Gary Younge at The Guardian writes—Open season on black boys after a verdict like this:
Who screamed. Who was stronger. Who called whom what and when and why are all details to warm the heart of a cable news producer with 24 hours to fill. Strip them all away and the truth remains that Martin's heart would still be beating if Zimmerman had not chased him down and shot him.The Editorial Board of the Independent concludes:
There is no doubt about who the aggressor was here. It appears that the only reason the two interacted at all, physically or otherwise, is that Zimmerman believed it was his civic duty to apprehend an innocent teenager who caused suspicion by his existence alone.
Appeals for calm in the wake of such a verdict raise the question of what calm there can possibly be in a place where such a verdict is possible. Parents of black boys are not likely to feel calm. Partners of black men are not likely to feel calm. Children with black fathers are not likely to feel calm. Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded.
But while the acquittal was shameful it was not a shock.
[T]he first black president of the United States ventured an early comment, saying that if he had had a son “he would look like Trayvon”.The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board says:
In so saying, Barack Obama pinpointed the truth that a great many white Americans will see a young man up to no good before they see a president’s son. For all the civil rights advances over half a century, personified by the black family now residing in the White House, racism remains pernicious and entrenched. [...]
[T]he verdict leaves the impression not just that it is acceptable for an individual in large parts of the US to take the law into his own hands, but that the life of a young black man is cheap. This incendiary case from central Florida – electorally, a swing district of a swing state – shows how far, despite Mr Obama’s election, the US still fails to practise racial equality.
The Pentagon wouldn't be facing this agonizing problem if President Obama had made good on his promise in his first term to close Guantanamo and move its inmates (now numbering 166) either to foreign countries or to a secure prison in the United States. But thanks to both congressional opposition and his skittishness about returning prisoners to countries that serve as breeding grounds for terrorism, 86 prisoners cleared for release in 2010 remain at the prison. Of the remaining 80 inmates, 46 have been classified by an administrative task force as too dangerous to release and impossible to put on trial, and the rest are undergoing or awaiting trial by military commissions.
Although the hunger strike was initiated as a protest against intrusive searches of personal belongings, it now involves more than 100 prisoners and has become a primal scream against indefinite detention.
Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes Hunger Games, U.S.A.:
Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.Roxanne Gay at Salon writes—It's an easy punchline to blame Florida or the South for this horrible verdict. But the problem goes much deeper:
On my Twitter feed, many people have expressed shock and outrage. They seem genuinely surprised. Having followed the trial, I am not so much surprised as I am numb. I don’t quite feel anger, though I am, in my way, outraged. This verdict speaks for itself. This verdict tells us everything we need to know about our laws, whom they are designed to protect, and why. It tells us about the power of the gun lobby, the power of stereotypes, and the value of a black person’s life. [...]Craig Pittman at Slate writes —What is wrong with Florida juries?:
We need to consider the bigger picture. What happened to Trayvon Martin is not a problem with Florida. We can joke about the Sunshine State and its supposed backwardness. We can pretend Zimmerman’s acquittal wouldn’t have happened elsewhere. That simply isn’t true.
I spent four years covering criminal courts in Florida. I covered every kind of case, from misdemeanors to murder. One thing I learned is that you can never predict what a jury might do once it’s locked away to deliberate. I covered one trial where the defendant was accused of bigamy, and his defense was: Sorry, I forgot I was married already. He walked.Aura Bogado at The Nation writes—White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman:
Prosecutors around the state boast of their high conviction rates, but those stellar records tend to be built primarily on successful plea deals, not trials. And frankly, some of their trial successes turn out to be the result of flimsy or faulty evidence—Florida leads the nation in the number of death row inmates who were subsequently exonerated. [...]
