Reflections On George Zimmerman Travesty And American Racism
Zimmerman: even after escaping justice, he's ticking time bomb
[Speaking Truth To Power]
We close the year by reviewing one of the biggest miscarriage of justice episodes in recent memory.
The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012—and the inability of legal authorities to convict Zimmerman for Trayvon’s death—are glaring examples of America’s disregard for the lives of African-Americans.
The initial failure of Sanford Police to arrest this murderous, bigoted bully illustrates that the very forces instituted to “protect and serve” the people’s interests, still, obviously, don’t regard African-Americans as worthy of the full protections afforded to other citizens.
What does the unjustified killing of Trayvon Martin, and the acquittal of his killer, tell us about America’s justice system—and, their attitude towards the rights of African-Americans? In recent times, George Zimmerman has once again been in the news. Several weeks ago, he was arrested for, allegedly, threatening the life of his current girlfriend with a shotgun; earlier he had threatened his wife Shellie and her father with a gun and punched him on the nose.
However, he has once again escaped punishment after his girlfriend apparently refused to cooperate with authorities. The contrast between Mr. Zimmerman’s ability to evade justice and the injustice African-Americans face daily is indeed quite telling. But let’s be honest here America’s police force and American courts have always specifically targeted African-Americans as the primary “criminal menace” to American society.
As the son of a judge, George Zimmerman surely knew Black life is cheap in the eyes of the larger American society. Does anyone think an African-American could kill someone in such a manner, as Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin and still be walking the streets today? Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin killing was made possible by American racism which aided and abetted him.
The Sanford Police and the justice system that prosecuted him are also responsible for this travesty. Sanford Police’s “investigation” into the killing of Trayvon is an example of the disregard many have for the lives of African-Americans.
The “investigation” was an absolute farce. Officer Chris Serino claimed police did an extensive investigation into this killing. That assertion would be laughable if this incident wasn’t so serious. Sanford Police failed to do a plethora of things that are standard operating procedure. First, everyone knows a crime scene should be secured to preserve and prevent evidence from being contaminated or destroyed. Sanford Police clearly failed to do so by not securing Mr. Zimmerman’s truck as part of the crime scene and never protected the area where Trayvon was felled. Consequently, how can we know what evidence may have been left undiscovered in that truck and what forensic material was possibly washed away that night? The Retreat at Twin Oaks has around 260 units.
Usually, in a case like this, police perform an extensive canvass to obtain information from prospective witnesses. We must ask the question: why didn’t these police officers take the time to knock on every door in that development? Because, if they did, Trayvon’s father would never have had to file a missing persons report—and valuable time would’ve been saved. Moreover, if they had done a proper canvass they would have reached the door of 13-year-old Austin Brown—a crucially important witness.
Keep in mind here, police only spoke to Mr. Brown more than a week later—and according to his mother Inspector Serino make remarks saying he was sure Zimmerman engaged in “stereotyping” Trayvon. But even though he told Mr. Brown’s mother this, on the night of the killing he reassured a female witness the person whom she heard screaming wasn’t the one killed. Inspector Serino’s schizophrenic conduct throughout this case was, apparently, also duly noted in the investigation done by the FBI.
There were so many things missed by this “investigation” of Sanford Police and Officer Serino. In our look at this case we have identified a few essential things that led to this tragedy—that should have been discovered by police if they did their jobs properly. First of all, we now know Zimmerman and his former wife were having problems at the time of the killing. Indeed, his ex-wife confirmed she had been staying with her father because of a fight the couple had the night before. How much did that situation dictate the deadly actions of Mr. Zimmerman the following night?
Here we should recall what witness#13 Jonathan Manolo told the jury that when he was calling Zimmerman’s wife—before Zimmerman was being taken in for questioning—that Zimmerman told Manolo “just tell her I shot someone.” Wasn’t this Zimmerman’s way of saying look what you made me do? We now know of three instances where a former fiancé, an ex-wife and a girlfriend witnessed the violent tendencies of Mr. Zimmerman when there were problems within the relationship. But this angle was clearly never pursued by Sanford Police or Inspector Serino. If police had questioned Zimmerman’s wife this important clue to his mental mindset on the night of the killing would’ve been obvious. Before and during the trial much was made of whether or not Trayvon was under the influence of drugs. We do know Mr. Zimmerman uses prescription drugs, but, we still don’t know whether Mr. Zimmerman was under the influence of something else that night—like say alcohol.
Given the fact that he had at least one alcohol-related arrest, where he assaulted a law enforcement officer, why wasn’t he tested for drugs? The repetitious lack of follow-up on key aspects of this case by Sanford Police again and again created the situation where this killer would be allowed to escape responsibility for his murderous crime. Unfortunately, the prosecution team of Angela Corey didn’t do much to uncover all the necessary facts that were lost by the bigoted bungling of Sanford Police. The prosecution itself failed to secure a more balanced jury and failed in many other respects including challenging the testimony of Dr. Vincent DiMaio—who would have us believe Trayvon could have repeated punched Zimmerman without any traces of the assault on his hands.
The findings of Dr. Shipping Bao and funeral director Richard Kurtz should’ve been used to impeach this idiotic claim by Dr. DiMaio. But the prosecution’s biggest failure was in not putting the awful “investigation” by Sanford Police on trial. By not doing so, didn’t they undercut their own case since Sanford Police never saw it fit to arrest Zimmerman in the first place? And the other blatant mistake was to pretend race had nothing to do with this case. Mr. Zimmerman’s repeated calls to police about supposedly suspicious Black men, and boys, should have been used to illustrate his prejudiced perceptions. And his own cousin fingered Zimmerman’s family as a bunch of racists. However, the American legal institutions—just like police—are usually the biggest culprits of racism.
Justice in America, like everything else, has always been distorted by the prism of racism and White supremacy. And, although, we no longer live in a time where police sheriffs are helping to lynch African-Americans, at least not out in the open, we know at any moment we may hear another story where an African-American is shot down dead because of their skin color. Moreover, on a daily basis America’s so-called legal system is busy locking up generations of Black people—as has been documented by many scholars like Michel Alexander in her book on mass incarceration, "The New Jim Crow."
Within this context, lay the reasons why Mr. Zimmerman wasn’t initially arrested for the death of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman—who studied criminal justice in college, and, whose father was a judge—surely killed Trayvon Martin in an act of bigoted barbarity, but, Mr. Zimmerman isn’t the only one responsible for his murder. In fact, American racism has bred the likes of Mr. Zimmerman. From the very beginning, many Americans refused to see the obvious in this case: Trayvon Martin was killed because he was profiled as a suspect criminal who was likely “up to no good.”
In America, that’s all it takes for a non-Black person to kill African-Americans and get away with it. Worse of all, the political and legal establishment endorses—in several ways, some subtle, and others not so subtle—this attitude and many non-Blacks have experienced killing Blacks, and, have gotten away with murder scot-free. For example, New York City’s NYPD is known for indiscriminately targeting African-Americans for harassment. And, much too often someone gets executed in the streets, like Sean Bell; or, gets killed in his home like Ramarley Graham. Most of White America doesn’t give a damn about this as it happens with regularity. If White people were getting hassled for smoking pot (and were being shot down worse than dogs) we would hear an uproar that would force political leaders to act. But the attitude of a large White segment of America is: why should we care about some dead Black people?
Sadly, some Black people seem overwhelmed by the injustice and have adopted an air of defeatism. Having a Black president won't in of itself change the reality of American racism.
We must fight harder against the racism that killed Trayvon Martin—and which created a George Zimmerman and the justice system that secured his freedom.