I Seriously Cannot Stop Reading Reactions To George Zimmerman’s Acquittal In The Trayvon Martin Case

There's Just Nothing Else To Talk About Right Now

I have a huge problem. I’m supposed to be working, and I can’t. You saw that Miley Cyrus post I tried to pull off– fail. But since one of my many jobs is to share my thoughts on goings-ons in the world I’ve decided to blog about this moment. Normally, when something like this happens I take a few minutes to let myself take it all in, to research facts, and to write something kinda smart and focused and not overly emotional. I love blogging, but I don’t confuse it with journaling and I don’t want to make this moment about me and how it makes me feel. However, I literally cannot stop thinking about what happened to Trayvon Martin and what didn’t happen to George Zimmerman when he was acquitted of murdering the 17 year-old boy. I also cannot stop reading all of these articles and the comments that are going along with: E!, Jezebel, The New Yorker, etc. Click inside for more.


 

The truth is, I feel like I can’t say a lot about the case because I did not watch the entire trial. In fact, I watched very little of it and I’m somewhat self-conscious admitting that. If I were 10 years old again, my parents would have sat my ass down in the living room and made me watch that trial every single day. And then I would have had to read articles on it, and probably write some kind of paper about it that my Mom would have edited or something. That’s how it was in my house. I was, like, 8 when I first watched the entire Roots series, and I would cry and cry and my Mom would not allow me to not watch it because she felt I needed to see it and I needed to see it at a young age.

Maybe that’s why I don’t follow some of these stories as closely as I know she would have wanted/forced me to– I’ve been seeing shit like this since I was 7 and now I’m tired. I realize how weak that sounds, but I seriously just want to block it all out and listen to my Yeezus album.

But I can’t. Because even in Yeezus, it’s there. This New Yorker article referenced Billie Holiday‘s Strange Fruit lyrics with their title: GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, NOT GUILTY: BLOOD ON THE LEAVES. And I thought about Kanye‘s new song Blood On The Leaves in which he samples Nina Simone‘s version of the haunting ballad. There’s no escaping this. We live in this world, and there’s no escape.

The truth is, I’m a lot more cynical about race relations in America than I let on. During the Paula Deen situation I sort of let it show through– that I don’t have a whole lot of faith in a very particular brand of White America and therefore don’t expect much from them. Because I was raised by two professors of African and African-American history I was raised on Roots, I was raised on the Eyes On The Prize documentaries, I was raised on Emerge magazine. I still remember seeing those photos of Emmett Till in the casket when Emerge put his mom on the cover. Nothing’s supposed to shock me anymore.


 

I told my partner in crime/babymaking that they were totally going to acquit Zimmerman and I was completely prepared. I wasn’t gonna get angry, because I know how it works in so-called post-racial America. But when we watched Judge Debra Nelson giving her final statement to the jury before they went to deliberate I was suddenly, completely shocked. She kept saying something about the circumstances under which it’s perfectly okay to take a human life. She kept reminding the jury that, in the State of Florida, you can kill someone sometimes and it’s fine. I know it’s called the Stand Your Ground law or whatever, but it really hit me when I heard her saying that– even when you don’t talk about race or racial profiling– we live in a world where sometimes it’s okay to kill someone. In fact, it’s okay a lot of the time.

And that scared the shit out of me. Now I can only hope that I do something productive with that fear. And I hope that everyone who’s busy Facebooking and tweeting their outrage will also find something productive to do with their fear. And I hope that Trayvon‘s family achieves some sort of peace from something other than our justice system, which is simply not designed to benefit families like Trayvon Martin‘s.

Okay one more Kanye reference before I go. When Kanye West publicly declared George Bush doesn’t care about black people, I only took issue with it for one reason– it singled out George Bush, as if he was the only person in the world who didn’t care about black people. Wealthy white people everywhere do not care about black people. Hell, lots of middle class and working class white people everywhere do not care about black people! And if we’re really gonna keep it somewhat real, lots of black people everywhere do not care about black people. Like, not even a little bit. It’d be nice to see that change sometime soon. You know, before all this non-caring gets someone– or someone’s child– hurt.

