Monday, July 15, 2013

What Else?

I’m glad the Zimmerman trial is over. Now we can learn what else is happening in the world. It’s not that the trial was unimportant, but that I knew the ending to the story. There was no way he was going to be, or should be, convicted beyond a reasonable doubt of second degree murder for a shooting that took place during a fight. A guilty verdict would have made pariahs of the six jurors who rendered it in Seminole County and well beyond. This says something of a trial by a jury of one’s peers. I say that if justice is a concern these peers should come from diverse parts of the country. This point is demonstrated precisely by the trials of Rodney King’s beating by local police and of O.J. Simpson, whose trial was a mirror image of Zimmerman’s. I’d say that in this case the prosecution left something to be desired. At times I suspect the second degree murder charge was to make it harder for any kind of conviction.

My feeling about the trial doesn’t mean that I believe justice was done. An armed man who violates police orders by getting out of his car, leading directly to the fatal shooting by that man of another, clearly deserves incarceration.

The trial is now history. But it should raise again the perennial question of who enforces our laws. As I understand it amateurs have a legitimate role in vigilance although Zimmerman clearly violated its limits. But the purview of pulling triggers belongs exclusively to professionals who have been trained for the job. Putting one’s hand on a rock, looking to the sky and saying “I am a cop” doesn’t qualify. Had this propriety been observed in Sanford the killing would never have taken place.

As Zimmerman said in the last words of his cell phone call to the police, “they always get away.” It looks as if this also applies to deluded racists like himself.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Who Goes There?

Given what is known now about the George Zimmerman case I believe he is guilty of the racially inspired murder of Trayvon Martin. He was an armed aggressor stalking an unarmed person without any justifiable cause. If anyone was standing his ground it was Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman ignored police instructions to remain in his car. He was a man looking for trouble. Nevertheless if I were a juror I’d probably vote to acquit. The fact that there was a fight just before the shooting opens the door for “beyond a reasonable doubt” against the serious charge of second degree murder.

My greatest concern is the consequences, whatever the verdict, neither of which bodes well. We’ve seen inner city reaction to adjudication of Rodney King’s beating which was limited to Los Angeles and the assassination of Martin Luther King which went national. In this case I fear that reaction to acquittal would more closely resemble the latter. The consequences of a conviction, while less predictable, are potentially as ominous.

Given the inter-racial nature of the event, it may seem that we are dealing with race, which to an extent we are. But of equal importance in the longer run is the place of vigilantism in this country. It involves militias, guns and the thinking that goes with them. There’s no mystery how this issue will play out along political lines. Days after the event Fox was soliciting donations for Zimmerman’s defense in a trial more than a year away. This was not for his benefit.

There are many gated communities in this country and their occupants have a legitimate concern for their security, in many cases the reason for living there.  But there was no legitimacy to Zimmerman’s behavior prior to the confrontation.

An acquittal would just postpone an inevitable showdown. My hope is for a guilty verdict for something less than second degree murder. As I see it legitimate law enforcement is the purview of only authorized people. We know that some of them are less than perfect. For this reason it makes no sense to entrust these life or death jobs to people who are even further from perfect.