Amid all the disgust and disappointment, heartbreak and anguish, anger and outrage by most blacks and fair-minded people over the George Zimmerman verdict of ‘not guilty’ Saturday night, something else emerged that is just as frightening.
Through the testimony of the four-week trial in Sanford, Fla.; through the defense team’s dogged strategy; through the jury of six women’s decision after significant deliberation . . . the guide on how to legally slay a black man and get away with it was laid out for all Zimmerman wannabes to master.
In fact, Zimmerman, now free of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, can go out tonight, spot a teenager that he considers “suspicious,” follow him, confront him, get his behind kicked by him and then shoot and kill him. . . and get away with it in court.
All it takes is an understanding of the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law, which he – and now everyone else – has grasped. With that knowledge, you concoct a story that you were in imminent danger; that you got hit first; that a 156-pound kid held you on the ground, used one hand to cover your mouth, another to hold your nose, all the while saying—get this—“You’re gonna die tonight.” Really? Seriously?
The kid is fighting for his life and he becomes an action hero, a Bruce Willis or James Bond and makes a proclamation during a fight? Not believable.
Oh, and don’t forget that he banged your head more than 20 times on the concrete—producing nary a stitch or concussion.
And because of this exaggerated encounter that you initiated by pursuing a kid walking home in the rain, you extract your gun from its holster and fire a shot through the young man’s heart, a bullet that pierced the heart of a crestfallen family and, in a sense, a nation.
We have endured other injustices that wrecked our world. They happen almost every day, actually, somewhere in America. But this case has devolved into something scarier than any other, because it goes beyond killing a black man and getting away with it.
It is about killing a black man and legally getting away with it. Follow Zimmerman’s steps—be a willing interviewee for police, use their jargon, craft a story that puts your life on the line, even if you’re the only one with a gun—and you’ve stood your ground. And gotten away with murder.
For the so-called pundits and the lawyers to insist this case was not about race is just disingenuous at best. It’s hardly ever about race when a black is the victim and a non-black is the assailant. How can the profiling of Martin be about race for the arrest, but when the trial starts— even the prosecution contends the case wasn’t about race?
When the races are reversed in a case like this—a black man profiles, follows and shoots a white teenager—let’s hear from the Zimmerman supporters then.
My prayer is that this scenario, or any like it, never happens again. But Saturday’s verdict makes it more likely that similar cases are bound to occur, as “defendants” can refer to Zimmerman’s trial as a source of their “fear” and premature firing of a gun.
Ironically, the Zimmerman verdict came on the same weekend of the release of “Fruitvale Station,” the movie about a young black man who was shot by police in Oakland, Calif. in 2009 while in handcuffs. That city erupted in violence and riots.
Almost amazingly, people have followed the lead of Martin’s parents and family, comporting themselves with dignity and peace in the face of mass disgust. But it seems everyone is boiling inside.
Emotions were heightened by the almost cheery disposition of Florida Attorney General Angela Corey in the post-verdict press conference and the arrogance and utter heartless comments made by the defense—which boasted more than once that “We won” and claimed it would have been a “travesty” if Zimmerman were found guilty, that there should not have even been a trial. No humility. No humanity. No mention until prodded about the tragedy of this case. That’s sad. And incendiary.
Zimmerman got a semblance of life back after the verdict. A semblance. A lucrative book deal awaits him. ‘Freedom’ in the technical sense? Yes. Peace? No way. Hopefully, if he has blood running through his body, he agonizes daily that he took a young man’s life in a scenario that did not call for death.
And he will always have to watch his back, for there could be someone like him on his trail, someone filled with hate and armed with the knowledge of how to harm him and get away with it in court.