Below is a series of commentaries written by MSR staff writer Charles Hallman exclusively for the MSR Online regarding the George Zimmerman trial. They are being posted several times per week.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org
Zimmerman update #16 (July 23, 2013)
It’s been over a week since the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict was handed down. Marches, vigils, and other such events have taken place in its aftermath.
“There’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case,” admitted President Obama in his unexpected address to the press last week.
The President spoke not to those of us who fully understand this, but to those who don’t have — or don’t want to have — a clue about Black people in America. Hopefully they heard it. He spoke not as a president, or even the first Black president, but as a Black man living in an America that has been culturally conditioned to believe that White people are superior and Black people are inferior, and the manifestation of that is Black people are underestimated, undervalued and marginalized.
When Obama said last week that he could have easily been a Trayvon Martin years ago, he wasn’t saying this for effect.
“There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars,” continued the president. “That happened to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.”
Personally, it happened to this reporter just last week.
“There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.” Then the president went to the crux of the matter, the slap in the proverbial face when the July 13 verdict was read, something that the right wing and the naïve can’t or won’t fathom, won’t allow them to fully appreciate, that Black people’s perspectives are based on a unique set of experiences that they probably won’t ever understand.
“The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws,” explained President Obama. “I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”
Reverend John R. Bryant painfully remembers such experiences as he watched the trial, its verdict and the aftermath. In a brief MSR interview last Saturday, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church senior bishop recalled when he once was stopped as a young man for no reason.
He, like Obama, could’ve been a Trayvon Martin if the circumstances had been different. He, like many Blacks in this country, know that justice in America for people of color is too often an abstract term.
“If a Black [person] was in the same situation [as George Zimmerman], the [verdict] result would have been totally different,” stated Bryant, who became the AME Church’s 106th bishop in 1998. He also noted that he expected the president to get some flack about what he said in the White House briefing room last Friday. “But the truth is always met with some opposition,” he surmised.
Will the Zimmerman verdict produce a moment, a time, to vent, or a real movement of change? President Obama asked this as well: “How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?”
Unlike Tavis Smiley, who criticized the President on Meet the Press, arguing that Obama must lead this movement, the President instead suggested that a movement must come from the people and not “some grand, new federal program.”
“I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching,” believes the president, who adds that “a conversation on race” would be better served “in families and churches and workplaces” where people can be honest as opposed to “when politicians try to organize [such] conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. So we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues.”
Local rapper Brother Ali told the MSR during the July 15 “Justice for Trayvon” march in Downtown Minneapolis that every individual must use their “sphere of influence” to keep alive this issue of injustice.
“I’m proud that [Blacks] in this country are not letting this issue go by,” says Bryant. “We believe in Black life.”
Stevie Wonder urged his fans to support his boycott of Florida and that he won’t perform in that state until lawmakers abolishes its Stand Your Ground law, a law that also exists in 32 other states besides Florida. Fifty-five percent of the respondents of a recent poll also support a boycott of all Florida products as well.
However, the scheduled National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention will go as planned in Orlando, Florida on July 31—August 4, despite some members urging that the group should pull out. NABJ President Gregory Lee told Richard Prince’s Journal-isms that it would cost over $1 million to do so this late, but invited the Martin family, journalists who covered the trial, as well as the Zimmerman family to participate in a panel at the convention.
Finally, we sadly have been reminded again of the justice inequities that still exist in this country. Where Michael Vick serves prison time for his involvement in dog fighting. Where a Black female gets sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot in the air toward her abusive husband — she tried and failed to get acquitted on the same Stand Your Ground law that the Zimmerman jury kept in the back of their minds during deliberations. But a White man can shoot an unarmed Black teenager, call it self-defense, and be freed afterwards.
“This is not a post racial society,” concludes Bishop Bryant.
Zimmerman update #15 (July 18, 2013)
If the Zimmerman family and at least one jury member can profit from Trayvon Martin’s death, why not his friend as well?
Rachel Jeantel — the target of Whites and Blacks alike since she testified in the trial — was the last person to speak to Martin before he was gunned down by George Zimmerman last year. Longtime radio host Tom Joyner on his show Tuesday offered the young woman a full ride to any HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) after she completes her high school education.
