I will spare the formalities and jump right into it: This is an unjust verdict. As many of you who stayed up last night are aware, George Zimmerman was found not guilty on all charges. Despite evidence right in front of us all, the jury decides to allow a murderer to go free. This is disappointing, but not surprising. Those of you who are waking up this morning will wake up to find out that this country continues to devalue Black life. It does not matter one sliver if you are not the aggressor. If you are Black, you are a potential target of deadly violence, and there will be no legal recourse in your favor.
I say without fear of hyperbole that this was a legalized lynching. Stand your ground laws and the twisted notion of “self defense” have enabled a vigilante to kill a teenager and get away with it. Outcomes like this are the reason why Black people do not trust the criminal justice system. Even when you hope for the best, the end result is just to reinforce a cynicism that is based on what we have seen time and time again. Many have said that from the moment we found out the make up of the jury that this case was doomed to go this way. Sadly, this decision solidifies it: Trayvon Martin is this generations Emmitt Till.
To those of you who feel angry and dejected, remember this moment. By this I don’t mean hold on to your anger. Even our collective feeling of outrage will eventually subside. We just need to focus on some long term responses to this. We don’t have much of a choice but to do so. We were just shown that our lives do not matter. So there has to be some sort of long term consequences that accompany the mood we are in at the moment. Otherwise, it is just blowing off steam.
While we are on the subject, I have heard it bandied about that our Black boys are targets. Yes, this is true, but let us not act like Black girls and women are somehow “safe” from this in any way shape or form. Look at what happened with Marissa Alexander. Lets not kid ourselves.
The struggle must continue.
-Marc W. Polite