AP Photo/John Raoux
Demonstrators outside the Seminole County Courthouse react after hearing the verdict of “not guilty” in the trial of George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida.

Trayvon Martin Verdict: The Difference Between The Law and What's Right

ICTMN Staff
7/15/13

 

On July 13, George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin last year was found not guilty of second degree murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter by a jury of six females.

Martin, a 17-year-old African-American teenager, was returning home from buying tea and Skittles at a convenience store on February 26, when Zimmerman, Hispanic, began following the unarmed teenager. Zimmerman mentioned a rash of recent burglaries in the neighborhood in his police report and thought it was odd to see the young man walking alone at night. (Related story: Florida Teen’s Death Raises a Variety of Concerns)

Throughout the trial, a lack of evidence and muddied testimony set the prosecution back, leading to the verdict. Prosecutors were working with little evidence to prove that Zimmerman acted full of ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent when he shot Martin according to The New York Times. Zimmerman is the only witness and he did not take the stand, so prosecutors were left pointing at his words during his call to the police dispatcher the night he spotted Martin.

George Zimmerman

Over the past year race and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law have been focal points of this case. The law “allows people to defend themselves with force if they feel threatened in their home, business, car, or a place where they ‘have a legal right to be’,” according to usatoday.com.

The law ultimately led to the delay of almost two months in the arrest of Zimmerman as it requires specific evidence to refute the self-defense claim. The defense, however, did not use the Stand Your Ground law as part of its case during the trial. But it did play a role on the trial according to the NYT article, “The self-defense claim also may have affected how thoroughly the police interviewed witnesses, preserved the crime scene and screened Mr. Zimmerman.”

“The Zimmerman case is not just about stand your ground, or self-defense; it’s about the prejudice that exists to this day, it’s about a prejudicial justice system that makes the color of the victims skin predetermine the verdict of not guilty, and the message sent out to other individuals such as Zimmerman that you can get away with it,” O.J. Semans, co-director of the voting-rights group Four Directions, said in an e-mail to ICTMN. “Here in Indian country we understand that all too well.”

Many human rights groups and activists decried the verdict shortly after it was announced with protests across the country, yet as usatoday.com addressed, the verdict was no surprise to many lawyers. Those protests as usatoday.com reported were by many people who feel that the bigger issues of race and justice are unresolved.

“The most important thing we can do as Native Americans is to raise our voices against injustice, to affirm our love for one another, and to show that we stand together with the Black community. Indian country knows in the most profound way, the hurt and historical legacy of centuries of oppression, war, termination, and disease all now deeply baked into a system of institutional racism. The lesson is that we as a nation cannot be afraid to look at race. And as a nation, America cannot grow into who it is supposed to be until we address race and racism head on,” Chris Stearns, chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission said in an e-mail to ICTMN. “From a human rights perspective, not only is there a fundamental human right to life, there is also a central human right to be free from discrimination. Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all people ‘are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.’ Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination requires all governments to ‘take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists.’ We have a right to not only expect, but to demand, better from our government.”

Trayvon Martin

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions,” President Barack Obama said in a statement on Sunday following the verdict. “And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.”

When asked if there were similar laws in Indian country and how this ruling could affect American Indians Gabe Galanda, partner with Galanda Broadman, PLLC, in an e-mail to ICTMN stated, "I am not aware of any tribal government that has promulgated a stand-your-ground law. I doubt any tribe has authorized the use of force in self-defense as a matter of tribal statute. That said, I suspect many if not most tribes allow an accused to plead self-defense as a defense to certain criminal charges. The Trayvon Martin case may very well cause tribal councils as lawmakers, and tribal courts and juries as arbiters of fact, to bring more careful attention to legal notions of self-defense.”

According to usatoday.com Zimmerman’s court days may not be over as there is a federal civil rights investigation that remains open, and legal experts say that he could face a civil suit.

Obama closed his statement by saying, “We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.”

