The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Columns

July 9, 2013

Primus Mootry: Zimmerman trial is painful to watch

(Continued)

Let me add that the perpetrators of the crimes of the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till were set free, even though they later confessed in a Look magazine feature on their story of what happened. In spite of this, and the fact that there is no statute of limitations on murder, they never spent a day in jail for the crimes.

At this point, I have no idea what the jury will decide in the Zimmerman-Martin case. In a larger context, though, I simply observe that too many young black boys are dying of violence of one sort or another, and far too many black boys and men are being imprisoned for what, for others, are treated as misdemeanors or no crime at all.

In many ways, the killing of Trayvon Martin, the subsequent lenient treatment of the perpetrator and his trial dredge up all these old issues and more. For one thing, through social media, Zimmerman has raised (depending on what reports you believe) somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000 for his defense, most of it in small donations of $10 to $20.

For another, the defense has gone out of its way to vilify (criminalize) Martin, his mother, his father, his girlfriend, and otherwise discredit all whose testimony might result in a “guilty” verdict. The prosecution, on the other hand, has appeared largely inept in my view. In addition, news media seem to be being dragged along with whatever unexamined “breaking news” may come out of the trial process.

It is painful to watch. A black teenager is dead, apparently for WWB (Walking While Black). The case turns on a wacky “Stand-Your-Ground” law (there are similar laws either pending or already on the books in 29 states) that says, in effect, you can use lethal force if you think someone poses a threat to your safety on the streets or wherever you may be. The problem is that “Stand-Your-Ground” killings usually leave no witnesses. It’s legalized vigilantism.

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