“I will help you get tutors to get you out of high school, tutors to help you pass the SAT, and I will give you a full-ride scholarship to any HBCU you’d like,” pledged Joyner, who is well known for his fundraising for Black colleges through his Tom Joyner Foundation.
Rather than panning her, Jeantel should have been hailed for coming forward, for taking the stand as a model citizen who came forth and withstood the grilling and cross-grilling that she endured as a prosecution witness. Especially when we have too many young people hiding from their civic responsibility, such as notifying authorities when trouble occurs, we had Jeantel who nonetheless did the right thing.
Why doesn’t the court provide counseling for Jeantel, who admits that she still hasn’t fully recovered from the shock of losing her friend Trayvon, as it reportedly has for the Zimmerman jurors? Did they lose a friend through a senseless killing like she did, or are they looking for a Bob Newhart to spill their guts to for letting her friend’s killer go free?
It’s becoming harder and harder to summon up any sympathy for these jurors. Perhaps their lives have changed forever, but so has Jeantel’s.
Zimmerman update – 14, July 17
We still don’t know her name, but ‘Juror B-37’ is making a name for herself at the expense of a slain Black teenager.
She claimed that she wants to “return instead to my life as it was before,” but earlier she had announced her plans for a “tell-all” book before taking such plans off the table.
She doesn’t want her face shown, but she went on CNN and spoke in the shadows, declaring that Trayvon Martin’s friend, who testified, wasn’t credible, but that she could easily tell that the defendant, who didn’t take the stand, “was a man whose heart was in the right place.”
This is the same middle-aged White woman who, during pre-trial questioning, admitted that earlier protests over the Martin killing was “rioting,” so it’s to be expected that she didn’t see what George Zimmerman did as racially motivated.
According to this woman, the jury cried after they made their decision to clear Zimmerman. But she didn’t tell the interviewer for whom they cried.
And while Juror B-37 makes the interview circuit, Zimmerman’s family didn’t have any problem getting their face time as well. His brother all but gave a high five to CNN’s Piers Morgan on the night Zimmerman was acquitted, and now he goes on a shock-jock talk shows and blames the media: “They started a race narrative [and] a smear campaign,” believes Robert Zimmerman, Jr.
His parents get all mushy for Barbara Walters, who hasn’t asked a tough question in 30 years. Funny how all these folks are benefiting from Martin’s death.
Zimmerman update #13 (July 16, 2013)
It is always interesting to see when knuckleheads such as Fox News and other conservative (and liberal as well) media get it wrong when it comes to Black people in this country.
Some had falsely predicted that a riot would break out the second George Zimmerman would be set free for killing Trayvon Martin.
“I pray that they don’t,” prayed Fox News contributor Mary Katharine Ham.
“There may possibly be riots,” said CNN’s Piers Morgan during an interview with Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara. “There is a concern that [a not guilty verdict] will create a lot of ill feeing, particularly in the Black community.”
Well it’s 0-for-two for Fox — they also predicted a defeat for Barack Obama last November as well — and thus far no riots in the streets.
“Actually I think it is a misconception of Black people,” stated Karen Locke of Maplewood. She and her son were among an estimated crowd of between 3,000 and 4,000 persons in downtown Minneapolis Monday evening. The crowd wasn’t all Black but they all were there for one reason: To protest Zimmerman’s acquittal. Peacefully.
“We’re not violent unless provoked,” noted Locke.
The crowd also marched around downtown as well. A Minneapolis police officer who was directing traffic told me that he didn’t expect any violence during the protest parade.
“I never seen anybody say we are going to riot on Facebook,” added Rae-Rae Patterson of Brooklyn Center.
“I am hoping that we bring a resolution and change in the justice system. I don’t agree with the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law [in Florida] at all,” said Locke.
Zimmerman update #12 (July 15, 2013)
If you’re young and Black and you look the least bit suspicious — bang, bang, you’re dead! That is basically what the Sanford jury said Saturday as they gave George Zimmerman a license to kill. He used it over a year ago when he killed Trayvon Martin.
And contrary to those culturally conditioned people who believe that Blacks would riot after a not guilty verdict, they were so sadly disappointed as well. Over 100,000 persons signed a NAACP online petition that urges the Justice Department to step in and investigate the entire matter — something the feds were doing before Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder.
The Z-team defense successfully convinced the jury to see Martin as the aggressor, the one who attacked the defendant with a can of punch and a bag of candy, which ultimately gave Zimmerman no other choice but to pull out his Dirty Harry gun and blow away the “punk.”
Seemingly as Zimmerman watched movies, the Florida prosecutors who were ill-prepared to handle such high profile cases, must not have watched Law & Order. If they had, perhaps they wouldn’t have depended so much on whose screams on a 9-1-1 call was heard as a key argument. Perhaps had they spent more time arguing the fact that Zimmerman played Robocop and chased down an unarmed Black young man, refusing to give the benefit of the doubt that Martin might be just minding his own business, a different outcome might have occurred.
Whereas Zimmerman walks free, and his family and friends celebrate, Martin’s family walks to their son’s grave as the jury essentially found Martin guilty instead of Zimmerman. The six women truly lived up to one of America’s justice edict — they were a jury of his peers, and gave him a pass.
This case however will be a debated one for the law professors and others forever — a jury decision that essentially gave a license to kill. It also brought to the lexicon a new term for racial profiling: Being Zimmerman.
Finally if there is any solace, Zimmerman was not found innocent, just not guilty. “Dirty George” instead forever will be guilty of the Sixth Commandment: Thou shall not kill.
Zimmerman trial watch #11 (July 10, 2013)
It’s neither a Matlock nor any Law & Order episode, but the closing arguments are set to begin now that both sides have rested in the George Zimmerman murder trial.
Unfortunately, we won’t see the defendant on the stand. So we only have videos of him telling his side of what happened last year, along with his neighbors’ supporting testimonies of his version of events. We won’t ever have the complete story of what really happened because sadly the only person who hasn’t told us his side can’t talk — Trayvon Martin, whose parents and others testified on his behalf.
Now, with closing arguments set to begin Thursday (July 11), how will the two sides approach the six-woman jury? Will it make a difference whose side goes first or last?
Will the “who screamed and when” testimonies become the oft-debatable item for the women jurors — or the real CSI folk that supported the defendant’s version of what happened that night?
Will jurors focus on the affirmative response from a public safety consultant, who when asked by prosecutor John Guy after he used a foam dummy in a cross-examination to show that if Martin was on top of Zimmerman how the young man possibly could back away when he was shot?
Will the simple but overarching fact that Zimmerman shot and killed Martin be the convincing factor that determines the jury’s decision?
It’s expected that Thursday’s proceedings will be a climatic one in a case that has twisted and turned more than Chubby Checker.
Zimmerman trial watch #10 (July 9, 2013)
Using sports jargon, from what I heard today many Blacks in this country are now heading to the exits.
I say this not because of Tuesday’s testimonies in George Zimmerman’s murder trial, but instead by listening to Black callers, first on Joe Madison’s morning show on Sirius XM, then later that afternoon on an Atlanta talk radio station. Most offered their penny legal analysis, but nearly all conceded that justice where Blacks are concerned is being denied once again.
Roxanne Jones in a CNN.com commentary Tuesday interviewed a former New York prosecutor, Xavier Donaldson, who told her, “You have to look at the nature of the case and the racial, political and social economics of the defendant and accused.” This shouldn’t be too surprising, especially in Sanford, Florida where Zimmerman “has gotten the benefit of presumption of innocence,” noted Donaldson.
He added that in most murder cases, “People generally believe that if you’ve been arrested and charged that you must have done something wrong, but those lines are blurred here” in the Zimmerman case.
Sadly, too many Blacks also were suckered, or as Jones aptly put it, “Bamboozled.” Blinded by the national spotlights, many Blacks had already declared Zimmerman guilty of killing Martin in their court of public opinion and expected that verdict simply would carry over into the Sanford courthouse.
Some Blacks saw the Zimmerman trial as this century’s To Kill a Mockingbird, hoping that in the long and exhausting run, justice finally would land where it should rather than drive on by.
It still can. The trial isn’t over. The defense hasn’t exhausted its witness and expert list. The jurors aren’t yet locked down in deliberations.
Nonetheless the Z-team appears headed to a W. The only similarity of this case to the O.J. Simpson’s is that both featured weak prosecutors who lacked the tenacity of Hamilton Burger, the much-maligned district attorney who always lost to Perry Mason, though never from a show of weakness or from not pulling out all the stops to ensure that the jury hears the truth.
