When Fair Isn't Fair
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Fair or not, the justice system operated as it should have in this case
The Zimmerman trial sheds light on fairness in the America
Here is an over-simplified version of what I think transpired that rainy evening in Sanford, Florida. I believe that George Zimmerman pursued, approached and engaged Trayvon Martin. I believe that Zimmerman initiated contact and Martin retaliated, a tussle ensued, the tables were turned and Martin got the upper hand. Martin started to get the best of Zimmerman; Zimmerman panicked and shot Martin because he was getting his ass handed to him.
In all of the speculation and conjecture, a friend made an interesting observation that I tend to agree with, in short, it went like this: If you're in a fight that you don't want to be in, i.e., it wasn't initiated by you, or you were cornered, etc., it is likely that once you have gained the upper hand and your opponent is on the ground, your instinct will be to put distance between you and your attacker. You may stomp or kick them once or twice for good measure, but it's highly unlikely that you will straddle that person and start a "ground & pound" assault because it prolongs your exposure to danger. Now, put this in the perspective of a 17 year old kid in a tussle with a grown man.
The verdict was surprising, but not really. Second degree murder was an overreach, but I thought for sure that Zimmerman would be convicted of at least manslaughter. In Florida, the legal definition for manslaughter is "the unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice." In my non-legal opinion, this would've fit the bill quite nicely.
The facts are the facts and as much as I disagree with the verdict, the jury made a decision that they deemed prudent based on the evidence that was presented to them. The burden of proof was on the state to prove second degree murder and unfortunately, they were unable to do so. Zimmerman's defense did not have to prove that he was defending himself, they simply had to present a reasonable doubt ' they did just that. Fair or not, the justice system operated as it should have in this case. The prosecution left too many holes and did not do a good job at proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Zimmerman was not defending himself when he killed Martin. It is what it is.
Depending on who you listen to, this case had everything to do with race, or nothing at all to do with race. From a macro sense, it had everything to do with race because our nation's justice system is skewed against minorities. I know it's unfair to compare cases without in depth looks at the details, but contemporaneously, an African American woman by the name of Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, FL invoked the state's infamous "Stand Your Ground" law in her case. The state charged her with attempted murder when Mrs. Alexander fired warning shots at her estranged and allegedly abusive husband, whom at the time of the incident was violating a protective order. Mrs. Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison ' she would've gotten a shorter sentence if she'd actually shot and killed her husband. Most Americans, if they are completely honest with themselves could agree that if the tables were turned and Martin was on trial for the same charges, he would have been convicted.
On a micro level, this wasn't race related at all. I don't think that Zimmerman killed Martin because he was black. I don't even believe that Zimmerman initially pursued Martin because he was black. If the recent string of burglaries in the neighborhood had been perpetrated by Hispanic Jew teens, then I believe Zimmerman would have been just as overzealous with a 'Jose Goldberg' as he was with Trayvon Martin.
This case is another example of the inherent flaws within our justice system. A system that most minorities have no confidence in, and no reason to believe that the system can or will work in their favor. I, as an African American man who grew up in a county where the county police force was notorious for blatant abuses of power, so much so that the department was under investigation for corruption by the FBI for well over a decade. I had an intense disdain for police officers based on my interactions with law enforcement as a teen, which mainly consisted of being pulled over and placed on the curb while the vehicle was searched, only to come up with nothing. Then let go with a facile warning to "stay out of trouble". My only crime? DWB - Driving While Black.
America is the greatest country on God's green earth, but we are flawed. This is evidenced by the vitriol that was spewed by people across the spectrum in the wake of the verdict. From the personal attacks from the left on George Zimmerman and accusations of him being a racist; to grandstanding from the right as if they won a grand prize and attacks on the character of a dead teenager.
I suggest we use this event in America's history as a teachable moment. Take this opportunity to talk to our children about what to do when they find themselves in similar situations as Zimmerman and Martin, and how to prevent them from going tragically awry as this one did. Take this opportunity to educate ourselves and others on how our justice system works so that we can distinguish what is "fair" in the eyes of the court of law, verses "fair" from a moral standpoint, etc.
A recent post of a graphic from a friend on Facebook illustrates a strange twist of fate, a fate that now belongs to George Zimmerman.
Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I guess I'll just wait a month until the hype dies down and the masses will be on to the next topic' or back to Candy Crush or some other game that I get tired of blocking on Facebook.
Jeremy r. Stinson, Contributor: Jeremy R. Stinson, President of The Stinson Group, LLC is a Husband, Father, Strategic Leadership & Business Management Consultant, Mentor, Community Leader, Navy Veteran, Doctoral Candidate, and Political Junkie. He has traveled extensively abroad with the U.S. Navy & U.S. State Department, and has served as a Physical Security Expert with the U.S. Marshals and the FDIC. He has consulted for and held executive positions with several national nonprofits, and small/medium businesses in the... (more...)