It is not possible to consider the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman without taking race into account. The tragic story and the acquittal of Zimmerman has proven once again the danger of being young and black in America.
If George Zimmerman had been minding his own business and obeyed a police dispatcher instead of stalking a teenager he had racially profiled, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin would still be alive today.
It is not beyond belief that had Trayvon Martin been white, he would still be alive today. Moreover, if he had been white and shot dead, someone would have been in jail for his killing.
The message the Florida jury sent out with a not guilty verdict for Zimmerman was if you arm yourself, stalk a black kid, get into a confrontation and then shoot that kid dead in self defence, you are home free.
Heck you’ll more than likely get your gun back as you leave the court...if in fact you get to court.
The Zimmerman verdict of not guilty has to be respected as any jury verdict must be.
That does not mean it is right or just. Many verdicts in the past have been lawful, but have still failed to deliver justice. That’s the system. The jury has spoken.
In this case the defence hinged on the application of the stand your ground law .
As US Attorney General Eric Holder pointed out after the verdict, this law seems to have eliminated the common sense and aged-old requirement that people who feel threatened outside their home have a duty to retreat if they can do so safely.
Stand your ground laws, according to Holder, fix something that was never broken - the right to use deadly force if no safe retreat is possible.
We await the outcome of the Department of Justice’s now year long inquiry into the Zimmerman/Martin case.
The outcome of that inquiry will determine whether the DoJ takes a federal case against Zimmerman for breach of Martin’s civil rights.
It could be a tough call and Holder is by no means committing to anything yet. But he is not ruling it out either.
The DoJ would have to at least be confident of proving, amongst other hurdles, that Zimmerman pulled the trigger and violated Martin’s civil rights because of his hate for Martin as a black man.
That’s a big call, but surely it has already been established that Zimmerman stalked Martin because of his race.
The wanna be cop who had been refused entry to the police force, decided this black kid was suspicious. It was to be neighbourhood watch ninja Zimmerman’s moment to rid the nice neighbourhood of another “fucking asshole” - as he described Martin to the police dispatcher, adding “these sorts always get away with it”.
By “these sorts” Zimmerman means young blacks.
Had Trayvon Martin been white, would Zimmerman have noticed him as out of place, followed him in his car and then on foot and instigated the fatal confrontation? Of course not. He wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.
The defence team successfully argued that Zimmerman had been scared for his life. Really? Then why did he leave the safety of his car?
Why did he not obey the police dispatcher who told him to stop following the hooded youth?
The whole saga has been tragic - from Martin’s death on February 26, 2012, through the 44 days it took for prosecutors to even consider charging his killer, to the glaring fact that the jury in this case had absolutely no idea, no empathy at all, with a 17-year-old black kid who was being followed by someone he told a friend on the phone was creeping him out.
Of course it is creepy to have someone stalk you. More so when they turn out to be armed and confrontational.
All Martin was doing was completely lawfully walking home from a store armed with Skittles and iced tea. Did he not have a right to defend himself against a creepy guy following him?
We will never know what actually happened during the confrontation as Trayvon Martin is dead. Zimmerman offered five or six stories to the authorities, before settling on the one presented to the court.
It is impossible to take the race component out of this story. It is race that explains this case. It lies at the heart of it.
Travyon Martin simply was not seen by Zimmerman or the justice system as a person with equal rights.
Was the confrontation with his stalker not Martin's right to defend himself, or did he forfeit that by virtue of being young and African American?
Least this seems too strong, it is important to remember that had there not been enormous political pressure and petitions to arrest Zimmerman, he would never have faced trial.
President Obama can take ‘credit’ for being part of that political process when he said at the outset that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon. That really personalised this story, and it politicised it. However race in America has a long history of politicization.
Now Obama and other American leaders have to come up with something to assure the parents of young black kids that, in the 25 US states that have stand your ground laws, it is not open season on their kids.
When the lead prosecutor, District Attorney Angela Corey was asked after the verdict to describe in one word George Zimmerman, she said “murderer”. Her one word description of Trayvon Martin was “prey”...and spelt out the p-r-E-y to avoid any misunderstanding that she might have said pray.
Americans do pray in cases like this. Churches were full, sermons were forceful. But Trayvon Martin deserves more than prayers.
His death symbolises the loss of young African Americans to gun violence every day. Often they shoot each other, but that is irrelevant. Unnecessarily dead is still dead.
It will be tragic if after all the attention this case attracted, nothing more is done so it is to be hoped the DoJ gives it a really good shot, so to speak.
Given the massive defeat for Obama on gun control, despite public support topping 90%, Trayvon Martin will more than likely end up being just another black kid who was in the right place at the right time - or wrong place at the wrong time.
Therefore, beware the other George Zimmermans lurking out there.