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indianmedicine's picture
indianmedicine
Submitted by indianmedicine on
This Civil Unrest by the Public is NOT Justice; it is abuse of "The Right to Peaceful Assembly".......................................................................................... ............................................................................................................................. The Rioters have no factual understanding of the Case, but rely on Public News Reports that did not examine the Evidence of the Case -"hear say"..................................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................................. This was not a "Race Question", it was a Question of Florida Self Defense Law...................................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................................. The Defendant is Hispanic, and The Plaintiff was Black - by "Legal Definition",Two Minority Ethnic People........................................................... ............................................................................................................................. It was not a Question of Have's & Have Not's, both come from the same economic strata................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................. The "Public Out Cry" is "Justice by Popularity of The Question", and NOT by "Rules of Law".................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................................. Most NAI Reservations are quite familiar with "Violent Crimes and Victims", and the options made available to those Victims.......................................... ............................................................................................................................. You might recall the Recent Victims Rights Federal Legislation addressing NAI Reservations and Prosecution of Non-Indian's on "NAI Reservations"; a milestone in Legislation..................................................................................... .............................................................................................................................. Grant it, the loss of life is tragic, no questions about that - but the results were not based on "One Way Conduct".................................................................... .............................................................................................................................. The Administration asks how we as a Nation can Prevent these like events? .............................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................. By exercising "Respect of Others Rights",and "The Right of Self Defense". ............................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................................

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
the circumstances surrounding trayvon martins's death are so wrong...it really doesnt matter if he was a 'good' kid, or a kid who had some problems...you simply cant just go around shooting children on the suspicion they are doing something wrong because they are black, wearing a 'hoodie', not looking like they 'belong' in your neighborhood, etc...etc....and who in the hell is george zimmerman, obviously NOT a white man, to be judge, jury, and stalker, in making a conscious decision to open the events that led to a child's death??? this is just abhorrent on so many levels...as they say, 'justice is blind'...now i know what that means...that sometimes the 'law' has nothing to do with reality....

stevef's picture
stevef
Submitted by stevef on
I agree for once with Obama. The jury has spoken and they heard the entire trial of evidence. I am sadden, but not surprised that I see all too many jumping to the conclusion that Zimmerman was not defending himself. I don't know the answer to that question. Was he? Zimmerman was found by an FBI investigation to conclude that they had little evidence to believe that Zimmerman had 'Race' influence his decision. Lets not join the ranks for Jackson and Sharpton and try to bring race in where it may not be an issue. Lest we forget, Zimmerman is a minority too! Do you want to pit the blacks before the Hispanics? This started off with the media, Jackson, Sharpton and Obama turning this into a 'race' issue. It is a horrible, horrible tragedy that has left one dead and a ton of other lives never to be the same. Let us not add to it by adding fuel to a fire. We all know that racism is not dead in the USA, but this case should not have been the 'Poster Child'. We should honor ourselves and our peoples to rise above the likes of Jackson, Sharpton, Marion Berry and Obama to condemn Zimmerman simply because Trayvon was black. Steve

tcreek's picture
tcreek
Submitted by tcreek on
Obama should keep his mouth shut on this. Why would we honor a street thug? Meanwhile since the death of Trayvon and the verdict of 500 something days, over 11,000 blacks have been killed by other blacks, but yet not a peep.

hammertime's picture
hammertime
Submitted by hammertime on
This whole thing has been blown out of proportion by the obama Administration to further their agenda.. Over the past year since this happenned probably a few hundred shootings have taken place in our cities across the USA ...black children gunning down other black children on every street corner .it has become common place and no one involve is willing to talk to the police.....they want to go out and get revenge... ... You dont see Sharpton, or Obama going from one killing to the next be-moaning the loss of another black teen-ager...This shooting made big headlines and they are gonna make all the political hay they can, while they can.... I would never approach any teenager white, black , red or asian in the dark in any city in our country because their is a very good chance they might have a gun on them.....the risk is simply too high ... I dont care what color or race you are, if you are pounding my head into the concrete and you give me a broken nose , a bleeding ear and scars on my head,...,in the middle of the night.... if I have a gun , I would probably shoot you... Its a hispanic guy and a black guy involved and they have somehow turned this into a race issue ..... when it was clearly a case of self defence I feel they are all beginning to go crazy

eagle27's picture
eagle27
Submitted by eagle27 on
The only reason and I mean the only reason Zimmerman was not convicted was a completely inept prosecution.

tmsyr11's picture
tmsyr11
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
“There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” - Booker T. Washington

tmsyr11's picture
tmsyr11
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
To avoid being treated like a criminal, it makes sense to avoid acting like one. I do hope for the best of Zimmerman and attorneys to bring lawsuits against the TV News Main-stream (de-Pravda) for their race baiting/agitation slants in this unfortunate tradegy that occurred. Meanwhile shootings amongst young black men continue in Chicago to this day, and I question where is MSNBC, where is Al Sharpton, where is Barack Obama....where is the outcry to these events in Chicago, are these black men just as important too?
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