One case does not make a trend, but the “not guilty” verdict for George Zimmerman, the man who shot Trayvon Martin, 17, in Florida certainly called into question a number of other related issues.
Those issues include Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as well as gun rights. The real issue and ultimately the deciding factor, though, was reasonable doubt.
The jury of six women — five white and one Latina — in Sanford, Fla., weighed all the evidence and decided that a reasonable amount of doubt remained about whether Zimmerman intentionally killed the teen. Some believe a young man — who until confronted presumably was minding his own business — is dead while the wanna-be law enforcement officer, who was told by a 911 dispatcher to stay in his vehicle literally got away with murder at worst or at minimum vigilantism. Others believe Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, acted in self-defense. Had the prosecutors sought a manslaughter conviction the outcome might have been different.
Sadly this verdict may empower some people to think that it is OK to go back to the gun-slinging days of Kansas’ old westerns where someone could be shot and killed just because they — typically an outlaw — didn’t like the way that someone did or didn’t look at them. Perhaps a wrongful death suit would be a more appropriate approach to achieve justice in this case. Regardless, America is rife with too much violence. Violence should be a last resort rather than a default solution lest we see more Americans with or without hoodie garb being killed without justifiable cause.
— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher