It’s not often that I find myself in agreement with Joe Scarborough but his opinion on the George Zimmerman case was pretty close to my own reaction. Shortly after the verdict was announced, I had to turn off the TV and shut down Twitter and Facebook. I just couldn’t take it.
Most of what I heard was inappropriate, to put it mildly. I’m no lawyer, but what little I saw of the trial convinced me that this case was a lost cause. This wasn’t like the OJ trial, in which the evidence was, in my mind, overwhelming. That verdict was a shock. In this case, the presence of the self-defense claim – and Florida’s law on it – made the bar for conviction quite high.
Still, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old young man was dead. And I couldn’t help but think about my own brother, who was gunned down in 1995.
I wonder if Virginia had had some form of the same self-defense law as Florida if my brother’s killer would have gotten off. I’ll never forget the Hampton detective telling me that guns had become the great equalizer in a fight between a bigger man, like my brother, and a smaller man, like his killer. The Zimmerman defense sounded too familiar.
My brother’s death was not politicized; black-on-black crime rarely is. But the Martin death was, from the very beginning. And it shouldn’t have been. But that didn’t stop folks from doing it.
I’ve had little to say about the Martin case, mainly because experience taught me that we, as a society, are basically incapable of having a serious conversation about our differences. Saturday night and Sunday just reinforced that experience. And that’s truly sad.