For seemingly no real reason other than the color of my skin, lots of people have asked for my reaction to the George Zimmerman acquittal. Fine. But you’re not going to get what you’re looking for.
For a number of reasons, I didn’t follow the case with laser intensity. First, the Florida legal system and trials within it has precious little effect on my family and me. I don’t follow murder trials in all 50 states. Second, I did not have any desire to feed into the manic media frenzy that the trial unnecessarily became.
In my humble opinion Zimmerman’s “prosecutors” need to be relieved of duty. That was the most bumbling, inept stab at a prosecution to have been aired on national TV in a very long time. Granted, it’s hard to make a case when you have no evidence. Even worse, their witnesses made better witnesses for the defense! They made no case at all and essentially made it an easy decision for the jury.
Inevitable comparisons to the O.J. Simpson trial are circulating. The reading of the O.J. verdict is one of those events you use to tell time—like the space shuttle explosion, JFK’s assassination, the Twin Towers being hit. When the verdict was read, I remember quite clearly being gathered in the break room with co-workers at our office in South San Francisco. And I remember the emotion in the room. For the most part it was white people angry, black people relieved.
The O.J. verdict provides an appropriate precedent, highly relevant for the Zimmerman verdict. Here’s why:
Though in my soul, somewhere down in my knower, I think O.J. did it—that he did kill Nicole and Ron—the verdict was the correct one. The jury was not asked to rule on whether or not O.J. committed double murder. They were asked to rule on whether or not there was reasonable doubt O.J. committed double murder. Without question, the answer was ‘yes’. O.J. defense attorneys— dubbed the “Dream Team”—did an excellent job of raising reasonable doubts about his absolute guilt.
It was a similar story for the Zimmerman jury. Emotion removed, “national dialog” about race aside, the prosecution simply did not present a preponderance of evidence to lead the jury into a “guilty ” verdict.
But that’s not even what I get down on, frankly. Here is, in my opinion, where the rubber and the road come together:
Trayvon Martin’s death is without question tragic. There’s nothing entertaining about it, and one can’t help but to feel for his family. No parent should have to bury a child. However, were it not for the president deciding to weigh in, it wouldn’t even have been a national news story. That in turn is true because the real fact of the matter is that white-on-black assault/murder is NOT an epidemic in this nation. (And the guy isn’t even white, for crying out loud.) But black-on-black IS.
When it comes to murder, the most dangerous thing in this country for a young black man, is another young black man. It happens daily. The Zimmerman incident is more like a once-a-decade deal.
Prior to the verdict being read the “New Black Panthers” made no secret of what they wanted to do, should the verdict in the Zimmerman trial not be to their liking. They called for riots, shootings, burnings, etc. And other groups actually put up Facebook pages calling for violent civil unrest. These pages attracted thousands and thousands of “Likes.”
Well, during Independence Day weekend, shootings in Chicago claimed 12 lives. Twelve. Not one, but a dozen. Young black men, gunned down in their prime of life. No New Black Panthers claiming “its time to riot.” No Jesse. No Al. No MSNBC. It somehow wasn’t even newsworthy.
We need to stop pretending this trend isn’t real, isn’t happening, isn’t everyday life in neighborhoods across our country.
A young man running into an overzealous neighborhood watch participant packing heat is an aberration. A young black man bleeding-out as a result of being shot or stabbed by another is commonplace, relatively speaking.
Trayvon Martin’s death was a tragic loss of life, to be sure. Yet there can be no question that it happened under circumstances about which no one can be certain.
However, of this much we can be certain. There was some element of self-defense involved. Zimmerman’s nose was busted, his head gashed open, the man had clearly been in a tussle. Conversely, several of the dead in Chicago were a result of drive-by shootings, where self-defense cannot be claimed.
Yet the Zimmerman show gets all the media attention and draws all the protests. Why? I’ll say it. Because in Chicago what we had was black-on-black crime. There’s no sex appeal in that, no dollars to make. The snake-oil selling, one-trick-pony, racial-hatred-inciting hucksters have no idea how much more harm than good they are doing to our entire nation, especially predominantly black communities.
Derrick Wilburn is founder and president of American Conservatives of Color.
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