Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another Dark Day For U.S. Justice

Participants held signs and chanted "No justice, no peace!" during the march protesting police handling of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Fla.
Photographer: Kevin Hagen
Trayvon Martin supporters in Sanford, Florida.

Protesters started hitting the streets Saturday and Sunday in a nationwide response to a Florida jury finding George Zimmerman "not guilty" in the shooting death of unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin, and what bloggers and tweeters agreed was "another dark day for U.S. justice."

Under Florida law, Zimmerman will even get his gun back - and in a state in which - as Zimmerman walked off scot-free - a Florida mom had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing warning shots in the air in response to an abusive husband (a May 2012 article pointed out in a related tweet by CBS).

The NAACP is asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute Zimmerman on civil rights charges.  From Huffington Post:
"We are outraged and heartbroken over today's verdict," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement. "We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed."
Buzzfeed reports a massive instant response to an NAACP petition to the DOJ, with 275,000 people signing in one evening, as well as hoods going up on instagram.  Numerous threads were "a twitter" with Justice For Trayvon supporters.

The Justice Department reportedly confirms that it is indeed looking into the matter to determine "whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil charges now that Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case."

Legal analysts and observers have debated the way in which the prosecution and court handled the Zimmerman case - most notably pointing out a lack of diversity among the jurors.  An all female jury was composed of 5 whites and one Hispanic - and no African American men or women.  Also, Zimmerman was never compelled to take the stand and face cross-examination.  In addition, the judge did not allow testimony concerning technical evidence showing the scientific likelihood that recorded 911 screams matched Trayvon's voice.  Hence, the courtroom drama, so to speak, devolved into the subjectively competing testimonies of two mothers, one for the minor victim, the other for the adult killer, each claiming that the cries were her son's. 

Blogger speaking, a judge is supposed to prevent this type of spectacle from becoming the basis for a trial, and especially when there is empirically valid evidence to be admitted  - versus whose mother is the most emotionally compelling - and, to an all female, mostly white jury.  With a number of papers reporting that the jury's decision was going to "come down to" whose screams they *believed* (a very subjective term) were heard that night.

Writers on twitter shared their shock, dismay, and grief, but also a lack of surprise with the American "justice" system. Many wrote words of support and condolence to the Trayvon Martin family, along with words of social and political protest.

Below, CNN video of an interview with Benjamin Jealous, during which he poignantly states, "When they say this is a country with liberty and justice for all, we yearn to be in that place."


7.14.2013 Update Via Occupy Wall Street:

Live stream of NYC Justice For Trayvon march; at present, one protester estimates 5,000 people.   Marina Portnaya with RT tweeted a huge crowd chanting, at one point, "Off the sidewalks, into the streets!"

Live Video streaming by Ustream

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