Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things People Say about the Zimmerman Case

"Why do people bring race into this? There was this black-on-white crime that happened in this other state, and that's not on the national news." When someone tells me that, or posts it on Facebook, I look at the story they refer to. And every time I see that someone was "arrested and charged" for the crime. Therein lies the difference.

I have yet to hear a story of black-on-white in which the person was allowed to simply walk away free, without so much as an arrest or a trial. This is what happened in this case until the national news brought it to our attention. And that delay is why evidence was not properly preserved and why the jury pool was sparse because so many had already heard so much about the case.

"There was equal fault on both sides." No one really knows for sure what happened out there. But whatever happened, can't people conceive that Martin either knew or sensed his life was in danger (as we know that it actually was). Can't we consider that he may have been the first one who acted in self-defense?

"It was decided in a court of law; so it's over. "  It was decided in a court of law, so it's over until the next court, perhaps a civil trial from the family, or perhaps a trial by a higher court. A verdict of 'not guilty' demonstrates that a crime wasn't proven to the satisfaction of a jury, who cannot convict if they have reasonable doubt. But we will never know whether the jury would have decided differently if they had been given the 'initial aggressor instruction' to consider, because the defense objected to it and it was left out of the jury instructions. (One explanation of that is here.). It's also not "over", in that people are allowed to legitimately seek ways to make changes in laws for the future.

"I wish we could stop talking about race."  There was a time in my life when I felt that way, too, so I understand that sentiment. After all, as my late son Paul used to say (although he wasn't denying the existence of problems), "we are all the same race, the human race". Wouldn't it be nice if everyone just respected everyone else equally? Unfortunately it seems that in some parts of our country - and perhaps in some hearts - these conversations are still necessary. We need to have those conversations not only in society but also in our families, where we teach one another to build people up and respect them, whatever our similarities and differences may be.