I am in utter disbelief. I am not surprised at the outcome, but deeply disappointed. Disappointed because Florida seems to have so little regard for the life of a child.
Just a little over two years ago, I sat and watched the Caylee Anthony murder trial. I say Caylee because that was really who is was about for me. I watched as a baffled prosecution team sat limply by as a silver-tongued defense attorney wove incredible tale after incredible tale, casting more and more doubt on a poorly constructed prosecution narrative. And in the end, Casey walked, and the prosecution insisted they had done their job.
I’ve watched the Trayvon Martin case since the beginning. Not just because it was local, but because I have a son a couple of years older than Trayvon. I could easily put myself in Sybrina Fulton’s place. I could feel her pain. My son is not perfect, but imperfection is not a capital offense. And to add insult to injury, the Sanford Police sent Zimmerman on his way, as though he had done nothing more than shoot a rabid dog. Had it not been for public outcry, it would have been just another Sunday night in Sanford. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Fast forward to the trial, and we have yet another lackluster, bewildered prosecution team. Ill-prepared witnesses. No concrete story. Allowing the defense to turn every prosecution witness to their own advantage. Leaving volley after volley from the defense unanswered. A low degree of caring. An indifference toward a child whose life was senselessly cut short.
This indifference breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because this entire case was based on the premise that Trayvon somehow had less of a right to be in a public space than Zimmerman. Too many times I’ve heard the question “Why didn’t Trayvon just run on home?” How long have we been running away in fear? Why must we continue to do so?
As many times as I’ve heard that question, I’ve asked “Why didn’t Zimmerman just proceed on to Target?” I’m still waiting on a credible answer. More often that not I’ve gotten a stumbling reply like “Well, well, Zimmerman wasn’t doing anything wrong! He wasn’t breaking any law following Trayvon!” Somehow, the inference still remains that there was just something inherently wrong with Trayvon being where he was … maybe even just being. Somehow, being a black male in America is extra-legal.
I don’t like not feeling safe in my country; a country I spent 14 years defending. I don’t like feeling that me and mine are lesser than; guilty until proven absolutely guilty. I don’t like that, after admitting pursued and killed Trayvon, Zimmerman slept in his own bed last night, while Marissa Alexander slept on a cot in a cell, serving a 20 year sentence. You see, right here in the Great State of Florida, this black woman was found guilty and imprisoned for firing a warning shot when her estranged husband – who had threatened to kill her and against whom she had a restraining order – invaded her home. According to the jury, her actions did not constitute standing her ground. The Castle Doctrine, apparently, does not apply in this case. Conversely, George Zimmerman’s dominion is so broad that he can pursue an unarmed, unsuspecting child, shoot him in cold blood and then declare “I was defending myself!” And the church says “Amen.”
A very dangerous precedent was set last night, and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because today, we will once again have to remind our sons of their limitations in what should be a free world. To save their lives, we must crush their spirits by perpetuating the rumors of inferiority that have kept them from achieving for all these years. Today it will rain and those will be Trayvon’s tears; tears that his life was of so little value that the State of Florida decided the only person worthy of vindication was the man who stole his life and his future.