When I first heard of the Trayvon Martin case, I was heartbroken and wrote the post Trayvon Martin: Rest In Peace.
Today, I’m not heartbroken, I’m angry. On Saturday, a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder. The prosecution could not prove that Zimmerman killed Martin with “hatred, ill will or spite” which, according to CNN, is the definition of non-premeditated second-degree murder. Furthermore, it is now known that Trayvon Martin confronted George Zimmerman for following him, and that the two fought, as a result. This introduced reasonable doubt that Zimmerman killed Martin in self-defense. I understand this, and I accept it. This is not why I’m angry.
I’m angry to learn that the photo of Trayvon Martin featured on all the articles concerning his death was several years old (as was the photo of of George Zimmerman). I’m angry to learn that Zimmerman’s call to 911, on the night of the incident, was edited by NBC which caused many to believe that he had racially profiled Martin. In other words, I’m angry that I, along with millions of Americans, was manipulated to believe that Trayvon Martin was chased and killed by a racist, wannabe cop.
But as angry as I am about this, I’m angrier that the jury did not find Zimmerman guilty of manslaughter. Again, CNN explains, ” To convict Zimmerman of manslaughter, jurors would have had to believe he ‘intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin.'” George Zimmerman intentionally left his car and followed Martin, even after the 911 police dispatcher told him, “We don’t need you to do that.” So, yes, he intentionally committed an act that caused the death of Trayvon Martin. Simply put, there is no denying that Zimmerman’s decision to leave his car, carrying a gun, initiated the string of events that led to Martin’s death.
The public outcry over the verdict has been swift and loud and it’s not surprising. I imagine that many are feeling what I feel. George Zimmerman may not be guilty of second-dregree murder, but he is, undoubtedly, guilty. He’s guilty of profiling Martin (whether it was primarily racial or not), and worse, he’s guilty of overzealousness.
Yet, my biggest anger is directed at those who created the Stand Your Ground law in Florida in 2005 and at those who perpetrate it. This law extends the Castle Doctrine (which gives immunity to a person who shoots and intruder inside their home) to give immunity to a person who shoots another in a public place if the shooter feels threatened. I would like to know why civilians are allowed to walk around with guns. Why are they allowed to shoot if they feel threatened? What happens if two gun-carrying individuals feel threatened with one another? Will they just start shooting at each other as if they were back in the days of the Wild West? Thanks to the active involvement of the NRA, the answer to all these questions is a resounding “yes,” in half of America (25 states to be precise).
We can be angry at Zimmerman’s verdict, but our anger should be directed at the NRA and all our efforts should be directed at stopping this lethal organization. A good start would be to repeal Stand Your Ground laws wherever they exist.
As for George Zimmerman, it is now clear that he went beyond standing his ground. By following the unarmed teenager, with a gun, he picked his ground, and changed a family’s life forever.
After the “not guilty” verdict, Robert Zimmerman made this statement about his brother, George, “He’s going to be looking over his shoulder the rest of his life.” I guess pretty much the same way that Trayvon Martin looked over his to see George Zimmerman pursuing him. Maybe some kind of justice will be served after all, although, unfortunately, not the right dose.