Why did the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case become a national obsession?
After all, about 14,000 murders take place every year in America. In just one city, Chicago, President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown, murders are on pace to reach around 400, down 27 percent from last year but on par with 2011. In 2012, only 26 percent of homicides were “cleared,” meaning the case was closed, with or without the killer being arrested or charged.
That Martin, a black person, was killed by Zimmerman, described as a white Hispanic, is rare. Most homicides are same-race crimes. Most black killers kill other blacks. Most white killers kill other whites.
So why this case?
For many, Martin’s death illustrates how young black men are unfairly “profiled” by cops, security officers and society in general. The unfair criminal stereotype of black men, they say, results in false arrests.
But in the end, the Zimmerman trial is a he-said/he’s-dead case. The only person who was there tells a far different story. Zimmerman had a swollen, if not broken, nose, cuts on the back of his head and black eyes. The defense argues that this shows Zimmerman, in fear for his life or serious bodily injury, defended himself by shooting and killing Martin.
Defense witnesses, who came across as credible, have refuted every witness for the prosecution.
Was it Trayvon Martin’s voice on the 911 tape, screaming for help, relevant in trying to determine who started the fight? Or was the voice that of Zimmerman, a man in reasonable fear of death or serious injury? Audio experts came to different conclusions, so the judge disallowed any audio expert testimony.
Martin’s mother said the voice was her son’s. Zimmerman’s mother said the voice was her son’s. Martin’s father said the voice was his son’s, but admitted that at first he did not recognize the voice as belonging to Trayvon. Testimony was given by Zimmerman’s friends, including one who saw combat in Vietnam. The vet said he’d heard men screaming on the battlefield. Knowing Zimmerman’s voice and having heard how people sound under extreme stress, he could confidently say the voice belonged to Zimmerman.
The most important witness was Trayvon’s friend, the young lady he was speaking to on his cellphone shortly before he was shot. The prosecution needed her to establish that Zimmerman was the aggressor, and that Trayvon felt stalked and threatened.
Rachel Jeantel, a 19-year-old high school senior, said Trayvon told her that a “creepy-ass cracker” was following him. She said he also referred to Zimmerman as a “n—ger.”
Doesn’t this, suggested the defense, show that Martin was the one doing the racial profiling, a teenager with a chip on his shoulder, spoiling for a fight? No, said Rachel. Neither “cracker” nor the “n” word is a “racial comment.” Both words, she said, are simply descriptive race-neutral words.
Really? So had Zimmerman used the “n” word to describe Martin in his police call, this would have been a non-event?
Rachel damaged the prosecution in another big way. She testified that Trayvon shouted at Zimmerman, “Get off, get off!” But after the killing, Rachel wrote a letter to Trayvon’s mother in which she describes what happened. Her letter says nothing about “Get off, get off.” Pretty major thing to omit.
The prosecution offered five prior examples where Zimmerman called to report suspicious activity — all of them involving a black person. Therefore what? Zimmerman — described at first as white and Jewish, and later as a white Hispanic — should only call about suspicious non-blacks?
Under Florida law, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this “wannabe cop” murdered Travyon Martin with a “depraved mind.” It hasn’t come close to meeting its burden of proof.
As for “racial profiling,” it is an unfortunate fact that a disproportionately large amount of crime is committed by less than 5 percent of the population — the percentage of black males 16 years of age and older in America. For its National Crime Victimization Survey, the FBI collects data from victims, asking the perceived race of their assailant. Twenty-four percent of all violent crime victims say the perp was a black person. And about the same percentage of those arrested for violent crimes are, in fact, blacks.
Are innocent people being routinely arrested and charged?
For years, major police departments have required officers to record the race of every person they stop, including in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Where are the class-action lawsuits alleging a pattern and practice of racial profiling? Surely this data ought to out these racists cops who target innocent, law-abiding blacks.
Tragically, an unarmed teenager, returning from a convenience store with Skittles and iced tea, is dead. Understandably, many people want someone held responsible. This does not, however, make Zimmerman a criminal, let along a racist wannabe cop who profiled and murdered an innocent black 17-year-old.