Vol. 8    No. 15
JULY 25, 2013

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Jonathan Gramling
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Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                           The Verdict Part Two
Biking for Tomorrow
Community Pedals for the 11th Annual
Bike for Boys & Girls Club
I can’t remember the last time, if ever, that I wrote two consecutive columns on the same subject. But I feel
compelled to in the case of the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the slaying of Trayvon Martin. It’s a
travesty of justice that I still can’t get over and as I think about it, I become more and more outraged.

In today’s news, it was reported that a second juror spoke out publicly on ABC News and says that George
Zimmerman got away with murder even though the jury did not have enough evidence to convict him. Martin
was murdered, whether legally or illegally.

And what rights did Martin have to defend himself. After all, it was George Zimmerman who pursued him in
the dead of night and not the other way around.

When I spoke with Kaleem Caire, the president/CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison the other day,
he said what isn’t talked about is that Black folks are afraid of white folks too. Does the fate of Emmett Till
ring a bell? How many young Black boys have gone missing down South and everywhere else in the United
States? And in the dead of night down South, with someone pursuing him in a place where he could legally
be and was committing nothing illegal, shouldn’t he be concerned?

What right did he have to defend himself? As Zimmerman was approaching him, perhaps Martin saw the
bulge of the gun in Zimmerman’s pocket. Or when did Zimmerman actually pull out the gun? Could it have
been the case that Zimmerman — who wasn’t authorized to stop Martin and had no official credentials —
had pulled the gun and fearing for his life, Martin got the jump on Zimmerman only to be shot by Zimmerman?
Remember, there wasn’t any good cause for Zimmerman to approach Martin other than Zimmerman’s fears
and misconceptions about young Black men.

And it appears that those fears and misconceptions of young Black men have shown up in national polls that
show there is a deep racial divide in how Euro-Americans — who agree with the verdict — and African
Americans — who don’t agree — perceive what was at play in this incident. How does the long standing
vilification of young Black men — perpetrated since the early 1970s or before — play into the perceptions of
this incident? The only thing it does show is that all of the imagery aside, we still have a long ways to go in
healing the racial wound that is America.

And what about the rule that Zimmerman’s initial call to the police in which they told him not to pursue couldn’t
be considered by the jury like they were two separate incidents? What’s up with that? In most cases, such
as a robbery, all of the events leading up to and after the incident are taken into account, such as adding and
abetting before or after the crime has been committed. The actions of the individuals are not separated. If
Zimmerman getting out of that car after being told to stay put isn’t part of the crime, I will eat my shirt. It
shows intent and everything else. To say that him getting out of the car and committing the murder are
separate incidents is pure fantasy.

And what was up with the defense attorney beating a dummy’s head against the floor in his closing
arguments? How could that be allowed? Unfortunately Zimmerman is the only witness to what happened
between he and Martin on that March night. Zimmerman did not take the stand to testify in his own defense,
so we had no evidence outside of the police report that noted Zimmerman had some wounds on the back of
his head to say what really happened.

So how could the judge allow the defense attorney have his way with the dummy, banging its head against
the floor? How would he purportedly know these things unless Zimmerman testified? This allowed
Zimmerman to testify through the backdoor, through his attorney, without being subjected to cross
examination. That is a travesty of justice to allow this to go unchallenged. Zimmerman had his cake and ate it
too. He was able to get his version of events across to the jury without the prosecution being able to really
challenge those events.

The more I dwell on it, the more problems I could readily come up with about this verdict. I hope President
Obama and Attorney General Holder are asking all of these questions and then some. While I would assume
that after looking at all of this, they would want to pursue a civil rights case against Zimmerman, we can’t
take it for granted that they will. Send them a message. Sign every petition demanding justice for Trayvon
Martin. The life of some young Black man somewhere is depending on you.