P.S. Pretty sure I’m done blogging for the day.

P.S.S. One of my former professors from Sarah Lawrence just shared this, in case anyone wanted to know:

A company called Koch Brothers supported Zimmerman…So lets show them HOW we support Trayvon…The products they sell…Angel Soft, Brawny, Dixie, Mardi Gras, Quilted, Soft N Gentle, Sparkle, Vanity Fair, Zee and Georgia-Pacific. Skittles and Arizona juices supported him as well. (Sidenote: Koch Brothers also donated heavily to the Romney campaign.) If you’re going to play the capitalism game, people, know the rules. Boycott Koch, forever. Thank you.

[Photo Credit: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty]

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  1. muchacha

    Koch Brothers are also behind the rampant right-wing denial of climate change: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_activities_of_the_Koch_brothers

    Kudos to your SL prof for reminding us of one avenue that we have to take back control – where we spend our money. Shannon, I hope you have a moment today that reminds you of all the good in the world, in midst of this mindlessness.

    • muchacha, thanks for this. Of course, I’m not all ‘I have no faith in humanity anymore.’ I love humanity! Just didn’t see a lot of it in this particular situation.

    • cutitout321

      Feel the same way.

      Thanks 4 the heads up! I will not be supporting those folks anytime soon.

      Anyways, I did watch the trial and even though I felt the prosecution made several serious poor judgments in putting on their case, it was still obvious that Zimmerman was not truly “defending” himself.

      I believe the act of following Trayvon was an aggressive act in itself and truly was the “first punch” I mean If I’m being followed in the dark by someone who never identifies themselves as some sort of official security person and they catch me, they will at the very least get a face full of pepper spray… just sayin’.

      And honestly, I’ve seen TONS of fights where one person attacked another and ended up getting their asses handed right back to them and left leaking. You know what they say, “Punks jump up to get beat down” I honestly just can’t right now.

      The last on the record thoughts of George Zimmerman was trying to catch a bad guy then the bad guy who turned out to be an innocent teenager lollygagging on his way home from a store , talking on the phone oblivious to what exactly Zimmerman was doing or thinking. Then the kid ends up shot dead through the heart. But we are supposed to believe that the kid snapped and decided to beat/suffocated the “creepy dude” to death and then go home and drink tea and watch the NBA all-star game??? That does not make any sense. Its not logical to think that the person who we know for a fact was in pursuit of Trayvon, did not head the suggestion of the 911 operator and continued following him until he actually caught him, and tried to hold him and keep him until the police got to him??? I need to hear from these jurors but them chicks are probably gonna just hide and if they do come forward, they will be in shadow like terrorist or people in witness protection. I wonder how they slept?

  2. Ella

    I simply can’t read any commentary on the trial verdict. The ‘I’m not racist but’ racists came out in full force during the Paula Deen controversy and during the process of this trial. It just sickens me. It sickens me and it hurts me not just as a black woman, but a human being with what I’d like to think is an ounce of intelligence. It hurts me because under this “Stand Your Ground law” black mothers who are brave enough to leave abusive husbands get sentenced to 20 years for firing warning shots where no one gets hurt and a boy being followed by a man with a gun is allowed to die because he tried to defend himself. Most of the time, this country makes me sick.

  3. Linnéa

    I’m shocked. This shows how messed up the system is. With my hands on my heart, i can say that i’m glad i’m from Norway right now. Words can’t describe this. My prayers goes to Trayvons family and friends. The system has to go down soon..

  4. Ella, I read that last night and it was very disturbing. As for the Zimmerman case, I didn’t watch the trial and I wasn’t on the jury so I really don’t have the right to argue whether they were right or wrong, but the whole situation just stinks. It’s just bad on all counts, and a young man is still dead.

  5. Ella

    @Linnea, A friend of mine from Denmark basically said the same thing. I was surprised this was being followed there and I am glad for it.

  6. JM

    I wish that I was surprised about this, but I’m not. I’m not sure what’s scarier, the fact that we live in a world where it’s okay to murder someone, or the fact that people are completely content supporting George Zimmerman and his actions. A child is dead.

