We must dismantle the fraternity of racism and build an altar of love and justice, writes the pastor of Obama’s former church.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey said George Zimmerman was not charged “in response to public demand.” But the arrest in Trayvon Martin’s killing took 46 days—and only came after a public uproar, says Jelani Cobb.
Forty-six days. That’s how long it took for George Zimmerman to be charged in the death of Trayvon Martin.
More than the muted satisfaction that an accused killer was no longer on the streets, more than the vague relief that the judicial system would not ignore entirely the possibility that shooting an unarmed teen might be illegal, this is what I heard voiced when special prosecutor Angela Corey announced that Zimmerman would face a second-degree murder charge. Give it a moment and you’ll begin to hear triumphalist throat-clearing and echoed statements about how this arrest proves the system works, that justice is not immune to the concerns of African-Americans. And the retort, damning as it is unassailable, is simply this: 46 days.
Amid the bounty of ugliness unearthed by the case, and the many more profane moments we’re likely to witness before this is over, what people will remember is that it took nearly seven weeks for charges to be brought against a Hispanic man who shot an unarmed black teen. They will have learned that such a killing warrants only the most cursory of police examinations and that a simple arrest of the assailant requires incessant media attention, massive rallies in Miami, Sanford, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago, the palpable threat of social unrest, and a statement of concern from the president of the United States.
If the wheels of justice grind slowly, the court of public opinion expedites its verdicts. It takes far less than 46 days for a teachable moment to devolve into an airing of fetid undercurrents from the American id. In an instant the case pitched from tragedy to travesty to absurdist spectacle, the judgments coming far faster than the facts. In social media forums we’ve seen debates rage between evidence-proof minds, caulked against the entry of new information or contrary ideas. Between neo-Nazi patrols and black nationalist bounties, between Geraldo Rivera’s ridiculous fashion speculation and the hacking of Martin’s Twitter account we saw Sanford, Fla., become a racial ground zero, the place where our post-racial myths go to die.
In announcing her decision, Corey was careful to point out that her office “does not bring charges in response to public demand.” Her words only further undermined the regard for the justice system. Prior to the placards, Trayvon Martin was an anonymous black boy, fatally shot and treated as a John Doe in the morgue. There are people in Sanford and in black communities across the country who live with the hard knowledge that in cases like this, public outcry may be their only hope of attaining justice. A mention of Trayvon Martin in these places yields a list of keyword associations: Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Rodney King, and a litany of other black men who were abused or killed with little or no consequence. Delve deeper and you run up against the social profanity that was lynching. And therein lies the truth.
Zimmerman Charged With Second Degree Murder Will there be justice for Trayvon Martin after all? Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey said George Zimmerman turned himself in and has been charged with second degree murder.
Prosecutor announces second-degree murder charge.
Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced Wednesday evening that George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was arrested Wednesday and in the custody of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, his new attorney, Mark O’Mara, told CNN. Corey said that it was her duty “to find the full truth” surrounding the February killing that has captured the nation’s attention for much of the last three weeks. Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, spoke out earlier Wednesday, saying, “I know without a shadow of a doubt that justice will be served.”
There are two problems here: One is that George Zimmerman killed an unarmed kid, and the other is that Florida law allows that to happen, writes David R. Dow.
There are only two people who know exactly what happened on the night of Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., and one of them is dead.
David Goldman / AP Photo
Angela Corey, the Florida special prosecutor investigating the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, announced this afternoon that she intends to prosecute Zimmerman for second-degree murder. Because Martin is unquestionably dead, and because Zimmerman indisputably caused his death, the single proposition the prosecution must establish is that the killing was unlawful.
But there is almost no chance the state will be able to obtain a conviction, and despite Corey’s assertion that public pressure did not influence the decision to move forward with the prosecution, the fact that Florida authorities did nothing for six weeks after the killing makes her claim implausible. The decision to prosecute therefore seems more intended to assuage the community’s moral outrage than redress a legal violation.
The problem here is that there are actually two problems: one is what George Zimmerman did, which was to shoot and kill an unarmed young man who had every right to be where he was. The second is that Florida law allows that to happen.
Chapter 776.013(3) of Florida law—the now-infamous “Stand Your Ground” provision—states: “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
The so-called Castle Doctrine—named after the quaint British expression that a man’s house is his castle—dates back at least to the early 17th century and permits someone in his or her home to use lethal force against an intruder. American colonists brought it with them, and today, more than half the states have versions of the doctrine. The effect of the Castle Doctrine is to override the duty to retreat. So even if it is perfectly possible for the homeowner to safely escape, the Castle Doctrine means the homeowner does not have to.
Many states have adopted bulked-up versions of the doctrine and done away with the duty to retreat in places besides the home. Others have done away with the duty altogether, so long as the person believes lethal force is reasonably required to protect himself or herself from serious injury.
