We Needed This Verdict

A new call for action in the fight for justice

| 7/17/2013, 10:13 a.m.
Verdict in the George Zimmerman trial stirs unrest. But will it stir change?
Donovan M. Smith

With all due respect to the loved ones of Trayvon Martin, most importantly his parents, America needed a “Not Guilty” verdict to shake up its senses.

Unfortunately in the wake of this young man’s death, Trayvon has gone on to symbolize a number of things reflective of the darkest thoughts people usually discuss only amongst their closest peer groups but subconsciously and consciously act on every day.

Had George Zimmerman, the then 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain who took the unarmed 17-year-old’s life, been convicted on any of the charges brought against him, there would have been an unnecessary calm amongst the people, and “Justice” would have been served for Trayvon.

Trayvon’s parents would have justifiably reminded everyone that they have lost their son; civil rights leaders would have said this is progress but we still have more work to do; and the racial divide that was truly the star of this nearly year and a half saga would have marched on.

The one person who knows exactly what took place on that rainy night of Feb. 26, 2012 in Sanford, Fla., lost his life regardless of the outcome.

Zimmerman, like the teenager he shot and killed at point blank range, has gone on to symbolize something much greater than himself too.

For some, he’s a testament to being able to stand-up for one’s self in the midst of a conflict. For many others, in America and around the world, his call to 911 before he even exchanged words with Trayvon was revealing to his mindset. In the call, he assumed Trayvon was a drug user and labeled him a “f------ punk” and “---hole.”

The state may not have been able to prove guilt by the traditional modes of law, but Trayvon Martin was profiled to be a threat simply because of the skin he woke up in every day for 17-years. Trayvon knew it, and so does George.

Was this the first time Trayvon had been assumed a criminal in his life without proper justification? He lived in a country where race affects matters of interaction every single day. It is ignorant to think otherwise.

Sanford Police concede that during the near two years George Zimmerman had been a neighborhood watch captain, all of his suspicious-persons calls regarded so-called African-American males. The jury was not allowed to consider that fact though.

Before the night of Feb. 26, 2012 the American judicial system was broken, and so it remains after a predominately Caucasian jury of six women decided Zimmerman’s fate.

Our justice system was built with racial bias since its 1776 inception. It has only been within the last few years that state governments, including Oregon and Iowa, have considered how certain laws can affect certain races disproportionately.

People are frustrated now. Protests have already started. Social media continues to erupt as people virtually shout their disappointment that a young man with college prospects has been gunned down on his way home and that his killer gets no tangible punishment.

The reason we needed this verdict was to galvanize action for change.