    Malala Yousafzai addressed the UN Youth Assembly on her 16th birthday and it was inspirational and beautiful. She is such a survivor and an amazing advocate. She was my silver lining this weekend.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rNhZu3ttIU

    • Leah

      Stop calling Martin a child. He was 17.
      A young man. He was no child.

    • cutitout321

      That’s legally a child in America. If he was a white girl, no one would be calling her a lady or a woman. He was certainly not an adult and I’m pretty sure he was 16 when it happened. 16 years old and about 21 days to be exact.

    • Jenn

      I seriously hope you don’t think it would make me feel better saying that another young, black, man has been killed instead of saying child.

  7. I cannot comprehend his acquittal. I can’t fathom how you can grab a gun, chase a young man, kill him and not be found guilty of ANYTHING! I can’t, just can’t. Had Zimmerman been black and Trayvon white, we all know what the verdict would have bee.

    • I’m in no way defending Zimmerman, but he is hispanic. I think that is fueling the race issue even more because the media portrays him as a white person. Some where even calling him a “white hispanic”.

    • Joanna

      I don’t know if it was Zimmerman’s lawyer or someone else, but during the press conference following the verdict someone asked the question of what they think would have happened had Zimmerman been black (a black on black crime) instead of Hispanic. The lawyer believed wholeheartedly that Zimmerman would have never even been charged with anything. That in my opinion would have been worst than having his acquitted which was horrible enough as it is.

    • Paul

      “I’m in no way defending Zimmerman, but he is hispanic. I think that is fueling the race issue even more because the media portrays him as a white person. Some where even calling him a “white hispanic”.”

      From my years living in the Dallas area, it was obvious to me the Hispanic and African-American communities had no love for each other. There were terrible battles on the city council and in the school board meetings. Zimmerman certainly doesn’t look white, so I was surprised when the press kept on playing this as “white on black violence”.

  8. Lauren xx

    I never understood how this is self-defense when we all know by the 911 call recording and George Zimmerman’s own admission that HE WENT AFTER TRAYVON. He was the instigator, and yet a teenager was painted as the aggressor. This acquittal is disturbing. He should have been found guilty of some charge.

  9. Sarah

    According to Snopes, the Koch connection is only a rumor.

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/koch.asp

  10. i couldn’t believe he got acquitted. that NOTHING happened. he got to walk away with no kind of punishment. i had to walk away from everything last night, i just didnt know what to do. i read last night that under Florida law, Zimmerman can get his gun back..the same gun that he killed a 17 yr old child with. its sickening.

    • Karen

      It is so upsetting and so unreal.

      I am almost mad at myself for being shocked; it seems so stupid to be shocked when time and time again the wrong thing happens.

      But I guess when something defies everything that is right, everything that is just, and everything that is common sense, I can’t help but be shocked.

      This man chased down a teenage boy and shot and killed him.
      The boy was doing nothing wrong.
      The boy was walking home from the store.
      The man called the cops about him, even though he was just walking home from the store.
      The cops told the man to leave the boy alone.
      The man chased down the boy and shot and killed him.
      And a jury decided that was ok.

      Horrifying.

  11. He got aquitted because the prosecution had no case; the facts could not be ignored. It is a tragedy but Zimmerman was just in receiving the verdict he did.

  12. jen

    I feel for Trayvon’s family. However, the justice system is based on the concept of reasonable doubt and NOT our emotions.

    The onus is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and I do not believe they did that. In short: Zimmerman is not innocent, but he’s not guilty either.

  13. I am so heartbroken over this verdict. Like you Shannon, I expected it, but still felt so much pain when I saw the headline. It’s just so hard to believe that this can be considered justice.

    I remember when Oscar Grant was shot and killed, my friend I went to visit a center for at-risk youth in Oakland and talked to maybe 20 mostly-black kids between the ages 11-17. We asked them how they were feeling and if they wanted to talk about what had happened. I will never forget one 12 year old boy’s response. He said “I don’t really feel much of anything about this because this kind of thing happens every day here.” I had to excuse myself to go cry because it made me so sad to hear a child say that and to know that is the world he lives in as a young black man.

    All I could think was that this is what Trayvon must have felt when he first realized George Zimmerman was following him – that he probably expected it. It’s just too much. :(

  14. Donny

    Zimmerman was an idiot who profiled Martin. Martin was a little thug. Just because someone approaches you doesn’t give you the right to become physically violent. We know who attacked who here. Did Zimmerman really fear for his life? It’s possible since he didn’t know if Martin was armed. Zimmerman should have stayed in his car and Martin should have called 911 if he felt he was being harrassed. Both made seriously stupid choices and one ended up dead. I don’t have much sympathy for either of them. But the prosecution didn’t prove its case and the justice system worked.

    • This Canadian Girl

      WTF???!!!?? Where do you get thug??? He was a kid walking home with a pack of skittles. It enrages and terrifies me that you are out there Donny – espousing such utter nonsense.

    • Donny

      Well then be enraged. Oh, he was just this innocent little boy walking home from the store with a pack of Skittles. Get real. He was a drug user. He was prone to fighting. He beat up a neighborhood watchman who approached him. He was a little thug. Zimmerman was/is a racist idiot. Neither of them are innocent but this was not murder. A case could possibly be made for manslaughter and the prosecution should have chosen to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter rather than caving to public pressure. They might have gotten a conviction. It was too late by the time the judge advised the jury they could convict Zimmerman of manslaughter. The defense had already damaged the prosecution’s case by providing reasonable doubt.

    • Using pot doesn’t make someone a thug, and it certainly isn’t a reason to kill them. You are trying to equate the actions of the two, but only one of them put a hollow point through another person’s heart. Only one of them stalked the other.

      And if you are going to use Trayvon’s history against him, you should also know Zimmerman was charged with violence nf battery against a police officer, and of domestic violence against a girlfriend.

    • C. Guest

      Manslaughter was also one of the charges that he was acquitted of.

    • He wasn’t dealing skittles, Donny. Trayvon wasn’t doing anything suspicious or illegal. Trying to smear his character reminds me of rape trials where they say her dress was too short.

    • Donny

      @Krissy: We don’t know exactly what Trayvon was doing. According to Zimmerman, he looked suspicious. Sure, that could be a bunch of BS. Zimmerman made major mistakes but so did Martin. It’s not smearing him to bring up that he did drugs, posted pictures of himself with guns (that he could not legally own) and was suspended from school for fighting. This was a kid with some issues. The evidence shows he was the aggressor and Zimmerman claims he feared for his life. A sequestered jury clearly found Zimmerman credible. I think the whole thing is tragic and I’m not defending Zimmerman but I am defending the law, the jury and the verdict.

    • I think it is a huge and horrible assumption on your part to say that Trayvon had issues. A large portion of high schoolers in our country have been in fights before, have smoked pot. That does not make him a thug (which is a racially laced term, you must admit). No one called the Buckwild guys “thugs” even though they drank illegally and had a thing for guns.

      The evidence did NOT show that Trayvon was the aggressor, there was no witness to the start of the violence. The only evidence presented for that moment was the girl on the phone with Trayvon, which suggested Zimmerman was the aggressor. I think the jury had bias against Trayvon, much like Zimmerman. The juror herself said the woman who testified that her house was vandalised by another black person made these actions of George’s understandable…which to me is horrifying. Trayvon did not vandalise that woman’s house, his life should not have been taken because someone of his race did something illegal on a different day.

      I just can’t see how anyone could defend the jury after the statements of the juror. I don’t see how anyone could defend the law when it includes the ability to kill someone simply because you are scared. Not scared of death, just scared.

