Florida Style Justice Part II: Membership has its Privileges

Zimmerman“I think things would have been different if George Zimmerman was black for this reason: He never would have been charged with a crime.”
–Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman Defense Attorney–

Like many other things about murder of Trayvon Martin, this one is hard to take.  Besides being completely and laughably false what with Stop & Frisk, Death Penalty Prosecutions, and Drug Arrests. I invite Mr. O’Mara to join us over here in objective reality.  But it also strikes me as going out of your way to be an asshole.  If ever there was a time to for a defense lawyer to practice some humility, this would be it.  My initial reaction was one of visceral anger. But the more I thought about it, the more I believe it’s actually symptomatic of an even larger problem.  Privilege.  Let’s look at some of the privileges extended to Mr. Zimmerman.

Remember this was a reluctant investigation at best. The Sanford Police Department were ready to take Zimmerman’s word on what went down.  He wasn’t arrested initially.  There are pictures of him walking around the Sanford Police Department seemingly without a care in the world.  Was Zimmerman inebriated that night?  How about prescription drugs usage?  We’ll never know, since a toxicology was never done on him.  Guess whose blood the police did check? Trayvon Martin’s.  And we can all react in faux-horror as Martin’s test came back with a small amount of THC.  *GASP* We also got to hear about Trayvon Martin’s suspensions from school rather than the separate domestic abuse and resisting arrest charges for Zimmerman.  The key is that Martin got to be painted as a criminal even though he was never in trouble with the law.  Meanwhile, the person with an actual rap-sheet gets way beyond the benefit of the doubt.  But the privilege didn’t stop with the lack of the initial investigation.  It extended well into and even after the trial.

Speaking of benefit of the doubt, here’s Juror B37 extending that privilege while speaking to CNN:

“I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place, but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhoods and wanting to catch these people so badly that he went above and beyond what he really should have done. But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong,” she said.

So some vandalism happens in the neighborhood and he just gets to kill a kid? I mean, sure I was a little upset at first, but now that I know his heart was in the right place, it’s all good.  Brutal slayings always go down much easier when we know the killer has a good heart.  Sadly, Juror B37 didn’t stop there — but her statements are very illustrative.  She continued:

“He had a right to defend himself,” the juror said about Zimmerman. “If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him, or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right.”

How about the screaming heard on tape?  Trayvon’s family and friends now say it’s him on the tape, but Zimmerman’s folks say it was George.  Personally, I think it was Trayvon.  It just sounds like the screams of a kid.  But being that I’ve never heard Trayvon Martin speak, much less scream, I can’t be sure.  Similarly, although I’ve heard Zimmerman speak in self-serving interviews, I’ve no idea of what he might sound like while in distress.  So it’s a wash.  You can’t go by either set of witnesses since both accounts from the families conflict with one another.  Not only that but both have emotional reasons to want to believe it’s their guy who was screaming for help.  A reasonable person and more importantly, an unbiased juror, should ignore the screams in this context since it’s impossible to tell.  Let’s see what Juror B37 has to say about those screams according to Reuters:

“I think it was George Zimmerman’s. All but probably one (juror agreed),” she said.

The bending over backwards to make it OK to kill another human being is simply mind-blowing.  What about Trayvon Martin’s rights?  What about Trayvon Martin’s fears?  He is after all, the person who died as a result of Zimmerman’s actions.  I spoke about this in the Florida Style Justice post but there’s simply no space at all in this juror’s mind for Trayvon to be the victim.  For any of these jurors, I imagine.  All this despite the fact that of the two individuals, George Zimmerman is the one with the police record, not Trayvon Martin.  George Zimmerman is the individual with the history of violent confrontations, not Trayvon Martin.  George Zimmerman is the one who disobeyed the 911 operator’s orders to NOT follow the supposed perpetrator.  George Zimmerman is on tape angrily cursing “Fucking punks. These assholes, they always get away.”  But somehow it’s Trayvon Martin who gets described as angry.  Yet despite all of these facts against Zimmerman, he gets the privilege of being thought of as “a man whose heart was in the right place.”  Then again, why expect sympathy for Trayvon Martin from the juror who described the peaceful protests before Zimmerman was even charged, as “riots.”  Good thing this case wasn’t about race.

So let’s check the scoreboard once again.  George Zimmerman, a man with a history of violence, precipitates a series of events that ends with him killing Trayvon Martin.  Initially, there was no investigation save for him giving his story to the cops.  He was never checked for alcohol or drugs in his system.  Because of the public outcry, an arrest and investigation finally get underway about six weeks later.  The trial concludes with him being found not guilty of neither murder in the second degree nor manslaughter.  The first juror to speak out about the deliberations describes Zimmerman as a nice guy with a big heart who “got in a bit too deep” while Trayvon is the one who “got mad and attacked him.”

No wonder Mr. Zimmerman and his lawyers seemed bothered by the fact that there was a trial at all.  I mean look at George, and then look at Trayvon.  ‘Nuff said, right? Is it any wonder that Zimmerman asked African-Americans for an apology regarding their rush to judgment?  No, seriously he did.  Let’s pick up the story from Politicsusa:

The real kicker came when Zimmerman accused African-Americans of rushing to judgement and asked everyone who he claims rushed to judgement to apologize to him. Zimmerman said, “I can’t guess to what their motives are. I would just ask for an apology. I mean if I did something that was wrong. I would apologize.”

Ah yes, rush to judgment.  Sort of like what you did by racially profiling Trayvon Martin because he was walking slowly in the rain.  It’s a wonder the universe doesn’t rend itself apart by the sheer force of irony.  Incidentally, I wish someone would tell me the optimal speed brown people should travel on the streets. Running used to be the suspicious thing but now it seems that leisurely strolls are out, too. It’s almost as if everything we do is suspicious to some people.

But I digress.  Zimmerman manages to strike the same discordant note that his lawyer hit after the trial.  Terrible? Yes.  Going out of your way to be an asshole? Of course.  But that’s not all it is.  That’s pure unadulterated privilege talking.  The idea seems to be that he was just supposed to kill another human being, give a statement, then take his gun and go home.  Oh right, that’s what basically happened initially.  The extraordinary privilege had a bit of a hiccup with an actual trail commencing.

	After the verdict Jay Smooth tweeted “The fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it is more George Zimmermans.”

So stop me if you’ve heard this one before but:  in Florida a white man no authority whatsoever, carrying a concealed weapon, precipitates a fight with an unarmed Black kid doing nothing illegal.  The argument escalates into the Black kid being shot dead.  The white guy claims self-defense.

But Mr. Zimmerman and now Michael Dunn are members of a very exclusive club.  And membership has its privileges.



Categories: Random Rant

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