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View Diary: Trayvon Martin: A teachable moment about institutional racism and subjectivity? (82 comments)

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  •  You're right he has a weak case (19+ / 0-)

    I'll concede that.

    But so did the officers who beat Rodney King.  The defense lawyers slowed the tape down and kept asking the jury something like, "OK at this point, Mr. King seems to have raised his hand -- was it reasonable for the police to think he might still be resisting?"  That's not the exact phrasing, but the overall strategy.  

    In other words, even a black male being beaten to a pulp on the ground surrounded by officers, may be thought of as still a "threat" to a reasonable person as judged by average Americans.  I'm just pointing out that if the situation were the same and the victim was a 65 year old white woman, not even a Simi Valley jury would say that the officers' fears were reasonable.

    But I agree that Zimmerman probably blew his defense by following Martin.

    On the other hand, there's nothing illegal about following him.  The defense will probably try to "break" the whole chain of events into tiny events, and make everything that happened up to the point of confrontation irrelevant.

    Then when Zimmerman confronted Martin they'll say "Martin reached for his belt -- was Zimmerman's fear reasonable?"

    I'm not saying I agree with it or it will work -- just how perceptions of race and threat play into the viability of the defense.

    •  Zimmerman isn't a PO. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, Avila, oldpunk, splintersawry

      Police officers routinely get away with abuses and murders because they're police officers. There's an entire system behind them, and they are indeed treated far differently in our justice system than civilians are. It's the nature of the system of police power delegated by governments. Which also enjoy quite a different set of 'rules' than we mere peons. I do not believe I've ever heard of a governmental system - even from way back in city-state days - that didn't designate to itself 'special' powers and privileges, conferable onto its surrogates and agents.

      I don't see that as necessarily "institutionalized racism," but as "institutionalized status." Above the law, so to speak, because laws are for the little people. At THAT point the prevailing prejudices of the culture in which the government operates take the fore. Hence "institutionalized racism" in our racist culture.

      This means any sub-group of the relatively powerless can be targeted. And history demonstrates that this is just what happens. I see the problem as much deeper than just that the specially privileged elites are racist. This whole "reasonable person" legal argument is a direct appeal to the racism of the jury.

      Other than that, yeah. Zimmerman doesn't have much of a defense.

    •  Re: a 65 year old white woman vs. Trayvon Martin (1+ / 0-)
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      You have three factors in play there in your reasonableness test: racism, sexism, and ageism. Compare Trayvon Martin to a young white man wearing a hoodie and you have a more equivalent comparison. Is the young Black man likely to "be more suspicious" to a juror than the young Black man? If so, there's your racism right there. Is the young Black man likely to "be more suspicious" to a juror than a 65 year old Black man? That's ageism. And is a 17 year old Black man in a hoodie likely to "be more suspicious" than a 17 year old Black woman in the same garb? That's sexism. If the young Black woman is more likely to seem suspect, that too is sexism.

      My gut on this: to most jurors, the younger Black man is more likely to be someone they feel a "reasonable" person would be suspicious of than any of the alternates, which is racism, sexism, and ageism rolled up into one.

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      by Kitsap River on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 04:30:19 PM PDT

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