So the country, the internet and apparently the city of Oakland exploded in a fury after hearing the “Not Guilty” verdict handed down to George Zimmerman by a jury of his peers yesterday evening. I wish I could say I was surprised. This was one of those highly publicized trials that everyone and their mother seems to have an opinion on, regardless of whether or not they were following the case, kept abreast of the facts, or even knowledgeable of the laws being brought into question during the trial.
We see this phenomenon from time to time, the OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony trials are two I can think of off the top of my head during which the national media created a feeding frenzy, and that the nation has reacted with the same fervor towards. The Zimmerman/Martin trial stands out at this particular point primarily because it is fresh in all of our minds, but also because it brings self-defense/stand your ground laws into question and because law enforcement (or at least 911 operators) were involved during the entire scenario.
The facts of the case are not up for debate. Zimmerman reported a ‘suspicious person’ to 911 operators. The 911 operator ordered Zimmerman to stand down – he followed Martin, was then confronted by Martin, a physical struggled ensued between the man and the boy (during which Zimmerman was struck and had his head smacked into the concrete), then Zimmerman drew his firearm and shot Martin at point blank range, ending his life. These are the facts, like them or not.
Zimmerman’s trial defense was simple, self-defense, as set forth by the Stand Your Ground law; a law first approved in 2005 which has been recreated in many areas of the country. This law states that, “People fearing for their lives can use deadly force without having to retreat from a confrontation, even when it is possible.” In receiving the “Not Guilty” verdict, the trial’s jury is stating that they cannot prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Zimmerman was guilty of 2nd Degree Murder or Manslaughter via analysis of the facts that they are given during the course of the trial, the facts I stated above.
Personal Note: I, in good conscience, cannot stand on the side of this verdict and call it “justice”. I believe our system has failed us in this case. As far as I can tell, this man ignored a direct order from law enforcement, and then in being confronted – decided that his only form of self-defense was to end this boy’s life. Zimmerman stands 5’7″ and weighs 185 lbs. Martin stood 6’1″ and weighed 158 lbs. I am a martial artist, and in any fighting arena – Zimmerman would have been considered to be in the higher weight class – and would be considered to have the advantage in nearly any physical confrontation he’d have with Martin (regardless of their height difference).
In my humble opinion, the jury and court which passed down this verdict, are setting a precedent that it’s now okay to murder someone that ‘beat you up’. I believe we witnessed an extreme miscarriage of justice in this case.
Agree with me, or not, it is how I feel. While I do not believe Zimmerman should have been found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder, I think the Manslaughter charge should have stuck. He put himself in the situation after being advised against it and ended this boy’s life with zero consequences. I simply cannot believe that Zimmerman was incapable of defending himself with anything other than a gun.
Normally, I’d say that this is just status-quo for how things are these days. Normally, I’d tsk, sigh, shake my head, and move on. I’d make a mental note not to forget, but I’d move on. Normally, I wouldn’t feel that this would warrant a blog post – especially not one this long… but I’d done it again. So help me, I did it again, I read the news.
That’s where I found this: FL Mother Gets 20 Years for Firing Warning Shots and that’s when my head fucking exploded. I immediately decided to research this and found that The Huffington Post has an incredibly detailed article citing the facts of the case, I will place some quotes from the article here:
On Aug. 1, 2010, a fight between Alexander and her husband, Rico Gray, 36, left her cornered in the couple’s home. She fled into the garage to escape but was trapped behind a jammed door, she stated in court documents. She said she grabbed the gun she kept in the garage, returned to the house and, when Gray threatened to kill her, fired a single shot to ward him off.
Gray ran out of the house with his two sons and called the police. Alexander was arrested and charged. She unsuccessfully invoked her right to stand her ground in court. Alexander’s sentencing comes 435 days after the shooting. It took a jury 12 minutes to find her guilty.
Gray himself admitted in a deposition to abusing “all five of his babies’ mamas except one,” and to hitting Alexander. Alexander’s family and supporters say that Gray’s testimony should not be trusted, because he perjured himself by changing his account of events on the night of the shooting between his early depositions and later court hearings — a claim that was not disputed by Corey, the state attorney. *NOTE: Angela Corey was also the prosecutor for George Zimmerman.
Corey stated, “I feel like when someone fires a loaded gun inside of a home with two children standing in the direction where the bullet was fired, we have to have tough laws that say you don’t do that,” Corey told HuffPost. “Justice, with the laws of the state of Florida, was served. But I don’t believe her supporters will ever believe that.”
Alexander has maintained that she wasn’t trying to hurt anyone and that she was standing her ground against a man who had over the course of nearly a year punched and choked her on several different occasions. Alexander says that she believed she was protected that day under the state’s Stand Your Ground Law, which gives people wide discretion in using deadly force to defend themselves.
Alexander, whom did not have a criminal record before the shooting was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing into a wall.
I don’t think I actually need to specifically point out the hypocrisy of these two verdicts, in the same state’s courts no less. There are so many things wrong with the things I’ve read in the past 24 hours that simply cannot be reconciled. This isn’t a simple fix, but nothing worth doing has ever been easy. It’s time for us to wake up, be aware, start thinking and take some action. Write letters, show up to protests, make your voice heard by any means possible.
If you want to help Marissa Alexander and learn more facts of the case, there has been a blogspot made to give her voice a platform: Justice for Marissa.
Thanks for reading.