There’s nothing to gain from jumping bail, writes Mansfield Frazier.
George, you did the right thing by turning yourself in. Whatever you do now, don’t jump bail!
Back in the day, when I was a counterfeiter of credit cards, I, along with other members of my crew, had a saying: “Catchin’ comes before hangin.' ” At the first sign of trouble we’d be off like a bunch of turkeys through the corn, attempting to outrun the long arm of the law. But the law almost eventually catches up with you; they’ve got nothing but time.
Of course, like in the case of D.B. Cooper (the dude who parachuted out of a hijacked 727 near Portland, Ore., back in 1971), law enforcement never likes to talk about the ones who got away. In Cooper’s case they spread the story no one could have survived the fall—but they never came up with a body to prove their theory.
But, George, you’re no D.B. Cooper and if the lawyers who recently resigned as your attorneys of record are to be believed, you’ve already gone hiding away once somewhere out of the state of Florida, holed up, shaking like a puppy passing peach pits. Now that you’ve turned yourself in, if you again go underground, it will throw the most high-profile case of the century (at least so far) into further chaos and turmoil.
George, living life on the lam, is nerve-racking. It doesn’t take long before the last one in your body is shot to hell. Even if you’ve mastered the game of making false IDs so good they can fool law enforcement (a skill you simply haven’t had the time to acquire) you’re still walking around as nervous as a ‘ho in church. Every time a police cruiser goes past, let alone if the cops pull up behind you, your sphincter muscle tightens up enough to make your ass watertight, and you’ll come within a heartbeat of your bladder betraying you.
If you do go running, always, and I do mean always, keep a clean change of underwear in your back pocket—you’ll never know when you’re going to need it.
And buy yourself a dog. That way maybe you can get some sleep, since if the law is closing in you can hope the dog will bark and alert you. Of course, you might not need the dog since your hearing will soon become so fine-tuned you’ll be able to hear a rat piss on cotton at 50 paces. You’ll be hearing things way out of the range of other human beings—you’ll be able to hear dog whistles, and, indeed, things that aren’t even there. It’s called paranoia, but hey, when they really are after you, it really isn’t paranoia, is it?
Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announces Zimmerman's charges.
George Zimmerman is officially being charged. Watch as the slain teen’s parents parents speak to the public about their son’s memory.
Not clear yet what charges will be.
Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey will charge George Zimmerman in connection with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, sources said Wednesday, but it is not immediately clear what the charges will be. Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, 17, while acting as a neighborhood-watch volunteer, and was initially not charged in the teenager’s death because Zimmerman claimed he acted in self-defense. The resulting public outcry caused a review of the charges, although Zimmerman has reportedly since been out of communication. Martin’s parents held a press conference Wednesday during which they urged Zimmerman to come forward. Authorities said they knew the whereabouts of Zimmerman, but said that he was not in Florida.
Said they are “concerned for his emotional state.”
A day after they held a press conference announcing they had cut ties, George Zimmerman’s former lawyers said they are worried about the neighborhood watchman’s emotional state. Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner said Wednesday that they stepped down as Zimmerman’s legal counsel because he had told the prosecutor they were no longer representing him, and he had stopped contacting them. “Frankly his actions here recently don’t speak of someone who is completely doing very well,” Uhrig told NBC’s Today. “He’s not a bad guy, he might just be an emotional beat-down guy by this process.”
State attorney will hold press conference in the next 72 hours.
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey, who is handling the Trayvon Martin case, released a statement Tuesday saying she “is preparing to release new information regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting death investigation” at a press conference in the next 72 hours. The official statement from Corey came on the heels of an announcement by shooter George Zimmerman’s legal team, which said it was breaking off its relationship with Zimmerman and hasn’t spoken to him since Sunday. "I'm not sure ... who he's talking to," attorney Craig Sonner said of Zimmerman. Zimmerman created a website Monday to solicit donations to help with legal costs.
Say they’ve lost contact with George Zimmerman.
George Zimmerman, phone home. The attorneys for the 28-year-old Sanford, Fla., man who shot unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in February have dropped their client, saying at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that they haven’t heard from Zimmerman since the weekend. They also said that Zimmerman had an off-the-record chat with Fox News host Sean Hannity on his own initiative. Zimmerman has still not been charged with any crime, but dropped out of sight after Martin’s death became a cause célèbre. He claims that the shooting was in self-defense, and this week set up a website through which supporters can donate money toward his living expenses and legal fees.
Sanford mayor says town a "kindling box."
