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Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman—and the Interweave of Fear, Heartbreak and Injustice that Haunts the Verdict’s Aftermath

July 15th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


Since the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman was announced just a few minutes
after 7 pm, Pacific Time on Saturday night, there is no shortage of opinions on what the verdict meant and did not mean.

Of all that we have seen and read since Saturday night’s announcement by the all-female jury, among the essays and analyses that we feel adds the most to the collective dialogue are the following:


it’s worth reading everything on the topic by writer Jeleni Cobb who covered the trial and its aftermath for the New Yorker.

Here’s a clip from his essay about Day 10 of the trial:

Amid their frustratingly uneven presentation, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda and the rest of the prosecution have pegged their second-degree murder charges largely on the idea that Martin was losing the fight on February 26th of last year, that he shouted for help, and that Zimmerman, a vigilante would-be cop, shot and killed him anyway. In plotting their route to conviction, they necessarily bypass another set of questions. What if he wasn’t losing the fight? What if Zimmerman is the one who called for help? What if Martin did swing first? And, most crucially, is an unarmed black teen-ager ever entitled to stand his ground?

The answers to these questions have bearing that is more social than legal, but they’re inescapable in understanding how we got here in the first place and what this trial ultimately means.


Also good is this column by our usual go-to-guy from The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen. Here’s a clip from his take on the trial and the verdict, and the oceans of fears, heartbreak and knowledge of our still-tragically race-fractured nation that they triggered.

Of course the deadly meeting last year between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman had at its core a racial element. Of course its tragic result reminds us that the nation, in ways too many of our leaders refuse to acknowledge, is still riven by race. The story of Martin and Zimmerman is the story of crime and punishment in America, and of racial disparities in capital sentencing, and in marijuana prosecutions, and in countless other things. But it wasn’t Judge Debra Nelson’s job to conduct a seminar on race relations in 2013. It wasn’t her job to help America bridge its racial divide. It was her job to give Zimmerman a fair trial. And she did.

[LARGE SNIP]

Without a confession, without video proof, without a definitive eyewitness, without compelling scientific evidence, prosecutors needed to sell jurors cold on the idea of Zimmerman as the hunter and Martin as the hunted. But when the fated pair came together that night, in those fleeting moments before the fatal shot, the distinctions between predator and prey became jumbled. And prosecutors were never able to make it clear enough again to meet their burden of proof. That’s the story of this trial. That explains this result. That’s why some will believe to their own dying day that George Zimmerman has just gotten away with murder.


And finally there is Monday’s essay by the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates. Below is a clip from the opening to get you started, but it demands a full reading:

In trying to assess the the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, two seemingly conflicted truths emerge for me. The first is that is that based on the case presented by the state, and based on Florida law, George Zimmerman should not have been convicted of second degree murder or manslaughter. The second is the killing of Trayvon Martin is a profound injustice. In examining the first conclusion, I think it’s important to take a very hard look at the qualifications allowed for aggressors by Florida’s self-defense statute:

Read the rest. It is painful. And essential.


PS: Oh, yes, and the most intelligent, insightful, literate rant on the verdict and its meaning comes from Charles Pierce, Esquire’s political columnist/blogger. (Charlie Pierce rants so the rest of us don’t have to.)


Demonstrators on the 10 freeway, Skipp Townsend of 2nd Call, July 14, 2013

Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Community Health, Courts, crime and punishment, criminal justice, race, racial justice | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. John Moore Says:

    We don’t know what happened. To assert that Zimmerman got away with murder is wrong. To say that this case calls into question self defense statutes is wrong.

    With 11,000 blacks killed by other blacks since Trayvon Martin was killed, one has to wonder why the huge focus on this relatively minor event.

    But there’s an answer: the American left, and the professional race baiters like Sharpton, and their accomplices in the largely left media cannot let go of white racism as the big evil to be fought in today’s society. No amount of evidence will persuade them. I think these folks missed out on being heroes of the civil rights movements, and just can’t get over it.

  2. They way it is Says:

    This was nothing more than a political and racist prosecution. Obama, Not-so Sharpton, Jackson, and the lot, this all fit their racist narrative. Obama has kept this country divided over race and money and it is right out of the Playbook for Radicals. The only thing that was racial about this incident is what the media did to Zimmerman.

  3. CSN83 Says:

    Zimmerman is guilty of possession of a gun. Don’t miss understand me, the problem i have with him is his lack of experience with the gun. Like anything you must train to carry any weapon. Train with other avenues of force and how to function when things get crazy. The last line of defense is the gun.
    Perhaps he let his ego and to prove himself as a man get the best of him. Most folks will weigh their odds prior to starting something or getting involved in something when ever possible. Being a good witness and waiting for the police to arrive might have served him better. What was the hurry?
    He is a civilian carrying a gun with minimal training. I am beginning to think that even if you have a CCW you should be required to take other means of defense. You don’t go from 1 to 10 and take an innocent persons life . A security guard/ Neighborhood watch man is someone who watch’s out and reports when something is a concern to the local police.
    I suppose he is lucky in a since that Trayvan was not carrying a weapon himself. Did he even consider that if this was a “bad guy” he might himself be carrying a gun? What made him think he could handle the situation with his lack of experience. What was he going to do if the “bad guy” just kept walking, away from him?
    Zimmerman created the situation and his lack of experience and self discipline was his fatal mistake. He might have gotten away with this in his eyes but what he did to Trayvan will haunt him every day for the rest of his life. Perhaps his heart will pound so loud that he cannot hear the outside noise around him. Will he be fearing that as he walks pasted people that they know who he is and follow him and shoot him. Maybe it will come in the shower, that noise or while he is sleeping, that noise. I am thinking he will not get away with anything.

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