Zimmerman found not guilty

gun
(Photo: AP)

On Friday George Zimmerman was declared not guilty of the charges against him. Not guilty of manslaughter. Not guilty of second-degree murder. Not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. That doesn’t mean he didn’t kill Martin. It just means the prosecution failed to prove its charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Was Zimmerman guilty of a hateful, lethal racist act? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t think race was the issue here. I think the issue was that Zimmerman was a swaggering little man, a wannabe cop, a self-important, self-appointed neighborhood watchman. No one asked him to patrol the neighborhood. No one appointed him or paid him to do it. He took it upon himself.

And yet none of that would have mattered if he hadn’t had a gun. He was emboldened by that gun. It made him feel big, important, tougher than those around him. It’s likely he would never have left his car and stalked Martin or anyone else without that gun.

Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman had a gun.

It’s our gun laws that need to be on trial.

24 comments

  1. Well said PT. And I agree with you, at least up to a point. I don’t think George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin around because of his race. Being a “minority” himself, and emboldened by his gun, I suspect he’d have done the same thing with anyone he thought “looked wrong” in his neighborhood. And my “gut” tells me that, under the same circumstances, the verdict would have been very different if the man pulling the trigger had been black. 😕

    1. I tend to be optimistic about juries and their ability to base their decisions on whether the testimony and evidence support the charges beyond a reasonable doubt and with no regard to race. Much as I despise what Zimmerman did, I think the jury made the right call. Same with OJ and Casey Anthony. I thought both were guilty but the cases against them weren’t solid; there was still doubt. Emotionally, of course, I’d like to see all three in prison.

  2. Given the evidence and the laws, I could see no other outcome. I don’t see this being about race. I agree, it’s about the laws. This was a tragedy that didn’t need to occur, but unless something changes, it’s one that will occur again. Maybe next time it will be a white guy killing a white kid, and that will remove “race” as a distraction of the real issue, which is the stand your ground law. I believe the entire “racial crime” aspect of this event practically wiped away the actual issue. It’s not about some wanna-be cop killing a black kid. It’s about a wanna-be cop wandering about a neighborhood at night armed with a gun, looking for a reason to use it, and being legally allowed to do so. I think we all have a right to protect our homes and our property, but do we also have the right to protect our neighbor’s homes and property? This is a question of the laws as they are written, and this tragedy highlights the flaws in the stand your ground laws.

    1. I agree, the “stand your ground” laws are awful. Self-defense and castle laws should never have been extended into stand your ground. And none of these laws should protect an armed man who, with no authority whatsoever, deliberately chooses to stalk someone. Frankly, I’d want a law to protect me from armed vigilantes prowling my neighborhood.

  3. Only commissioned law enforcement officers are allowed to provoke or otherwise incite a life threatening situation and then murder the object of their attention. Concealed weapons carrying citizens are required to limit their actions to the defensive. In Texas, we have a similar “stand your ground” defense against a charge of murder, but we are schooled to keep out of trouble (mind our own business) when carrying unless someone else’s life is being threatened. Luckily for Zimmerman, I wasn’t one of the jurors.

    1. Such schooling would be the ideal, of course. But I’m sure Texas has its share of George Zimmermans. The problem with our gun laws, particularly “stand your ground” laws, is that we will always have George Zimmermans. I, for one, want the laws to protect me, not the Zimmermans of this world.

  4. I think a manslaughter conviction would have appropriate from what I’ve learned about the case. Two lessons seem clear: (1) racism has not been scrubbed from our society, and we should be ever vigilant for opportunities to further social justice; (2) when states enact laws that foster injustice, those who try to modify or overturn them should be supported.

    1. I don’t know the legal definition of manslaughter in Florida, but I know a man is dead because Zimmerman carried a gun, ignored a police request, provoked an incident, and then claimed self defense. There ought to be a conviction in there somewhere.

      1. @PiedType. I agree with you that a man is dead thanks to his misplaced notion that property is more important than people. Did you watch John Fugelsang’s commentary on this? If not, I will find and post it here.

        1. No, I missed Fugelsang’s commentary. This whole case has been covered so extensively that I think I’ve spent more time trying to avoid it than watch it.

  5. Cannot find the “like” button, put it here.

    Well let’s hope his responsability will be charged by million dollars. USA should make secession from Florida, to let Cuba invade it. At least…Or let you sell it to Russia, to Spain (too kind), Saudia…France (too horrible).

    1. LOL. Not France, eh? Canada wouldn’t want it; they too sensible about guns. The climate might appeal to the Saudis, but there’s probably not enough oil there to make it worth their time. I don’t want the Russians on our border, not after living through the Cuban missile crisis. The Cubans have already invaded it. I dunno, we may just be stuck with it.

      Oh, and I removed the Like button a while back because of spammers.

  6. I hear everyone saying that the prosecution did a poor job. That may be true, but a manslaughter conviction was right there in front of them and the prosecution didn’t need any more than that. I blame the jury on this one. Completely.

    Very simply, the videotape of Zimmerman’s 911 call. The very moment that 911 said Zimmerman didn’t need to follow the “suspect” but Zimmerman chose to do so – which resulted in the suspect’s death – that was manslaughter. According to this website: http://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/florida-involuntary-manslaughter-laws.html

    “Overview of Florida Involuntary Manslaughter Laws
    When a homicide, the killing of a human being, does not meet the legal definition of murder, Florida state laws allow a prosecutor to consider a manslaughter charge. The state establishes two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. While voluntary manslaughter describes an intentional act performed during a provocation or heat of passion, involuntary manslaughter does not require an intent to kill or even an intent to perform that act resulting in the victim’s death.”

    The judge informed the jury that they would be able to convict of a lower charge if they wanted to. They could have convicted for involuntary manslaughter at the drop of a hat. But no. They chose to see Zimmerman as the victim. I’m so hot about this!!! Those jury members are a disgrace and an embarrassment to our judicial system.

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