you appear to be somewhat astonished that a not-guilty verdict could even happen under these conditions. You have an armed aggressor, an unarmed minor and a senseless murder of a young man that didn't commit any crime that night. Under normal circumstances, the shooter gets arrested and receives the maximum penalty under the law. But Martin and Zimmerman both caught lightning in a bottle that night. No cameras, no legitimate witnesses and a shooting that took place in a state with bass-ackward laws that look favorably upon gun ownership to almost anyone. That being said, the prosecution didn't do itself any favors by incorrectly seeking a murder charge on a case that had flimsy evidence to begin with. For a murder conviction, one would have to believe that Zimmerman's sole purpose that night was to exit his truck and find Martin to kill him. You don't believe that. A charge for manslaughter would have been an open-and-shut case. But unfortunately, the prosecution (under media pressure) decided to swing for the fences and struck out. Remember, the only true witness to the shooting is no longer with us. And without a credible witness or tangible evidence, you have to set Zimmerman free. In the grand scheme, we want that type of certainty. Why? Because we don't want precedence set that says one can be convicted in court on circumstantial evidence alone, especially when we're the potential ones on the stand in the future. Believe it or not, there's a difference between killing someone and murder. And we can't just say that justice prevails only when it does what we want it to. I hope to see this same angst and emotion the next time a young black male shoots and kills another young black male. I'm still awaiting that next march, protest or boycott regarding black-on-black crime.
But before the Zimmerman supporters go out and christen and celebrate for the rest of 2013, I have constructed a few questions that deserve attention: Doesn't the fact that Zimmerman ignored a police dispatcher's request to stay in his car make him the aggressor? If Zimmerman hypothetically got into a shootout with a legally-registered-gun-totin' Martin that night, and Martin shot and killed Zimmerman, wouldn't the authorities have arrested Martin on site? Why doesn't the "stand your ground" law apply to Martin if he allegedly started the altercation after being followed by a man that was carrying a gun? If Martin managed to wrestle Zimmerman's gun away from him during the scuffle and held him until the police arrived, would they have let Martin go free and charge Zimmerman? Doesn't it trouble you that Zimmerman is going to retrieve the same confiscated gun that he used to kill Martin that night? Does it bother you that there's a 17-year-old kid that was intentionally shot dead, and there's no criminal culpability at all for his parents?
I only reference these situaions because I believe that people are angry at the situational inconsistencies, societal contradictions, and the judicial incongruities. And although Zimmerman never used the "stand your ground" defense in this case, legal discrepancies like that are the reason more change should be on the agenda when it comes to our judicial system.
I just pray that we can all find common ground on this issue soon. But I couldn't help but smirk while watching CNN, Zimmerman's brother saying that he "feared for his brother's life now that he's free because of potential vigilantes in public." Oh, the irony.
Danny Morrison of Bakersfield is a local radio personality and a sales representative in thebuilding industry.