  15. U Can't Handle

    Are people really surprise with the verdict? Have you not been watching any news program and been hiding under a rock? Almost all the shows with there so called “Experts” of lawyers have said the district attorney cases was flimsy at best. There was no really got you piece of evidence. Many people criticizes the attorney general for filling murder 2 charges over manslaughter charges. I mean if they just filed something like Involuntary manslaughter charges against him to begin with and prove their case through that It would be much easier to have convicted him

    • Involuntary would imply an accident, like hitting someone while texting. Zimmerman put a hollow point bullet at his heart and pulled the trigger. He didn’t shoot him in the leg or hand. He intended to kill him. Manslaughter would have been appropriate, but not involuntary.

  16. As a white person, I am horrified that it appears it is now legal to kill young black men as long as you are “scared”. It seems as if it is legal to kill someone in a fight, no matter how slapstick that fight may be. I just can’t see this trial, the BART cops at Fruitvale Station, the nightly news, and not realize that there is one set of laws for people like Trayvon, and one set of laws for everyone else. How to change this???? I weep for Trayvon. He was shot in the heart with a hollow point bullet.

    • Some Guy

      Why are you horrified as a white person? Zimmerman isn’t white.

    • Because I feel there wasn’t justice for Trayvon because he was black. Even as someone who benefits from the inequalities in the justice system because I am white, I know it is wrong. As a white person, I know that I will be treated differently by society, by the police, by the jury, by the court system should I even be involved in a crime or trial. I know that should I be sentanced to prison time, it would be for a shorter sentance than a minority in my exact sitaution.

      I don’t think you have to be the victim of inequality to be OUTRAGED by it.

  17. I’m late, but Shannon, DANG.
    You just wrote everything I’ve been feeling. I knew he would get off, but I’m more upset and hurt than I thought I would be. This whole situation scares me.
    My brother could be Trayvon. Hell, I could be Trayvon. Some person could just as easily shoot me for, let’s face it, no good reason or being “afraid” and get off.
    We now live in a world where you can kill someone and it’s okay. It’s okay. It’s actually OKAY. I just can’t wrap my head around that.
    Racism is still alive and well in this country. Those who say it’s not are clearly delusional. We all know if Trayvon was white kid and Zimmerman was a black man how this would’ve gone. Psh, it probably wouldn’t have taken this long either.

  18. Katy

    Shannon, I appreciate your passion, but I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one, and here’s why:

    1. In this country, we are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, regardless of whether or not we are convicted in the court of public opinion.
    2. The Sanford police chief originally thought that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, but later admitted that was not true and that he had jumped to conclusions. Zimmerman, he said, may have profiled Martin’s behavior but not the color of his skin.
    3. In line with #2, the media admitted to editing the 911 call to make it appear that Zimmerman randomly blurted out that Martin was black, when in fact, the 911 operator asked him what race Trayvon was.
    4. Zimmerman didn’t know he had killed Trayvon until the police told him.
    5. The media further tried to make this about race (granted Zimmerman does sound like a caucasian last name) by saying that it was white-on-black crime. The truth is that Zimmerman, who is Peruvian, has black relatives, and was a productive member of the NAACP, and an ardent Obama supporter.

    This case should have been about what really happened rather than focusing on the color of Trayvon and Zimmerman’s skin. Instead of being outraged, we should be grateful that our justice system prefers that 100 guilty men go free than that ONE innocent man is sent to prison. None of us were in Sanford, but we know that the prosecution clearly did not prove Zimmerman’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    • I’m sorry, how do you NOT know you killed someone when you shoot them in the chest? I’m curious.

      And let’s take away color. A CHILD, a MINOR is DEAD because some overzealous wannabe rent a cop couldn’t stay in his car and let police do their job. I’m sorry, Katy, but no matter the color, this is unacceptable.

    • Especially when you loaded your gun with hollow point bullets. Those aren’t mean to wound, they are mean to blow giant holes in vital organs.

    • Katy

      The reason Zimmerman didn’t know is because Trayvon was on top of him when he shot him, and upon being shot, Trayvon said, “you got me” before falling backwards, at which point Zimmerman thought he just passed out.

      I’m not saying that shooting a child is okay, but that the justice system worked the way it’s supposed to. Zimmerman made mistakes, and so did Trayvon Martin. We do have an epidemic of violence in this country, and we all need to work at being a little more patient and kind with each other. On that note, I’d like to thank you both (Sandy! and Krissy) for disagreeing with me without calling me names.

