George Zimmerman Trial – The Race Perspective

Why didn’t the prosecution have visible African-American presence as part of their team, particularly in presenting closing arguments?




prosecution teamMost people knew the George Zimmerman v State of Florida trial, regarding the murder of Trayvon Martin was about race.  In the African-American community it was considered a given, even though surprisingly there were the Clarence “Race Didn’t Help Me” Thomas types, who tried their best to deny race was a cornerstone of the case.

From the very beginning of the case, African-Americans viewed it from a skeptical lens.  Whites, or specifically those who were drawn by default to assume they must support George Zimmerman, because surely “the black guy must be guilty,” nevertheless felt it was a no-brainer and pleaded to not let the “race-baiters” turn it into something it wasn’t.

Perspective is what the case really boiled down to, as verified by the verdict as well as the responses.

The State is to be applauded by putting their resources together to file the case.  After all, as far as the Sanford Police Department felt, the case was closed as George Zimmerman was considered exonerated from murdering Trayvon Martin because, he stated Martin attacked him.  That was good enough for them to proclaim – Case Closed, Zimmerman was Standing his Ground, acting in Self-Defense or some type of justification to allow for his freedom.

Here is what is interesting.  African-American’s do in fact commit crime.  As a matter of fact, some shamefully, behave in ways or commit acts, while the criminal system lays in wait.  Not in a devious manner, but the legal system is rife for preventing crimes and catching criminals, but also designed to trap those with limited resources or too ignorant to understand the system is designed to feed off of their behavior, resulting in high criminal records, high incarceration and other social ills that make the majority feel they are doing the right thing.   Sadly on behalf of the people, the State is funded and charged to manage these criminals.  By last account, African-Americans represented the highest group that is prey to the criminal system.

Here is where it gets dicey.  The State is the people’s voice.  In the case of George Zimmerman they were tasked with switching reels.  In other words, rather than deal with African-American as THE CRIMINAL, they had to represent that group in bringing charges against Zimmerman.  It’s not like the Fox in the Hen House, but surely as adept as the prosecution is, you are asking them to represent and be an advocate to a group, they are not use to defending.  To be clear, while the implication may be Whites don’t commit crime, just African-Americans, it is not that simple.

Case in point.  People around the nation, particularly from African-American communities applauded with fanfare when Angela Corey assembled her team of prosecutor’s and the public acknowledged charges had been filed.  They were more impressed when Special Prosecutor John Guy came out swinging at opening statements.    Silently some in the community were holding their breath, thinking “are we really going to get the justice that has been long-deferred”?

What happened?  What went wrong? Why didn’t the jurors accept the Prosecution’s theory of what occurred?  In doing an assessment,  for me it is simple.  In presenting their case, they ran from the obvious: Race.  Also, as big a Sate as Florida is you would assume there must be some competent African-American attorney’s on their staff?  And going further, assuming that is true you wander why none were part of the visible team that Corey had assembled?   Do you need to be African-American to defend American-Americans?  No, that is an option.    But what surely could have helped, given not one African-American was part of the final jury panel, was something you don’t need a pHD to figure out!  An African-American attorney who could have blended in the nuances of the African-American culture in helping the jurors understand Martin’s actions.  You don’t always have the luxury of a “Johnny Cochran” moment.  But, everyone knows had Cochran not been African-American, he would not have known how to make something so simple, seem so real.  That is the art of communication and confronting an issue like race…..head on!

Not so fast!  Just like Clarence Thomas who seems to run away or deny how he grew from Georgia to the Supreme Court, many African-Americans find themselves in a precarious position.  Some feel it would be too militant to advocate for fellow African-Americans, let alone those who have suffered an injustice.  Then again, some enjoy their rise to the top and find it troublesome to stick their neck out trying to provide relief to people who the mainstream has vilified or branded as “them, when if fact they look like them!!”

Still, the gnawing question remains why there were no African-American as part of the prosecution team?  Could it have made a difference?  Perhaps?  In the meantime, we are left dealing with a verdict that was rendered from people who probably have no clue of the nuances in the African-American culture.  With the slightest glimpse of understanding, they may have dissected the arguments differently, thus reaching an entirely different verdict and perhaps better understanding why the majority of African-Americans were in tears, while many Whites or those who were in support of George Zimmerman were jubilant justifying George Zimmerman was not guilty.  As a postscript, not every African-American supported Trayvon Martin, but surely, unless they were the Clarence Thomas types, they had some empathy of how this case was presented


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