It isn’t about who screamed the loudest, or who was on top of whom — somebody was killed that night, and the accused doesn’t seem in the least remorseful about it. Just another night in the office of a wannabee police officer in a small Florida town.
The Florida prosecutors seemed to allow the defense to essentially put the slain Martin on trial so that he and not Zimmerman must convince the jury that he wasn’t a punk looking for a fight and got shot instead. Martin and not Zimmerman should have stayed home that night, they appear to be arguing, because if he had, he’d be alive today.
It’s too soon to declare victory or defeat. It’s too soon to listen for the fat lady’s song, but based on Tuesday’s radio callers (and to return to my sports jargon), many Blacks are hearing her humming in the bullpen.
Zimmerman trial update #9 (July 8, 2013)
Using sports lingo, George Zimmerman’s defense team was on a roll Monday, including a possible game changer when the judge approved its motion to allow Trayvon Martin’s toxicology report taken after he died last year is admissible. Other than one exception, they also paraded witness after witness during Monday’s proceedings. Trial day number 10 looked like a Dionne Warwick and Friends song:
That what friends are for.
Two friends, husband and wife Mark and Sondra Osterman, testified that they are shooting buddies with Zimmerman — Mark showed him how to shoot a gun properly, and claimed that he advised his friend to buy the gun that allegedly was used to shoot and kill Martin.
Sondra calls Zimmerman “Georgie,” and has co-written a book on the defendant to help raise funds for his legal bills. She admitted under oath that it isn’t selling well.
Another friend testified that he took Zimmerman shopping for suits and ties so that he can be well dressed during the trial and bragged that he bought them on sale. Along with calling him “a son,” John Donnelly taught Zimmerman how to tie a tie.
While yet another person called to the stand, Lee Ann Benjamin, told the jury that her friend calling Martin “(expletive) punks” as Zimmerman referred to the slain Black teenager on the non-emergency call was just a casual comment, and meant nothing.
All this, as well as Judge Debra Nelson’s ruling on Monday, helped the Zimmerman lawyers present contrasting images: The all-American boy vs. the Black punk who, under the influence of marijuana, dared to challenge the man into a fatal gunfight.
Even if Martin was high — frankly I don’t see this as a deal breaker, the prosecution should question if Zimmerman was sober that night and could’ve kept his fancy gun in his pants rather than what ultimately happened as a result. Instead we are now seeing the defense possibly making brownie points with the jury that may see things the same way as the defendant — that Martin caused his own death.
We will see if the prosecution can put a stop to the Z-team’s current run.
Zimmerman trial update #8 (July 5, 2013)
What was the saddest question asked thus far in the George Zimmerman trial?
When Zimmerman’s lawyer asked Sybrina Fulton who caused her son Trayvon Martin’s death last year. She expectedly answered that it was the defendant.
The defense attorney followed that up with another obvious line of questioning when Zimmerman’s mother and uncle later took the stand — respectively both said it was their son and nephew whose screaming voice they heard on the infamous 9-1-1 call.
We also learned that Martin might have lived up to 10 minutes after being shot, according to the doctor who performed the autopsy and testified that he ruled the case a homicide.
Does this mean that Zimmerman’s solution to the problem that he virtually created the night Martin was killed was simply shoot to kill?
As the trial’s second week concluded, we are seeing Judge Debra Nelson is proving she’s no Lance Ito, the judge in the O.J. Simpson trial. Nelson doesn’t seem to be auditioning for a future TV career, but has shown a tough no-nonsense handling of the trial thus far as she kept both sides on track during examination and cross-examination periods.
Expect now that the prosecution has rested their case, Zimmerman’s lawyers will be on the offensive as they want to prove that their defendant acted in self-defense. However, one strike against them occurred Friday when Judge Nelson refused testimony by the medical examiner that says Martin may have had traces of marijuana in his system the night he died.
I question personally, if it mattered what was in Martin’s system that night, then does it also matter what was in Zimmerman’s system — a willful and hateful desire to rid the neighborhood of Black males who he deemed are out at night and up to no good.
Zimmerman trial update #7 (July 3, 2013)
I am not into science fiction and don’t know a lot about DNA, but one thing I know is that once it’s on something, it’s eternally fixed on whatever surface it is found on.
