“There are factions, there are groups, there are people that would want to take the law into their own hands as they perceive it or be vigilantes in some sense,” said Robert Zimmerman.
“They will always present a threat to George and to his family.”
What has come to pass is tragic as it was predictable. Trayvon Martin’s Blackness trumped his age. Martin’s Blackness trumped his right to defend himself. Martin’s Blackness was to any watchful eye the crux in George Zimmerman’s decision-making that night. Zimmerman played the gun-slinging vigilante and was vindicated by a non-Black jury in a case where race was forbidden from being discussed. Thus, with Zimmerman’s acquittal, two precedents were set:
1) You can pick a fight and, if you are losing, you can end it with lethal force without fear of imprisonment.
2) #1 does not apply if you’re Black.
There are those who would argue that Martin was a little thug for whom this was, if not an inevitability, a likely and justified end. This supposition is fantastically off-target. Trayvon Martin had no criminal record, and the only trouble he’s gotten into was for minor marijuana possession in school, for which he was suspended. If that gives somebody a death sentence, or ranks them among criminals, then none of us are innocent and my career as a teacher was a quixotic endeavor at best. Of course, this is not the case and such characterization for want of better justification is likely born out of prejudice. Moreover, such a record is not only objectively minuscule, but is absolutely nothing in comparison to George Zimmerman, who has police records for battery, domestic violence, sexual assault, and – in the height of hypocrisy – violently resisting arrest from a real police officer.
There are those who would argue that Zimmerman, on account of being part Peruvian, did not act because of Martin’s race nor did he receive preferential treatment. Imagine, however, if Zimmerman were Black. He would not have gotten the same treatment from the police, who failed to do so much as charge him with a crime for 45 days. He would not have gotten the monetary support from right-wing individuals and organizations in order to afford his attorney. His attorney would not have been able to get a favorable jury that resembled him and not his victim and a judge willing to take the talk of race and vigilantism off the table. Furthermore, he would not have had a record of 46 calls to Sanford police exclusively reporting Black males: Simply put, he may not even have considered this teenager suspicious. Let’s face it: Zimmerman, an armed, self-appointed volunteer watch captain in a gated community, is about as Latino as McGloin was Irish in Gangs of New York.
Thanks to this verdict, it’s open season in Florida today: Evoking scenes from South Park, all you have to do before opening fire is declare that you feel threatened. I only wonder just whether Zimmerman is capable of understanding just what he has justified today, but maybe he’s just vainly hoping that he got the last shot in.