With very rare exceptions, we no longer string people up anymore, but the throngs or people changing "Justice for Trayvon Martin" are the modern day equivalent. They will not be satisfied until George Zimmerman is in prison. This despite the overwhelming opinions by legal experts that the jury reached the only verdict the facts allowed.
Now black leaders and the lynch mob are urging Federal prosecution of Zimmerman under civil rights laws. The problem, though, is the same: barring the sudden emergence or previously-undiscovered evidence, the case for Zimmerman violating Martin's civil rights is probably not much stronger than the criminal case. No instance of Zimmerman using hate speech emerged, and several blacks testified as to his character. He has volunteered in programs to help black youth.
And yet...the lynch mob continues on the apparent assumption that the death of Trayvon Martin exemplifies racial bigotry. Nothing could be further from the evidence.
This analysis predicted his acquittal. All of the author's points turned out to be dead on.
And yet we have commentators like Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic writing...
Of course the deadly meeting last year between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman had at its core a racial element. Of course its tragic result reminds us that the nation, in ways too many of our leaders refuse to acknowledge, is still riven by race. The story of Martin and Zimmerman is the story of crime and punishment in America, and of racial disparities in capital sentencing, and in marijuana prosecutions, and in countless other things. But it wasn't Judge Debra Nelson's job to conduct a seminar on race relations in 2013. It wasn't her job to help America bridge its racial divide. It was her job to give Zimmerman a fair trial. And she did.
So the murder trial of George Zimmerman did not allow jurors to deliberate over the fairness of Florida's outlandishly broad self-defense laws. It did not allow them debate the virtues of the state's liberal gun laws or its evident tolerance for vigilantes (which we now politely call "neighborhood watch"). It did not permit them to delve into the racial profiling that Zimmerman may have engaged in or into the misconduct and mischief that Martin may have engaged in long before he took that fatal trip to the store for candy. These factors, these elements, part of the more complete picture of this tragedy, were off-limits to the ultimate decision-makers. (read full articlehere)
No evidence was presented at the trial to indicate that Zimmerman profiled Martin on a racial basis. More of an argument can be made that he profiled Martin for wearing his hoodie up. Yes, he did describe Martin as a young black male, but that's how one describes people. Middle-aged white female, young black male, elderly Hispanic male. Simply noticing someone's race doesn't make one a racist, nor does it indicate that one is profiling based on race.
Because of many burglaries in the area at that time, Zimmerman was hyper-vigilant. One of the jurors who's spoken since said she believed Zimmerman would have reported a young white or Asian male as well.
Cohen also seems to believe that Zimmerman was saved by what he described as "Florida's outlandishly broad self-defense laws." Actually, almost anywhere in the country, even under very restrictive self-defense laws, if you are in the midst of an attack like the one Martin was inflicting on Zimmerman, and with no means of retreat at hand, you can defend yourself with whatever means are at hand, including using lethal force. Retreat isn't much of an option if you're on the ground with someone straddling and pummeling you. That, according to Zimmerman, he felt Martin had discovered his pistol and was reaching for it, is another exonerating element, even if Zimmerman was wrong about that.
Cohen refers to Zimmerman as well as, it seems, all Neighborhood Watch people as vigilantes. However, at no point did Zimmerman take the law into his own hands. Yes, he was armed but he didn't shoot Zimmerman without adequate provocation. The police tend to appreciate Neighborhood Watch as their eyes and ears, since they can't be everywhere at once. With local budgets being trimmed down, eventually cutbacks hit police departments, so more and more police will be depending on Neighborhood Watch programs, like it or not.
Yes, blacks—especially black males—are often treated unfairly in the law enforcement and justice system, but lynching George Zimmerman won't fix that.
Of course, lots of things could have happened differently, from Zimmerman taking the emergency operator's advice to stop following Martin to Zimmerman taking a pee break and not even noticing Martin. However, it was Martin's apparent desire to physically punish Zimmerman for the initial confrontatin that serves as the proximate cause of the altercation that ended his life.
Sometimes shit just happens, and unfortunately for Trayvon Martin, he brought a sidewalk to a gunfight. Had he simply gone on his way, none of this would have happened. Had Zimmerman left his gun at home, Martin would be alive (but Zimmerman might have suffered brain damage).
One thing is for certain, the lynch mob won't change anything.