If the law enforcement expert is correct, then Zimmerman’s claims that Trayvon Martin fired his gun first have been strongly disputed. During the July 3 testimony, according to the expert, none of the slain young man’s DNA was found on the gun; the defendant’s DNA was found under Martin’s fingernails as well.
In layman terms, this says Martin did not grab Zimmerman’s gun – if he had, the expert testified that it couldn’t have been wiped clean even if industrial strength cleaner was used. Therefore only one person could have had their hands on the gun – the gun owner himself.
Two criminal justice teachers both said during the same proceedings that Zimmerman was a good student. He took a how-to-be-a-good-witness class, was well schooled in Florida’s stand-your-ground law and learned how to speak police lingo.
This new testimony should help the prosecution in proving that the defendant is a man — a frustrated police officer wannabe — who shot and killed an unarmed Black teen, then acted like Robocop afterwards hiding behind a self-defense excuse.
Zimmerman trial watch #6 (July 2, 2013)
Last Tuesday we learned that George Zimmerman is a very religious man.
After the prosecution successfully got the previous day’s testimony of a local police officer thrown out, they replayed a 2012 Fox News interview with host Sean Hannity where the defendant gave his version on what happened the night Trayvon Martin was killed: “I feel that it was all God’s plan.”
Pure nonsense. It wasn’t the Master’s plan, but rather the misguided, deadly backfired plan by a make-believe cop.
Sadly, we are learning that Martin could still be alive today and attending college someplace if only cooler heads had prevailed. If only Zimmerman had listened to police when they told him to leave things alone and let them handle it when he mistook the young man for a burglar.
If only the older man had stayed in his car rather than act like Gomer Pyle, who once chased Deputy Fife down the street to make a citizen’s arrest on the Andy Griffith Show.
Finally, I’m glad Hannity’s stupid prediction that the trial was over after Monday’s proceedings wasn’t seen or heard by the sequestered jurors. The last place to get legal advice or religious analysis is Fox News.
Zimmerman trial watch #5
A trial, even one as high profiled as the George Zimmerman self-defense proceedings now beginning its second week, is a marathon and not a sprint. There are twists and turns — some expected — and some will unexpectedly come like a squirrel suddenly darting onto the track.
It wasn’t Memorex, but a taped police interview that was played Monday featured Zimmerman admitting that he indeed followed Trayvon Martin; but the slain teenager attacked him and was shot in a struggle. The voice heard on tape sounded like someone well experienced in tracking down Blacks, or in Martin’s case, “the suspect,” as Zimmerman seemingly played his self-assigned role as Wild West prosecutor the fateful evening of February 26, 2012. This coolness also was exhibited by him when he was later informed by a police officer during questioning that Martin was dead.
The questions the jurors hopefully are jotting down in their copious note-taking should include the constant references to “them” and “these guys” oft-uttered by Zimmerman himself, as well as several of his gated community neighbors thus far during the trial.
“These guys always get away. When I drove by he [Martin] stopped and looked at me,” testified Sanford, Florida police officer Doris Singleton on what the defendant told her at the station.
What also should be asked is how could a grown man, arguably with a bloodied nose and banged-up head, be so cool and calm, especially after shooting an unarmed Black young man.
Or is Zimmerman just a ‘200-pound weakling’ that a teenager took advantage and beat the crap out of, as his defense lawyers are trying to portray him?
Zimmerman trial watch #4
After week one of the George Zimmerman trial, we have heard disturbing 9-1-1 calls, heard and read too much about Rachel Jeantel’s overall demeanor and her inability to read cursive writing, and Zimmerman’s neighbors’ reaction when they heard shots fired outside their gated community homes on the night Trayvon Martin was allegedly shot and killed by their pseudo-neighborhood watch commander.
We also heard neighbor John Good give a “ground and pound” testimony in which he said that he saw two persons fighting on the ground, and it looked like the smaller one [Martin] hitting the bigger one [Zimmerman] “but I can’t [be] 100 percent sure,” he noted.
Does this mean that the defendant had no choice but to shoot Martin, something the defense is hoping the six-woman jury take duly noticed of?
