What Is Justice For Trayvon Martin and For Us?
In the wake of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, demands for justice are being splayed across social media and that begs the question.
What is justice?
George Zimmerman was tried before a jury of six women, five of whom are mothers and who sat through four weeks to listen to all of the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense. The judge ran a tight trial based on the law and unphased by the public pressure that to which many politicians had pandered. She refused to allow extraneous and irrelevant material into court by the defense and issued a detailed 27-page instruction on the law to the jury.
Witnesses were called. Forensic evidence was presented and when both the defense and the prosecution rested their cases, the jury deliberated over two days to arrive at a verdict.
What did they all get wrong?
They must have got something wrong or people would accept the verdict and go about their business but, of course, that isn’t happening. There are continuing demands for justice but I would suggest it isn’t justice they want – it’s something else.
Trayvon Martin shouldn’t have died. There isn’t much disagreement on that – even Zimmerman defense lawyer Mark Omara talked about the terrible tragedy of a parent losing a child whether to illness, accident or violence.
It angers us because it touches us deeply and it is normal to want whoever is responsible brought to justice.
That’s what happened last year when this case first began.
People were outraged that the Sanford Police Dept. didn’t seem prepared to investigate the shooting of Trayvon Martin. They protested and that drew the political opportunists of racism. Protest became the threat of violence.
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson appeared out of nowhere to fan the flames of racism. The mainstream media presented a heavily edited, sometimes distorted version of events that would be later contradicted by fact and celebrities like Spike Lee did stupid, harmful things like releasing what he thought was the home address of George Zimmerman to the public as an enticement to cause him harm.
After the trial, the lead prosecutor in the case stated unequivocally that the shooting was not racially motivated and the state never presented one piece of evidence nor suggested during the trial that race played any role in the shooting.
But that didn’t stop the public accusations.
Despite the fact that George Zimmerman is himself of mixed race and that along with his wife has been a foster parent to black children, the screams of racism echoed in the streets, in the media and across the Internet.
Spike Lee’s carelessness led to an innocent family named Zimmerman having to flee their home because it was their address that Mr. Lee had released publicly by mistake. They were no relation to George Zimmerman or his family.
Black Panthers are threatening to burn white communities, the black activist leadership fanned the anger and the media and state and local politicians pandered to the overt accusations of racism that were thinly being masqueraded as a demand for justice.
But what justice was denied?
There are lots of demands for justice this morning but it is clear that it isn’t justice that is being demanded. It is an emotional demand that George Zimmerman be found guilty regardless of the evidence presented by the state to an impartial jury.
There were no courtroom tricks in this case, no “if the glove doesn’t fit – you must acquit” grandstanding moments like there was during the OJ Simpson trial. There was a cold, impartial examination of the evidence – all of the evidence – and a jury made its decision based on that evidence.
Consider how much easier it would have been for the jury to find George Zimmerman guilty rather than have to deal with the accusations of justice denied and the potential threats that might accrue from their decision. Consider how much misinformation has been spread across social media and in the mainstream media for that matter – misinformation upon which most have based their opinion.
This case was tried in public before it ever got to a court and George Zimmerman was found guilty but not of murder. He was guilty of racism and it was that crime that sparked the outrage.
None of those who were so outspoken in their demands for justice in what they labeled a crime motivated by racism had anything to say about similar crimes where an African-American killed a white person. A twelve-year old boy was murdered Christmas Eve in Texas after being tortured with a blow torch by an African-American woman.
There was no national outcry for justice for him in the mainstream or across social media and that’s because an arrest was made and the courts are doing their work.
The same is true in the Zimmerman case. The original protests were caused by law enforcement not investigating and laying charges. They demanded justice and their demands were heard and met. The case was reopened and investigated. Evidence was collected and a trial was held – not a media kangaroo court where emotional opinion is presented as fact – but a real trial where evidence is presented and considered objectively.
It is what so many who demanded justice claimed they wanted. If that is true, then they got what they asked for. If they are dissatisfied with the result then it was never justice they wanted. It was vengeance and there is no justice in revenge.
There will be much anger and argument over this verdict because many don’t understand the difference between demanding “Justice for Trayvon Martin” and simply demanding justice. Justice is objective. Demanding justice for Trayvon Martin implies that there will be no justice unless George Zimmerman is found guilty and that is not the presumption of innocence but the assertion that he is guilty regardless of the evidence.
The death of Trayvon Martin was a terrible tragedy but we have a choice. We can either let racial hypocrites and bigots turn his death into just one more divisive event or we can honour his memory by tearng down the walls of racial prejudice so that justice will be served whenever a crime is committed and that justice – both in and out of the court – will be colour blind.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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