Is the Zimmerman case about Justice or Race?

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George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman is Not Guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter.

“On 26 February 2012, George Zimmerman was patrolling the Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated neighbourhood in the city of Sanford, Florida, as part of the volunteer neighbourhood watch he had founded. Trayvon Martin was walking back from a store to his father’s fiancée’s house. By the end of their encounter Trayvon Martin was dead and George Zimmerman’s life had changed forever. What actually happened that night has been intensely debated ever since.” – BBC Website

The missing pieces of information here are that Trayvon was black and unarmed and George is white and armed. They are the only two who know exactly what happened that night and with one dead the other’s side was the one heard in court. Ever since the story emerged it was one of race as there were several assumptions made on both sides of this event. Zimmerman claims that he thought Martin was part of a gang of youths who had been causing problems in the community – straight away there were claims that this was a racist comment and set the scene for a trial that had race at the heart of it.

The real issue for me is not necessarily about race, instead there are more questions surrounding the case itself and the lack of evidence brought forward by the prosecution to really put the pressure on the defendant. If it is about race or about “community” then the authorities involved are the problem and not Mr Zimmerman himself. If evidence was not head or put forward then there are serious questions to be answered. If you look at all the expert analysis from lawyers and law lecturers many claimed that the original charge and evidence was going to see George Zimmerman walk free because of the thinness of the case.

While I support the right for the family to try to find some justice for the death of their son and the outpouring of anger across black communities, the fundamental flaw here is not race it’s simply justice. Remove all colour from the story and then look at the facts: a seventeen year old boy is walking down a street with a bag of Skittles in one hand a bottle of Ice Tea in the other. Not long later he is dead by a gunshot wound inflicted by the head of the local neighbourhood watch. If the boy is unarmed then there is no case of self defence, there is no evidence to support this motion yet he is found not guilty.

There is a reason that the statue of Lady Justice stands blindfolded – she cannot see those involved, instead she only considers the two sides of the argument and whichever tips her set of scales is the side that wins, In her other hand the double-edged sword represents reason and justice. By involving race into the equation we remove her blindfold and discriminate one way or the other based on our preconceived ideas, beliefs and opinions. I don’t pretend to understand what it must be like for all the young male black s in the Western world who face stop and search more often than any other group; are more likely to be stopped in their cars by the police; and most likely to be singled out for attention at any form of checkpoint/security they come to – but I do understand the principles of justice. If we play by the rules and show the system where the real fault lies in this case then perhaps the race issue would not be at the heart of the story – justice would and perhaps the blindfold would remain in place to help remove race from the equation altogether.

There are fears that Zimmerman will face possible revenge attacks or attempts on his life. He’ll be okay though because he has a gun – at least this time it will be a fair fight.

JD

 

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