It was also troublesome how too many folk were critical of Martin’s friend Jeantel, who was the last person to speak to him before his death. I would challenge those critics to take the stand and stand up to two days of grilling about an unforgettable moment in her young life. I challenge anyone to accurately remember what they ate 24 hours ago, yet alone to recall vivid details of a year-plus ago, especially not knowing what was happening on the other end of the cell phone call when and after Jeantel and Martin’s phone call was abruptly and forever disconnected.
Zimmerman’s defense attorney nonetheless hammered away at her credibility like a summertime road construction worker on overtime during those two days of testimony last week.
If the prosecution considers her as one of its key witnesses to prove that Zimmerman didn’t kill Martin in self-defense but rather acted as a 21st Century Dirty Harry, Jeantel apparently wasn’t prepped well enough to be cucumber-cool while being grilled in cross-examination. She too often was frustrated with the defense questioning. She too often seemingly was changing answers on the fly, especially recanting her final conversation with Martin.
Did they call her to the stand too soon rather than using her as a closer before the defense takes its turn? Can her testimony, which included Jeantel saying that Martin’s last words “Get off! Get off!” was what she actually heard, counter what Good later said about her late friend?
Now onto week two.
Zimmerman trial watch #3
If the two testimonies Wednesday were indeed true, listening to a woman resident of Twin Pines (the name of the Florida gated community) summarize her thoughts during the emergency call she made to report that the late Trayvon Martin lay face down outside her sheltered home, was chilling indeed. She was the second to the last person to speak to the young man on the last day of his life.
“I wish I could have done something for the person,” said neighbor Jayne Surdyka on the 9-1-1 call to local police. Under oath during day three of the George Zimmerman trial, Surdyka added, “Someone yelled for help. You feel like you could have helped them. I don’t have a gun or anything.”
But Rachel Jeantel’s account of her final conversation with her friend Martin was equally chilling: “It sounded like Trayvon’s,” she pointed out when asked whose voice was screaming for help on the audio recording.
However, I was more bothered not by the defense tough cross examination of Jeantel, but instead the New York Times’ recap that described her as “not an ideal witness…[she] also used a lot of slang” but offered no quickie analysis of Surdyka’s “them” reference.
This remark was a similar to one used in a previous phone call to police by another Twin Pines resident: George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman trial watch #2
Who is George Zimmerman — a concerned neighbor? A wannebee policeman? Or a serial profiler?
On day two of his trial, a prosecution witness testified that Zimmerman passed out fliers and tried to organize a neighborhood watch in the gated community he lived in last September.
“There are two suspicious characters at the gate of my neighborhood. I’ve never seen them before. I have no idea what they’re doing. They’re just hanging out, loitering,” said Zimmerman on one of an estimated half-dozen calls he made to on the area’s non-emergency police line. Another call had the dispatcher simply repeating the description Zimmerman was giving because he was using “slang” terms to describe the person’s clothing.
These calls were played with the jury out of the room, as the judge decides whether or not they can be admissible in the trial. The prosecutor argues they should be admitted.
Therefore, almost six months before he saw and allegedly shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense, Zimmerman perfected his Elmer Fudd routine, building himself up for that fateful night last February where he could finally rid the area of suspicious folk.
“Shhh,” says this Elmer, “be vewwy, vewwy quiet — I’m hunting Black males.”
Zimmerman trial watch #1
After day one of the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman, we found out two things:
Either Zimmerman willingly shot Trayvon Martin and using a state stand-your-ground law as a fall-back justification for allegedly killing the then-17-year-old over a year ago. Or the 29-year-old man had no choice but to fire his pistol, defending himself against “a punk” who went after him holding a can of fruit punch and a bag of candy.
The prosecutor called Zimmerman a “gun-toting vigilante,” while the defendant’s lawyer portrayed his client as a “ground and pound fight” survivor.
The two contrasting opening arguments set the tone in Monday’s opening day of the trial, which easily can be viewed as one for this century. This is true reality television, with its outcome having a decades-long effect.
While one wishes to compare this to the O.J. Simpson trial, I prefer to see this as a national referendum on racial profiling.
However, a key player in this high-profile murder trial is clearly missing and desperately needed — the only person who can really tell us what happened that early evening of February 26, 2012: the late Trayvon Martin.
Without him, we may never know the truth.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.