The Florida neighborhood where Trayvon Martin was killed resounded again with gunshots early Tuesday as someone pumped six rounds into an unoccupied police car. The town, Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett warned, has become “a kindling box,” but authorities want to maintain calm and “so far it’s been absolutely peaceful.” ABC News reported that emergency operations centers in three surrounding counties have been placed on the same level of preparedness as for a hurricane. “You plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Triplett told reporters. According to the Associated Press, the cruiser had been parked outside of a Sanford elementary school at the school’s request.
To thank supporters, ask for donations.
George Zimmerman’s lawyers confirmed on Monday that the man who claims to have shot unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in self-defense in February has launched a website to help pay for his living expenses and legal fees. The site, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, was in and out of service on Monday as online users flocked with interest. Zimmerman thanks his supporters, and says that the facts in the case will “come to light.” The site links to a PayPal account where supporters can donate because of what Zimmerman calls his “forced inability to maintain employment.”
Sanford precinct shuts down for five hours.
Six protesters donned hoodies and forced the closure of the Sanford Police Department on Monday, asking for more attention to be paid by authorities to the Trayvon Martin case. The act of civil disobedience gained the demonstrators a community-forum meeting, set for April 19, to discuss the case. The protesters, part of the group the Dream Defenders, said the police in Sanford had made little effort to find evidence that would convict shooter George Zimmerman in the case that has consumed national attention. The protesters blocked the doors of the department, forcing its closure for much of the late morning and early afternoon.
Prosecutor will decide whether or not to charge shooter.
The special prosecutor tasked with deciding whether to press charges against the man who shot Trayvon Martin has decided not to hand the case to a grand jury. Florida State Attorney Angela Corey will now decide whether or not to press charges against shooter George Zimmerman. "We want to believe that this would be a positive sign that the prosecutor has enough information to arrest Trayvon Martin's killer," said the attorney for Martin's family. Meanwhile, Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton said that she's "prayerful" that Zimmerman will be arrested.
Black youth are drowning in a perfect storm of neglect, poverty, and mindless violence, writes Mansfield Frazier, and it’s about time we stopped playing petty politics with young lives.
The killing of Trayvon Martin has focused the attention of conservatives on the high rate of homicides in urban communities, but only as a means of deflecting attention away from George Zimmerman. Right-wing commentators have suddenly become deeply concerned with black-on-black street killings, asking why we’re being “distracted” by Martin. This ignores the obvious: everyone knows who Trayvon’s killer is, and he has yet to be arrested.
Conservatives peddling this line are trying to suggest that young blacks are intrinsically equipped to fail and to damage one another and that blacks don’t care when young blacks are done in by other blacks. All of this is simply untrue and mean-spirited.
As Randall Robinson wrote, “There’s nothing wrong with us, something was done to us.”
That “something” was more than 300 years of the most inhumane and brutal form of slavery ever perpetrated by one group of human beings on another. And the remnants of those dark centuries still haunt blacks here in America in the form of abject poverty, low achievement, and endemic violence in poor communities. While neither the current generation of whites nor their parents or grandparents participated in the brutality perpetrated by their more-distant ancestors, many continue to benefit from its effects, and not nearly enough have engaged in any efforts to ameliorate the lingering effects of slavery. A debt is owed to blacks, even if it’s uncollectible and never paid.
No group of people ever willingly allows its young people to devour themselves as senselessly as young black males are currently doing in America. These youths are drowning in a perfect storm of neglect, poverty, and mindless violence. If there were an easy solution to the high rate of violence among young men of color, the elders of the black community, criminologists, and social scientists would have “solved” the problem decades ago.
Illustration: Jim McGuire / Getty Images
But if pointed barbs from small-minded conservative commentators are what it takes to spur the country into action, then so be it. The point is to solve the problem and not play petty politics with young black lives.
Calls for greater gun control.
The problem is clear, legendary comedian Bill Cosby told reporters: “When you carry a gun, you mean to harm somebody, kill somebody.” In his first public comments on the February shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Cosby said it is imperative that guns be taken out of the hands of neighborhood watchmen. “Without a gun, I don’t see Mr. Zimmerman approaching Trayvon by himself,” the Cosby Show star said. “The power-of-the-gun mentality had him unafraid to confront someone. Even police call for backup in similar situations.” The humorist is known for his warm style of comedy, and over the past decade has taken public stances on issues affecting the African-American community.
Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman said he was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed.
The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin has a whole new set of problems after the court found out he lied at his bond hearing, writes Mansfield Frazier.
George Zimmerman took the stand during his bond hearing Friday, issuing a statement to the Martin family. ‘I’m sorry for the loss of your son,’ he told the court before answering a series of questions about the case.
Chaz Guest captures the Trayvon Martin tragedy. He talks about honoring Martin's legacy.
Conservatives are using the teenager’s tweets, hoodie, and school suspension to blame him for his own death—and to show that racism was not a factor, says Michelle Goldberg.
George Zimmerman, the man who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, aspired to enter law enforcement.