  19. Gillian

    For me personally this shouldn’t be about race. I honestly do not care about colour, race, or gender when it comes to this case. The fact that it is acceptable for ANYONE to go ahead and shoot someone, because there is a chance your life could be in danger, makes me sick. This stand your ground law needs to be changed. No one should be able to walk around with a gun, unless it is a requirement for your job. This isn’t the Wild West anymore. Until the people stand up, and demand these laws to change. This will just be one of the many times this act happens. Hating Zimmerman and/or his actions will not change a damn thing – it’s wasted time and energy. Direct them at the legal system, where they belong.

    • AmericanWv

      It is a sad day when I see an American willingly give up their 2nd amendment rights. I hope you never come across a situation where you have to think to yourself “If I only had my weapon, my family would live.” He who gives up a little bit of liberty for a little bit of safety deseverves neither liberty or safety.
      The stand your ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first. Zimmerman SAYS he thought Martin was an unlawful threat.. I agree 100% this young man was profiled.

      I was not there so I am not sticking up for either side. There was no credible eye witness. Did Zimmerman just ask questions and Martin swing or did Zimmerman go swinging at him? That is your reasonable doubt. The justice system is far from perfect but with reasonable doubt AND no witness…. it worked as intended.
      I honestly think both sides should have done things differently and this young man died for no reason. No matter what actually happened people will believe what they want. I dont think Zimmerman should be allowed to have weapons until he goes through an extensive psychiatric evaluation.

    • C. Guest

      Zimmerman waived his right to use the “stand your ground” law and just argued straight self-defense. If his legal team had used the “stand your ground” law as part of their defense, he would have been convicted.

    • Jamie

      Personally, I think race played a huge rule in this but I agree that America’s obsession with guns played a big part as well. Everyone wants to prattle on about needing their gun to “defend themselves” but the truth is, had George Zimmerman not had a gun in the first place he wouldn’t have been so over-confident as to get out of the car in the first place. I do not own a gun and I do not believe I am any less safe than someone who does. In fact, I feel safer knowing one of my children won’t accidentally shoot themselves in the face. I am not against gun ownership but no, sorry, the second amendment does NOT give you the right to carry a concealed weapon and kill another human being because you started a fight you couldn’t finish.

  20. Nicole

    From a legal stand point and after watching the trial, I am not surprised at the outcome. I agree that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof. Nothing against the prosecutors, there just wasn’t sufficient evidence for conviction.

    We require a showing of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, this is a very high standard to meet. This is our justice system and we as Americans have chosen to give the accused the benefit of doubt.

    I am sure the jury understood the gravity of the case an gave all evidence due consideration before reaching their verdict. They performed an important civic duty to the best of their ability and should be allowed to move on in peace.

  21. C. Guest

    For the record, Zimmerman and his defense team did not use the “stand your ground” law as any part of their defense. It was argued as straight self-defense. If the “stand your ground” law had been used as part of the defense’s strategy, it is more likely that he would have been convicted.

    • Stand Your Ground DID play a role in this case. From a juror herself:

      For those who want to claim “Stand Your Ground” was not a factor, juror B-37 disagrees…

      COOPER: Because of the two options you had, second degree murder or manslaughter, you felt neither applied?

      JUROR: Right. Because of the heat of the moment and the Stand Your Ground. He had a right to defend himself. If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right.

    • From the Miami Herald:

      Zimmerman waived his right to the Stand Your Ground immunity hearing, a pre-trial event that’s not spelled out in statute. ***But he was afforded the protections of Stand Your Ground, which is embedded in Florida’s self-defense laws.*** Its language, found in statute 766.012, was tailored to the Zimmerman trial’s jury instructions and said the following:

      “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

      Despite the language on the jury-instruction form and B37’s comments about Stand Your Ground, some commentators have said it had nothing to do with the case because it was a standard self-defense case.

      But Stand Your Ground is standard self defense in Florida.

  22. t*

    I like how one of juror is trying to make money already off this.

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