Political Prosecution


In March, 2012 I wrote about “Today’s Race Baiters.”  I derive no joy from saying “I told you so,” but every word of that blog hit the bull’s-eye.  The media and influential members of the Black community, because of their unmistakable prejudice, comprised a virtual lynch mob, self-righteously howling for vengeance and demanding retribution against George Zimmerman. Yes, it was “prejudice;” they pre-judged his case.  Even the President of the United States improvidently commented upon it so as to jeopardize Zimmerman’s civil rights. Attorney General Eric Holder, as it turns out, conspired with Al Sharpton to engender popular support in Florida against Zimmerman. There is a word that describes all their actions -- “shameful.” 

George Zimmerman was not a villain.  He was a community-minded young man interested in law enforcement, who desired to protect his neighborhood against predators. He was schooled in criminal justice and  licensed to carry a firearm. There's nothing illegal or morally wrong about either.  Yet please don’t mistake my meaning here.  I’m not nominating the man for sainthood. Human nature is fallen. Most of what motivates a person is corrupted by the selfishness of his ego.  Zimmerman is undoubtedly no exception. But a demented, wild-eyed murderer he never was.   

One evening while guarding his gated community, he noticed a person within its confines whom any perceptive observer would deem suspicious, or "a person of interest." “Oh, no!” you scream, “Zimmerman was ‘profiling!’”  And what is that, I ask?  “Profiling” is nothing more than an inflammatory and politically correct term for the exercise of common sense in making distinctions between people.

Here’s an example:  if you observed three Saudis, who were obviously Muslims, creating a disturbance on an airplane, you might be, indeed should be, more defensive and bothered by that than if you noticed three Israelis involved in an animated discussion on an ocean liner. The cast of characters and circumstances differ in each case, and there are important distinctions between the two. The Saudis would justifiably evoke the threat of terror in you, whereas the Israelis would not.  This is obviously profiling. Is it unreasonable?  Of course not. 

Trayvon Martin was a seventeen year-old black male, wearing a hoodie at night, walking through a gated, predominately white community, which had been burglarized by persons who looked and dressed like himself.  While it certainly does not follow from these facts alone that he was a criminal, his appearance in such circumstances raised questions. For one to argue otherwise suggests that he’s simply not in touch with the underside of American social life. 

Zimmerman followed Martin at a distance, but he ceased doing so upon instruction from the police dispatcher.  He then walked back to his vehicle.  His keeping an eye on Martin was not an illegal, aggressive, or racist act, much less a criminal one. He had every right to do that and could have continued doing so even after the dispatcher advised him to cease and desist. 

What happened thereafter is especially clouded in doubt. We cannot be sure.  Yet eye-witness testimony and the nature of Zimmerman’s injuries, as well as his own accounts of what occurred, support the view that Martin assaulted him.  Such an encounter may unfold in seconds.  When it does, it's easy to feel one is fighting for his survival. A hesitant decision is often the difference between life and death. Zimmerman decided to act with deadly force.  He shot and killed Martin.  

Before any fact could be presented in court, the left-wing media pummelled  Zimmerman harder than Martin had.  The reportage, if one can call it that, all but convicted and sentenced him. The narrative was of a “white neighborhood vigilante,” a crazed pistol-toting “wannabe cop,” who killed a child in cold blood, as if his victim were "a rabid dog."  Under enormous political pressure, the governor of Florida acceded to appointing a special prosecutor, who investigated the occurrence and subsequently charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder, i.e., with intentionally setting out in spite to kill someone.  

Fearing for his and his family’s safety, Zimmerman went into seclusion, while continuing to be put through the rigors of the damned by the media and the state’s prosecutorial team. Attorneys with many notches on their belts as prosecutors were tapped to present the case for the state.  It was a David and Goliath scenario from beginning to end.  Florida threw everything it had at Zimmerman.  To make matters worse, the prosecutor’s office sought to hide evidence from the defense.  

When after deliberating for sixteen hours the six female jurors returned their verdict,  Zimmerman was – never mind the forgotten presumption of innocence that is to be credited to a defendant—finally acquitted of second-degree murder and of  manslaughter.  He was awarded his freedom at last.   

The prosecutorial team and the personal legal representatives of the Martin family expressed disappointment with the verdict while continuing to speak of Trayvon Martin and his family as victims.  One of the Martins’ attorneys even compared their son’s legacy to that of Medgar Evers and Emmett Till. News commentator, Juan Williams, illogically insisted that, because Trayvon was unarmed and was killed, Zimmerman’s prosecution was altogether necessary and proper. Hogwash! 

The primary victim here was George Zimmerman.  He was exonerated in a court of law, but his reputation was destroyed for no better reason than that he defended himself against an assault.  No matter where he goes – and I hope that he leaves the State of Florida – he will be stigmatized.  His life will remain in peril for a long time to come.  In addition, he likely owes a hefty sum of money to lawyers and expert witnesses.  Future proceedings may follow if the NAACP convinces Eric Holder to file a federal action against Zimmerman.  Don’t be fooled --  justice in this country is not only political, but also expensive. This fact often results in no justice at all. Who better than the beleaguered, often mistreated Black community to realize this sad fact?  

The media demonstrated a mob mentality.  Elements of the African-American community showcased their paranoia and thuggery.  The President and his Attorney General acted imprudently, even dishonorably.  The state’s prosecutors bowed to public pressure, overcharged the case, and secreted evidence.  The trial judge herself appeared an adversary to the defense at times. It was literally Zimmerman and his attorneys against the world. 

If and when you say a prayer for someone in the future, remember George Zimmerman and his family, and say one for them. They have been deeply wounded by the sting of injustice and are the primary victims in this terribly tragic episode. Also, say a prayer for our nation, the institutions of which are faltering, as demonstrated by this ill-advised, politically inspired and based prosecution.

July 15, 2013