The most forgiving jury in Florida history was probably the one that heard the case of four white Miami police officers charged with murder in the death of a black insurance executive named Arthur McDuffie. A Marine Corps veteran, McDuffie died in 1979 four days after he went out riding on his motorcycle and wound up in a coma. The officers said he sustained his injuries when he crashed while trying to avoid being arrested for reckless driving. The truth was that the cops had caught up to McDuffie and then beaten and kicked him mercilessly, cracking his skull like an egg. A medical examiner testified that the fatal blow was “equivalent to falling four stories and landing between your eyes.” The cops phonied up the crime scene to hide what they'd done. It all came out anyway. [...]
Because of pretrial publicity, the case was moved to Tampa, where an all-white jury voted to acquit the cops on all charges. Miami’s Liberty City erupted in three days of riots that left 18 people—eight white, 10 black—just as dead as Arthur McDuffie.
In the last few days, Latinos in particular have spoken up again about Zimmerman’s race, and the “white Hispanic” label especially, largely responding to social media users and mass media pundits who employed the term. Watching Zimmerman in the defense seat, his sister in the courtroom, and his mother on the stand, one can’t deny the skin color that informs their experience. They are not white. Yet Zimmerman’s apparent ideology—one that is suspicious of black men in his neighborhood, the “assholes who always get away—” is one that adheres to white supremacy. It was replicated in the courtroom by his defense, whose team tore away at Rachel Jeantel, questioning the young woman as if she was taking a Jim Crow–era literacy test. A defense that, during closing, cited slave-owning rapist Thomas Jefferson, played an animation for the jury based on erroneous assumptions, made racially coded accusations about Trayvon Martin emerging “out of the darkness,” and had the audacity to compare the case of the killing of an unarmed black teenager to siblings arguing over which one stole a cookie.National Review On-line Editorial Board writes:
When Zimmerman was acquitted today, it wasn’t because he’s a so-called white Hispanic. He’s not. It’s because he abides by the logic of white supremacy, and was supported by a defense team—and a swath of society—that supports the lingering idea that some black men must occasionally be killed with impunity in order to keep society-at-large safe.
Now that the jury has rendered the only verdict it reasonably could, the same characters who have spent more than a year smearing Zimmerman are indicting the American justice system. Al Sharpton wants the feds to pursue Zimmerman on civil-rights charges. Tavis Smiley says that “color gets you killed” in America, and “somebody can always explain away why this person got off, why this person was not found guilty, and what we have is a bunch of dead black men.” A focus of ire is the “stand your ground” law, even though the Zimmerman case had nothing to do with Florida’s version of that law — his lawyers made a strict self-defense argument, and a compelling one.Jelani Cobb at The New Yorker writes—George Zimmerman Not Guilty: Blood on the Leaves:
We wish the purveyors of perpetual outrage would pause from saying stupid and inflammatory things about the Zimmerman case long enough to consider how wrong they were about it all along. But we are realists.
The not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial came down moments after I left a screening of “Fruitvale Station,” a film about the police-shooting death of Oscar Grant four years ago in Oakland. Much of the audience sat quietly sobbing as the closing credits rolled, moved by the narrative of a young black man, unarmed and senselessly gone. Words were not needed to express a common understanding: to Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, the seventeen-year-old he shot, fit the description; for black America, the circumstances of his death did.Jonathan Capehart at the Washington Post writes—Race and the George Zimmerman trial:
The familiarity dulled the sharp edges of the tragedy. The decision the six jurors reached on Saturday evening will inspire anger, frustration, and despair, but little surprise, and this is the most deeply saddening aspect of the entire affair. From the outset— throughout the forty-four days it took for there to be an arrest, and then in the sixteen months it took to for the case to come to trial—there was a nagging suspicion that it would culminate in disappointment. Call this historical profiling.
“This case is not about race; this is about right and wrong,” he told the all-white jury of women. “What if it was Trayvon Martin who shot and killed George Zimmerman? What would your verdict be?,” Guy asked. “That’s how you know it’s not about race.”
Whether we want to admit it or not, we know the answer to Guy’s question. If the verdict would be guilty for Trayvon if he were the accused murderer then it must be the same for Zimmerman. Now, we wait to see if the jury agrees.